The goal of evangelism is to lead a person to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The goal of apologetics should be the same. So what is the difference between the two? In summary, apologetics is a distinct but inseparable part of evangelism.
- Evangelism is concerned with the presentation of the gospel, and the methods used to do so. Apologetics is concerned with answering objections to the gospel, clearing away obstacles, and commending the Christian faith as the only legitimate answer to man’s predicament. Imagine an All Wheel Drive car. Usually the front tires do all the work, but when they begin to slip, the rear wheels kick into motion and stabilize the car. When you are sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, you are evangelizing. However, when someone raises objections against the Christian faith, apologetics kicks in and answers the objections so that you can return to evangelizing.
- Apologetics is just as important for Christians as it is for unbelievers. It is not only for evangelism. It is also critical to strengthening the faith of believers, grounding them more deeply in doctrine, and answering their doubts. The end result of apologetics in the church is an increased confidence in the truth, power and reliability of the gospel, the Scriptures, and the body of Christian doctrine that comprises our faith. The lack of knowledge of apologetics is the primary reason many churches have ceased to be effective in their evangelistic efforts. If Christians doubt their own faith, or don’t know it very well, they will never share it with others.
3. Apologetics and evangelism, though distinct, are inseparable. Evangelism without apologetics is limited to monologue with unbelievers. Apologetics without evangelism is merely an intellectual exercise. They are designed to be complementary. To simply talk to an unbeliever until they interrupt you is not biblical evangelism. Evangelism should be a dialogue wherein you take the time to hear what the person believes and why he does not believe in Christ, and then give answers that reveal the truth of Christianity. By keeping the focus of apologetics on winning the lost to salvation (and not something like “proving God exists”), apologetics remains in its rightful place as a partner to evangelism.