The Bible not only assures us that God will provide sufficient answers to the most pressing objections to the Christian faith but also explains why we do not have an answer to every question we might want answered, at least while we “see in a mirror dimly” (1 Cor. 13:12).
After exhorting his readers to “in your hearts honor Christ as Lord as holy,” the Apostle Peter instructed them to always be prepared to “make a defense” to everyone who asks the reason for the hope within them (1 Peter 3:15). The Greek word translated “defense” is apologia, from which we get our English word apologetics, meaning the reasoned defense of the faith. Apologetics is one of the tasks of the church, and whenever God directs His people to a task, He supplies whatever is needed to fulfill that task. Thus, when Scripture directs us to give answers to those who raise critical questions about the Christian faith, we may reasonably assume that answers will be available to give.
When I first delved into Christian apologetics, it was primarily (I’m ashamed to confess) for the purpose of self-defense. I wanted respectable answers to the hard questions tossed at me like grenades by the very smart unbelievers with whom I worked, so that I wouldn’t look foolish in their eyes. But in those early years, it felt like a roller-coaster ride. Whenever I encountered a new objection to which I had no ready response, I would experience a sense of panic, as though the entire Christian faith were hanging in the balance. Every single time I did the research, however, I discovered that there were solid answers to the objection, and it wasn’t nearly the devastating blow that I had feared it to be. It took many years for me to learn the lesson: newly encountered objections should be seen not as threats to faith but as opportunities for growth, and it’s safe to assume that answers will be available if we’re willing to do the work of finding them.
I learned a second important lesson through those experiences and the studying I was prompted to do. Apologetics is not a recent innovation in the history of the church. Christians in the early centuries were confronted by a battery of objections to their claims about God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ. Yet the Lord has never left His people without answers. In every generation, God has equipped His church with gifted thinkers who have been equal to the task of defending the Christian faith against the prominent critics of the day. The objections have varied over the centuries, and the answers have sometimes changed too—mostly through critical refinement and improvement. The one constant has been the faithful provision of the Lord Jesus, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3).
Thanks to this long history of intellectual engagement, we have more resources today for defending the faith than ever before. We should be greatly encouraged that Christian apologetics is flourishing in our time. There has been a remarkable renaissance of Christian philosophy in the last sixty years, and some of the most respected and productive scholars in the field are also professing believers. Conservative biblical scholarship is very much alive and thriving. Historical research into the ancient world is increasingly confirming that the four Gospels contain exactly what they claim: firsthand eyewitness testimony of the ministry of Jesus. Meanwhile, in the natural sciences, the more we uncover about the structure of the universe and the history of life on our planet, the more we find confirmation of the biblical doctrines of divine creation and providence. To echo Francis Schaeffer: all truth is indeed God’s truth.