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November 2004

November 30, 2004

In the first article of this series we examined some of the basic issues in Bible translation. We saw the difference between paraphrase, dynamic equivalence and formal equivalence and identified some rules of translations. Of utmost importance was the necessity of translating words, not meaning.

Today we continue with the introduction to translating and translations. Perhaps it is too obvious to mention but I will do so regardless. The Bible was not written in English. Rather, it was written in Hebrew and Greek with a small section in Aramaic. The job of the translator, of course, is to know and understand the original languages and translate the words into the receptor language – in our case, English. The challenge is greater than merely translating words, for the translator must first discern what the original words are. This introduces us to the concept of text-types. The original “autographs” of the Bible no longer exist. Rather, what we have are copies and more than likely, copies of copies of copies. Often times these are merely fragments of books of the Bible, perhaps written on a tablet or parchment or even in a letter from one person to another.

Text Types

There are four primary text types.

The Byzantine text: The Byzantine texts were preserved by the Byzantine Empire and constitute the vast majority of available Biblical texts. Unfortunately many of the documents are from a relatively late date.

The Western text: Western texts originated from a poor and sloppy scribal tradition, so are considered the least important of the text types.

The Alexandrian text: The Alexandrian texts were prepared by highly skilled scribes in Alexandria or the immediate area. They are generally considered to have the highest credentials.

The Caesarean text: The Caesarean text originated in Egypt and combined the Western and Alexandrian texts.

The translator or scholar must examine all of the available texts and decide which are most accurate. This has become more science than art or guess-work. Some of the criteria they use to make a decision are:

The age of the text. Generally an older text is considered authoritative over a younger one, though this is not always the case. Even in the early church we read about people deliberately changing the text of Scripture. Irenaeus, one of the church fathers, wrote “Marcion and his followers have betaken themselves to mutilating the Scriptures, not acknowledging some books at all, and curtailing the gospel according to Luke and the Epistles of Paul, they assert that these alone are authentic which they themselves have shortened.” Age is important, but not in isolation.

The length of the text. Often the shorter a text is the more authoritative it is considered because scribes were more likely to add to a text than take away from it.

The difficulty of the text. A difficult text is considered more authoritative than a simple one since scribes were more likely to change a difficult reading than an easy one. If a text is still very difficult, it is likely that it has not been edited, for a scribe would not purposely make a text more difficult.

Text comparison. Texts are compared to each other and when many similar texts match it is given more weight than the one that is different from the rest.

There is plenty of disagreement on methodology and which documents are better. The task of the scholar and translator is difficult, but in the end we have confidence that the text of the Bible is at least 99% pure (probably higher) and that no basic doctrines are affected by the small sections that are still in doubt.

Biblical Texts

There are two main schools of Biblical texts. The first is known as the Textus Receptus or Received Text. This text was compiled in the early 16th century by Erasmus, a Greek scholar who was Roman Catholic but also humanist. He gathered several Byzantine texts, most of which were quite new (none were written before the 12th century) and published a Greek New Testament based on these. His work was revised many times over the following years until in 1633 a version contained the words “”The text that you have is now received by all, in which we give nothing changed or perverted.” From this time this text was known as the Textus Receptus (received text) and it became the basis for every English translation until 1881, including the King James Version. Those who believe the King James Version is the superior translation into English defend the superiority of the received text but modern scholarship has largely agreed that the text is not as accurate as the alternative.

The second text is known as the Westcott and Hort text which was first published in 1881. These scholars decided that the Byzantine texts underlying the Textus Receptus were too modern so set out to find older texts, eventually relying on manuscripts that were written as early as the second century AD. Many of these manuscripts had not been discovered in Erasmus’ time so he did not have access to them. The Westcott and Hort text has formed the basis for almost every English translation after 1881, including the standard English translations you might find in your local bookstore.

I will not enter into the great debate about the merits of each of the two texts. Suffice it to say that I read and love Bibles based on the Westcott and Hort text and certainly do not agree with many of the arguments of those who defend the Textus Receptus. In either case I appreciate the desire to have the Bible in all its purity.

