Eric Hernandez, apologetics lead and Millennial specialist at Texas Baptists, believes that the best way Christians can defend their faith, in fulfillment of 1 Peter 3:15, is through the use of apologetics.
“Apologetics in its purest form is basically articulating and giving a defense for what we believe and why we believe it,” Hernandez explained. “For me, it’s not about answering every minute question, but about keeping the Gospel at the center of it all.”
Hernandez began studying apologetics while in college after two non-believing professors challenged Christianity. Wanting to avoid being chastised for doubting his faith by church leadership, Hernandez began researching on his own, determined to find a logical defense of the Bible and his faith. In the midst of finding those answers, he also found his passion for teaching others to defend their faith using apologetics.
The importance of apologetics
Apologetics is an effective way to explain faith to nonbelievers because it offers a logical argument for Christianity. If they need evidence, Hernandez believes that Christians should be able to present it. Doubt is normal, he explained, it is not a reason to push people away. Jesus addressed doubt face-to-face when he showed Thomas the evidence of the nails in his hands and feet after the resurrection. Jesus met people where they were, and so should Christians.
“We live in a culture full of doubting Thomases who are constantly asking questions. And this is not just non-believers, it’s from Christians as well. As believers, especially mature believers, our job is to meet people where they’re at and give them the evidence for whatever it is they’re looking for that may be hindering them from getting close to God,” he said.
Furthermore, the Greatest Commandment tells believers to love God with their heart, soul, mind and strength. For Hernandez, apologetics is the best way to accomplish the “mind” part of that commandment.
In order to help Christians develop a strong defense of their faith, Hernandez speaks at churches and conferences across Texas, teaching people basic apologetics arguments and helping them develop their own defense of their faith.
The first two questions he asks people to consider are: 1) why are you a Christian? And 2) why should someone else be a Christian too? Hernandez then challenges those in attendance to make sure their reasons are based on logic, not emotion. That is what apologetics is all about.
“H20 is water, whether or not I have a bad day. Similarly, if Christ rose from the dead, Christianity is true and everything else is secondary,” he explained.
Opportunities to deepen understanding
Each year, the Texas Baptists Great Commission Team (GCT) hosts three [un]Apologetic conferences around Texas geared at teaching people about apologetics. Renowned apologists are brought in to lead general sessions. Breakout sessions are designed to address more specific questions attendees may have.
Hernandez also speaks at events by invitation, as was the case when he was invited to speak to a group of youth at Primera Iglesia Bautista de Conroe in September 2019. Days before he was going to speak, however, the area was hit by Tropical Storm Imelda, and the church was flooded. Expecting the event to be canceled, Hernandez called the church to make other arrangements. Instead, he found that members of the church were working hard to vacuum out the water and get rid of anything damaged. When he arrived for the conference a few days later, there was no floor, but there was a group of 50 youth who were ready to learn how to defend their faith.
“I was moved by the fact that they really wanted to do this and that they thought it was so important for the youth to get access to apologetics teachings,” Hernandez commented. “There were youth pastors bringing in kids from all over the vicinity.”
Events like this one, which are targeted at teaching youth how to critically think about and defend their faith, are extremely important to Hernandez. An average of 60-75% of young people lose their faith during their first year of college, and Hernandez suggests that it is because many youth are sent to college without proper spiritual training. He encourages youth pastors to realize that their students have deep questions, and it is important to give them a safe place to voice these questions and search for Biblical answers.
Texas Baptists provide a variety of resources for churches and organizations to learn more about apologetics. Events like the [un]Apologetic conferences are a great opportunity for people to educate themselves about apologetics. Hernandez also travels around the state to teach apologetics. He has visited 10 universities, both secular and Texas Baptists-affiliated, in the last year to speak on the subject.
“For me, that’s apologetics. It’s reaching people for the Gospel,” he said. “Showing them, as Christ did with Thomas, the reasons why we believe what we do. That there is a hope, that there is a God. If we’re to be effective in evangelism, we need apologetics.”
To learn more, visit txb.org/evangelism.