I have noticed a sense of defeatism in much of Christianity in our culture, a marked sense of constantly being on the defensive in this life. In church we feel like world beaters. At church we know that Christ reigns, and has promised us a share in the kingdom. We sing songs about his mighty power and his glory and we know that nothing can separate us from the love of the God. But then we go into the world, and we act like Satan runs the place and we are hanging on by a thread. I have even seen this attitude taken in the world of apologetics. I have taken this attitude myself.
Peter commanded Christians to always be prepared, “to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” This verse has put many people in a defensive posture in apologetics. I used to answer any ridiculous, mocking, blasphemous question an unbeliever would ask, ad nauseum. Some questions are honest questions and should be answered biblically. Other questions are just a side-show, dishonest and only intended as scoffing. 1 Peter 3:15 does not require you to answer a fool. We need to use wisdom to distinguish between an honest question and the question of a fool. We need to answer both kinds of questions biblically. “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.”
But the problematic assumption people make is that the work of an apologist is passive: fielding questions from the peanut gallery and defusing each with credible sounding answers. I think this is a fundamental misunderstanding of our job as Christians. Answering questions about the hope you have within you ASSUMES the person asking the question knows about the hope you have within you. If you have never told that person about Christ why would they ask you about him?
Making a defense does not mean you are on the defensive. Christians are not meant to live a life hiding out in our churches on Sunday (and maybe Wednesday) assuming that the culture will never respond to the gospel proclamation. On the contrary, Jesus told us that he himself will build his church, and that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Christians are meant to kick down the gates of hell wherever they are found, through the power of the Holy Spirit. By the way, gates don’t do anything offensive. They just stand there and are purely defensive in nature. Christianity is a faith on the offensive. We are to do things. Whatever your understanding of eschatology is, as a Christian you should live functionally as a post-millennial. We should not be hiding out, holding down the last fort, just trying to survive. On the contrary, Christians should be devoted to expanding the kingdom of God everywhere they can and in all areas of life.
It has been said that the best defense is a good offense. This is true. The Holy Spirit and the word of God is the BEST offense. So the best apologetic (defense) against any attack against Christianity is the proclamation of Biblical truth. I love how Sye Ten Bruggencate puts it: “Apologetics is easy. Read your Bible, and do what it says.”
Indeed the Bible says: “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Christianity is a faith on the offense. Christ has given you the plan of attack and the power to execute it here on Earth. Now “go!”