Edited By Soli Shahvar
8. Apologetics and Interfaith Dialogue from a Bahá’í Perspective
The term apologetics derives from the Greek word apologeisthai, ‘to defend oneself’. It denotes a systematic discourse of argumentation in defence, or a branch of theology devoted to the defence and scientific verification of religious belief. Its sister term is apologia (from the Greek apología, ‘answer’, ‘justification’ or ‘defence’), which concerns the practical defence of faith.
Apologetics is a very old discipline and is found in all the Abrahamic religions. Judaism has a long-standing tradition of apologetics, the Jews often having been forced not only to defend the tenets of their faith but also to defend the Jewish people against attack on racial grounds. Jewish apologetics experienced its points of highest intensity when Christianity rose to power and began to attack all other forms of belief, and then once again when Islam rose to power. Islam also has a pronounced tradition of apologetics, exercised mainly in defence of Islam as a religious creed against criticism from outside the religion but also employed between Muslims of differing schools of thought. The Qur’án itself is in great part apologetic in nature.
The targets of Christian apologetics were first heathenism, Judaism and Gnosticism; in medieval times, Islam; and in modern times the Enlightenment, idealism and materialistic ideologies. Today it focuses on combating the secular zeitgeist and indifference towards Christianity. The locus classicus for Christian apologetics is 1 Peter 3:14–15:
But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye; and...
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