What is Catholic Apologetics?
Apologetics is the rational defence and explanation of the Catholic faith in the world and place in which we find ourselves. Apologetics comes from the Greek word Apologia. It can bear several meanings in its original form: to apologise, to explain, to defend or to account for. Whilst the task of Christian apologetics can bear several of these meanings, the first is certainly excluded.
Apologetics is going on all the time and in a multiplicity of ways, from the father answering the questions of his son about the origin of the universe, to the school girl defending her faith in God in a history lesson, from the women at the party standing up for the Church’s moral positions to the man in the pub explaining why the Church is not against Jews.
An academic study of apologetics is simply a more technical analysis of and response to the same problems that are being discussed in the sports centres, the shopping malls and the tea shops around the country. As an academic discipline apologetics is that area of theology which seeks to respond to objections, doubts and difficulties over the truth and rational coherence of the Catholic faith.
Why do Catholics have Apologetics?
Catholics believe that their faith is not merely credible and non-contradicting of reason but rather that it even makes demands upon the mind and the heart. While the Mysteries of Faith can never be reduced to rational conclusions many of the teachings of the Catholic faith are in themselves knowable by reason alone (i.e. the existence of God) and others are so much in harmony with reason that faith becomes the sensible person’s response. Catholic theology asserts that God has given us both the truths of faith and the truths of reason. Just as God cannot contradict Himself it should be possible to show why any seeming contradiction between faith and reason is mistaken.
It is not enough to relegate Christian faith to the level of mere opinion or even to one possibility amongst others. The Catholic Creed has shaped past civilisations and has the intrinsic power to shape future ones. It claims to give us the truth about the human condition. Catholics believe that is a faith convincing enough, in itself, to carry the hearts and minds of whole peoples – indeed of the whole world. If this were not so then would Christianity itself be credible? If God’s public Revelation were reducible to the private sphere of opinion, could it really be the manifestation of God for every human being as it claims to be? Apologetics begins from the conviction that divine truth is attainable and defensible. Therefore from the beginning it is not surprising that the Church has practiced the art of apologetics. It is not about apologising for the truth but about giving ‘a reason (apologia) for the hope that is in you’ (Pt 3:15).
What makes Apologetics distinct from other areas of Theology?
Apologetics is a unique discipline, always relevant, always engaging. If it fails in these areas then it isn’t apologetics. If the enterprise doesn’t meet the needs of faith under fire then it ceases to be apologetics. For this reason alone apologetics is quite distinct from other parts of the theological discipline.
Apologetics is not Dogmatic or Systematic theology which is rather the study of God’s Revelation in and of itself, already presuming its validity whilst investigating its precise meaning and implications. Apologetics does assume the truth of the dogmas of faith but its task is to show their credibility and why they are convincing and compelling to human reason, or at least compatible with it. It provides a steady platform for the study of Dogma.
Apologetics is not the study of the history of theology which is rather a more neutral survey of what has been taught through the centuries. The distinct genuine area of theology called Positive or Historical theology unearths the exact meaning and significance of great theological ideas and the contributions of major writers and theologians. Apologetics on the other hand relates to past controversies and the ideas of history to learn from them and to utilise them in the present.
Apologetics is not the study of why and how Christians believe, which is rather the specific work of Fundamental Theology. When considered broadly Fundamental Theology could encompass apologetics as its practical arm, however, more often than not, its role is narrowed to analysing the rational foundations for Christian doctrines and the action of faith in a more speculative way. Apologetics is always practical in that it seeks to demonstrate the truth and rationale of Catholic doctrine and enable the act of faith.
Apologetics is not the presentation of different opinions about faith topics which is rather the work of Religious Studies and Sociology of Religion. Apologetics will always seek to show why certain opinions are true and others false. It sits therefore with a refreshing and attractive uneasiness in an academy which increasingly believes all views are of equal value and truth is not there to be found.
What is the correct relationship between faith and reason?
We have described apologetics as a rational defence of what we believe. It seems that without believing and without a rational defence there could be no apologetics. We need to investigate to see why this is held, as a matter of principle, to be the case.
