How would you like to get a Black Belt in Apologetics? While that may sound strange, the similarities between faith defense and self defense are important to our understanding of how to be the best Christian apologist we can be.
A Black Belt in martial arts (self defense) relies on four areas of training to defend themselves while protecting others in the physical arena.
These are the same skills Christian apologists will need to defend themselves while protecting others in the spiritual arena.
The Spiritual Arena
God has not left us to wonder about what’s involved in spiritual warfare.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10-13
The ‘real enemy’ apologists face is not non-Christians who oppose them on the college campus or at work. The real enemy is an extremely well-trained and experienced spiritual army that calls on tactics developed during thousands of years of fighting a battle that Christians alive today have been fighting for less than a century.
It might seem that the odds of winning spiritual battles are stacked against us, but God has not left us alone to fend for ourselves. He has given us powerful spiritual weapons to wield that are both defensive and offensive.
“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:14-18
Christian apologists must remember that they will overcome because God is fighting the spiritual battle with them.
“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world.” 1 John 4:4
Standing in the Spiritual Arena
The first lessons in martial arts are aimed at teaching new students how to stand. Learning how to strengthen one’s ability to stand properly and powerfully prepares them to move quickly through a series of defensive and offensive stances while remaining rooted to the ground. The purpose is to move opponents while remaining unmoved. It takes time to master the skill of standing, but it is essential to defeating a stronger opponent.
The same is true in the spiritual arena. The first lesson is how to stand – “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore …”
Jesus told a crowd of people that they were of their father the devil, saying Satan “does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” (John 8:44) That’s important to remember because Satan is our enemy. He does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. What does that tell us? Our stance must be rooted in truth.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that our rejoicing should be “in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6) and Jesus said that all truth has its foundation in love for God (Matthew 22:37-38).
Fundamentals in the Spiritual Arena
A Black Belt in martial arts needs a strong grasp on fundamentals in five areas: Escaping, Blocking, Striking, Trapping, and Throwing. They work on these five fundamentals every day for many years to earn a Black Belt and every day for the rest of their life to improve on those basic skills.
A Christian apologist also needs a strong grasp on the spiritual fundamentals in those same areas. Here are some examples of the basics in each category from Scripture:
“… who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.” Hebrews 11:33-34
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
“… above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. “ Ephesians 6:16
“But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:11-12
Trapping (Seizing Control)
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:3-5
These are just some of the examples of the many types of fundamentals that are important for Christian apologists to know and practice in their life and ministry. Becoming a Black Belt in martial arts takes years of focused study and practice. It does not come easy. In fact, the vast majority (more than 90%) of martial students quit before earning their Black Belt. Becoming a Black Belt in apologetics also takes years of focused study and practice. It won’t be easy, but the reward is great.
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24
So, what’s next? The importance of Forms (Patterns) in becoming a Black Belt in Apologetics.
[This series of articles about Black Belt Apologetics first appeared on the Ratio Christi Website. Mark McGee is a Ratio Christi assistant chapter director at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He is also a 6th Degree Black Belt and has been teaching for more than 50 years.]
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.