History of the Bible in English

This would be an appropriate location to discuss the long history of the English Bible. However, that is not completely relevant to our discussion, so I will direct you to resources which discuss the topic in detail. A good place to start is English Bible History.

This series will continue tomorrow.

November 30, 2004

The Ken Jennings Show - It is the last day of November. Just where has the month gone to? Time seems to be accelerating for some reason. Time could be slowing for Ken Jennings, the man who has won 74 consecutive shows of Jeopardy. According to the rumor mill (ie two people who attended the taping of tonight’s show several months ago) this could be the evening his amazing streak finally comes to an end. Last night he passed the $2.5 million mark so he should be pretty well set for life now. He looked a little “off” yesterday and certainly did not dominate the game, so perhaps he had a bad weekend and that affected his play since Jeopardy tapes 5 episodes per week, all on Monday.

Who Really Lost The Election? - It seems Americans have the amazing ability to make a one-day election drag on for week after week. Even now people are calling for recounts and there are even some that are privately funded and managed, so convinced are some Democrats that the Republicans cheated. It seems they simply cannot believe that anyone would vote for a guy like Bush. But who were the real losers in the election? A lot of people are pointing to the press. An article in Editor & Publisher says “Media, you lost big.” The press was supposed to deliver 15% to the Democrats and somehow managed to cost them rather than gain them voters. “Staunchly opposed to Bush throughout his first term, the prospect of a second four years in office exposed the deep-seated bias among the old media and forever revealed themselves to the public at large.”

CTAOTD - I may as well just have a section here called Christianity Today Article of the Day. Today’s article examines why C.S. Lewis remained Protestant while by the end of his life many of his beliefs were essentially Catholic. The author concludes “reduced to its essentials, is that Lewis had a blind spot created by a bigoted Ulster Protestant upbringing; despite his exposure to Catholic teaching and the best of Catholics among his friends, he was never able to overcome this prejudice, even on his deathbed…Lewis was a very typical Protestant in that he saw an absolute division between the claims of the Roman Church and her reality, the reality belonging only to a Church that is precisely not the Roman (or any other) particular church, and which while it touches upon and runs through this and other churches, is greater than them all. This is why he puts Mother Kirk in shabby dress, because her glory is hidden in her manifestations to us.” I am not expert on Lewis and must confess I have only read one of his books. I suppose I have read enough of his quotes through second hand sources to have read most of Mere Christianity at least. Any comments on this article from those who know more about Lewis?

Desiring God - Matt Hall has put together a post discussing the highlights of this year’s Desiring God conference (Sex and the Supremacy of Christ). He links to many of the conference’s speeches that are available in MP3 format. I listened to and enjoyed a couple of them yesterday. Mark Dever’s speech on Christian Hedonists or Religious Prudes? The Puritans on Sex is both interesting and hilarious so I especially recommend that one. I’ll be listening to the rest of them today.

Devaluation - Want to buy some cheap real estate? Fifteen years ago Canadian taxpayers coughed up $600 million to build Skydome, home stadium of the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Argonauts. Next month that stadium will be sold to Rogers Communications for a measley $25 million. That is some shocking devaluation. I’m guessing that even real estate in Chernobyl hasn’t fallen that far. Once considered the greatest ballpark in the major leagues, it is now seen as more of an albatross and already baseball fans are clamoring for a new one. Skydome had its glory days back in 1992 and 1993 when the Jays won their back-to-back World Series Championships and the stadium was packed to the rafters most of the year. Recently games have drawn merely 8-10 thousand fans. The glory days are over!

Wycliffe Translators - And finally, here is a link to a story about Wycliffe Bible translators and some of the work involved in translating God’s Word. Feel free to pass over the gratuitious Billy Graham praises. After reading that article I went to Wycliffe’s site and began poking around. I came across this page of quotes and was struck by how bizarre history can be at times. Here we have an organization named after a man who was despised by the Catholic Church to such an extent that forty years after his death his body was exhumed, burned and the ashes were thrown in a river. Yet on a page at the web site are all sorts of quotes from Catholic sources and even the current pope speaking of the importance of the work of translating the Bible. Strange, isn’t it?

