I first realised the need for apologetics during a mission team trip in New York. I was 18 and enthusiastically witnessing to an elderly man in a park, when he challenged the Bible’s reliability with an issue I had not considered. We soon ended the conversation and I was left to wonder, “What should I have said?”
Perhaps you have encountered a similar situation. In fact, the world constantly questions what you believe. Our faith is challenged by teachers, co-workers, the online anonymous, entertainers, and non-believers close to us. This is God’s instruction:
“always [be] prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (I Peter 3:15)
We must be ready to provide a reasoned defense of what we believe. This instruction is to all Christians, not just egg-headed intellectuals or fiery types who love to argue. Our readiness must be constant (“always”), with the ability to respond to all kinds of people (“anyone”).
In context, the verse specifically speaks to Christians who are being persecuted, or suffering for righteousness’ sake. The implication is that suffering can provide opportunities to share your hope — when you are prepared.
One test of your preparation is your response to a difficult question. Here are some common criticisms / questions I often hear:
- “The Bible is just a book of made-up stories.”
- “Science proves that the Bible is false.”
- “How do you know there’s a God?”
- “If God is real, then how can God allow suffering to exist?”
- “I don’t believe in life after death. Once you’re dead, that’s it.”
The world is constantly posing these challenges in various forms. How would you respond to these? A biblical, reasonable response can help lead others a step forward in understanding truth. An appropriate answer may also encourage another Christian. We need to be ready.
Three helpful resources
(use with discernment)
William Lane Craig is one of the best philosophical apologists today. A skilled debater and prolific author, Craig has provided many helpful resources for interacting with critics.