“Be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Apologetics is the enterprise of obeying that command.
Many people scorn apologetics because it seems very intellectual, abstract and rational. They contend that life and love and morality and sanctity are much more important than reason. Those who reason this way are right; they just don’t notice that they are reasoning. We can’t avoid reasoning; we can only avoid doing it well. Further, reason is a friend of faith.
Another, deeper reason why some people scorn apologetic reasoning is that they decide with their hearts much more than with their heads whether to believe or not. The heart is our center, not the head. But apologetics gets at the heart through the head. The head is important precisely because it is a gate to the heart. We can love only what we know.
Further, reason at least has veto power. We can’t believe what we believe to be untrue, and we can’t love what we believe to be unreal. Arguments may not bring you to faith, but they can certainly keep you away from faith. Therefore we must join the battle of arguments.
Arguments can bring you closer to faith in the same sense that a car can bring you to the sea. The car can’t swim; you have to jump in to do that. But you can’t jump in from a hundred miles inland. You need a car first to bring you to the point where you can make a leap of faith into the sea. Faith is a leap, but a leap in the light, not in the dark.
In other words, arguments are more like swords than bombs. It matters little who drops a bomb. But it matters enormously who wields a sword, for a sword is an extension of the swordsman. Thus, an argument in apologetics, when actually used in dialogue, is a extension of the arguer. The arguer’s tone, sincerity, care, concern, listening and respect matter as much as his or her logic – probably more. The world was won for Christ not by arguments but by sanctity: “What you are speaks so loud, I can hardly hear what you say.”
Apologetics is especially needed today, when the world stands at a triple crossroads and crisis. Western civilization is for the first time in its history in danger of dying. The reason is spiritual. It is losing its life, its soul; that soul was the Christian faith. The infection killing it is not multiculturalism – other faiths – but the monoculturalism of secularism – no faith, no soul. The twentieth century has been marked by genocide, sexual chaos and money-worship. Unless all the prophets are liars, we are doomed unless we repent and “turn back the clock” (not technologically but spiritually).
We are not only in a civil, cultural crisis but also in a philosophical, intellectual one. Our crisis is “a crisis of truth”. Increasingly, the very idea of objective truth is being ignored, abandoned or attacked–especially by the educational and media establishments, who mold our minds.
The deepest level of our crisis is not cultural or intellectual but spiritual. At stake are the eternal souls of men and women for whom Christ died. Some think the end is near. We are skeptical of such predictions, but we know one thing with certainty: our civilization may last for another century, but you will not. You will soon stand naked in the light of God. You had better learn to love and seek that light while there is still time, so that it will be your joy and not your fear forever.
From Peter Kreeft “Handbook of Christian Apologetics”