In my mind, apologetics is a crucial issue for postmodern times. We have so much literature on the topic that provides all the "answers" to all the hard questions, but is that our best apologetic? I have seen some buzz about the need for a new apologetic around the blogosphere. Joe Thorn and I have discussed it more than once. And I just noticed that Bob Robinson has started a short series of posts on the matter. He writes...
But look again at the context of 1 Peter 3:15. The "answer" or "defense" that one is told to be prepared to give is to those who askus Christians why we live in such hope. What this presupposes is that the Christian community is living in such a radical and conspicuous way in the midst of those who do not yet know Christ that these people are either genuinely wondering why we have such a hopeful lifestyle or they are suspicious that we are just play-acting it. Most often it will be the latter. Many will mock a Christian community of do-gooders (they will "speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ" v. 16), but we must follow Christ as our Lord (v. 15a), and willingly suffer for the good done for people as Christ did (3:18, 4:1).
So the "defense" is not so much a "reasoned argument" but an "account" (not a "reason" as in the NIV—but a logos, as it is in the Greek: a "word") of why we have hope. We are told here to tell our story. We're not told to provide a list of reasoned propositions, but to give an account. We are to tell our story of encounter with Christ, transformation in our faith, and why we are so radically living in such a different manner—spreading hope to those around us. While I believe that some people, if they have cognitive roadblocks to faith, may still need to have things explained to them in rational ways, the main biblical apologetic has always been an Emmanuel Apologetic—an apologetic that displays God to people by living among people as a community of hope.
This is the kind of biblical direction in apologetics that reinvigorates me.