I used to think, as a kid, that apologetics was a method for apologizing for something. When I learned about it in the context of religious faith, I kind of figured that apology was not really what apologetics was all about, since I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to apologize for their faith. It took me a while to understand that apologetics is really just the act of studying religious beliefs with the intent to defend and prove them.
Over the years, apologetics has taken on an important role in the Christian faith. In some circles it has acquired an almost fanatical undertone, with believers arguing over every trivial detail of their respective theologies. In the process apologetics has, in some ways, almost replaced sacred text itself, with more emphasis being placed on the “teacher of a particular belief system”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/?p=317 than on the God whom we all (supposedly) serve. I have said it many times, and will continue to say, that beyond the basic Gospel message itself, the rest of the theological details are, to some extent, far more trivial and thus far less important. This means that apologetics should not, in all likelihood, be taken quite as seriously as some Christians would like to believe.
On the other hand, I have seen it taken too far to the other extreme, with apologetics being almost ignored. Again, I think this is a product of a post-modern culture, where so few people, relatively speaking, are sure that truth can ever really be known. As a result we have many Christians, both young and old alike, who are almost completely unable to give an answer for the beliefs that they hold. This is an unfortunate situation. If an individual does not know the reasons for their beliefs, then their beliefs are not and cannot be central in their lives. Their beliefs cannot serve as that guiding light of righteous living that is so important in the daily Christian walk.
I’ve watched many Christians my age stumble and falter when challenged about their beliefs. And sadly, I’ve watched many of them change their beliefs to ones that are counter to Scripture, simply on the basis that they do not know enough to defend their stances. I don’t think that we are doing enough to teach new Christians the beliefs of our faith, let alone how to defend them. The Bible _does_ have all the answers, and those answers _can_ be known. But we seem to have taken a carefree, lackadaisical approach to teaching the doctrine of the Christian faith, and so when faced with the fire of secularism, many Christians buckle and either recant their faith and accept beliefs that contradict the very teachings of their own faith.
Apologetics can be overdone to the point of being divisive, but at the same time, I do think that they are so very important and foundational to being able to stand strong in the face of opposition. I’m not an expert in apologetics, and I find it sad and somewhat discouraging that, compared to so many of my peers, I _am_ viewed as an expert in Christian beliefs. My goal, then, is to do my part to train both my generation and the next in apologetics of our faith so that we _will_ always “be able to give a reason for the hope that is in us”:http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=67&chapter=3&verse=15&version=31&context=verse.