Contend Earnestly for The Faith

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Apologetics

 

For many Christians, apologetics is a forgotten art. Though
Christian laymen and ministers usually know how to share their
faith, they are often unable to defend it. Due to the anti-Christian
climate currently prevalent in America, believers need to be
informed about this discipline.
Before examining the branch of theology known as apologetics,
the term must be defined. Apologetics comes from the Greek word
apologia, meaning “a verbal defense, a speech in defense.”1
Therefore, apologetics is that branch of Christian theology that is
dedicated to defending the beliefs of biblical Christianity.
Apologetics is a biblical concept. The word apologia is found in
Peter’s first epistle. Peter declares, “sanctify Christ as Lord in your
hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks
you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness
and reverence” (3:15).2 In this passage, the word apologia  is
translated “defense.”3
Since apologetics is one branch of theology, its relationship to the
other main branches of theology must be shown. Theology simply
means “the study of God.” Of course, when studying God, His work
of creation and redemption must also be included. Hence, theology
entails the study of all Christian doctrines.4 The main branches of
theology are 1) exegetical theology, 2) biblical theology, 3) systematic
theology, 4) historical theology, 5) practical theology, 6) polemics,
and 7) apologetics.5
For many Christians, apologetics is a forgotten art. Though
Christian laymen and ministers usually know how to share their
faith, they are often unable to defend it. Due to the anti-Christian
climate currently prevalent in America, believers need to be
informed about this discipline.
Before examining the branch of theology known as apologetics,
the term must be defined. Apologetics comes from the Greek word
apologia, meaning “a verbal defense, a speech in defense.”1
Therefore, apologetics is that branch of Christian theology that is
dedicated to defending the beliefs of biblical Christianity.
Apologetics is a biblical concept. The word apologia is found in
Peter’s first epistle. Peter declares, “sanctify Christ as Lord in your
hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks
you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness
and reverence” (3:15).2 In this passage, the word apologia  is
translated “defense.”3
Since apologetics is one branch of theology, its relationship to the
other main branches of theology must be shown. Theology simply
means “the study of God.” Of course, when studying God, His work
of creation and redemption must also be included. Hence, theology
entails the study of all Christian doctrines.4 The main branches of
theology are 1) exegetical theology, 2) biblical theology, 3) systematic
theology, 4) historical theology, 5) practical theology, 6) polemics,
and 7) apologe
faith, they are often unable to defend it. Due to the anti-Christian
climate currently prevalent in America, believers need to be
informed about this discipline.
Before examining the branch of theology known as apologetics,
the term must be defined. Apologetics comes from the Greek word
apologia, meaning “a verbal defense, a speech in defense.”1
Therefore, apologetics is that branch of Christian theology that is
dedicated to defending the beliefs of biblical Christianity.
Apologetics is a biblical concept. The word apologia is found in
Peter’s first epistle. Peter declares, “sanctify Christ as Lord in your
hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks
you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness
and reverence” (3:15).2 In this passage, the word apologia  is
translated “defense.”3
Since apologetics is one branch of theology, its relationship to the
other main branches of theology must be shown. Theology simply
means “the study of God.” Of course, when studying God, His work
of creation and redemption must also be included. Hence, theology
entails the study of all Christian doctrines.4 The main branches of
theology are 1) exegetical theology, 2) biblical theology, 3) systematic
theology, 4) historical theology, 5) practical theology, 6) polemics,
and 7) apologetics.5
For many Christians, apologetics is a forgotten art. Though
Christian laymen and ministers usually know how to share their
faith, they are often unable to defend it. Due to the anti-Christian
climate currently prevalent in America, believers need to be
informed about this discipline.
Before examining the branch of theology known as apologetics,
the term must be defined. Apologetics comes from the Greek word
apologia, meaning “a verbal defense, a speech in defense.”1
Therefore, apologetics is that branch of Christian theology that is
dedicated to defending the beliefs of biblical Christianity.
Apologetics is a biblical concept. The word apologia is found in
Peter’s first epistle. Peter declares, “sanctify Christ as Lord in your
hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks
you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness
and reverence” (3:15).2 In this passage, the word apologia  is
translated “defense.”3
Since apologetics is one branch of theology, its relationship to the
other main branches of theology must be shown. Theology simply
means “the study of God.” Of course, when studying God, His work
of creation and redemption must also be included. Hence, theology
entails the study of all Christian doctrines.4 The main branches of
theology are 1) exegetical theology, 2) biblical theology, 3) systematic
theology, 4) historical theology, 5) practical theology, 6) polemics,
and 7) apologetics.5
For many Christians, apologetics is a forgotten art. Though
Christian laymen and ministers usually know how to share their
faith, they are often unable to defend it. Due to the anti-Christian
climate currently prevalent in America, believers need to be
informed about this discipline.
Before examining the branch of theology known as apologetics,
the term must be defined. Apologetics comes from the Greek word
apologia, meaning “a verbal defense, a speech in defense.”1
Therefore, apologetics is that branch of Christian theology that is
dedicated to defending the beliefs of biblical Christianity.
Apologetics is a biblical concept. The word apologia is found in
Peter’s first epistle. Peter declares, “sanctify Christ as Lord in your
hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks
you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness
and reverence” (3:15).2 In this passage, the word apologia  is
translated “defense.”3
Since apologetics is one branch of theology, its relationship to the
other main branches of theology must be shown. Theology simply
means “the study of God.” Of course, when studying God, His work
of creation and redemption must also be included. Hence, theology
entails the study of all Christian doctrines.4 The main branches of
theology are 1) exegetical theology, 2) biblical theology, 3) systematic
theology, 4) historical theology, 5) practical theology, 6) polemics,
and 7) apologetics.5
For many Christians, apologetics is a forgotten art. Though
Christian laymen and ministers usually know how to share their
faith, they are often unable to defend it. Due to the anti-Christian
climate currently prevalent in America, believers need to be
informed about this discipline.
Before examining the branch of theology known as apologetics,
the term must be defined. Apologetics comes from the Greek word
apologia, meaning “a verbal defense, a speech in defense.”1
Therefore, apologetics is that branch of Christian theology that is
dedicated to defending the beliefs of biblical Christianity.
Apologetics is a biblical concept. The word apologia is found in
Peter’s first epistle. Peter declares, “sanctify Christ as Lord in your
hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks
you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness
and reverence” (3:15).2 In this passage, the word apologia  is
translated “defense.”3
Since apologetics is one branch of theology, its relationship to the
other main branches of theology must be shown. Theology simply
means “the study of God.” Of course, when studying God, His work
of creation and redemption must also be included. Hence, theology
entails the study of all Christian doctrines.4 The main branches of
theology are 1) exegetical theology, 2) biblical theology, 3) systematic
theology, 4) historical theology, 5) practical theology, 6) polemics,
and 7) apologetics.5
For many Christians, apologetics is a forgotten art. Though
Christian laymen and ministers usually know how to share their
faith, they are often unable to defend it. Due to the anti-Christian
climate currently prevalent in America, believers need to be
informed about this discipline.
Before examining the branch of theology known as apologetics,
the term must be defined. Apologetics comes from the Greek word
apologia, meaning “a verbal defense, a speech in defense.”1
Therefore, apologetics is that branch of Christian theology that is
dedicated to defending the beliefs of biblical Christianity.
Apologetics is a biblical concept. The word apologia is found in
Peter’s first epistle. Peter declares, “sanctify Christ as Lord in your
hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks
you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness
and reverence” (3:15).2 In this passage, the word apologia  is
translated “defense.”3
Since apologetics is one branch of theology, its relationship to the
other main branches of theology must be shown. Theology simply
means “the study of God.” Of course, when studying God, His work
of creation and redemption must also be included. Hence, theology
entails the study of all Christian doctrines.4 The main branches of
theology are 1) exegetical theology, 2) biblical theology, 3) systematic
theology, 4) historical theology, 5) practical theology, 6) polemics,
and 7) apologetics.5
   For many Christians, apologetic's is a forgotten art. Though

