1 Peter 3:15 – “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”
Apologetics is a term that unfortunately seems to be equated as something someone else is responsible for doing. Many believe the bulk of the responsibility for doing apologetics rests upon the shoulders of scholars, pastors, or those called to making the debate circuit.
Is apologetics really for everyone? Are we all called to be prepared to present a defense to anyone or is that job strictly for those with academic training? Is apologetics something necessary for the average lay person? Is it valuable and needed as a parent raising children? Is it useful in the workplace? Is it applicable for a husband and wife? Or again, is apologetics just something we expect someone with seminary training to do on our behalf so we can be told what to think about what it is we are to believe? The answer lies in understanding to whom Peter is speaking in 1 Peter 3:15.
Peter begins this chapter by addressing husbands and wives. He then shifts in verse 8 to addressing “all of you” and yes all of you includes all of us. The context of “all of you” (or again in our case all of us) continues with Peter noting the reality we will suffer for the sake of righteousness. It is within that context of enduring suffering for the sake of righteousness that we are commanded to always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks for the hope that is in us, ensuring we do so with all manner of gentleness and respect.
What is noticeably missing is any indication by Peter that giving a defense was the sole duty of the leaders of the local or larger body of believers. All of you truly means just that – all of you. Every single one of us is to be prepared to give this defense of the hope within us. What is this hope? It is the hope found in the message of the gospel, namely the promise of restoration and redemption with our Creator.
This hope is applicable to all of life. Thus, apologetics is not just a tool to be used by scholars when discussing the details of some million dollar theological term. Apologetics is not only something we read about in a book or write about in a blog for those who feel the “calling” to that particular field of study. Apologetics impacts all of life. We are always to be prepared to give a defense regardless of the situation.
Think about the impact apologetics should have in our lives. Let’s start with parenting. Deuteronomy 6:7 declares parents must “teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” What parents are to teach diligently to their children is the ways of God found in Scripture. That command cannot be followed without parents being able to give a defense for the hope that is within them. Teaching diligently the ways of God is a command parents must follow at all times and at all places.
Peter notes in 1 Peter 3 that husbands are to “treat your wives with consideration as a delicate vessel, and with honor as fellow heirs of the gracious gift of life so that your prayers will not be hindered.” It is impossible for a husband to know what that looks like without an understanding of love and prayer as outlined in Scripture. This requires an apologetic for love and prayer. Wives are to submit to their husbands. What is submission in this context? The answer to that important question comes from developing a biblical apologetic on submission.
This same thought process can be applied to any area of life. We are called to be a people who are intimately familiar with the truth of Scripture. There is no opt-out clause when it comes to all believers being apologists. Certainly, there are those called to be professional apologists, people especially skilled at matters of theology. But we are all called to be apologists. To use an example, there are skilled doctors and physicians, but that does not mean as a parent, we do not address with our children the daily matters of health and the reasons why they are important.
It is high time we all answer the command to be apologists and to apply the truth of Scripture to all areas of life. This is the work of the apologist, something we are all called by God to do as believers. The time is very urgent for this calling and command to become a reality in the lives of God’s people.