When I tell people that God used "apologetics" to change my life and eternity, some of them respond with a blank stare. They think "apologetics" means I'm sorry for something. Actually, apologetics is quite different from that. In fact, it may very well be the key to keeping our children and grandchildren from leaving the faith.
The word "apologetics" comes from the Greek apologia, which means "reasoned defense." Simply put, apologetics offers philosophical arguments and scientific and historical evidence for the truth of Christianity, while also providing good answers to tough questions that skeptics raise about the faith.
Both of these aspects of apologetics were crucial in my spiritual journey. I was an atheist, trained in journalism and law, who decided to investigate Christianity in order to disprove it and thus liberate my wife from her newfound faith in Christ. But during my two-year quest, I found a wealth of evidence for the truth of Christianity and solid responses to the spiritual objections that I had harbored. Ultimately, I reached my verdict in the case for Christ: Jesus is the unique Son of God, who proved his divinity by rising from the dead.
So, for spiritual skeptics like I was—and their numbers are increasing in America and beyond—apologetics can help us get past the spiritual "sticking points" that hinder our journey to God. But that's not all apologetics does. It also serves to deepen the faith of Christians, which makes them more confident and willing to reach out to others with the life-changing and eternity-altering message of Christ.
A theme verse for apologists is 1 Peter 3:15: "But in your hearts revere 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..."
Indeed, that last sentence suggests that how we answer the questions of skeptics can be every bit as important as what we say. Apologetics isn't effective when Christians merely pontificate or try to force-feed information into unwilling recipients.
Instead, contemporary apologetics means we do more listening than talking; we honor questions rather than be offended by them; and we seek to reflect God's love to others. That way, we're emulating Jesus, who came "full of grace and truth (John 1:14)."
My friend J. Warner Wallace, a homicide detective and atheist who became a Christian after investigating the evidence like I did, said recently: "Evangelism in the 21st Century is spelled A-P-O-L-O-G-E-T-I-C-S." That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but not much! More and more, people today want reasons to believe in Christ.
That's why it's ever more important to incorporate apologetics into the children's and student ministries of our churches—and for each of us to become conversant with why we believe what we believe. It's also why we have now launched the Lee Strobel Center for Evangelism and Applied Apologetics at Colorado Christian University—to equip churches, ministries, and individual Christians to be beacons of truth and grace.
Our goal is ambitious: to spark spiritual renewal in America. Watch for our first courses to be offered online next Fall—and consider whether you'd like to be part of this exciting endeavor.
Listen to Lee Strobel on the daily broadcast.
On this broadcast, Lee Strobel will address this generation's lack of biblical heritage. He looks at why so many millennials are skeptical about faith and how the church can educate young people to defend their beliefs.
Learn More about the Guest
Lee Strobel is a teacher, speaker, award-winning journalist and the author of several books, including: The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith. He has been a featured guest on national networks including: Discovery, CNN, 20/20, PBS, ABC and Fox. He wrote and produced his own TV show, Faith Under Fire.
Pursuing degrees in both journalism and law, Lee was a devout atheist on a mission to disprove God. What he didn't expect, was his life being completely transformed when his research led him to a contradictory conclusion: God is real and there is more evidence to support this belief than not. Lee submitted his life to Christ and now commits his time to helping reach other skeptics who doubt the faith. Lee and his wife Leslie have been married for over 40 years. They reside in Texas and have two grown children and several grandchildren.
Lee Strobel is a New York Times best-selling author and Founding Director of the Lee Strobel Center for Evangelism and Applied Apologetics at Colorado Christian University. For information, visit ColoradoChristianUniversity.edu/StrobelCenter.