If apologetics isn’t necessary for faith, why engage in apologetics at all? Why go through all the trouble for no apparent reason? Let’s assume that doing a lot of editing is not necessary to be a photographer. Some photographers do no editing at all. Does it follow from the fact that editing is not necessary to be a photographer, there is therefore no reason for a photographer to make edits? Of course not.
Photographers, like myself, have good reasons for editing (color correction, fixing white balance, aesthetic appeal, and so on). That some action isn’t necessary doesn’t mean there’s no reason to do it. So one can have reasons for doing apologetics, even though apologetics isn’t necessary for faith (on why apologetics isn’t necessary for faith, see the previous post).
The question now is, what reasons are there for engaging in apologetics? William Lane Craig, world renowned Christian philosopher and apologist, identifies three practical reasons apologetics is vital to the survival of Christianity.
1. Shaping Culture
This is, in my view, the most important practical reason to engage in apologetics. “The Gospel is never heard in isolation from a culture.” Cultural perceptions are everything. A person raised in a culture hostile to Christianity won’t be as open as someone raised in a culture that acknowledges and appreciates Christianity’s intellectual viability. Christians do themselves a disservice by not engaging in apologetics. It makes the task of evangelism all the more difficult.
2. Strengthening Believers
I often wonder if my brother would have fallen away from Christianity had the church been diligently teaching believers sound apologetics. Having good answers to serious questions can help tremendously in times of doubt. In addition to preserving one’s faith, apologetics can encourage believers to evangelize and be more confident in sharing the Gospel. So apologetics serves to strengthen believers.
3. Evangelizing Unbelievers
Apologetics will not appeal to everyone. However, the people it will appeal to are worth fighting for. Consider the case of C.S. Lewis. Through his conversion millions have been influenced by his ideas, even decades after his passing. Reaching this minority can have tremendous benefits for the Kingdom of God.
In addition to practical reasons, there are good biblical reasons to engage in apologetics. I’ve already mentioned some of them here. In addition to these, Paul commanded the church of Colossae in Colossians 4:5-6 to be wise, to know how to answer each person.
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”Colossians 4:5-6
Paul is saying here that Christians ought to be wise and make the most of interactions with outsiders. A strong case can be made that apologetics serves this purpose well.
In summary, the Christian has very good reasons to engage in apologetics despite it not being necessary for faith. Apologetics serves to shape the culture, it strengthens believers, and can be used to evangelize unbelievers. Lastly, as we briefly saw, it is supported biblically. Sorry not sorry!