Faith in Jesus and accepting Him as your personal savior has many layers. You must believe in something more than what can be seen. You must believe in an afterlife. You must believe in the truth of the Word. You must believe in the person of Jesus. You must believe in the crucifixion of Jesus. And so on.

Practicing apologetics on the truth of the crucifixion won’t do anything for a person who doesn’t yet believe in the supernatural. Apologetics in the Word won’t do much for a person who doesn’t yet accept the person of Jesus. Etc.

I am looking to see if apologetics is practiced as a single discipline, or have we have categorized apologetics into some form of classification or grouping. Perhaps there is a special class of apologetics which focuses on the Truth of the Bible, for example, and doesn’t involve arguments for an afterlife.

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    I think you will find the Wikipedia article helpful. [Apologetics](en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 15, 2022 at 23:34
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    Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 3:03

3 Answers 3


Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander (1 Peter3:13-16 NIV).

In verse 15, the NIV uses the words "give an answer," whereas the NASB (1995) uses the words "make a defense." My non-scholarly reason for preferring the NIV's rendering is that I believe that in the defense of our faith, our answers as apologists should be preceded by a question posed by a questioner.

That does not mean Christians should never put out a feeler question when they sense the Holy Spirit is leading them to do so. It does, however, mean that Christians need to be guided in their answers by the questions that unbelievers ask them.

Sometimes a non-Christian might ask, for example, "I've noticed in you a certain peacefulness that I find kind of rare, and it's something I lack. What's up with you?" (I'm assuming here your inner peace stems from your relationship with God and that God has developed in you his peace "which passes all comprehension"--Philippians 4:7 NASB.)

Given the questioner's question, would launching into the "Romans Road" be an apt response? Probably not. A savvy apologist would likely give God the credit for that special kind of peace and then ask the questioner a question in the spirit of "gentleness and respect." Here are some suggestions:

  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm sensing you are perhaps a little envious of this "thing" you see in me. Is that an accurate statement?

  • Thanks for noticing that peace you think I have. I do have inner peace, but I give God credit for that peace. If you have a few minutes, would you like to know why I give God the credit for that settledness you see in me?

  • I do have inner peace, in spite of the craziness that is going on all around us today. Would you like to know why I feel the way I do?

A Christian's apology does not usually--if ever--require a hard sell. Again, an apt response is to be gentle and respectful, and for that reason I am suggesting a defense of the faith is above all a contextual process. By that, I mean there are not necessarily many categories of apologetics, but perhaps just one, and that is context.

Like Nehemiah of old, Christians need to depend on God's Holy Spirit for impromptu guidance when they are expected "to give an answer."

And it came about in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, that wine was before him, and I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. So the king said to me, “Why is your face sad though you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart.” Then I was very much afraid. I said to the king, “Let the king live forever. Why should my face not be sad when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire?” Then the king said to me, “What would you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. I said to the king, “If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor before you, send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it” (Nehemiah 2:1-5, my emphasis).

  • "our answers as apologists should be preceded by a question posed by a questioner." I think that is a spectacular surmise. "Make a defense" likewise requires an "attack" first. Both are broadly, "challenges" to our claims; the difference is in the intent. A question seeks an answer. An attack may not be seeking an answer. Good post.
    – Vogon Poet
    Commented Feb 17, 2022 at 15:18
  • @VogonPoet: Thanks for the compliment! Thanks too for your "'make a defense' likewise requires an attack first." Good point. Don Commented Feb 19, 2022 at 13:39
  • @VogonPoet Jude 3 came to mind. He wrote saying it was vital that Christians struggle to defend the Faith. Epagonizesthai comes from the fierce competition of the athletic field. Believers must fight with all their strength to preserve "the faith" which has been handed down to them. Hapax means "once for all," because the message of Christianity was given to the Church at the beginning; it had not come in installments. The content of the apostolic gospel is fixed, not to be revised for each new era. One of my mentors was the late Dr. Walter Martin. Jude 3 was his life verse and he lived it.
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented Feb 20, 2022 at 3:03
  • @VogonPoet: Good point. Christians ARE to contend for the faith. In the context of Jude, however, Christians contend for the faith primarily through recognizing and defeating the ungodly interlopers who slipped into a local church (or churches) and were--as Jude called them--blemishes on the church's love feasts (a term for the Lord's Supper, which took place at some point in a communal meal). Christians' response to them does not involve apologetics per se. As for Dr Walter Martin, his "Kingdom of the Cults" is must reading for Christians. Don Commented Feb 20, 2022 at 13:55

Apologetics has a long history within the Church, beginning early with someone like St. Augustine of Hippo and continuing up throughout the Church with people like William Lane Craig.

