Tag Archive: evangelism


Logic’s First Principles

What we believe has ethical implications to ourselves and others as we use or misuse our knowledge.  Therefore, it is vitally important for us to have true beliefs and understand the basis of our statueknowledge claims. This involves the philosophical field of epistemology, or the method of our acquisition of knowledge. The foundations of good argumentation as an epistemological method are called First Principles of logic which are self-evident and are applied then to our observations and prior reasoning to build conclusions.

First Principles of Logic

  1. The Law of Identity states that if a proposition is true, then it is true. Put another way, a thing is identical to itself. Stated in symbolic logical form: A=A. This one seems so obvious that it is difficult at first to see why it is even useful to formally recognize, but it is the most basic logical law, and is the basis of the other two. It also comes into play when we are answering certain difficult questions, such as, Are Yahweh and Allah the same God? Is the mind the same as the brain?
  2. The Law of Non-Contradiction states that no proposition can be both true and false at the same time and in the same sense. Symbolically: A != !A. For examples: Can God exist and not exist at the same time? Can God be personal (as in monotheism) and impersonal (as in monistic religions) at the same time?
  3. The Law of Excluded Middle says that every proposition must either be true or false, and there is no middle ground, no third alternative. Symbolically: A or !A. For instance, “God exists” is either true or false, there is no other possible answer.

As a clarification concerning contradictions, there are three categories that are often lumped together and called “contradiction.” The first is contradiction proper, as defined in the second First Principle above. The second category is mystery, in which there is a logical answer, but we just don’t know it yet. Think about investigating a murder or other crime as an example. The third category is paradoxes, which seem contradictory, but usually involve terms used equivocally but not actually contradictory, such as “jumbo shrimp,” “bittersweet,” “the beginning of the end,” or “I’m nobody.”

God and Logic

Finally, I think it is critical to note that God is not “above” logic, such that logic does not apply to Him, or that the laws of logic are arbitrary and could have been other than they are if God decreed them to be so. I understand when people want to say that He is, they are attempting to keep Him properly elevated in an appropriate position of superiority, but if the laws of logic do not apply to God, then you end up with absurdities such as having to affirm that perhaps God exists and doesn’t exist at the same time. Neither is God subject to the laws of logic, thus enslaved in some way. Instead, logic is part of who God is, in the same way as the moral laws; these are not arbitrary, but flow from his nature.

In the next post, I will talk more about arguments, demonstrating and defining the different types and uses to gain knowledge.

Comments, questions, challenges? Email me through the form on my “about” page, we’ll discuss, and your comments may inspire a follow-up post!

What is Truth? Part 2

In my last post, I explained a bit about the nature of truth, and then investigated some of the distortions of truth. Today, I want to go to the next step and discuss the way we apprehend truth, ioana-1435161answering the question, “What is knowledge?

Knowledge is most commonly defined as Justified True Belief (or the JTB model), and each one of these words represent a crucial component of knowledge. Let’s consider each in turn, in reverse order:

Belief

Belief is required for knowledge. It would be exceedingly strange if I made the statement, “I know that it is snowing outside, but I don’t believe it.” Does it make any sense to claim to have knowledge of something that we don’t believe? (We’ll assume that by “I don’t believe it” I’m not just meaning that I’m surprised about it.)

True

Truth is required for knowledge. Again, it would be very odd for me to say, “I know it’s snowing outside, but it’s not true that it’s raining outside.” Can I have knowledge that something is happening when it is not truly happening? I think we’ll have to agree not.

Justified

Justification is required for knowledge. Consider the situation in which I said, “It is raining outside,” and I believe it, and it happens to be true, but it was just a lucky guess. Perhaps I had been inside all day away from windows or any other external clues concerning the weather. Can I truly claim to have knowledge? No, not without justification.

Justification concerns reasons and evidence that give confidence that our answers are not mere guesses or dumb luck, but actual knowledge. It’s not “I hope it’s true” or “I think that it’s true,” but “I know that it’s true.” This is an important part of Christian evangelism, as demonstrated by author Christian Smith in his book Soul Searching in which he reports that students who grew up in Christianity who had since abandoned belief said they did so because of “intellectual skepticism and doubt.” These students had beliefs, and they were true, but they had no justification for those beliefs. They needed to know why they believe, not just what.

Knowledge is essential for spiritual transformation. Consider Romans 12:2 – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” We need to be able to have knowledge of the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.

Apologetics can provide justification, which turns true belief into confident knowledge. This also helps to integrate spiritual beliefs into the rest of one’s life, as opposed to compartmentalizing “religious matters” apart from “mundane matters,” as is encouraged by modern culture. This daily integration will help provide successful navigation of and interaction with reality.

In the next post, we will talk about why people believe the things that they believe.

Comments, questions? Email me through the form on my “about” page, we’ll discuss, and your comments may inspire a follow-up post!

(All Scripture in this post is from the ESV translation)

 

Continuing from the prior post, here are some more objections to apologetics often given from within the church.teen-talk-1438715

“You can’t ‘prove’ that God exists.”