November 29, 2004

This is the first in a series of articles which will examine the various Bible translations available today in the English language. With such a multitude of translations available, Christians are often puzzled as they attempt to discern which one most accurately represents the words of God. In past years many have been told that the New International Version provides the best balance between accuracy and readability, that the New American Standard Bible is the most accurate but is difficult to read and that The Living Bible is the easiest to read, but lacks accuracy. These assumptions may be accurate, but they are simplified. Today major new translations appear at the rate of one every couple of years. While most of them make little impact, some, such as the New Living Translation and The Message have gained widespread acceptance. The NIV, which once was regarded as the standard Bible of evangelical churches, is losing ground and may soon fade to history. And what of the venerable King James Version?

Deciding which translation is best must depend on one’s view of the Bible. A person who regards the Bible merely as human words, or even as the thoughts of God given through human writers will regard the importance of an accurate translation far differently from one who believes that the text of the Bible is the very words of God. This series will be premised on the traditional Protestant view that the Bible is inspired by God, is without error and is the effective, supreme and final authority on matters of life and faith. How do we know this is the case? Quite simply, because the Bible says so. If the Bible is truly authoritative, it stands to reason that it can appeal to no higher authority than itself to prove what it says. Therefore we must accept by faith at face value what the Bible says of itself.

Much could be said about the philosophy of Bible translation. Many books have been written on this topic and I while could devote tens of thousands of words to it, for sake of brevity I will merely summarize some of the most important points. To do so we will examine the three common methods of Bible translation.

Paraphrase (also known as Free Translation) – Paraphrases attempt to translate ideas and concepts from the original text but without being constrained by the original language and words. They also seek to contextualize the Bible to the contemporary culture, eliminating the historical distance between the time the Bible was written and the time in which it is read. This allows them to be easy to read as they do not need to conform to the sentence structures of the original languages. However, they are also less-literal in their translation. The most widely-read paraphrase is The Living Bible, though in recent days The Message has become exceedingly popular.

Dynamic Equivalence (also known as Thought for Thought) – Dynamic equivalency attempts to create a consistent historical distance between the text and the reader so that the text has the same impact on the contemporary reader as it did on the original reader or listener. Because the translation does not need to be constrained to the original language and sentence structures, the text can flow smoothly, allowing it to be easily readable. However, dynamic equivalence requires some degree of interpretation as the translator attempts to discern not only the words of the author but also the author’s intent and meaning. The most popular dynamic equivalent translation is the New International Version.

Formal Equivalence (also known as Word for Word, Literal Translation or Essentially Literal) – Formal equivalence attempts to represent each word of the original language with a corresponding word in the English language. This allows the reader to know, as closely as possible, what God actually spoke through the authors of the Bible. The merit of this method is that it allows intimate access to the originally inspired words for those who do not speak the languages the Bible was written in. The downside is that it is possible for these translations to be awkwardly worded and follow difficult sentence structures. Examples are the New American Standard Bible and the English Standard Version.

Questions about translation

Should we translate meaning or words?

This is a foundational question, as the answer will determine the entire method of translation. If translating meaning is most important, the primary task of the translator is first to determine what the author meant and then translate his interpretation of that meaning. The problem with this is that we may not know what the original author meant. We can guess and make assumptions, even very rational assumptions, but we can not know for certain someone else’s meaning. What we can and do know are the words he used to express meaning and those words can be accurately translated. This separates interpretation and translation. The meaning of a passage cannot be separated from the words, therefore the job of the translator should be to translate those words, not a perceived meaning.

How much interpretation should there be in translation?

Ideally there should be no thematic interpretation in a translation. There must be linguistic translation, such as the proper meaning of a word, but themes should be presented as clearly or as opaquely as they are in the original text.

What are important features in a Bible?

