Paul said in Philippians 1:17, “…I am set for the defense of the gospel.” Paul used the term apologia here and in verse 7, from which we get our term apologetics. Though Paul may have had a broader application in mind, when the term apologetics is used in Christian circles today it refers particularly to the defense of the existence of God, the deity of Christ, and the inspiration of the Bible.
Whereas years ago in this country the great majority of people would have acknowledged these truths, it is not uncommon for members of the church in the United States to come in contact with people who deny them. Many colleges and universities of our nation are responsible for fomenting much of the skepticism in regard to these foundational truths of Christianity. More of our young people attend schools of higher education than a century ago and are exposed to teaching that undermines the inspiration of the Bible, the deity of Christ, and even sometimes the existence of God. Thus, we cannot presuppose these truths when dealing with every individual outside of the church. Some people will need proof that God exists, that Christ is God, or that the Bible is God’s word, and solely quoting a verse of scripture will not convert someone who does not believe the Bible.
From studying the Scriptures, it is evident that Paul was an educated man. Unlike many today, Paul’s much learning did not make him go crazy, as Festus accused (Acts 26:24), but was a tool for spreading the gospel. The Holy Spirit saw fit to use Paul’s knowledge of Cretian prophets in his letter to Titus (Titus 1:12) and Stoic and Epicurean poets in his discussion at the Areopagus (Acts 17:28). Thus, the Holy Spirit shows there is a use in studying other belief systems in order meet people with their own belief systems to bring them to the truth. In keeping with that example it is good for Christians to know, for example, what the general theory of evolution involves and the alleged evidence upon which it is based. If Paul by the Spirit of God could enter into an intelligent discussion on what certain poets and prophets of a different worldview said, then certainly as a Christian I can learn the theories and viewpoints of unbelievers today in order to answer them.
We should not fear proper education, nor hide our heads in the sand, so to speak, in regard learning what unbelievers teach in regard to the Bible. Truth never suffers from an open investigation of the facts. We can help fortify our own faith and improve our impact on the world by giving time to studying apologetics.