In recent years, as the culture has become more difficult for Christians to navigate, the importance of being able to defend and share one’s faith in Jesus Christ in a thoughtful and gracious manner has become more apparent. It is our hope that this introduction to Christian apologetics will be of help to Christian women as they explore how Christian apologetics can be an encouragement to their own faith as well as a means for pointing others to the reasonableness of our faith in Jesus Christ.
This small group apologetics resource is based on the C.S. Lewis Institute Women’s Apologetics Conference titled Conversations That Count, held at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, Virginia, October 20–21, 2017. The plenary speakers were Christian apologists Dr. Amy Orr-Ewing of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Jana Harmon of the C.S. Lewis Institute Atlanta.
Christian apologetics, the art of giving a reason for your faith in Jesus Christ, is important for both women and men to study. While the questions in apologetics are for the most part the same for both men and women, in recent years, female Christian apologists have provided some important and unique perspectives to the discipline borne out of their own experiences as women sharing their faith with others.
For example, the way a man addresses the question, is Christianity oppressive or liberating for women?, will probably be somewhat different from a woman’s approach or even substance; he hasn’t experienced personally the question in the same way a woman may have. So because of her personal experiences, the female apologist may be able to respond more effectively and with more credibility to both nonbelieving and believing women.
Also, more women are now writing and speaking on Christian apologetics. It can be an encouragement to women in the church to explore this important subject through the teaching of gifted female Christian apologists who model an integration of heart and mind in their approach to sharing the gospel.
The study of Christian apologetics — the art of giving an “apologia,” a reason or answer for your faith in Jesus Christ and the gospel — is rooted in the biblical text. Consider the following:
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
1 Peter 3:15–16 (NIV)
Apologetics has two primary purposes:
First, it gives the disciple of Jesus Christ greater confidence in the reasonableness of her faith. Faith is not a “blind leap in the dark,” as some in the existentialist movement have purported. Rather, our faith in Jesus Christ is rooted in objective truth, solid thinking, and plausible explanations. When compared with other belief systems, whether atheism, Buddhism, Islam, or some other worldview, we can know that our faith is based in history and we have solid reasons for believing what we do about Jesus Christ. We also realize that every person, even the atheist, inevitably puts her faith in something. The question then is, in whom or in what is my faith placed?
Second, apologetics when used with respect toward others in gentleness and love can provide a means of helping remove hindrances to faith.This is why the use of apologetics in conversation with friends and acquaintances in the workplace, neighborhood, and home can be so useful in pointing people to Jesus Christ.
The purpose of this small group apologetics course is to provide participants with an introduction to the study of apologetics with a view toward sharing the Good News of Christ with those whom God puts in our path. We trust the articles, videos, and discussion questions will inform and inspire participants to grow in their understanding of the reasonableness of the Christian faith and embolden them to engage in gospel conversations.
Our hope at the C.S. Lewis Institute is that our Lord will also use this course to encourage a lifelong journey of learning to articulate, defend, share, and live our faith in Jesus Christ in personal and public life.
This course covers six key topics that serve as an introduction to the study and practice of Christian apologetics and evangelism. The course is organized into seven small group sessions, including an orientation session. Each of the six topics has most of the following components:
Prior to meeting, participants would meditate upon a memory verse, read an article or watch a video, and read and reflect on a conversational apologetics exercise to prepare for the session.
(Suggested Length of Meeting: 2 hours)
5 minutes: Opening Prayer and Introduction of the Topic
45 minutes: Watch Video on the Topic
35 minutes: Discussion of Topic
20 minutes: In Small Groups of 3–4 — Conversational Apologetics Practice
10 minutes: In Small Groups of 3–4 — Pray for Nonbelieving Friends and Family
5 minutes: Introduce Upcoming Topic for Next Session and Closing Prayer