Apologetics as Vindication
When we think about apologetics it’s easy to think about it in terms of proof. After all, apologetics is the task of giving an account for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15). However, apologetics doesn’t justify us. Gospel is not justification by faith plus apologetics. Yet, in another importance sense of the word, our good works vindicate or show evidence of faith. This is what James meant when he said a person is justified by works, and not simply by faith (James 2:24). Apostle Paul even applies the same word to say that God is justified when he speaks (Romans 3:4).
This is an important distinction, I think, when we study apologetics. For instance, when we discuss the evidence for the resurrection using historical facts, we are not saying God’s words are true because they are proven by an outside court of human reasoning or academia. They do however vindicate God’s word, and remove excuses (same word in Greek for apologetics) for unbelief. Evidence and reasoning play an absolutely important part for the Christian. However, just as our good works do not save us, our good evidence doesn’t rescue God or His gospel from unbelief. Christianity doesn’t need worldly approval, just as we don’t need worldly approval for our justification. We provide clear, compelling evidence to the world, to vindicate all the more what God has accomplished in Christ in history. We take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” remembering that every confession of his Lordship is for the glory of God (cf. 2 Cor. 10:5; Phil. 2:11).