I've heard that it all has to do with knowing the right audience. Perhaps, if the audience be Christian, it would be labelled as "theology", and if the audience is non-Christian, it would be labelled as "apologetics". So, apologetics might be just Christian theology re-packaged to a non-Christian audience.

(There is this book by R.C. Sproul, and I suspect that he is writing to a Christian audience by his usage of "we", making it sound like an ordinary textbook or handbook on theology. However, the term "we" can be re-interpreted as "the author and other orthodox Calvinists", making it sound like proselytism. Either way, it is clear that R.C. Sproul is writing with a specific purpose: to persuade the reader his own view of God, the Holy Trinity, or the Holy Spirit. And if the reader buys it, believes it, is changed by his writing, then he'd fulfill his purpose as a writer. Writing is an art. An art of persuasion.)

  • 4
    How is this not simply answered by a google search for the definition?
    – user3961
    Feb 5, 2014 at 6:39
  • 4
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is trivial. The answer is readily available by consulting a dictionary or an internet search.
    – user3961
    Feb 5, 2014 at 6:40
  • @fredsbend I voted to close too.
    – Double U
    Feb 5, 2014 at 23:31

3 Answers 3


"Theology" is the study of God, the gods, and related ideas like angels and demons and heaven and hell.

"Apologetics" is the defense of a theological position.

You could say that apologetics is a subset of theology, that part of theology concerned with proving (or at least, arguing) that the rest is true.


An apologist is someone who defends an argument positively.

By definition:

a person who offers an argument in defense of something controversial.

When an apologists arguments are documented or "accepted" then they are apologetics:

reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine.

Therefore, you have have apologetics of a radical theology, but the theology itself is not apologetics.

To non-Christians, you may need to be an apologist for Christianity - if you wish to debate and defend your theology. Alternatively you could be passive in the argument and just listen to your theology get trashed.

Even simpler:

They would accept your position on the Christian Theology. Should a debate start then you would use Christian Apologetics to defend your position.


Apologetics is derived from a Greek word meaning "speaking in defense" and involves defending a position through relevant explanations. Although this is normally used in a religious sense today, the original term could have been used in presenting a legal defense. So Christian Apologetics normally refers to presenting a defense of the Christian Faith, in a similar manner to what a lawyer does when he presents an argument of defense in court (these arguments are often written instead of spoken though).

A simple definition of Theology is "the study of things related to God".

So you could study Theology to obtain knowledge of things related to God. In addition you could study other subjects such as Science to obtain further knowledge that could also assist in debunking secular "evidence" against the Christian Faith. Using all of this combined knowledge you could present a defense of your faith (whether written or verbal) to those that challenge it. This would be considered apologetics.

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