“Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defence (apologian) to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with gentleness and respect”
(1 Pet 3:15)
This is one of those truly rich verses where every clause, virtually every word carries significance and must be carefully attended to.
Note that the defence we spoke of is to be given “…to everyone who asks you a reason.” This reminds us that apologetics represents a form of passive or responsive evangelism. That is, this person has issued some kind of a challenge to you in relation to your faith. This challenge might range from the ferocious attacks of a rabid athiest to your best friend asking, “So what is it that you believe?”
But please note carefully the essential prerequisite of the question: they ask because they have noticed that you have “hope”. Live like a Christian in this hopeless world and you may soon expect people to notice that you have something that they lack. It will eventually become manifest to people that you “do not sorrow as others do who have no hope”. Live and think like a Christian and you will get asked these questions. Live and think like the world and you will not.
At this point, newly confronted with this question, you have just become an apologist!
And any challenge (however friendly or unfriendly) requires an apologetic response. Of course, it still remains to be seen whether you are going to be a good apologist or a bad apologist, but unavoidably you have become one! This is not optional, the verse is a commandment, you are charged by God with giving a response. We are not all called to debate Richard Dawkins but we are all called to give a reason for the hope that is in us.
And to give a reasoned response too.
Each of us ought to have thought long and hard about why we are a Christian.The answers are to come readily to us when challenged. The apologetical arguments are to be at our fingertips.
Mere subjectivism is not enough.
Your testimony is evangelism.Your testimony is very good in its place.
But your testimony is not a defence. It is not, to anyone else at least, a reason.
And therefore it is not apologetics.