Christian laymen and ministers usually know how to share their

faith, they are often unable to defend it. Due to the anti-Christian

climate currently prevalent in America, believers need to be

informed about this discipline.

    Before examining the branch of theology known as apologetics,

the term must be defined. Apologetics comes from the Greek word

apologia, meaning “a verbal defense, a speech in defense.”1

Therefore, apologetics is that branch of Christian theology that is

dedicated to defending the beliefs of biblical Christianity.

Apologetics is a biblical concept. The word apologia is found in

Peter’s first epistle. Peter declares, “sanctify Christ as Lord in your

hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks

you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness

and reverence” (3:15).2 In this passage, the word apologia  is

translated “defense.”3

    Since apologetics is one branch of theology, its relationship to the

other main branches of theology must be shown. Theology simply

means “the study of God.” Of course, when studying God, His work

of creation and redemption must also be included. Hence, theology

entails the study of all Christian doctrines.4 The main branches of

theology are 1) exegetical theology, 2) biblical theology, 3) systematic

theology, 4) historical theology, 5) practical theology, 6) polemics,

and 7) apologetics.5

 

Christian laymen and ministers usually know how to share their
faith, they are often unable to defend it. Due to the anti-Christian
climate currently prevalent in America, believers need to be
informed about this discipline.
Before examining the branch of theology known as apologetics,
the term must be defined. Apologetics comes from the Greek word
apologia, meaning “a verbal defense, a speech in defense.”1
Therefore, apologetics is that branch of Christian theology that is
dedicated to defending the beliefs of biblical Christianity.
Apologetics is a biblical concept. The word apologia is found in
Peter’s first epistle. Peter declares, “sanctify Christ as Lord in your
hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks
you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness
and reverence” (3:15).2 In this passage, the word apologia  is
translated “defense.”3
Since apologetics is one branch of theology, its relationship to the
other main branches of theology must be shown. Theology simply
means “the study of God.” Of course, when studying God, His work
of creation and redemption must also be included. Hence, theology
entails the study of all Christian doctrines.4 The main branches of
theology are 1) exegetical theology, 2) biblical theology, 3) systematic
theology, 4) historical theology, 5) practical theology, 6) polemics,
and 7) apologetics.5

EXEGETICAL THEOLOGY

   Exegetical theology is the branch of Christian theology which deals

with the direct study of the biblical text. Exegetical theology attempts

to arrive at the true meaning of the biblical passage being studied.

This type of theology encompasses the study of biblical introduction,

biblical languages, and archaeology.6 Hermeneutics, the science of

how to properly interpret the scriptures, is utilized within exegetical

theology.7

   Exegetical theology forms the basis for all other branches of

Christian theology. This is due to the fact that the Bible is the sole

authority from which orthodox Christians draw their beliefs. If a

student of the Word of God wrongly interprets biblical passages, it

will damage his theological system of thought.

 

BIBLICAL THEOLOGY

   Biblical theology studies God as He has progressively revealed

Himself throughout the scriptures.8 The Old Testament does not

immediately reveal Jesus Christ as the Savior of mankind. Instead,

God related the account of His creation of the universe (Genesis 1 and

2). This was followed by the fall of mankind into sin (Genesis 3). God

then promised to send a Savior to defeat the serpent (Genesis 3:15).

Man is commanded to perform animal sacrifices when seeking to

approach God (Genesis 4). These animal sacrifices pointed forward to

the day when the Savior of mankind would come and die for the sins

of the world (Hebrews 10:4; 9:22; John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:7).

When the earth increased in wickedness, God judged the world by

bringing upon it a flood that destroyed all mankind. Only Noah and

his family were saved (Genesis 6-9). As humans once again

multiplied, they united in their rebellion against God. God divided

mankind by causing them to speak different languages. This resulted

in the beginning of the nations (Genesis 11).

   God then selected one man named Abraham and produced from

him a nation (Genesis 12). From this nation the world’s Savior would

someday come. This chosen nation was Israel. Through Moses, God

gave Israel His Law (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy).

The Law was never intended to save anyone. Its purpose was to show

men that they fell short of God’s holy standards, and that they need

to trust in the coming Savior (Galatians 3:24).

   The Old Testament contains the history of the nation Israel, some

of its inspired poetry, and messages from its prophets. In short, the

Old Testament points forward to the coming of the Savior.

The New Testament begins with the four Gospels (Matthew,

Mark, Luke, and John). The Gospels record eyewitness testimonies of

the life, teachings, and works of the Savior when He came to earth.

The book of Acts gives an account of the history of the apostolic

church, while the epistles teach how Christians should live. The Bible

culminates with the book of Revelation. This book predicts the return

of Jesus the Savior to the planet earth in the last days.

As one examines this brief survey of God’s revelation called the

Bible, it becomes clear that God did not reveal Himself and His

salvation plan all at once. He did so progressively over a period of

more than 1,500 years. Biblical theology takes note of this and seeks

to study God’s unveiling of Himself as He progressively did so.

Therefore, biblical theology picks up where exegetical theology

leaves off.

 

SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY

   Systematic theology groups the teachings of the Bible into a system

that makes sense.9 It seeks to display a “total picture” of God’s

revelation to man.10 There are several divisions in systematic

theology.

   Prolegomena deals with introductory matters, while Theology

Proper  discusses what the Bible teaches about God Himself.

Bibliology  contains the truths that the Bible declares about itself.

Angelology spells out the scriptural doctrines about spirit beings

called angels. The study of fallen angels is called Demonology. The

leader of the fallen angels is called Lucifer or Satan. The doctrine

about this vile being is called Satanology. Pneumatology deals with the

study of the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity. Christology

is the study of Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity.

Anthropology  is the doctrine of man, while Hamartiology is the

doctrine of sin. The doctrine of salvation is discussed in Soteriology.

Ecclesiology is the study of the biblical teachings about the church.

Finally, Eschatology is the study of the last days.

   Systematic theology picks up where exegetical and biblical

theology leaves off. Once it is determined what a given biblical text

means (exegetical theology), one can proceed to study how God

progressively revealed Himself in His Word (biblical theology). After

this, the teachings of the Bible must be grouped into a system that

makes sense (systematic theology).

