Notes from Jay Smith Transcript – Polemics vs. Apologetics (1)

Jay Smith

Jay Smith is a Christian Apologist/Biblical scholar who in particular works in the area of Islam. Much of his ministry work is carried on out in the UK in various capacities, one of his most interesting ones being his public debates at the Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park.  In listening to the audio of his interview at I found some wise words from him that are worth heeding. This has to do with the distinction between Apologetics and Polemics:

Jay Smith: Now, Brian, I assume your listeners would know what we mean by apologetics and polemics. Would they?

Brian Auten: Probably most, but I don’t mind if you go ahead and elaborate on that.

Jay Smith: Let me just go ahead and do that, because I find when I go to churches, when I meet new people, they know apologetics. I don’t think anybody has a difficulty with that because we do it. Certainly, there’s lots of schools that teach it. Most schools would either have a course on it.

Apologetics is defending the faith and is much like a football team. You have your defense. You need your defense, so others don’t score against you, and that’s your apologetics and missiology or Christian work, but you don’t win games just with defense. You also need your offense,

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Now in missiology or evangelistic terms, your offense would be your polemics.

And so apologetics is to defend. Polemics is to go on the offense, and it’s that that we don’t teach anywhere. There’s no school in the world that teaches it,

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Paul is a great apologist. He’s also a great polemicist.