Pope John Paul II in his great Encyclical Fides et Ratio wrote about faith and reason being like two wings on which the human soul can soar. He wrote:
Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2)
Good apologetics is based upon a correct balance or relationship between faith and reason. The neglect of the former leads to rationalism, the rejection of the latter leads to fideism.
Apologetics requires faith
Apologetics requires faith because it exists to defend faith. The challenges it meets are challenges felt by faith. Apologetics is not a purely speculative searching for truth in philosophy or theology, rather it is responsive and that response comes from faith under fire.
Apologetics cannot merely deal with detached philosophical or historical challenges. It is principally an activity of defending revealed truth, or matters that affect claims of revelation, and as such it is an enterprise that requires faith. Theology is an action of reason applied to revelation, and apologetics is a rational defence of revelation. While apologetics does tackle philosophical and historical challenges it does so as a defence of theological revealed truth. The apologist has first to believe in revealed truth. Therefore faith is necessary to apologetics.
Apologetics also needs faith to give it conviction and drive. It is convinced that there is a right answer and that reason will not contradict faith. While a person without faith may give up, presume error or simply shrug their shoulders, the apologist, precisely as a person of faith, finds a rational response. The need for faith is not present simply because of the weaknesses of our intellect but rather because the object of belief is beyond our natural intellectual capability. Therefore faith is a virtue that the apologist needs if he or she is to be convinced and convincing in his or her apologetics.
Furthermore, there is the matter of the need for the human will (even the most blinding argument cannot force the will to accept or consent to the propositions of faith). The renowned apologist Peter Kreeft puts it this way, ‘reason can bring us as far as the shore, right up to the water’s edge, but only faith can allow us to dive in’. An apologist needs to be someone who has taken that leap.
The apologist is also appealing to faith. The apologist knows that attacks on the faith can be rebutted or deflected but to really convince someone of the truth of Christianity requires faith.
Apologetics requires reason
An apologetics which simply asserted the truths of faith without any explanation or justification would serve only a limited purpose. While the coherence and beauty of the revealed truths may attract some souls with the aid of grace many others would be repelled further from the faith as it appeared to go against reason and the innate desire to ‘know’ the truth. The mind could be repulsed away from the apparent irrationality of faith presented in this way. Therefore apologetics must also appeal to reason.
Christianity teaches that God has revealed himself in rational terms (The Word became flesh). The Word is the Logos of God, the very reason of God, who has communicated himself to us in flesh, that is, in ways rationally comprehensible to us. While the truths of faith may far surpass the grasp of the mind and be impossible to discover without special Revelation, our intellects are given the capacity to understand what God has taught. Reason is part of man’s nature created by God – apologetics works with the human person as he is, which includes the mind. The mind has a right to be satisfied, to have a good reason for making the generous act of trust involved in faith. A purely emotive apologetics would be of limited use and would perhaps turn out to be counter-productive.
Reason cannot establish or generate faith but it can destroy it. Our minds are made to understand and to know, and we need reasons for acting or at least allowing ourselves to act and to be led. Reason cannot give us faith but it does have a kind of ‘veto’ power over faith in practice. Intellectual errors can be a barrier to faith and such obstacles can and should be removed to aid faith. Full answers to many questions are available and at least the removal of contradictions is always possible. Reason should therefore be at the heart of the apologetic appeal.
Faith seeking Understanding through Apologetics
The dictum ‘faith seeking understanding’ comes from the writings of St Anselm in the 11th century but it is the working principle of every authentic Catholic theologian. It is also the driving force behind apologetics. The believer seeks to understand and to explain. In order to understand, the believer is not required first to doubt – to step outside his or her commitment of faith. Such doubt would render the initial motivation void.
Furthermore, contrary to popular assumption, there is no neutral philosophical world view, no purely objective vantage point from which we can view all things impartially without any bias, prejudice or presupposition. The believer cannot abandon his or her certainty of faith which is stronger than the doubt, without losing everything in the quest. In fact as St Augustine has said, ‘I do not seek to understand in order to believe, but I believe in order to understand’. It is the conviction of the Christian theologian or apologist that faith preserved and present in the rational enquiry allows an insight otherwise impossible. The apologist can remain completely faithful and truly rational at the same time. Newman once remarked that ‘ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt’. In fact, faith in the midst of a lack of understanding may be highly meritorious for the Christian who believes those words, ‘blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe’ (Jn 20:29).
