The late great Christian apologist, Dr. Walter Martin is and always will be one of my “heroes in the faith”. He was probably the one responsible for bringing Apologetics as a ministry to the forefront and I listen to his tapes often. I always appreciated how he stuck to doctrine and didn’t get into the mudslinging and personal stuff that has nothing to do with apologetics.
One section of Scripture that most Apologists cite as their litmus test is this timeless passage
1Peter 3:15 NIV
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect
There it is. This is how you separate the “real” apologists from the phonies and believe me when I tell you there are plenty of the latter and a whole lot less of the former on the Internet. Let’s try and break this passage down so you can make your own determinations regarding who the real apologists are, and, how to spot the phonies.
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord:
This is the major deal here. Christ has to be the only reason for doing apologetic work. After all it’s Him the apologist is claiming to defend. So many times we see folks leaving movements who are starting blogs and whatever under the guise of apologetics to “expose false teachings”. The reality is many seem to be interested in “getting even” because they are bitter and angry for being “duped”. Other apologists seem only interested in attacking people they either didn’t like or who felt “betrayed” them while they were in the movement. These folks my friends aren’t making Christ first are they?
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have
One of the most alarming things I’ve seen in my travels across the Internet are apologists defending things they know absolutely nothing about yet pretending to be these super apologists. I’ve even scene misguided folks taking on Seminary professors and making a fool out of themself in the process simply because they didn’t have a clue to what they were talking about. IOW, they think they were prepared but obviously weren’t prepared very well now were they. A fine example of this can be found here as well as here.
It isn’t intended for everyone to be apologists but as Christians you should at least be prepared or make yourself ready to share the hope that you have, and that hope is the life, death, resurrection and future return of Christ. 1Corinthians 15:1-4 is a good place for you to start whenever anyone asks for the hope that lies within you.
But do so with gentleness and respect
That right there sums up the ministry of Dr. Walter Martin and what’s missing from most of the “super apologists” running around on the internet. That was also what was missing in the early days around here as well. I’m nowhere near where I’d like to be but with the Lord’s help I sure am trying.
The definition for gentleness here means humility. Being humble means not acting like you know everything because none of us do. Anyone who tells you they KNOW you are wrong in theological matters certainly isn’t being very humble now is it? They aren’t being very honest with either you or even themselves because they really DON’T know if they are right. When you meet someone like that online run away from them.
Respect is something rarely seen on the Internet and was DEFINITELY lacking in the linked articles. We must show others respect at all times when we are debating because while we may or may not be dealing with heresy we are still dealing with people.
As you can see Apologetics obviously isn’t for everyone and 1Peter 3:15 is very specific on how these things should be done. Its something we all should strive for and something I plan on working towards from here on out, and I urge each of you if you have the opportunity to spend some time listening to tapes of Dr. Martin as he was one of those guys who got it right!
Tomorrow we’ll examine 1Peter 3:16.