The ELS Committee on Apologetics exists to sponsor “an annual workshop on worldview, apologetics, and/or evangelism at Bethany Lutheran College scheduled in coordination with the synod convention” and “to study the feasibility of establishing a center for Christian outreach that would emphasize three areas: the discernment of worldviews, compassionate apologetics, and cross-cultural evangelism” (2017 Synod Report, pp. 114–118).
“Apologetics” comes from a Greek term meaning “make a defense,” for example, to prove something in a court of law by presenting evidence. The New Testament applies the term to the apostles’ proclamation of the Gospel (Luke 12:11, 1 Peter 3:15). The apostles provided eyewitness testimony (Acts 1:8,21–22) concerning the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They also demonstrated with well-reasoned arguments (Acts 17:2,17; 18:4) that Jesus of Nazareth was the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.
Christian apologetics began with the apostles, and it has continued throughout church history. In the second century, Justin Martyr prepared two “Apologies” for defending the Christian faith before the Roman emperor. He provided both historical and philosophical arguments to protect Christians from false charges of impiety and to affirm the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians today continue to demonstrate the truth of Christianity through apologetics.
Distinctive approaches to apologetics seek to winsomely communicate with varied audiences. For example, the ELS Doctrine Committee has outlined both a “broad” and a “narrow” definition of apologetics. “It is used in a narrow sense when referring to the presentation of rational arguments and historical evidence in defense of the truthfulness of Scripture against attacks, including the historicity of the events of the Old and New Testaments, especially the events of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In its broad sense, ‘apologetics’ includes the use of the law to show the folly of unbelief, and also the use of the gospel in giving the reason for Christian hope.”
Through partnerships with Bethany Lutheran College, Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, and the Board for Home Outreach, the ELS Committee on Apologetics seeks to sponsor conferences, disseminate resources, and build a collaborative network to foster Christian apologetics in accordance with our confessional Lutheran theology.
ELS Apologetics Conferences:
- “Making the Case for the Truth of the Bible: Bringing Jesus to My Unbelieving Neighbor,” 2019 (Click here for PDF handouts and Video Archives.)
- “A Reliable and Defensible Christianity for Today’s World: Equipping Christians to Defend and Share the Gospel,” 2018 (Click here for PDF handouts and Video Archives.)
- Bethany Lutheran College Apologetics Webpage
- Doctrine Committee Apologetics Study Document, “Confess and Defend: ὁµολογία and ἀπολογία”
- 6-Part Bible Study on Christian Apologetics:
- Lutheran Sentinel Articles:
- David Thompson, “Jesus’ Outrageous Claims and Apologetics: Who Do People Say that I Am?” (March-April 2017)
- Thomas Heyn, “Dead or Alive? The Apologetics for a Resurrected Jesus” (May-June 2017)
- David Thompson, “Reliability of the New Testament” (July-August 2017)
- Allen Quist, “Answering Objections from Darwinian Evolution” (September-October 2017)
- Aaron Hamilton, “Confronting the Problem of Evil” (Nov./Dec. 2017)
Lutheran Synod Quarterly articles:
Lyle Lange, “Lutheran Apologetics: From Our Classrooms and into the World,” Lutheran Synod Quarterly 51, no. 4 (Dec. 2011): 331-374
Allen Quist, “Defending the Christian Faith,” Lutheran Synod Quarterly 55 (Dec. 2015): 345-67
- Reformation Lectures, Hosted by Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary
Related Events and Resources:
- Allen Quist, “Evidence for Easter,” 2018 (Click here for PDF and Video Archives.)
- Ryan MacPherson, “Easter Evidence: What Do the ‘Autopsies” of Jesus Reveal?” (2018)
- San Antonio Biblical Worldview Conferences:
- Allen Quist, Salem Lutheran Church Men’s Retreat (2018)