Furthermore, the conviction that there must be an answer or a solution to an apparent contradiction will drive the apologist to be more searching and even groundbreaking. Christians know that faith cannot be reduced to reason but on the other hand they know that if faith is merely the conclusion of an argument or an assumption based on weighed probabilities of evidence then it is not faith.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of the ‘certainty of faith’. This is based upon the gift of faith and is not called certain because of the intellectual acumen of the believer or the strength of his or her arguments. The believer is certain quite simply because his or her intellect has been illuminated by ‘evidence of what is not seen’ (Hebrews 11:1) and his or her will has become wholly committed in trust to the One who reveals, like a bride who believes the vows of her spouse in marriage and responds in trust. The spouses’ mutual commitment is only known from within the relationship and cannot be tested externally. In a similar way one cannot break the relationship of faith or step outside of it just in order to evaluate its inner strength or reliability.
From this it can be seen why the Church teaches that dissent from even one revealed doctrine of the faith represents a loss of faith as a whole. It is impossible to believe in the One who reveals, that is in God, in Christ, through the Church, while doubting all the while what they are actually saying. If the Church is wrong on one point then she is not guaranteed by God and could be wrong on many or all points.
The act of faith is very simple and it bypasses the human understanding of the intricacy of every doctrine in its multiple dimensions and long development and historical articulation. Faith for Catholics means accepting completely that God has spoken definitively in Christ and has established the Church as his ‘living voice in the world’ and then accepting what she defines in faith and morals. This simple but clear dynamic is captured in Newman’s poem The Dream of Gerontius: “And I hold in veneration for the love of Him alone, holy Church as His creation and her teachings as His own”.
What is the History of Apologetics?
The Christian faith begins with the Word being made Flesh. The Word in the Greek is Logos, a principle of rationality. It is not surprising therefore that Christianity has always believed in the rational credibility of faith and the intelligibility of the cosmos made through the Word. Christianity was communicated through rational means, scripture and tradition, the spoken word of preaching, it never neglected the mind or the desire of our rational nature to know. We see the earliest disciples explaining the faith, as is the case of Philip with the Ethiopian and Paul with the Greeks at the Areopagus.
In the early Church the foremost Christian thinkers sought to elucidate the Christian faith before the Jewish and Pagan world alike. Their special devotion to the rational explication and explanation of the faith earned them the title of ‘apologists’ . They were not apologising for the faith as if they were embarrassed about it or felt guilty for it. No, they loved the faith and sought to defend it. Their method was not particularly formal but sometimes drew from the eloquence of the classical philosophical tradition.
The only formal apologetics in the first few hundred years of the Church comes from Origen (c.185-254AD) (see for instance Origen’s response to Celsus). The general style of writing is less academic and more direct, exhortative and personal than in later centuries. The majority of apologetic texts were letters written either to real persons or as a literary devise. By their nature these writings were non-systematic defences of the faith.
With the conversion of the Roman Empire the principal need for apologetics lessened. Nevertheless, apologetics was needed in response to new missionary territories, to controversies over the orthodox faith and for the sake of those who had fallen into schism. Apologetics here is less about defending one’s position for the sake of survival but challenging another with the rationality of the truth. Some examples here include the writings of St Athanasius (c293-373AD) on the Trinity and the anti-Donatist writings of St Augustine (c.354-430AD).
With the development of theology as a science from the beginning of the Scholastic period in the 12th century, we see the use of apologetics in formal academic theology. Many theologians choose a method of learning and of writing calledDisputatio. This method is apologetic to its core. The prime example here is St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274AD) who wrote his Summa Theologiae as a series of answers to questions. Objections to the true doctrine as revealed in Scripture and Tradition are first stated after which a response based upon reason and the removal of contradictions and erroneous notions takes place.
St Thomas’ method reflects the active verbal disputations which took place in the theology faculties of Europe throughout this period. Many believe that St Thomas wrote his Summa Contra Gentiles as an apologia for the unbelieving Muslim world that had emerged and had begun to engage in the study of Aristotle.
The trials of the ‘Reformation’ brought a new impetus and life to apologetics. Apologetics was no longer a useful method for disputation nor a mechanism for argumentation when certain isolated difficulties emerged, but rather it became the great practical need of the day.
