Christian Apologetics And Its Decisive Element -- By: Leander S. Keyser

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 089:354 (Apr 1932)
Article: Christian Apologetics And Its Decisive Element
Author: Leander S. Keyser


Christian Apologetics And Its Decisive Element

Leander S. Keyser

First, we want to say “a good word” for Christian Apologetics. In the scientific (theological) sense of the term, Apologetics does not mean making a servile excuse for a wrong done, nor even flying to the defense of something that needs bolstering. The etymology of the term gives its true meaning in theological science. It is derived from the Greek—apo, meaning in favor of, and logos, meaning a discourse; therefore it means “a discourse in favor of.” In scientific vogue, therefore, it carries the idea of a reasoned and systematized vindication, and includes offense against error as well as defense of truth.

Thus we cannot agree with those persons who undervalue or disparage this theological discipline. We cannot sympathize with people who exclaim in cavalier fashion: “You need not concern yourself about the truth; the truth will take care of itself!” If that is the case, why did God so often in His holy Book vindicate His ways to men, and even challenge wicked Israel to debate, saying, “Come now and let us reason together”? Again and again our Lord upheld His teaching and conduct against His gainsayers. In some of His contests with the Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians He proved Himself a master of the science and art of polemics. Many of His parables have a strong apologetic element. When His enemies accused Him of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub, He answered them with an argument that closed the discussion, with the victory on His side.

The same is true of His great apostle, Paul. His was not the laissez faire attitude. It is said of him that he reasoned with the Jews every Sabbath Day in their synagogues. Note his matchless defenses before Felix and Agrippa, in which he proved himself a master of debate. Remember also the strong apologetic character of his address on Mar’s Hill in Athens. Peter was also an apologist for the Christian faith on the day of Pentecost, providing

from the Old Testament and also from established facts that Christ, the One who had been crucified, was the risen and ascended Lord of heaven and earth. If you read Peter’s sermons and epistles, you will find that he became a powerful polemicist, in the good sense of the term, after his enlightenment by the Holy Spirit. In his first epistle, third chapter, 15th verse, he places his stamp of endorsement on the right kind of apologetics: “But sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord; ready always to give an answer to him that asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear.” Yes, he says we are to be ready, alert defenders of our faith. In John’s e...

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