The Greatest Apologetic for the Christian Faith
I wrote an entire book on apologetics which, in case you are unfamiliar with the term, has nothing to do with apologizing. Apologetics is a term referring to the act of giving reasons for your faith. It is from the Greek word apologia, and it means to give a defense of your faith or a set of reasons for belief.
But mine is not the typical book on apologetics. It is a book filled with apologetics but written for and to the person who is not yet a Christian. It is titled Christianity for People Who Aren’t Christians.
In it, I cover many issues: astrophysics, the existence and character of God, Jesus, Christians who aren’t very Jesusy, and more.
But in truth, there is only one argument for the Christian faith—one apologetic that is unanswerable, meaning there is no rebuttal. There is no way anyone could ever argue against it, which makes it the most powerful and forceful apologetic of all.
It’s your story.
No one can ever argue that what happened to you didn’t happen to you. They can’t say that your life wasn’t changed. They will never be able to deny what Jesus means to you, or has done for you, or His reality for you. The one unanswerable apologetic is, “I am a life that has been changed by Jesus.”
In my latest book, After “I Believe,” I opened with part of my own story:
“When I was 20 years old, I had several close friends who knew I was very, very far from God, but they cared about me. I remember how one night when we were together, one of them told me the story of their faith journey to Christ. It came out very naturally in the course of our conversation together. It was interesting, parts of it were convicting, and (admittedly) parts were uncomfortable at times. What was clear was that I wasn’t ready. They would invite me to church or to a campus Christian ministry they were a part of, and I would always say no.
“I had been raised by a PhD father and a schoolteacher mother. Reading and books, intellectual conversations and debate had been the wallpaper of my life. In our family, Christianity as a belief system was embraced, though we were largely unchurched throughout my childhood. I would have told you I was a Christian because of what I believed, but I wasn’t one by how I behaved. The divide between knowing and doing, believing and behaving – the idea of Savior and the reality of Lord – was stark.
“There were moments this was revealed to me in very pointed ways. For example, one late night in college… I got into a debate with someone who was a Mormon…. I was slicing and dicing through the historicity and theology of his religion. He remained silent until I was done with my tirade and then had just one question for me in response: ‘How can you say anything to me about what’s right or wrong with how you live?’
“He was right. It stung, but not enough.
“Then I went through a summer that was… awful. The details aren’t important, but I hit rock bottom in all kinds of ways. For the first time in my life, I was open to God, open to spiritual things—just open to change. I didn’t like where my life was heading. At the start of the new school year, friends again invited me to go to a campus Christian meeting with them. You could have knocked them over with a feather when I said okay.
“It was a disarming experience. There were 200 or more students there, and students I recognized. Athletes, people from student government, people I knew from class. Normal people. People I knew and liked and respected. The music was not like anything I had ever heard in church the few times I went as a kid. It was led by students playing guitars and came dangerously close to actually having a beat.
“Then came the talk.
“A 20-something leader served up Jesus and the Christian faith raw and unfiltered. It was direct, challenging and clear. I was talked to and with—not at. And it was on what I needed more than anything—someone confronting me directly about where I stood with God in terms of both head and heart. At the end, there was a challenge to accept that for my life—for Christ to be my Leader and Forgiver.
Whether you have a clear “conversion” story or not, you have a story related to your faith. Which is why no matter who you might be talking to, whatever opening you might have, no matter how many questions you might be asked that you have no idea how to answer, you can always say:
“Listen, I don’t have answers to all of your questions. But I do know what my life was like before Jesus, and I know what it is like now that I follow Jesus. And I would never, ever go back to what my life was like before. I was saved in every way a person can be saved. It changed who I am from the inside out. It changed my marriage. It changed the way I parent. My entire family life went from crazy to amazing. I had so many broken relationships, destructive patterns… all healed. If that can happen for me, it can happen for you. I know God is real and alive and personal because I have a real and alive and personal relationship with Him.”
No one can argue against your story. They can only listen to it.
… when was the last time you shared it?
James Emery White
James Emery White, Christianity for People Who Aren’t Christians (Baker), order from Amazon.
James Emery White, After “I Believe” (Baker), order from Amazon.
About the Author
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book After “I Believe” is now available on Amazon or your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and a former professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president.
His latest book, After “I Believe,” is now available on Amazon or your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive, read the latest church and culture news from around the world, and listen to the Church & Culture Podcast.