The new Protestant theology had vast practical implications for the lives of millions of people and whole states and societies. It claimed a novel relationship between reason and Revelation, and expounded divergent views about the Saviour’s message and above all demanded a reduction in the importance of the visible Church and her hierarchy. Apologetics became the vital tool in the ‘Reformation’ debates. Its greatest practitioners were men who had learned to confront the challenges of the time.
St Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621AD) cut his apologetic tools in controversies at Louvain before becoming the great teacher of the art in Rome. He specialised in what came to be called ‘Controversial Theology’ which was, for all intents and purposes, apologetics. He taught the English missionary priests, like St Edmund Campion, the method of persuasion and disputation to win souls back to the Church. Such practitioners as the English Martyrs and St Francis de Sales (1567-1622AD) (who converted 30,000 Calvinists with apologetic tracts in the Chablais region) learned to use apologetics once again in a very personal, challenging, almost Patristic fashion. Their art required not merely formal correctness but necessary persuasiveness.
In the theology after Trent almost all expositions of the faith became ‘apologetic’ to some extent. This was not always beneficial to systematic, speculative theology or to traditional biblical commentary. Theology had already developed into a full science in the medieval period and now apologetics came to take on a very scientific form and structure. It was to be an essential component in the Tridentine theological discipline. Sometimes it was called Controversial Theology but soon, more often than not, it was titled ‘Apologetics’. It was the doctrine of the Church put forth as an appeal to reason. Every priest and every person who studied theology, and even most school education programmes, taught apologetics in one form or another. Most educated Catholics would have been able to talk about why God and the soul were real, why Jesus is truly God revealed and why the Church is credible before all other religions in the world.
Why did Apologetics almost disappear?
There is no doubt that in the second half of the 20th century apologetics as such was virtually eclipsed. It was dropped by the theological academies and rarely taught at a popular level in educational establishments, parishes or schools. The reasons why apologetics came under a cloud in the second part of the 20th century can be accounted for in the following ways (although these reasons do not claim to be exhaustive):
This is the view that everything about the world and God can be known by reason alone. If something is not fully comprehensible by reason then it should be excluded from the arena of knowledge. Apologetics therefore was seen as a rational defence of something that was rationally unjustifiable, namely the mysteries of a revealed religion of faith. While rationalism may have tolerated arguments for the existence of God it had no sympathy with proofs for Christ’s divinity, or miracles, or the Church’s divine origin. From the time of Emmanuel Kant (1724-1804AD) onwards a ‘new apologetics’, based within the narrow confines of reason, was put forth and because it did not satisfy it was easily disregarded. At its extreme level rationalism refused to discuss any metaphysical reality beyond the empirical world (for instance Logical Positivism). This brought closure of all rational discussion of true religion, the spiritual realm and God.
This is a rather hard concept to nail down because by its nature it denies that any truth can be really known. All truths are relative to circumstance and situation. Milder relativists accept the truths of mathematics and science but would say all moral, religious and philosophical truths are relative. They may have value at one time and not at another. Relativism is self-defeating as its own philosophical stance and claim to truth is relativised along with everything else. With relativism various contradictory positions can be held at the same time. Apologetics is excluded here because it believes we can defend and establish truths in philosophy, ethics and religion, or at least clear away all objections and contradictions from such claims for truth.
3. New Fideism
As a reaction to rationalism a new fideism developed which claimed that we are not meant to know religious truths by reason. It pleases God not to act within the bounds of human reason. This motif stemmed from Protestantism which often viewed reason as so severely wounded by Original Sin as to be only capable of an inflated pride before God whose ways are unknowable to us and contradict our natural notions and expectations. Martin Luther (1483-1546AD) had once called reason ‘the devil’s whore’. Kierkegaard (1813-1855AD) famously said, ‘I believe because it is absurd’ and Bultmann (1884-1976AD) saw no problem in destroying any rational credibility in New Testament claims by reason because he held that believing without evidence was more laudable. Karl Barth (1886-1968AD) took a milder view but argued against any rational prolegomena (foundations for the faith): it was in this way that God would confound the wise.
