Why We Need Apologetics

For the longest time I used to think tracts were a horrible way of evangelizing and reaching out non-believers. To me it seemed confronting and ineffective. In fact I had never heard of a person that had come to Christ from reading a tract, I only heard stories of people being annoyed even angered by the flyers. That all changed when I was in Nepal and I met pastor Meg. Long story short, Meg was at the end of his rope and found himself digging through trash for food. He found a tract and after reading it over he dedicated his life to Christ and now is a pastor in Nepal.

The reason I start with this is I know there are a lot of people who believe that apologetics is ineffective in reaching people and perhaps even more damaging than helpful. Thinking of Meg I would first offer to say, God can work in ways that you may not think are ineffective.

Furthermore, I would challenge the belief that apologetics is ineffective. I’ve been a part of a apologetics ministry called Ratio Christi for only about six months and we have one student who has already come to the Lord from the work we are doing. Many very well known Christians have come to the Lord as the result of apologetic related conversations, C. S. Lewis, Josh McDowel, Lee Strobel, and others. Granted many of these many are champions of Apologetics so it may seem this argument is circular, but I would say they are champions of apologetics because it was the way the Lord reached them, and perhaps they would have never known the Lord otherwise.

I know many object to apologetics because they feel that it is confrontative or combative, and as a result unloving. My question ‘where does this non-confrontive, non-combative evangelism play out in the Gospels and Epistles?’ Frankly, I don’t see it. Jesus is very combative with the Pharisees and Sadducees. Paul also doesn’t shy away from some argument and confrontation. I know argument and debate is uncomfortable for a lot of people but just because it isn’t comfortable doesn’t mean it’s wrong. In fact some of the best and most important things in life are uncomfortable. In fact our greatest leaders are the ones that were doing apologetics for what they believed in. Martin Luther King argued and debated with others, he reasoned with them. Gandhi, William Wallace,  Winston Churchill, they all lived lives of confrontation. It was because of that confrontation that they are the leaders that we look up to now.

Think of you’re greatest heroes, where would they be without defending what they believed in? Would you really call them your hero anymore? Apologetics is the Greek word for defense. So anyone that you look up to that has defended something, verbally, physically or otherwise is an apologist. So if you have this problem with apologetics perhaps you should think over what you really have a problem with a bit more. Just a thought.

Are all religions are true because they all teach the same thing. . . or do they?

When doing Apologetics it can all seem quite overwhelming at times. Frankly, none of us will really every grasp every aspect of apologetics in order to answer every question. In light of this it becomes easy to ask how can we know that Christianity is really the only truth and all of the other religions are wrong.

When I teach apologetics I start by teaching the reasons why we know Christianity is true, because, in the end, if we can show that Christianity is true than we have shown why all of the other religions are wrong.

Just like any part of life we know that two opposite propositions cannot both be true. This still plays out with religion, but for some reason people tend to forget that. If Christianity is true than Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Ba’hai, or anything else is wrong. This isn’t to say that those religions are wrong about everything, but in anything that they disagree with Christianity, they are wrong.

At this point, many of you may be thinking “well most religions basically say the same thing, so they could all really be true”. I’d challenge you to think that through a bit more. When you say all religions teach the same thing what do you mean? They teach the same moral values? Mostly. But even that really isn’t true, not every religion tells you to love your neighbor or care for the needy, Satanism doesn’t, and some groups of Islam don’t.

If we think about it this area of morality is really the only issue that most religions agree on. Outside of that they disagree on heaven, hell, creation, nature of God, nature of Man, Sin, Salvation and many other central truths. Even here some religions don’t just disagree on what these things look like, but disagree on whether these things even exist or not. Hinduism and Buddhism don’t believe in heaven, and Islam and Christianity differ greatly in what heaven is like.

Most importantly these religions vary greatly on how to achieve salvation, though they wouldn’t even all agree to the word salvation, or even the concept itself as well.

Saying that all religions teach the same thing is like saying that Republicans and Democrats are the same because they both believe we should do what is best for the United States, but we all know better than that.

Saying that all religions teach the same thing is like saying that Republicans and Democrats are the same because they both believe we should do what is best for the United States.

So do all religions teach the same thing? No, not even slightly. So how can we know that all the other religions are wrong? Well, if we know Christianity is true than all other religions would have to be false, at least in where they disagree with Christianity. So if you want to know what religions are false, the best place to start is finding what religion is true.

