Francis Schaeffer once referred to Christian community as “the final apologetic.”
The word apologetic is used often in the Church today, but I find that few people could define it. So, let me explain, so we don’t miss the point of what Schaffer meant.
The word apologetic comes from the Greek word apologia. The original idea was that it was a defense or an answer given in response to a charge. We could best think of it in an ancient Greek courtroom scene where, after an accusation is made, the accused would attempt to refute the charges.
In the Bible, the word is nearly always used as someone making a direct defense for their faith, or at least explaining why they did what they did because of their faith.
So in Christian apologetics, we’re making a case as to why what we believe is true and accurate and logical. (The second part of the word apologetic comes from the same word as logic.)
So when Francis Schaeffer said that community — Christians demonstrating to one another in tangible ways the love of Christ — is the final apologetic, what he’s saying is that when all of the words have been spoken, the demonstration of true biblical community is the last and best defense to show people that what we believe is really true.
And that’s what Jesus clearly said when He was praying in John 17. “…that they may all be one … so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:21)
As we are more and more unified, as we are more and more united as the Body of Christ, the world will more and more believe the truth of the message.
I think Francis Schaeffer was right. Christian community really is the final apologetic.