Many sought to locate religion purely within the power of the will or the emotions, as a movement of the spirit, as an affective drive motivated by the Holy Spirit (see the Romantic thinker, Schliermacher and his later followers). Apologetics in this framework was rendered either ineffective or even irreverent and proud.
4. False Ecumenism and False Irenicism
Closely linked to relativism, but motivated by a false compassion, these ideas seek to avoid a discussion and debate over the truth of one religious claim or another. What is prized here is unity or togetherness without the need for truth or rational agreement.
The Catholic holds that ecumenism and the work of uniting Christians is good and vital. False ecumenism believes that holding Catholicism as the truth about Christ and the foundation of His Church will divide people and therefore must be avoided. The Catholic Church believes in establishing peace between peoples and promoting non-violence between religious groups. False Irenicism, however, believes that to call another’s religion, however well meant, false or flawed, is an unacceptable act of aggression and therefore to be banished.
An apologetics which seeks to establish the rational truth or credibility for the Catholic religion as distinct from other religions is therefore closed and ironically begins to bear the brunt of the excluding and often harsh treatment that false ecumenism and false irenicism preach against.
5. Lack of Confidence
With the developments of modern science, the declining Church congregations in the West and the failure of Christian civilisation in two world wars, there was a deep lack of confidence in the old assurances of faith. Modern systemic doubt about the past and a questioning of traditional beliefs was extremely popular in the second half of the twentieth century. In this climate apologetics did not thrive and was distrusted.
6. The collapse of Thomism
The method of St Thomas, known in various forms as Thomism, which in many ways is apologetic and deeply reliant upon reason, waned in the ecclesiastical faculties from the 1960s. There had been a growing dissatisfaction with the system, partly because of the spirit of the age and of novelty, partly because the manuals and the methods of late 19th and early 20th centuries Thomism were rather dry and failed to engage in their own proper dynamic of debate, disputation and new questioning. Rival alternative methods and theological ideas, more often than not a hotchpotch of theories, became the norm rather than the exception in the universities and seminaries.
Without a firm theological foundation and method, and without accepted philosophical and rational presuppositions, apologetics was left without roots and abandoned as a common project in the defence of faith against modern objections.
7. The growth of fundamental theology as an alternative
Fundamental theology is the study of the preambles of faith and the act of faith in Christian theology. While Fundamental theology was often another term for apologetics before the1950s, later it came to be seen as an alternative. While some Fundamental theologians saw apologetics as the practical arm of their science others chose to see their mandate as a speculative science of examining foundations of faith or observing Catholic belief as a sociological phenomenon.
Unfortunately apologetics came to be viewed by many as an unwarranted, over confident, aggressive and fundamentalist enterprise for proving what was beyond or unworthy of proof.
Why is Apologetics so important today?
Apologetics has become very popular during the past decade. Hundreds of books and magazines, tracts and news columns have been written on a whole host of apologetics areas. Here are some possible reasons of the revival of apologetics:
- The growth of an aggressive new atheism which needs opposing
- The problem of indifferentism which needs challenging
- The rise of fundamentalist Islam which needs reasoning
- The challenge of Evangelical Christianity which needs sacramentalising
- The growth of interest in orthodox Catholic theology which needs complementing and supporting
- The phenomenon of a new fervent faith in the young which needs defending
There are many reasons for taking up a study of apologetics or simply for practicing apologetics. Below are some of the most common motivations:
One of the greatest challenges for us as Christians is to explain why we are so transformed by the person and teaching of Jesus Christ. As Catholics we have the added challenge of explaining why the Church and her teachings are so important to our lives today and forever.
Our faith is a missionary faith and if it is to be propagated it needs to be explained and articulated. We have been instructed to teach all nations (Mt 28) but we cannot pass on a message if we do not know the message. Furthermore before the message can be palatable to a non-believer we have to show why the message is credible. As the message is extremely demanding we will all the more need to show why it is convincing.
We know faith is a gift from God and that to accept the teaching of Christ and the Church would be impossible without that gift. No amount of rational discourse and explanation can bring us to faith. Nevertheless, intellectual difficulties can be a bar to faith and they can close a mind to truth. The fragile light of faith can be snuffed out by error and by false argument. We therefore need to remove obstacles to the act of believing.