Traditional theological vocabulary. Many theological terms used in the Bible have no accurate English translations. Therefore, many Bibles have chosen to adopt terms such as justification, sanctification and redemption directly from the Scriptures.

Nouns and pronouns. Some Bibles choose to capitalize nouns and pronouns that refer to any member of the Trinity. This makes it easier to understand whether such words refer to God or to someone else.

Words of Christ in red. Some Bibles use red ink for the words of Christ to make it easy to identify when He speaks. Some insist on this feature and others feel it reduces the perceived importance of the rest of the words of the text. I find it a helpful but certainly not necessary feature.

Headers. Many Bibles use descriptive headers at the beginning of each chapter or even throughout chapters to allow readers to identify important sections. Headers are added by translators or editors so are fallible. The doctrinal emphases of the editors or translators will show through these headers which can cause problems.

Cross references. Many Bibles cross reference passages, so that a verse may have a note directing the reader to a similar verse in a different passage. Cross references are very helpful.

Concordance. A Concordance is a list of words and a reference to where they may be found within the Bible. While these are helpful, they are limited because of space considerations. A concordance in a Bible should not replace a full concordance for the serious student of the Word.

Rules of Translation

To summarize, these are what I consider four important rules in translation:

  1. We must never lose sight of the fact that it is God’s Word that is being translated. These are not the words of fallible men but of a Holy God who is giving these words to direct our lives.
  2. The text must be translated as accurately and faithfully as possible from the original language to the receptor language.
  3. The translation must be readable so that it adheres to rules of English vocabulary, syntax and grammar.
  4. The translation must not seek to bring clarity to what is difficult in the original text. The interpretation must stay separate from the translation.

At this point I hope it is clear what I consider the ideal for a translation of the Scripture. In our next article we will begin to look at specific translations.

If you are interested in reading more about translations and translating, I recommend The Word of God in English by Leland Ryken.

November 29, 2004

Bad Timing, Good Morality - In retrospect, releasing a movie which glorifies bisexuality less than a month after an election where traditional values was so important was probably quite a mistake. I’m not sure that Oliver Stone and the folks at the studio are ready to admit it, though. It seems that a movie praised by The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation but condemned by church leaders was destined to fail in the post-election climate. While the movie does not have an explicit sexual scene between Alexander and his supposed male lover, it does make quite obvious that they were homosexual. A graphic love scene between Alexander and his wife apparently did not balance out the homosexual undertones. And so it is that the $150 million epic will go down as a huge disappointment for the studio, having grossed only a fraction of its cost through the first two weeks after its release. And I say “bravo” to everyone who snubbed it!

The Perfect Gift - Looking for the perfect toy for your child this Christmas? Why not buy your little darling a Stink Blaster. The Stink Blaster is a gun that can “Blast your Friends with a ball of harmless, but Stinky air from up to 20 feet away! Just pull back the plunger, squeeze the pod release, aim and fire! The Stink Blaster Blaster coils the air as it races towards your target for a concentrated blast of air and smell. The power of the air ruffles shirts and blows hair, while the smell will wrinkle noses and annoy your friends. Blast ‘em from a distance, they’ll never see you coming! The ultimate in Stink Prank play, the Stink Blaster Blaster is smelly wind blowing fun. The Stink Blaster Blaster comes complete with blaster and 2 Stink Pods. Ages 5+.” Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Early reviews at Amazon are mixed, though a common complaint is that the stink isn’t stinky enough. That may be the first time in human history anyone has ever made that complaint.

Bush The Butcher - It seems a lot of my countrymen are quite upset that George W Bush is making his first post-election state visit to Canada. Canada Free Press, an independent, conservative news source, details some of the upcoming protests and complaints. Judy Rebick, once Canada’s top feminist, writes “We want to send a message of support to the people of Iraq and all oppressed people around the world: we stand in solidarity with you. And to our sisters and brothers in the American anti-war movement: the world will always say no to the Bush agenda.” I don’t quite know who she is representing, other than perhaps other rabid feminists. Other groups have called emergency meetings so they can begin to make placards and “unwelcome mats.” Apparently part of the plan to show discontent is to “…be waving placards and shouting obscenities at Bush from across the river.” Surely these people have something more constructive they could be doing!

