Archive for June, 2019

A lot of apologies are being thrown around in the news these days: Presidential candidates apologizing for past attitudes or behaviors, men apologizing for their actions towards women, parents apologizing for scamming Universities in order to get their children accepted.

So what is meant by the word apology and the derivative word apologetics?

The modern usage of apology means asking for forgiveness. It’s another way of saying you’re sorry about some behavior that offended someone. However, the original usage meant to explain one’s behavior or to defend oneself. It came from the Greek word apologia which means to “speak in return, to defend oneself.” Quite the opposite from what the examples listed here were doing! Over time the usage of the word evolved into our common meaning of “I’m sorry.”

However, the word apologetics retains its original intent when it is used by religious and philosophical schools. We’re familiar with it mostly as a branch of theology charged with the defense of Christianity’s beliefs. It means defending one’s faith (or just explaining it) when a non-Christian asks for more information.

What I find intriguing about the contrasting meaning of these two words is that if one apologized for unwanted sexual advances, would a person who refused to say he did wrong and defended his actions be considered “apologetic?” He wouldn’t be defending his “Christian Faith” but in the spirit of the word’s meaning he would be doing as Socrates (explained in his Apology) did in his public trial, explaining why he was innocent of various charges! In fact, in a non-sectarian way, that is exactly what happens in a court trial with each and every case.