The foundational verse for the support of engaging in biblical apologetics is found in 1 Peter3:15:
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect
What then is our starting point? Our starting point is evangelism. Evangelism is the end that apologetics seeks to serve. Our task is not to assume things about our hearers and answer what we feel are common or typical objections. While that knowledge can help us to prepare a response, our primary task or end is a positive presentation of the gospel message.
It can be helpful to begin your evangelism by recognizing specific areas of the Christian worldview that your audience rejects. Paul exhibited this exact strategy in Acts 17.
So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for
“ ‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said,
“ ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
Apologetics is a fantastic field of study. It has many riches for us as believers in addition to providing a reasoned defense of the faith to deal with unbelievers. However, we must always remember that apologetics is merely the servant of evangelism. Our passionate defense of the faith should always begin with a positive and bold proclamation of that faith as THE truth.
This recognition also furnishes us with insight as to the goal of apologetics. The goal is not to win an argument. Rather, the goal is the conversion of the hearers. We should be employing every means and attitude we can to the end that those who have ears to hear might be found out. Now, there is value in the vindication of God’s word over against its detractors to be sure. We should not distort our evangel or apologetic because we think it will be more palatable. However that does not change the fact that our aim is to save souls, and that work is done by the Spirit of God. May we study and employ apologetics prayerfully, that God would see fit to use it to the saving of many souls.