After all, the first step of making disciples (per Jesus's command)1 is making Christians—evangelizing. This is relevant because, like the early Church fathers, the apostles relentlessly used and encouraged apologetics in evangelism. For example:
1 Peter 3:15 -- “Always be ready to give a defense [apologia] for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” Jude 1:3-- “…contend earnestly for the faith”; i.e Phillipians 1:7 -- “…the defense and confirmation of the gospel…” Acts 17:2-- “And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence…”; 18:28 -- "…he powerfully refuted the Jews in public”
Further examples abound. R.C. Sproul was right:
“The defense of the faith is not a luxury or intellectual vanity. It is a task appointed by God….”2
After all, through apologetics, believers can bring relief to Christians tortured by doubts. Plausibly, God allows some sufferings in order to give us opportunities to serve one another1 and being used as an apologist by God in this capacity is a great good.2 Many believers feel apologetics played a vital role in their conversion or reconversion, but also the prevention of their deconversion.3 Even Bible-students and pastors can be ill-equipped to answer basic questions, often needing relief themselves.4 Even entry level apologists can have a lot to offer their Christian fellows who have no one else to turn to.
Truly, one cannot be an active apologist for very long without feeling this:
C. S. Lewis: “…to not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground -- would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.”5
And as put by Oxford scholar and close friend of Lewis's,
Austin Farrer: “It is commonly said that if rational argument is so seldom the cause of conviction, philosophical apologists must largely be wasting their shot. The premise is true, but the conclusion does not follow. For though argument does not create conviction, the lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish. So the apologist who does nothing but defend may play a useful, though preparatory, part.”
After all, insofar as apologetics removes intellectual stumbling blocks (a feature of successful evangelism) all the love-based motivations to evangelize can be co-opted to motivate apologetics. These motivations can be both positive (e.g. “Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread”)1, and negative (e.g. “You must have, more or less, a distinct sense of the dreadful wrath of God, and of the terrors of judgment to come, or you will lack energy in your work, and so lack one of the essentials of success”).2
Some people need to see reasons to believe in order to take the Christian faith seriously.
Blaise Pascal: “Ordinary people have the ability not to think about the things they do not want to think about....But there are some without this ability to stop themselves thinking, who think all the more for being forbidden to do so. These people rid themselves of false religions, and even of the true one, unless they find solid arguments for them.” [Human Happiness 816.]Apologetics can also target cultural/academic reform, laying important groundwork for subsequent evangelists (2 Cor 10:5 -- “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God,…”).
William Lane Craig (Famed Christian apologist and philosopher): “It is at the university that [our most influential people] will formulate or, more likely, simply absorb the worldview that will shape their lives. And since these are the opinion-makers and leaders who shape our culture, the worldview that they imbibe at the university will be the one that shapes our culture. If we change the university, we change our culture… If the Christian worldview can be restored to a place of prominence and respect at the university, it will have a leavening effect throughout society.”3
J. Gresham Machen: “…it would be a great mistake to suppose that all men are equally well prepared to receive the gospel. It is true that the decisive thing is the regenerative power of God. That can overcome all lack of preparation. But as a matter of fact God usually exerts that power in connection with certain prior conditions of the human mind, and it should be ours to create, so far as we can, with the help of God, those favorable conditions for the reception of the gospel. False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or the world to be controlled by ideas which, by the resistless force of logic, prevent Christinaity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion. Under such circumstances, what God desires us to do is to destroy the obstacle at its root…” [Christianity and Culture," Princeton Theological Review 11 (1913): 6.]
In addition to supercharging your own faith, learning apologetics can turn what used to be threatening discussions with non-believers into an anticipated source of joy and fulfillment. Regardless of your personality, in the right situations, you will automatically desire to speak up and "give an answer" when you have one; in fact it can be hard to resist. Moreover, you might be surprised with how often God presents you with opportunities to share what you have just learned.
After all, we are rational creatures, like the God whose image we bear. Your conscience should testify clearly that science, math, reason, and logic are very good things.1 The Universe is God's, designed in part for us to enjoy discovering[Forthcoming], and it's embarrassing when non-believers champion intellectual pursuits like science more than God's church (the unique “soil” in which science could[Forthcoming] and historically did naturally form[Forthcoming]). God is surely pleased when aspiring apologists embrace the church's intellectual heritage, and dabblers often find new interest in academic subjects, joyfully obeying Jesus's command:
“love the Lord your God with all your heart… and with all your mind.” (Mk 12:30)
Apologetics allegedly depends on so-called “worldly wisdom” insofar as it utilizes reason, philosophy, and science. This is relevant because 1 Cor 1-4 denounces the “wisdom of the world.”1
By way of response, however, worldly wisdom refers primarily to expressed human value judgments/proverbs/rhetoric; the concerns Paul addressed had nothing to do with legitimate academic pursuits, like history, science, and analytic philosophy.2, 3
Allegedly, faith is belief without evidence. E.g.
John 20:29 says '[Thomas,] blessed are those who don't see'"
This is relevant because apologetics aims undermines ones ability to believe without evidence, since the whole enterprise is aimed at answering objections and giving evidence for the truth of core Christian doctrines.
Allegedly, apologetics essentially involves quarreling/fighting; it's hostile. This is relevant because hostility is something Christians should frown upon. [Forthcoming]
By way of response, however, apologists are commanded to “be prepared to give an answer [apologia], yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet 3:15). So it is not essentially hostile. (See tips on how to have a cordial discussion).
Allegedly, apologetics attributes conversions to human efforts. This is relevant because pride is sinful and scripture teaches that God gets the credit.
By way of response, however, the apostles both commanded and actively engaged in apologetics, so they did not believe it was crediting man rather than God. Instead, the apostles knew that God blesses evangelism which reflects God's character. And God's character is one of love, but also of reason. (For example, Isaiah 1:18 -- “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the LORD”
Allegedly, apologetics does not play any role in alleviating doubts and/or bringing people to faith. This is relevant because if apologetics deos not result in these things we should not do it.