Responding to the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, the New York Times declared an absolute need for “a transcendent moral standard.” In a world that seems to promote diversity and inclusivity of any thought at every turn, this secular institution admitted that a higher, objective standard was required. In truth, it had surrendered its confidence in the goodness of humanity. It was seeking to place its hope in something far more significant. Like many people today, the writer wanted to hope in something, or someone, that would not fail them.

Focusing on articulating a solid defense, this verse has become the cornerstone for modern apologetics. Apologists and defenders of the faith have engaged in mounting defenses against the attacks of our culture upon God, the Bible, Jesus, and our Christian faith. Where atheists, agnostics, and others have cited contradictions and seemingly apparent inconsistencies in the Bible, apologists have attempted to present rational and cohesive responses. Likewise, when the acts of God have been called to question, theologians form systems to account for them in an effort to make sense of it all.

You may consider yourself disqualified to present such a defense when assessing the amount of Bible knowledge you possess or your theological understanding. However, to be specific, Peter is not admonishing his readers to defend the Bible, much less God. After all, the Bible did not yet exist when Peter wrote his letter. Instead, he challenges them to have a ready defense for their hope. That is a huge difference. First, one can possess volumes of Bible knowledge while still having no hope. Likewise, theologians can be fraught with despair.

Second, the Bible simply requires no defense. The Bible defends itself to anyone who reads it intently and seeks truth earnestly. Furthermore, one does not need to defend God or think they are remotely capable of fully explaining his actions. They should look no further than God’s response to Job (Job 38), his direction to Samuel (1 Samuel 16:7), or Solomon’s counsel (Proverbs 25:2). While proper theology may set us on the path to an accurate understanding of God, and while apologetics can remove barriers to one trusting in Christ based on his revealed, historical nature and our modern sciences, neither provide us with ultimate hope.

To be clear, one may see patterns of God’s nature as revealed in his word and acquire a sense of future hope. However, hope must be found in something greater than what we witness in history or in the lives of others. For us to experience the fullness of hope, it must become personal. Therefore, defending your hope is not found in intense, educational training. Instead, it is a natural expression of an intimate relationship with your Savior. In the end, there is no more impactful way to defend your hope than to share about the relationship you have experienced.