The Danger of Overemphasizing Theology

A friend of mine recently lead an apologetics small group in which he shared a piece of defense that he knew his pastor disagreed with. In hindsight, he questioned if he should have presented the material when his pastor was in disagreement about it. I believe that this outlines one of the most dangerous things that can result from a wrong approach in both apologetics and theology. Continue reading

Five Reasons you should get Apologetics Training

The purpose and nature of apologetics is often misunderstood. Some people think it’s about arguing for the faith. Others think it’s about apologizing. In reality, apologetics simply refers to the defense of what you believe to be true.

But isn’t apologetics someone else’s job? Isn’t it reserved for pastors, Bible teachers, and other “intellectual” Christians? The answer is an unequivocal no. As C.S. Lewis said, the question is not if we are apologists, but whether we will be effective apologists. All of us are called to have an answer for our hope in Jesus Christ (e.g. 1 Peter 3:15).

While some people are able to learn apologetics on their own, most of us (myself included) need formal training. Here are five reasons why you should consider apologetics training in 2017:

1. Apologetics Will Help You Serve the Church. As my friend Tom Gilson wrote in his article for A New Kind of Apologist, one key feature of apologetics is to be a servant for the church. There is a huge need for some Christians in the church to have formal training on how to best answer some of the toughest questions about God, the Bible, evil and more. I often encourage my Biola M.A. students to offer to serve their pastor by doing research for sermons, being available to counsel young people with difficult questions, and being willing to offer apologetics classes for people in the church. The first reason to get formal apologetics training is to better serve the local church. Just as every church needs a teaching pastor, worship leader, and children’s director, every church needs a trained apologist.

2. Apologetics Training Will Help Build Your Confidence. Our churches are filled with people who know truth. But there is a world of difference between knowing truth and knowing that you know truth. Confidence and conviction come not from having truth, but knowing that you have truth. I have seen my own high school students—when they get formal apologetics training and learn that their beliefs are reasonable—stand out boldly for their faith. In my experience, when people are trained in apologetics, they become much more likely to live out the truth of the Gospel because they have a newfound confidence it is actually true.

3. Apologetics Training Can Be Fun. Some of you might think this point is crazy, but I have found it to be true. I do realize that apologetics training is not always fun. We have all sat through boring lectures that don’t connect to our hearts (In all honesty, I’ve delivered a few of those myself). But in my experience, apologetics training can be invigorating. After all, apologetics wrestles with the big questions of life—Does God exist? Is there evidence the world was designed? Is there life after death? Who was Jesus? What is more interesting than considering the evidence regarding the biggest questions of all? If you don’t think apologetics can be fun, check out my “atheist encounter” from a church in Michigan.

4. Apologetics Training Helps Protect the Church from Heresy. There have been core challenges to the Christian faith since its inception. From the first century forward, heretics have challenged key ideas about the character of God, nature of salvation, the reliability of the Scriptures, and more. Some of the first Christian leaders (such as Justin Martyr) are called “Apologists” because they helped defend the faith from both internal and external challenges. And today the challenges are just as great—if not greater. Every church needs someone carefully trained in apologetics to help it follow Jude’s admonition: “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.”

5. Apologetics Training is Available. We live in a golden age of apologetics. There are more books, conferences, videos, resources, and opportunities than ever before. And with modern technology, people have never had more resources at their fingertips. Apologetics training is available, accessible, and affordable. There’s no excuse!

There has never been a better time to formally study apologetics. If you’re even considering it, let me suggest two resources that may help. First, if you’re a student ages 16-22, the best place to start is by going to Summit. I went as a high school student and it was a game changer. Check it out, and even consider joining me next summer for Summit, California.

If you’re an adult, think about studying with me at Biola. We offer an M.A. in Christian Apologetics and are ranked #1 by The Best Schools. It’s a flexible, distance degree. We have people from all professions with all educational backgrounds. All you need is a desire to learn, and an undergrad degree in anything. If you are willing to learn, we are ready to help train you!

There are, of course, many other ways to get apologetics training through ministries such as Ravi Zacharias Ministries, Stand to Reason, Cross-Examined, Cold Case Christianity, Impact 360, Southern Evangelical Seminary and more. The most important thing is that we train Christians who can articulate and defend the faith. What are youwaiting for?

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.

The Problem of Evil: (Part 2) Free Will

This is the second post in a series answering the question of how evil exists in a world that is ruled by an all powerful and all good God. If you have not read the first blog I suggest that you read it here.


A paradigm shift that I think all Christians need to make when dealing with the problem of evil is that God is not concerned with making us happy He wants to make us good. We usually have in our minds that Gods greatest goal is for our happiness and this is frankly not the case.

Gods greatest goal for us is to become good, not for us to be happy.

Continue reading