Christianity Applied - I don’t usually link to other blogs until they are well-established, but this time I will make an exception. Christianity Applied is a new blog but one that has really caught my eye. Stuart, known in the forums at this site as sdinenno, offers “commentary in the light of the Holy Scriptures as they apply to all things, with a particular emphasis on practical obedience to biblical precepts.” He is currently reading and blogging his way through Arthur Pink’s An Expostion of the Sermon on the Mount and recently also wrote an excellent article on sola Scriptura. Take a gander (by which I mean take a look, not take a male goose) and if you post something, tell him that Tim sent you.

November 28, 2004

We would consider it a peculiarity if I claimed to love someone yet refused to spend time with him. I love my son dearly, more than life itself, and one of the most sincere expressions of my love is my desire to spend time with him, be it in reading books, playing a game, watching a movie or even in just going for a walk and having a man-to-man talk while we stroll through the streets of Oakville. As I grow closer to my boy I will find that I want to spend more time with him. Affection can grow only where sufficient time is given. If I spend no time with my son it should not surprise me that our relationship does not grow either. If I say I love him and mean it with sincerity, I will prove it in my choices about how I will spend my time.

Time is something we treasure in our society, especially as we all grow busier and busier and stretch ourselves even thinner, so that we can give less time to more people and activities. One of the greatest compliments a person can receive is the dedication of another person’s time to their relationship. I remember years ago I promoted a concert and brought Petra to Toronto for an evening. All day long we were busy, and I especially found myself running around doing a million tasks, making dinner for two bands and a huge crew, driving people to and from hotels and sorting out any number of last minute details. Yet in that hustle and bustle, at one point John Schlitt, the lead vocalist for the band and my childhood hero, called me over and we sat and talked for a few minutes. That showed me where his priorities were. He would probably have rather been on the phone with his wife or catching a nap on the bus, but instead he took a few minutes to invest some of his time in me and it meant the world to me.

Today is Sunday. When I was growing up we called it the Lord’s Day, for it belongs to the Lord. In six days the Lord made everything we see around us, but on the seventh He rested and called the day holy. Holy means “set apart.” In the temple of Old Testament times there were holy places and tools. They were nothing special in and of themselves - their specialness was in that they were set apart to God. And so it is with Sunday. This is a day we are to set apart to God, to worship and praise and remember and honor Him. We can show Him how much we value our relationship by honoring Him through the way we spend our time. If we say we love God we will want to prove it by spending time with Him. It will be our joy, our pleasure and our honor to do so. Will you?

November 28, 2004

I spent a good chunk of time yesterday reading the introductions to Bible translations. Sounds fascinating, doesn’t it? I am hoping to do a series on this site about translating and translations, examining the differences in translations and trying to identify the superior ones. I dug up all the translations I could find around the house and found: NIV, NASB, NKJV, Holman and RSV and also read the intro to my Greek Bible and a French translation. It made for an interesting comparison of philosophies and priorities in translation. I hope to have an introductory study early next week and will then introduce various translations one at a time.

Are you the type to bemoan the lack of originality in popular music these days? I dug up an old bookmark yesterday that always makes me giggle. An obviously bored person made a recording of two Nickelback songs - one plays out of the right speaker and the other out of the left. Other than the words it is exceedingly difficult to tell the difference between them. The music is nearly identical. Give it a listen and you’ll see what I mean.

And while we’re on the subject of popular music, it’s interesting that a couple of Hollywood/music starlets have come out in favor of having children young. Britney Spears, now that she is so happily married, wants to have children. “A lot of people think you should wait till you’re older to have kids,” the Britster, 22, writes. “I’ve had a career since I was 16, have traveled around the world & back…The only thing I haven’t done so far is experience the closest thing to God and that’s having a baby. I can’t wait!” While Britney makes me nauseous, it’s interesting that she and other young women are talking about having children young, rather than waiting until they are 30 or 35 like so many women today. And that is as close to a tabloid as I’ll allow this site to come!

