What Is the Heart of Apologetics?

The gospel which we possess was not given to us only to be admired, talked of, and professed, but to be practiced.

When people think about apologetics they usually don’t associate the word with “heart.” That’s because apologetics has been unfortunately relegated to just the head. But apologetics should involve both head and heart. During the Last Supper with His disciples, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

When we think about apologetics, we often think about giving heady arguments to defend the reliability of Christianity. We carefully lay out our arguments for the existence of God, the infallibility of Scripture, the empty tomb, and so on. Yet here Jesus says, “I’ve got a ‘hearty’ apologetic for you.” Jesus says if you want to give a great defense of Christianity, then do so by loving each other “just as I have loved you.”

Now that’s a tall order, isn’t it? Expounding on Jesus’s words, the late apologist Francis Schaeffer said,Yet, without true Christians loving one another, Christ says the world cannot be expected to listen, even when we give proper answers. Let us be careful, indeed, to spend a lifetime studying to give honest answers. For years the orthodox, evangelical church has done this very poorly. So it is well to spend time learning to answer the questions of men who are about us. But after we have done our best to communicate to a lost world, still we must never forget that the final apologetic which Jesus gives is the observable love of true Christians for true Christians.*

As Christians, we are to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-14). It’s hard to impact our culture if we turn people off by the way we live. Our life is meant to be an apologetic. Without love, our apologetic is powerless. We are like a noisy gong (1 Corinthians 13:1). The heartbeat of apologetics is spelled with four letters: L-O-V-E. It turns out that love is far easier to spell out than it is to live out.

Thought to Ponder: The gospel is meant to be more than defended. It must be displayed.

Memory Verse: By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35).

One-Minute Apologist Video: Eric Metaxas, “When Is Logic Not Enough?”

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