Apologetics is important. Apologetics codify what we believe in. They allow for us to answer the question “Why.” The answer to the question “Why” is where apologetics lie.
Answering “Why” allows us to have our beliefs engrain themselves into our being. If we can answer the question “why do I believe what I believe?”, then I am able to defend those beliefs against doubt, disbelief, and even attack from the enemy.
Apologetics do not lie within the “what we believe” because if we answer “what” without knowing the “why”, then what we believe is an arbitrary set of facts that have no application in our lives. Like in our middle school algebra, showing our work on how we got to the right answer is just as important as the answer itself. Knowing how to get the answer is just as important as the answer itself.
That is why I love apologetics so much. Scripture has modern application to our lives, and failing both to recognize that and to teach that is detrimental to our individual walk with Christ and the corporate gathering of believers each and every Sunday. Teaching people to strive for the reason behind their beliefs as much as the target of their belief has created and will create a foundation for vast spiritual growth that will sustain the turbulence of indecision and doubt that has written about time and again as the millennial generation has come of age.
An example of the practicality of Scripture is demonstrated in a study of general economic principles that was written about on the three things that, if done, usually result in economic stability. The part of the story that does not get written about is that the three principles discussed are scriptural in their nature.
The first general principle is to graduate from high school. A high school diploma is incredibly important when it comes to finding a job that not only pays well on the outset but also has a career track that will result in a greater income in the long run. The lack of a high school diploma typically means that the individual will be stuck in the lowest quadrant of the socio-economic division. This is further demonstrated by the fact that most studies show that a college diploma is typically worth $1 million more than a high school diploma in the course of an individual’s working life.
What we sometimes forget is that God wants us to thirst for knowledge and wisdom. The natural and developed intelligence of Jesus during the incarnation is something that we can hardly fathom. Dallas Willard puts it best in his most acclaimed worked The Divine Conspiracy.
“He is not just nice, he is brilliant. He is the smartest man who ever lived. He is now supervising the entire course of world history (Revelation 1:5) while simultaneously preparing the rest of the universe for our future role in it (John 14:2). He always has the best information on everything and certainly also on the things that matter most in human life.”
If we are to believe that our calling as Christians is to model ourselves after Christ, then that example includes the fact that Jesus wants us to develop ourselves intellectually and to increase our cognitive abilities to the absolute best that they can be. We take our initial step of faith blindly, but that doesn’t mean that our entire faith journey is done so with our eyes closed.
The second general principle is to not quit a job until you have another one lined up. This seems like a no-brainer, but as our society produces less loyalty on both sides of the employer/employee relationship, it is sometimes too easy to make a snap decision and decide to leave a job that you don’t enjoy. According to LinkedIn (Social Media site dedicated to professionals), 85% of the American workforce will be active in their search for a new job. That means that if you are to decide to jettison your daily grind of your less-than-satisfying-paycheck-acquiring mechanism, then not only are you competing for the new job with the unemployed, but also the vast majority of the current working population as well. With these kind of odds, leaving your two-week notice without a plan is to have the simple numerical odds work against you.
Quality of work and work ethic are topics that do not escape the scope of scripture. God desires us to work and to work with excellence. God desires our very best as if we were under His direct supervision rather than that of our current boss (Col. 3:23, Eph. 6:7). Our natural working position is to offer our very best. How we work is to be an offering to God, and God deserves the very best that we have to offer. Looking for a new job is not necessarily a bad thing, but during the search, Scripture demands that we find a place where we can strive for excellence and serve others in a way that makes it obvious that Christ is the most important thing in our lives.
The final general principle for economic stability is to avoid having children before marriage. Out of all the general principles, this may be the most controversial, because of the overt sexual nature of our society. The subject of sex and the church is one that always evokes controversy, because we have abdicated this subject because of its…well…touchy nature. Because of this, the by-product is that the truths of scripture have been lost as society formulates its own relative morality when it comes to sex.
Much has been written about the income disparity of the average family and how the wages of the middle class have stagnated since the early 90’s. An article in the Wall Street Journal details that the median income of a married family is roughly three times that of a single parent household. Furthermore, the statistics show that the number of single parent households has risen steadily in the same time frame. Thus, the rising of single parent households, and the fact that single parent households earning power is exponentially diminished comparatively, the economic statistics bear this out.
It is no secret that even in the church’s sporadic sex education, which they advocate for abstinence before marriage. Matthew 19:5 details the model in which God intended for a young person to leave their father and mother and start a family of their own. When that happens, husband and wife become “one flesh”. In this instance the lack of apologetics shines through as those who claim to follow Christ and also admit to having sex before marriage has risen to close to 80% according to recent surveys. The truth of the matter is that abstinence education is not a dusty puritanical suggestion of days gone by, but rather practical advice to avoid the economic albatross of single parenthood. It turns out, that God provides us with these structures within scripture for no other reason than for our benefit. When we engage in these behaviors and the effect is our destruction, this is nothing more than an example of causation and nothing more.
Connecting what we are teaching in Scripture to the practicalities of the everyday lives of the people around us. We must do that for no other reason than we love them and care about their well-being. Without practical application, there is no apologetic. Without love as the bedrock of our teaching, we are just cymbals and gongs.