The Lord has made us both body and soul. He has given us our reason and intellectual capabilities. Our intellectual nature desires to be satisfied with rational truth and intellectual understanding. While we admit that the mysteries of faith go far beyond our minds they do not contradict nor leave the mind bereft of its natural fulfilment. We cannot love what we do not know and our minds will never be satisfied with faith if contradictions or misconceptions prevail.
How is Apologetics conducted?
The most common form of apologetic is found in the spoken word – in conversations, debates and discussions. Apologetics is never a solitary exercise, it always involves another person. Its most common written forms are the tract, the article and the essay but even here the writer of effective apologetics will always be aware of his or her audience or reader and will always be engaged in an authentic dialogue with the other.
The work of apologetics is both offensive and defensive, it goes in search of others and wards off attacks. It is offensive in its attempt to show by convincing and converging arguments why the heart and mind should accept divine Revelation. It is defensive in that it must defend the credibility and coherence of Christian teaching against attacks in a fallen world of confusion, with many alternative voices and amongst people with weakened intellects and unsteady hearts.
What does Apologetics cover?
Each age and place presents the Christian with new challenges and demands. Apologetics is an exercise conducted by rationally convinced Catholic Christians as part of an intellectual attempt to speak to the hearts and minds of contemporaries. It is the attempt to apply reason to matters of faith in areas of controversy and particular import.
Apologetics covers a vast range of subjects that have been challenged and disputed over the Church’s long history but it chooses as its subject matter particularly those areas that are of central relevance to the people of a particular time and place. In many cases the questions arising are merely variations on what has already been discussed in previous times and therefore a good knowledge of past controversies is essential to the apologist. However, with the rapid development of science and technology during the last century new questions have come to light which require a serious response.
Although apologetic themes are many and varied they can be divided up in the following way:
Natural Apologetics – in which the idea of truth itself, the existence of God and the spirituality of the human person is established. In past ages much was presumed in this area, however, today these issues have become paramount. Debates with atheists or materialists, such as Richard Dawkins, or with those who refuse to believe in unchanging moral truths would be relevant here.
Christian Apologetics – in which the ideas of revealed religion, the Revelation of God in the Old Testament and above all the coming of Jesus Christ as God made man as recorded in documents of the New Testament are confirmed and defended. Debates surrounding such works as the ‘Da Vinci Code’ or the works of the ‘Jesus Seminar’, which turns much of the Gospel accounts in myths would be central to this area.
Catholic Apologetics – in which the idea of the one true Church of Christ is set forth as knowable by reason and history through examination of the ancient texts, secular writers and historical developments. Debates in this area were particularly prominent following the Protestant Reformation and although less so today remain very relevant in the face of a growing Evangelical Christianity which demotes or negates the importance of the Church, Sacraments and the saints.
Apologetics and evangelisation
I personally believe that the modern attacks on the faith, be they from the Da Vinci Code, television commentators, newspaper columnists or bloggers, are actually a call for a new apologetics. They represent an opportunity to engage in debate and dialogue for the sake of evangelisation. These often rather shrill voices of opposition provide a providential piercing of the thick coating of apathy and indifference which usually surrounds the subject of religion.
For priests in particular, the common objections to the faith which are floating around in the heads of the parishioners need to be addressed, challenged, and solved. The media has helped in making so many hidden doubts become transparent and ‘live’. With preaching on subjects of controversy, with classes and courses addressing areas of doubt, with newsletter inserts on current debates and the availability of apologetics literature, with the training of parishioners in apologetics, catechetically or academically, a whole new movement of evangelisation can take place.
Here are some recommendations for priests and for parishes regarding apologetics:
- Preach apologetic sermons
- Make available apologetic literature
- Hold apologetic courses
- Train apologists
- Set up an apologetic response team
- Use the newsletter for apologetics
- Seize moments of controversy as apostolic opportunities
All these considerations make apologetics a most exciting discipline – highly relevant and wonderfully engaging. It is hoped that the growth in apologetic writing, and now with the new MA course in apologetics from the Maryvale Institute, a new apologetics will arise, building on all that has already been achieved and learned through the ages but tackling head-on the latest challenges to the Faith that have emerged.
The Church desires that the people of our own age, as those who have preceded us, may be equipped to give a reason for the great hope that is within every Christian heart.