"Be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled (alarmed), but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and (moreover) be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is within you with meekness and fear"(IPet.3:15).
This text is a natural starting point for our course since it contains the very word from which our course derives its name. It is the word "answer back" -- apologian, translated into the English "Apologetics" -- to "answer back" -- so a defence, not an excuse. Here a verbal defence in logical account of your inward hope but in the spirit of godly reverence and human meekness.
It is the mark of any false system of science or religion that it cannot bear the light of research or investigation. It can only survive in the congenial atmosphere of superstition and credulity. It abhors honest criticism and reasonable investigation. But the God of the Bible hasn't asked us for blind faith and superstitious acceptance of His Word. It is true that in the realm of answered prayer we must, "believe to see the goodness of the Lord" not "seeing is believing." But when the word "faith" is used of the sum. totals of "what is most assuredly believed among us" as in Jude, "Earnestly contend for the faith which was once and for all delivered unto us," then it refers to our doctrinal tenets. Here God gives us "the many infallible proofs"; solid evidences upon which reason may reflect and accept -- not blind faith. Here we have "an apblogy for the reason of hope that is within us." The Bible is not afraid of honest, friendly logical investigation; but contrariwise:: it invites it. God has based His whole system of religion and divine revelation upon the firmest of foundations that will stand the test of honest criticism under the rules of evidences. This our whole course shall endeavor to prove. The God who made the human reason, appeals to it, "Come let us reason together, saith the Lord." He outrage it. He wants our faith to rest upon the dictates of intelligence as well as submission of faith.
Christian apologetics, then, approaches the subjects of God, the Bible, the person of Jesus Christ and His work, from the standpoint of philosophy, appealing to reason. It answers primarily the "why" of what we believe. God has placed with the soul of every man an inquiring mind that won't be satisfied with half-answers, camouflage, blind credulity. This innate, God-given attribute of our intellect is seen in the child's irritating oft repeated, "why"? to every answer you give them. It is also seen in the scientists' research into all natural phenomena. We want to know the reason for things. As a child it made me tear down the family clock to "see what made it tick. I? This demand is no less seen in the reals of the spiritual. So as our text says, "To give a reason for the hope within you. Not only to believe but to know why you believe.
To remove all honest doubt. Note we say "honest doubt;" There is a dishonest doubt which refuses all light because it wants to. White well says, "The mind of the bigot is like the pupil of the eye, the more light thrown upon it, the smaller it gets." Most dishonest doubt arises from a perversion of the will. The Bible variously describes it. "Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil" and "they will not come to the light lest their deeds be reproved." Paul calls it, "An evil heart of unbelief." So Peter calls it, "This they are willingly ignorant of.: It arises from a heart opposed to God. So Jesus said of them and evidences, "they would not believe though one arose from the dead." There is no proof, no demonstration, no evidence, to convince such dishonest doubt. The will can so set itself against the light that it hoodwinks the mind into believing a lie, at. the expense of reason itself. Jesus said, "If any man will do His will, He shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself? (Jn. 7:17). But there is such a thing as an honest doubt, maybe implanted at school or by other means, honest inquiry, and the evidences will dispel such, or remove the cloak of sinful ignorance.
Intelligent faith makes for steadfast believers, with. a robust, solid foundation both upon which to build their own experiences and trust and to win others. God's order is, "facts, faith and feelings." Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God."