“If the soldiers enrolled by you, and who have taken the military oath, prefer their allegiance to their own life, and parents, and country, and all kindred, though you can offer them nothing incorruptible, it were verily ridiculous if we, who earnestly long for incorruption, should not endure all things, in order to obtain what we desire from Him who is able to grant it.”

~ Justin Martyr, First Apology


A mirror is what one looks at to observe himself, but it cannot show a man his own back.

Those of us who do apologetics need to be aware of our blind spots, which is not easy to do. The tendency is to see the world through the lens of logic and arguments. While this may be helpful in many ways, an apologist who puts more priority on winning the argument may end up wounding rather than protecting, destroying rather than building.

Pride is an ever present thorn in the apologist’s flesh. The desire for power, glory, and compliments will eventually form a pleasant poison that not only prevents us from effectively serving others, but destroys us as well. We should not be surprised that God saw men as sheep. Our pride can deceive us into thinking that we are smarter than we truly are, or that we have more self-control than we truly have. To the Trallians, Ignatius wrote, “I have great knowledge in God, but I restrain myself, lest, I should perish through boasting. For now it is needful for me to be more fearful; and not give heed to those that puff me up. For they that speak to me in the way of commendation scourge me.” [1] The early thinker, pastor, and martyr quickly saw through the dangers of human praise. Thus, even as he bears the name Theophorus (meaning “God-bearer”), Ignatius fled from it. The allure of pride comes in the form of harmless compliments.

Our apologetics must instead be driven by two things: love for God and love for others.

Intimacy with the Lord is the fountain of effective apologetics. To first love the Lord with all that one has is the fuel that makes everything he does beautiful. One rather striking feature of early church thinkers is their intimacy with the Lord. Man is an emotional being with an intellectual faculty, not an intelligent being with an emotional faculty. One’s ministry in apologetics is greatly empowered through spiritual disciplines. In the daily readings of the Scripture, in the daily practice of quiet time, of prayer, of fasting, of seeking the Lord, of solitude, singing hymns, confessing sins… in the habit of accountability and fellowship with Godly men and women… these things sustain the apologist as he does spiritual warfare. As the Apostle Paul wrote: “Though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” [2]

We must remember that the beauty of apologetics goes beyond winning arguments. We speak to souls in need of restoration. In his letter to the Ephesians, Ignatius wrote, “It is better for a man to be silent and be a Christian than to talk and not be one. It is good to teach if he who speaks also acts… He who possesses the word of Jesus is truly able to hear even His very silence, that he may be perfect, and may both act as he speaks, and be recognized by his silence.” [3] Indeed. He who holds his tongue does so in might, not in weakness. One need not wonder why James saw the taming of the tongue and the lending of ears both as evidences of virtue. It is in doing both that makes a Christian winsome—Godly. In fact, the way we live is itself a powerful apologia that can help remove hurdles to accepting Christ. When someone looks at us, does he see Christ? A transformed and Godly life presents an attractive apologetic for the existence of God.


[1] The Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians Chapter 4.

[2] 2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV)

[3] The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians Chapter 15.