Why Do We Teach Apologetics to Our 12th-Graders?
The extraordinary times in which we are living are a perfect example of some of the reasons why we teach Apologetics to our 12th-graders.
The pandemic has upended most areas of our everyday life and has called into question many things we take for granted: our health, our work, our social lives, our children’s education, our freedoms, our sense of community, and more.
Throughout the maelstrom of unexpected events, Christianity has offered us a way to stay grounded and focused on a higher goal: to live a life of purpose according to Jesus’ teachings. No matter what is happening around us, believers can walk a Christian path that makes sense of the world and gives purpose to our lives.
Our dedication to scripture gives us the tools we need to defend our faith. As we go through unprecedented events, our anchor in Christ Jesus helps us navigate life. For those who doubt or question Christianity, apologetics is a way for believers to help them understand how, in good times and in challenging times, Jesus is here to guide us.
What Is Apologetics?
“As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. ‘This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,’ he said.” (Acts 17:2-3)
The word “apologetics” comes from Greek απολογία (‘apologia’). Confusingly, ‘apologia’ sounds almost identical to apology, and English speakers might think at first that we are apologizing for our religion. In fact, we are defending our faith. ‘Apologia’ in Greek means “speaking in defense” of a cause, and that’s what apologetics is all about.
We defend our faith with logic, reason, and compassion toward ourselves and others.
It’s good to remember Peter 3:15-16: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
Why Do We Need Apologetics?
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (Corinthians 10:3-5)
Teaching our 12th-graders Apologetics gives them the tools they need to understand and to strengthen their faith in Christ and also to refute with reason and compassion any criticism of Christianity from unbelievers.
Speaking Intelligently and Confidently
In Apologetics class, seniors at PCS practice a combination of the skills they’ve learned through the Logic and Rhetoric stages of the Trivium throughout their classical Christian education — reasoned discourse, active listening, public speaking, Bible study, and hermeneutics (the interpretation of scripture), historical studies, writing, and Socratic dialogue — as they seek to determine whether or not Christianity makes sense and whether the gospel is true.
With guidance from a skilled teacher, students discuss modern philosophies, other religions, current events, and difficult topics all in light of scripture and a Christian worldview. They present different sides in debates to better understand and hone their defense of Christianity.
Apologetics students are required to THINK about their faith!
Building Faith During Hard Times
Our faith will always be tested during our lives: we will face failures, difficulties, and problems.
Trusting God is easy when things are good. But putting our lives in God’s hands when we are going through upheaval requires strong faith and solid confidence in our beliefs. Building our faith through hard times gives us the assurance to persevere in our faith in Christ and to show others how He shepherds us through life.
As students explore the trustworthiness of the gospel in Apologetics class, they grow in the certainty that God really is who He says He is and will do everything He has promised, just as He did for the spiritual leaders we study in scripture.
Helping Others Understand Our Christian Faith
Our goal is to equip our students with the spiritual tools they need to reason out and defend their faith.
As students develop their personal relationships with Jesus Christ and their knowledge of scripture, they can better defend their beliefs to those who are unfamiliar with or skeptical toward Christianity. They will be able to engage with people’s questions and criticisms and to logically explain their faith with the goal of bringing the gospel to everyone.
By showing people how faith in God can help them find purpose in the hurdles in their lives, we are opening a window for them: they can experience a peaceful spirit, safe in the knowledge that He will care for their needs and give purpose to their daily lives. What a blessed relief to have someone walking with us through anything that life throws at us!
How Should We Use Apologetics?
“Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (Colossians 4:5-6)
Our Christian Faith Makes Us Stand Apart
Once our children have a strong Christian foundation, their worldview, hope, and faith in Jesus Christ will make them stand apart. Like lights shining for all to see, their differences will attract attention. Apologetics will help children explain to others why Christians are different and what our faith truly means.
Our Christian Reaction Provokes Attention
Our reactions to the world and what life throws at us capture people’s attention. Why are we not worried? How can we have peace of mind even in the midst of troubled times? What makes us so confident?
The answer to all these questions is found in our faith in Jesus Christ.
We Don’t Have All the Answers. God Does.
We don’t need to have all the answers. When things are uncertain, we turn to Jesus. When in doubt, we turn to God for the answers we seek or for help in solving our problems. Instead of taking credit for our achievements, we give all the glory to Him.
“I Had to Make the Choice to Truly Believe”
Here’s how a PCS Senior described his experience with Apologetics:
“This year apologetics has been greatly beneficial to my Christian walk. When the year started, I came into the year needing a wake-up call and a stern and convincing reminder that the worldview and faith journey I had been on the last 17 years of my life is true and worth living…
I do try to live for Christ, but I had never truly faced the hard questions and really pressed Christian doctrine to see if it was true. This in-depth study has really helped me as it has caused me to answer these tough questions and as a result, my confidence in the faith has gone up drastically. It showed me that everything in Christianity made sense, and it all fit together like pieces to a puzzle. I feel like I am ready to move on from high school and start living my adult life and I do not have to worry about being convinced by skeptics that Christianity is false. I also feel like this confidence has helped me and will continue to help me focus on how I can grow my personal relationship with the Lord.
This comparison [between Christianity and other faiths] really helped me, and it strengthened my faith exponentially. It showed me that to believe in Christianity not only made sense but made the most sense.
When you apply equal critique to all other worldviews, Christianity comes out on top, always. This hit me hard. I had never thought of Christianity in this way before, and this gave me peace, and it was reassuring that my beliefs are logical.
Overall, I have been so pleased with what I have learned in this class. It is a struggle of mine to live for Christ and something that I must strive to get better at. But that struggle has gotten significantly easier since I have begun taking this class. At the end of the day, there is more to Christianity than just having the knowledge that is true. I had to make the choice to truly believe it, and I have to allow it to change my life and live for Christ. And I still struggle to live for Christ, and it is something that I must continue to get better at. But to have all the knowledge that I have gained the last two years and specifically the last semester, is infinitely valuable.”
Providence Classical School Strongly Supports Apologetics
Strenuous times offer us the perfect opportunity to help our family, friends, and neighbors better understand how Christianity can transform their lives. Our school’s dedication to Apologetics is supplying our students with the tools they need to defend their faith.
By teaching methods Christians can use to defend their faith, we can impact our culture for Christ at work, in our schools, and in our social interactions.
Many philosophers and scholars like to say that we are living in a post-Christian era. Apologetics can empower our children to face a society that often conflicts with our Christian worldview and to help others know the hope and joy that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Here at Providence Classical School, we seek to inspire confidence and faith in every student as they learn to impact their culture for Christ!
Discover more about classical Christian education at Providence Classical School on the PCS blog.