In an interview about his most recent book, Brian McLaren takes a little shot at Calvinists. He was interviewed by Greg Warner of Pastors.com and said “ ‘The people who dislike the book the most tend to be strict, high Calvinists,’ McLaren says. That makes sense, he adds, because Calvinism ‘is the highest expression of modernism.’ But he is heartened by the response he receives from other readers, most of whom praise its fresh approach. ‘I’ve gotten three negative emails and thousands of affirming ones.’” I have to put some more time and thought into his assertion that Calvinism is the highest expression of modernism. I would call it the highest expression of godliness and if that makes it modernist, so be it! In the same book McLaren suggests rewriting TULIP, so you know he is comfortable treading on sacred ground! On that basis I think I need to read The Story We Find Ourselves In.

And finally, I received the sad news yesterday that The Supertones have decided to call it quits. They will release a best-of album in January, follow that with a tour and then disband. This is no great surprise as they have had a lot of personnel turnover in the past years and their popularity has waned as ska fell out of favor with music fans. Still, they represented one of the few Reformed voices in Christian music and they’ll be missed. I wouldn’t be surprised to see “Mojo” (ie the lead vocalist and songwriter) to begin a new band or resurrect Grand Incredible. Here is the text of the press release from their web site.

The O.C. Supertones bid you farewell. Even in writing this sad letter, we hold our heads high. We are proud of this band, our accomplishments, friendships, but mostly, we thank the Lord for what He has enabled us to do these many years.

There were several reasons that factored into our decision. Rest assured, however, that after much discussion and lots of prayer, we believe this is the right path. Our end date is yet to be determined, but 2005 will be the Supertones’ last year together.

To our fans … you made us. You encouraged us day after day on the road, via letters as well as e-mails, through gifts and by your words. We are truly grateful to God for your support throughout the years. Sing as loud as you can back to us this last year. Let us hear your voices! There are others that have helped the band exist. Though some members have come and gone, they contributed greatly to The OC Supertones— Jason Carson, Tony Terusa, Darren Mettler, Brian Johnson, Kevin Chen and Dave Chevalier. Thanks for your hard work and all that you gave during your time with the Supertones.

To all our friends …thank you for years of affirmation and love. By God’s grace, our friendships do not end with the life of this band. You all know who you are. Lastly, thanks to our amazing families—wives, moms, dads, brothers, sister, etc. You have been our greatest encouragement through thick and thin, on and off the road, in and out of the band. We greatly appreciate your patience, tolerance and unconditional love. It has been our privilege and pleasure to play music while telling people about Christ. The Supertones are determined to make it a great last year. We would love to see you out at any of our shows.
Thank you,
The O.C. Supertones
(Matt, Dan, Ethan, Chris, John, Bret)

November 27, 2004

Christianity Today has released their list of the Top 12 Albums of 2004. Generally in the past I have listened to almost all of the albums on their lists, but this year is an exception as I bought only four of them. Fortunately they made sure to give Derek Webb some love, awarding him the second spot on the list. They say of him “…he doesn’t just peel back layers of the heart with candid insight; he breaks it wide open to expose our shortcomings. Not content to simply repeat the acoustic pop stylings of his former band Caedmon’s Call, Webb branches out into an alternative pop sound that’s fairly outside the box. Big commercial success or not, Webb has truly arrived with another album of incredible songwriting depth.” I have to say that “fairly outside the box” is one of the weakest sentences I’ve read in a long time - either he’s outside the box or not. I’m not sure how he can be fairly outside of it. The magazine awarded Sara Groves the top honor this year so that is an album I’ll have to investigate. The other albums on the list that I have are Relient K, Caedmon’s Call and Sanctus Real.

The Master’s Artist has an excellent and moving article about his son that is sure to stir your heart. Thanks to Rebecca for pointing me in the direction of that post.

