Why Christians Need to Apologize
Apology is a lost art. Christians have forgotten this art as much or more than anyone else in the world. For years Christians have made bold proclamations without backing them up. Christians have been quick to say, “I don’t take part in that,” or, “You shouldn’t do that,” without giving a logical reason why. People get offended at such statements and rightfully so. For this reason, Christians needs to apologize to atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Mormons, and other Christians.
A proper apology cannot be made without a clear definition of terms. Today, the word “apology” means to express regret, but no later than the 1500’s the phrase meant to give a defense or an account. It was during the two centuries leading up to the 1500’s that the New Testament was translated from Greek and Latin into the common languages of Europe. For the first time, people could read the Bible for themselves rather than rely on a priest to read to them in the incomprehensible but scholarly Latin. Because of this transpiring of events, people began to understand the Bible for the first time and awaken to the false teachings and corruption of the Roman Catholic church. Men such as Martin Luther, Heinrich Zwingli, John Calvin, and others (whether right or wrong) began to apologize or defend the truths they found in the newly translated Bible. Because of their defenses, backed by proofs, arguments, and logic, men such as these enlisted the Reformation Movement, a movement impressed upon the religions of America and Europe even to this day. The point of all this is not to praise or elevate the teachings of the aforementioned men, as they heralded much false doctrine in their lifetimes. The point is to outline the lost practice of Christian defense.
Christians should apologize like Jesus and the apostles did so abundantly within the annals of the Gospels and Acts. Whenever Jesus would counter His opponents with the phrase, “Have you not read,” followed by quotation of the prophets, Jesus was giving a defense of His teaching. In Mark 11:28 the chief priests and scribes asked Jesus, “By what authority do you do these things?” Jesus’ response was a logical argument which gave His opponents no other option than to admit the truth. More times than not, Jesus’ performance of miracles was proof enough to answer that question. John 20:30 says, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe in Jesus Christ…” Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 was a defense of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection: a defense that converted 3,000 souls. That is quite an apology.
Beyond all the examples that could be given to prove that Jesus and the apostles did indeed give reasons, logic, and sound arguments for backing their claims and doctrines, the apostle Peter mandates the same from all Christians. In writing to Christian churches dispersed throughout the known world of the 1st century, Peter charges in 1 Peter 3:15, “Be ready to give a defense (apologian) to everyone who asks you a reason (logos) for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” The Greek word “apologia” is the origin of the English word “apology” also meaning defense as discussed early on. Peter charges that a Christian apology (defense) should be based on “logos.” This is the Greek word used to mean evidence or argument. When Christians state, “You should not that!” they must give logical evidence from the Scriptures for such a claim. The Bible contains the evidence for all things practiced in life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) but it requires diligence and honesty to discover.
When young or old Christians leave the church, parents and church leaders need often to look no further than their failure to provide logical Bible based reasons for proving their faith and practice. Satan’s favorite response is, “You just need to have faith!” Jesus’ favorite response is, “It is written…” May all Christians learn how to apologize like Jesus.