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Summary: “We already know that we’re not supposed to take drugs, have sex, or drop out of school. Sometimes adults think we’re just a bunch of goofballs, only interested in pizza and concerts. But kids in our youth group really do want to learn all about Chris

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The September morning air felt cold as I walked from my car toward the flagpole. Across the school property in front of me, I was encouraged by the large gathering of students that I could see in front of the building. “Wow… a pretty impressive group at this hour,” I thought as I glanced at my watch. It was “See You At The Pole,” day, and a group of students from this particular high school had asked me to attend and speak.

Groups of students were all around the flagpole- talking, laughing – and some occasionally shivering. From one conversation, I overheard a question that made my heart heavy: “Why do Christians think that everybody who doesn’t agree with them is going to hell?” I had been invited to “SYATP” by members of an after-school Christian club, but something I saw told me that they were not the only campus group present. A banner held by several teens read, “Intolerance At The Pole.” I could see one teen offering a Christian booklet to a person helping hold up the sign. It turns out that members of the school’s “Diversity Club” had also gotten up early, coming to the flagpole to make a statement about their views. I was glad to see that many of the Christian teens seemed to be extending a friendly welcome. I caught the sound of another question that went something like this: “Why are Christians always trying to force their opinions on other people?”

We had met at the flagpole to pray, and I was already talking to the Lord while the youth leader was introducing me. Looking back, I see that experience as a prime example of why Christians today should become familiar with apologetics.

In verses such as Matthew 28:18-20, and Mark 16:15, God instructed believers of all ages to present the message of Jesus Christ to the people around them. It takes personal effort, dedication, and commitment in order to do this effectively. Evangelism today (and especially youth ministry) can be enhanced by the knowledge of apologetics as we share and explain Christianity.

Apologetics: A basic definition

Within the North American church, the term “Christian apologetics” is still new to many people. In short, apologetics is the practice of presenting reasons for what you believe. Apologetics deals with “what we believe, and why.” Most Christians who have ever witnessed to unbelievers have probably heard various objections to the Gospel message. Some people may have heard that the Bible contains errors. Others wonder how God (if He exists), could have allowed the recent tsunami to happen. But whether a listener has a legitimate question about God, or responds with a thinly-veiled excuse - a basic knowledge of apologetics is vitally important for Christians today. We should equip ourselves and our students to give a knowleadgeable answer, and to support our faith convincingly.

a-pol’o-get‘ics, n.; The discipline which deals with a rational defense of Christianity; giving a reason or justification of one’s beliefs; use of evidences and sound reasoning to reach individuals for Christ.2

“Apologetics” means “a defense,” and this word occurs several times in the Bible.3 When we do apologetics, we are defending what we believe by showing that the content of the Gospel is “backed up” by both evidence and sound reasoning.

I Peter 3:15 (NIV) encourages believers to, “…be ready always to give an answer to any one who asks you about the hope you have.” In short, we are told to “back up” why we have faith. The words translated “answer” and “reason,” are ancient terms, implying “analysis,” “consideration of one’s position,” and the “defense of a conclusion.”4 A similar wording is found in Philippians 1:7 and 1:17, where Paul said that he was prepared to defend the Gospel. The principle is echoed in Jude 3, as believers are encouraged to “earnestly contend” (or “stand up for”) the faith.

Overview of changes in American and the West

As Americans today, we live in a nation plagued by a chronic decline in morals, and erosion of the basic values and principles on which our nation was founded. We have unmistakably moved away from our Judeo-Christian roots and into a world characterized by relativism and corruption. To understand fully where much of Western culture is today, we must examine changes that brought us to where we are.

Historically, the Enlightenment period was the beginning of the end of the Judeo-Christian worldview in the West. From the early 1600’s through the 1700’s, society experienced a revolution of sorts. People began relying on rational thought rather than religious faith to discern truth. This led to widespread acceptance of empiricism as the ultimate test for truth (the belief that unless something could be tested, it wasn’t real). As a result, religious truth claims were seen as invalid, merely a matter of personal opinion, because they could not be empirically proven or verified. Modernism emerged out of this Enlightenment perspective, a viewpoint which holds that rational thought and scientific verification is the only true pathway to knowledge. The influence of the Enlightenment is still clearly demonstrated in society today.

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