Teen Apologetics: Good Questions Deserve Good Answers
- Alex McFarland President of Southern Evangelical Seminary & the Veritas Graduate School; serves with Focus on the Family as a speaker/writer for teen apologetics
- 2011 3 May
In 1933, G.K. Chesterton observed that while it is important to win the lost to Christianity, leaders also must “convert the Christians to Christianity.” It’s a timeless reminder that the church must be dedicated in its duty to pass on biblical truth to upcoming generations.
Because more belief systems than ever are competing for the attention of teens, I believe it is vital for churches to incorporate apologetics and worldview content into their youth ministries.
Apologize? What For?
“Worldview” refers to what we believe. “Apologetics” is all about why we believe them. Students today need to learn about both. The Greek word for apologetics appears several times in the Bible. Usually translated as “answer” and “reason,” apologia is an ancient legal term meaning “a defense.” Categories of Christian apologetics include the following:
- Textual apologetics—defending the trustworthiness of the Bible, then presenting the content of what it says;
- Evidence-based apologetics—presenting external data that provides objective confirmation of the Christian faith (such as historical or scientific facts);
- Philosophical apologetics— exposing the flawed reasoning behind arguments against Christianity.
Youth should be equipped to process biblically such questions as Is there absolute truth? Does God exist? Is the Bible trustworthy? Was Jesus authentic? Why does God allow pain and suffering in the world?
Many authors (myself included) have written about the faith challenges today’s college students must face; but years before college, teens are pondering how Christianity stacks up against competing beliefs. Statements like, “You’ve got your truth, and I’ve got mine,” or “Jesus was just one of many great spiritual leaders,” have become axiomatic in our culture.
Youth must be equipped to understand why they believe the claims of Christianity rather than those of some other belief system. Christianity is to be believed and followed because it is true. In a world of sincerely held opinions, Christianity comes to us via historical, yet personally relevant, fact.
No Time for Fear
Teens need to be equipped for inevitably intellectual questions and spiritual challenges. Apologetics helps by demonstrating Christianity is credible, reasonable and relevant.
Some youth leaders shy away from teaching apologetics, assuming teens won’t get it or that it is a pursuit for the super intelligent. To such sentiments, I respectfully object! For nearly 20 years, I have witnessed teens of every state and economic strata react to apologetics content with enthusiasm and appreciation. What is really cool is when they share how they used apologetics in reaching out to their friends.
I also am encouraged by the knowledge one of the most well-known verses related to apologetics (1 Peter 3:15) was not written by Paul, the theologian and philosopher, but by plainspoken Peter, the fisherman. More than ever before, we must rise to the challenge of his words and equip a generation to “always be ready.”
This article originally appeared at YouthWorkerJournal.com. Used with permission.