 

HISTORICAL THEOLOGY

   Historical theology studies the progressive development of

systematic theology throughout the history of the Christian

church.11 This branch of theology examines the many different

creeds and statements of faith that were drawn up by the church

throughout the centuries. Much focus is placed upon the thought of

great theologians, e.g., Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and

Wesley.

   Historical theology often directs its attention to the thought of one

or more of the different eras of church history. Important time

periods would include the apostolic age, the early church fathers, the

medieval period, the reformation, and the rise of modern theology.12

Different periods of church history focused on different areas of

theology, mainly for purposes of combating doctrinal errors. For

example, the early church fathers devoted much of their effort and

time to christological issues, while reformation theologians

specialized in soteriology. Much can be learned through a study of

historical theology.

 

PRACTICAL THEOLOGY

   Practical theology is the practical application of the teachings of the

Bible to one’s life.13 Regeneration is the first issue that needs to be

applied. The Bible teaches that a person must be born again to see

God’s Kingdom (John 3:3). This new birth comes only through faith

in Christ as Savior (John 3:16-18).

Once a person is saved, sanctification comes into play. This deals

with the daily life of the believer as God sets him apart for His

purposes (Romans 6 and 7). Practical theology also includes issues

such as living a life of service, studying the Word, worship, prayer,

and evangelism.

   Practical theology builds upon the accomplishments of the other

four theological branches mentioned above. It seeks to apply the

truths of God to one’s daily life. This branch of theology moves the

theologian from a mere “head knowledge” of the truths of the Bible

to a personal relationship with the God of the Bible. When one

partakes of practical theology in the fullest sense, he moves from a life

of study to a life of service.

 

POLEMICS

   Polemics is the often overlooked branch of theology that specializes

in the refutation of heresies that develop within the professing

church.14 Hence, polemics is the function of “good” theology

whereby it protects itself from “bad” theology.

Throughout church history, false doctrines have risen within the

church. These heresies have been continually refuted by theologians

who sought to protect the essential teachings of the Bible. At times,

heretics accepted correction and recanted of their erroneous views.

On other occasions, however, some heretics had to be

excommunicated from the church in order to protect the essential

teachings of the Christian faith.

   Often, unrepentant heretics started their own religions or cults.

This was exactly the case concerning Islam and Mormonism.

Though their founders claimed to be returning Christianity to its

purest form, both Islam and Mormonism were actually heretical

offshoots of Christianity. Once the heretical movement is clearly

separated from true Christianity, polemics (which deals only with

internal heresies) is no longer used against it. Instead, apologetics is

called upon to enter the theological battle for truth.

 

APOLOGETIC'S

   As was already mentioned, Apologetics is that branch of Christian

theology which devotes itself to the defense of the gospel. Unlike

polemics, which refutes internal heresies, apologetics defends the

essential teachings of the Bible against external attacks. Whereas

polemics refutes false teachers who claim to be proclaiming Christian

truths, apologetics enters into debate with those who openly claim to

be opposed to historic and biblical Christianity.

Apologetics has two functions.15 Negatively, it refutes belief

systems that oppose Christianity, and, positively, it defends the

essential truths of the Christian faith.

 

CONCLUSION

    As the table on page 10 shows, one can easily see where apologetics

fits into Christian theology. The first four branches of theology

(exegetical, biblical, systematic, and historical) attempt to arrive at

the truths of the Bible. The fifth branch (practical theology) attempts

to help the believer live these biblical truths. The sixth theological

branch (polemics) protects Christian truth from internal errors. And,

finally, the seventh branch of theology (apologetics) defends

Christian truth from outside attacks.

   All seven branches of Christian theology are needed. For the truth

must first be found. Then it must be lived, protected, and defended.

The church will suffer if it neglects any of these seven branches.

Apologetics is vital to the Christian church today. Those who share

the gospel must also defend the gospel. People are seeking answers

to their questions. Through apologetics we can find those answers.

We can remove intellectual stumbling blocks that stand between lost

souls and Christ. We can communicate the gospel in such a way that

the “modern” man will understand it. We must, as the inspired writer

instructs us, “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3).

THEOLOGY

(the study of God)

1) EXEGETICAL THEOLOGY

Direct study of the biblical text, attempting to arrive at the true

meaning of the passage in question.

2) BIBLICAL THEOLOGY

Studying God as He progressively revealed Himself through the

Scriptures.

3) SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY

Grouping the teachings of the Bible into a system that makes sense.

4) HISTORICAL THEOLOGY

Studying the development of systematic theology throughout the

history of the church. 

5) PRACTICAL THEOLOGY

Applying the teachings of the Bible to one’s daily life.

6) POLEMICS

Refuting heresies that arise within the professing church.

7) APOLOGETIC'S

Defending the essential teachings of the Bible against external attacks.

 

Taken from Dr. Phil Fernandes's  Book:CONTEND EARNESTLY FOR THE FAITH

Copyright 2008 Phil Fernandes, Ph.D. 

 

 

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