From Where I Sit: Thinking about Christian apologetics

By: Tom Rupp, Special to the Telegraph
-A +A

I teach at Capital Bible College in Sacramento. Next year they will become a satellite campus of Northwest University based out of Seattle. Admitting my bias, I highly recommend anyone interested in an accredited Bible education to check it out.

This spring semester I am back at it in Apologetics, a class about the discipline of defending the faith. In simplistically basic terms, while theology is more about the “what,” apologetics is more about the “why.”

The choice of textbooks for the class can be tricky. On the one hand, you might want to return to a classic like “Mere Christianity.” On the other hand, new books appear that have scholastic merit and the added benefit of relevance to today’s reader and modern issues.

It was on such a search for a new textbook to add to the reading list that I came upon “Thinking About Christian Apologetics” by James Beilby (Inter Varsity Press: 2011). It is not a horse of a book like the thorough 700-pager by Stanley Groothuis. Both books have a place and serve a purpose.

No, this work by Beilby weighs in at fewer than 200 pages and deals more with the reasons why Christians practice this discipline. It is not a book of supposed answers to objections to the faith. I found it to be a more basic, and readable, treatment of the topic.

In case you are wondering what apologetics is all about, the author gives a concise definition, stating “Christian apologetics is the task of defending and commending the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ in a Christ-like, context-sensitive and audience-specific manner.”

The entire book attempts to operate within the parameters of that definition. The author dutifully narrates the history of apologetics for the last 2,000 years before addressing objections to the task given by both unbelievers and believers alike.

While it is not a technical book suited only for professors and graduate students, it does challenge the basic Christian who finds their greater calling in the “normal” life of workforce and home.

My favorite chapter was the final one titled “Doing Apologetics Well,” consisting of six principles and this statement couched within – “take the gospel seriously, not yourself.”

1 Peter 3:15 exhorts us to “be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” This new book helps us understand why we should do so.

Reach Tom Rupp at