I've identified two forms of Christian apologetics in todays modern age:

  • Classical Apologetics
  • Evidential Apologetics

Classical Apologetics was firstly most notable with thinkers such as Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Anselm of Canterbury, who presented premised arguments like the argument from contingency and the ontological argument, both of which rely on deductive arguments to get to God.

As an example, take the argument from contingency.

  1. There are things that are contingent (that being, there are things that are contingent on another thing) and there are things that are necessary (things that must exist).
  2. Every contingent thing we observe in our universe is acted on by another contingent thing.
  3. An infinite regress of contingent things is impossible (a chandelier cannot be held up by an infinite chain)
  4. Thus there must be a necessary cause to the universe.

Arguments like these go from observable things in our universe and create premises that lead to conclusions about the metaphysical nature of our universe.

Evidential apologetics is a less popular form of apologetics, but has some big players, such as Gary Habermas. Evidential apologetics observes things like miracles and concludes from the miracles themselves that there must be a higher power. Examples of this include spiritual healing, the resurrection of Jesus (which GH argues from using the historical record), and other supernatural events.


Apologetics came about early in the history of the Church and developed over the centuries. To categorise this vast historical record there is a need to know the history of its development, and who the Christians were who became known as the Apologists, and the subjects they both defended and promoted as necessary for Christians to believe. Religious Apologetics is a discipline of defending religious doctrines through systematic reasoning. In modern times, Apologetics is often thought of as theological exchanges between one group holding to a particular religious belief, as compared with a different group's belief. Apologetics and systematic theology are closely linked.

This question, in asking if Apologetics is practiced as a single discipline, has the answer, "Yes," which is the same answer to whether theology can be practiced as a single discipline. The trouble is, the scope of both is vast and they often intermingle. You asked if there is "a special class of Apologetics which focuses on the Truth of the Bible, for example, and doesn’t involve arguments for an afterlife." The problem here is that the theology of both those topics are bound together, and before any Christian can be an Apologist on either topic, they have to know the theology of both. Only then might they go on to be a successful Apologist for both topics, and they could well treat each topic separately. But that would depend on what contrary beliefs they were defending the topics against. To be an Apologist dealing with contrary Buddhist beliefs on authoritative scripture, for example, might require showing the incompatibility of their respective beliefs in the afterlife, which would be shown up by comparing their respective scriptures. Likewise with an Apologist dealing with contrary Muslim beliefs. Even within the ranks of different Christian groups, there is usually a related clash between more than one doctrine.

There are lists of the Apologists who wrote defenses of the Christian faith and who also wrote theologies. They were called "teachers of the church" more often than they were called "Apologists". The simple point is that nobody could become a Christian Apologist without first having a deep grasp of a whole range of theological topics. And this is where another point you raised is crucially important.

"Apologetics in the Word won’t do much for a person who doesn’t yet accept the person of Jesus." So true! This demonstrates how it's possible to put the cart before the horse, theologically speaking. In fact, to be an Apologist seeking to uphold the integrity of scripture without having yet developed belief in what the scriptures say as to who this Jesus is, is an exercise in futility. The New Testament scriptures start by showing just who this holy one who has been born to the virgin Mary really is - "born this day, ...a saviour, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11); "he shall save his people from their sins... Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" (Mat. 1:21 v& 2:2). The apostle Paul starts his gospel message with pointing to the person of Christ, before detailing what this person did. In Romans 1:1-4, the evangel does not start with the work of Christ, but with the Worker. It commences with whom he is; it declares his person. What's the use trying to proclaim the gospel to a person without having first pointed them to the glorious personage of the gospel?

Genuine conversion to Christ, the resurrected Son of God, opens up the theology related to Christian belief and then a person is enabled to speak properly, either as a teacher in the congregation, or as a public Apologist. Yet it is certainly impossible for a non-converted person to succeed at being a Christian Apologist, no matter how erudite or how full of head-knowledge they are about theology.

What this boils down to, with regard to the question, is that the formally recognised categories of Apologetics avails no-one in and of itself. Recognise who any given Apologist is; a genuinely converted Christian, or someone just out to spread empty knowledge about a subject? All the subjects within Apologetics must first be subjected to the authority of the One being spoken about, for all scripture is of Christ, the living Word of God, and all the Holy Spirit's activity is to glorify Christ, who testifies of Christ, who receives of Christ, and shows that unto those being saved (John 15:26 & 16:14).

It is who you believe that matters here. Is the Apologist able to say, with Paul, "I know whom I have believed, and that he is able to keep that which I've committed unto him unto that day"? If so, then go on to consider his defense of whatever Christian doctrine he speaks of. Otherwise, all his rhetoric and head-knowledge will count for nothing.

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