I’ve told you many times before that you really need to sign up to receive the monthly newsletter from Think on These Things Ministries which is written by Gary Gilley of Southern View Chapel in Springfield, Illinois. It is available for delivery by email or old fashioned snail mail, and you can also read it on the ministry’s site (though it appears they have not added the November issue yet). This month Gilley writes about one of my favorite topics, which is the offense of the Gospel. He shows how this offensive message clashes with seeker sensitive churches so that sooner or later something has to give. He also discusses how New Testament church services were generally not regarded as a place for evangelism. He always has great things to say and I look forward to getting his newsletter each month.

And finally today, World Magazine published an interesting article about Christian bookstores that are now open for business on Sundays, even though they know that this means their employees will be unable to attend church. They justify this by insisting that their business is actually ministry and they need to remain open for ministry purposes so they can “reach people when ministry is at the forefront of their hearts and minds.” They draw an interesting comparison with the chain Hobby Lobby which recently made the decision to close on Sundays, a decision which cost the chain about $100 million in sales per year - an astounding number. I think also of Chik-Fil-A, a chain which remains closed on Sunday though it surely costs them millions in potential revenues. And they also make an outstanding chicken sandwich which I am sure to indulge in whenever I go to the South.

November 26, 2004

In recent days I have had a few people take the time to challenge me about their perception that this Web site, and the content of it, are largely negative in tone. As one might expect, I take offense to such comments and would largely disagree with them. I do certainly broach topics that are controversial and may generate difficult discussions, but I do not do so from a desire to be negative or simply go have a good argument.

I consider this a site dedicated primarily to apologetics. I will define apologetics as it has been defined in the directory of Christian blogs, Blogs4God (where I am, not suprisingly, categorized in the apologetics category):

Apologetics

ap·o·lo·gia {"a-p&-`lO-j(E-)&} noun - Late Latin, 1784
: blogs that offer an intelligent defense of the historical Christian faith

Apologetics is the “intelligent defense of the historical Christian faith.” I do not claim intelligence, but I do my utmost to defend the Christian faith. The Biblical mandate for apologists is found throughout the Scripture, but the marching orders are found in Jude verse 3 reads “I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” Defending the faith assumes that there is something to defend it from.

If the Christian faith is all that it claims to represent- the one and only way to be reconciled with God and freed from the power of Satan - then it stands to reason that it is under constant attack. Satan will stop at nothing to destroy the faith. He is an intelligent creature and knows that it is far easier to erode the faith from within than without. By slipping wolves in among the sheep, even when these wolves are fully convinced that they are sheep, he is able to achieve far more than making a frontal assault. From this perspective it makes sense that some of the worst teachings can come from the most well-intentioned teachers. And here is where I find my interest and my gifting. I have great interest in defending the faith, especially as it is attacked from within. There are some who God has gifted in such a way that they can defend the faith against external infiltrations, such as governments and secular organizations. I find my gifting is in examining the current state of the faith and defending it from erosion from within. I love to compare the contemporary church with the historical church, and even better with the Bible, and alert others when conflicts arise.

Is apologetics inherently negative? I doubt God would say so. There may be a negative aspect to apologetics, simply because to defend is to assume that there is something to defend against, but the practice in itself is not negative. On the contrary, apologetics should help people grow in their faith as they are warned against succumbing to Satan’s infiltrations. I seek to make apologetics practical rather than abstract, uplifting rather than purely negative. If I take issue with a teaching, I seek to show the proper Biblical alternative. I know that I do not always succeed in this goal, but I do strive for it. When I fail, the community who reads this site generally lets me know, and I do appreciate their concern.

Human Nature

I would like to conclude with a brief reflection on human nature. Humans seem to be inherently critical and it is far easier for us to criticize than build up. In this regard I am the chief of sinners. However, I have seen that others are afflicted in the same way. When I write an article that is positive, that reflects joy in what God has taught me from His Word, it generally receives far less attention that those which challenge beliefs or teachers. A quick survey of the numbers of replies to various topics in the forum will prove this true. So for those who believe there is a slight negative tone to the discussions in the forums, I would encourage them to make an effort to discuss the positive and not merely the negative.