Most apologists are not trying to “prove” the existence of God. Indeed, proof is too strong a word; it seems to me that proof lies in the eye of the beholder, and so can be influenced by or resisted for any number of reasons. Apologists’ goals are more modest. We provide evidence that belief in God and the Christian faith is reasonable and rational. We want to give them reasons to take the gospel seriously and give it consideration for their lives. As Greg Koukl says, we are trying to put a stone in their shoe, to help them see that Christianity is worth thinking about.

“Apologetics is just about arguing with unbelievers.”

I think people get a bit over excited about this one simply due to an imprecise use of the words, and often I am guilty of this too. When my kids start getting loud bickering with each other, what comes out of my mouth is “Stop arguing and get along!” But arguing is not what they are doing; they are quarrelling, fighting, and/or name-calling. This is not what an apologist does, though (or shouldn’t be!). Instead, we use arguments and good evidence to show reasonable conclusions supporting Christian ideas. As I will discuss further in a future post, argumentation is the gift that God has given us to discover truth.

“Apologetics doesn’t work.”

When someone offers this objection, I want to ask them, “What exactly are your expectations?” Are they assuming it is being offered as a silver-bullet approach that should work every time it is used? Remember Romans 1:18 says that unbelievers suppress the truth; the Holy Spirit does the work inside their hearts. We obey by offering the gospel persuasively. Also, how are they gauging success or failure in this endeavor? Is it a failure if they do not convert immediately? Must they do so on the spot for it to be considered a successful or useful tool? Most people don’t make the important decisions of their lives in an instant or without serious and careful contemplation.

“You can’t argue someone into the kingdom.”

This is true. Also true is that you cannot love, preach, or lifestyle-witness anyone into the kingdom, either. Our job is to love, preach, live, and give a defense, all in such a way that will show the truth of the message we bring. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to turn the hearts of the hearer towards what has been heard. Without the Spirit’s work, nothing works, and even though He could do it all without our help, God has commanded Christians to spread this good news in a partnership with Him to reach the world. Apologetics is one of the tools we use in doing our part.

Are there other objections you have heard or thought of? Email me through the form on my “about” page, we’ll discuss, and your comments may inspire a follow-up post!

(All Scripture in this post is from the ESV translation)

Previously, I spent a good bit of time and space examining one of the most often objections I hear to apologetics, that concerning “Doubting Thomas.” I’d like to discuss a few more objections,stop-1-1428620 and I’m going to try to hit several in a less exhaustive treatment than the last. Most of them are more easily dispensed with anyhow.

“God doesn’t need defending.”

Yes, this is true. But truth does need defending. It is under attack all the time. Christian case-makers are not in the business of defending God; we give reasons to believe in Him, and offer corrections to faulty thinking and ideas about God. In accordance with 1 Peter 3:15, we offer a reasoned response for our beliefs: “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

“God can’t be known by reason.”

In support of this objection, 1 Corinthians 1:21 may be quoted: “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” The good news of the gospel may seem like foolishness to those in whom the Holy Spirit has not yet removed their hostility towards God, but certainly the Bible isn’t teaching that the gospel itself is folly. As is pointed out in Romans 1:19-20, unbelievers suppress belief, but that is not the same as saying God cannot be known. The foolishness of salvation is only in the eyes of the hostile unbeliever.

“Without faith, you can’t please God. Apologetics is contrary to faith.”

If Christianity is shown to be reasonable, is there then no room for faith? Does belief then become cold, non-relational facts as head knowledge takes the place of faith?

Except by accident, I try not to use the word “faith” anymore. I think this English word no longer captures the meaning of the biblical concept translated in most bibles now as “faith.” We are talking about trust now, not blind faith, and I think this is a better, more precise word to use. Belief without evidence leads to irrationality which is, as pointed out in previous posts, contrary to Biblical model and instruction.

“The word apologetics is not in the Bible.”

The English word apologetics is the anglicized form of the Greek word apologia, so yeah, it kinda is in the Bible. Anyway, even if the word itself is not in the Bible, the use of it is throughout the work of the apostles, in particular with Paul in Acts 17 on Mars Hill. Also, the words Bible and trinity are not in the Bible, either, but we as Christians are certainly not ready to throw out those concepts for that reason.

Next up, a few more objections and how I would approach them. Are there other objections you have heard or thought of? Email me through the form on my “about” page, we’ll discuss, and your comments may inspire a follow-up post!

(All Scripture in this post is from the ESV translation)

 

God’s Crime Scene, by J. Warner Wallace Review

Guest Post by Diane E. WoodGCS

Being a cold case police detective gives Jim Wallace a unique and intriguing point of view about things.  In his first book, Cold Case Christianity, he examined the four Gospels in the New Testament for the evidence that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the Bible is a historically accurate and divinely preserved account of what the first century apostles observed and did.  In Wallace’s second book, God’s Crime Scene, he asks and answers even more hard questions such as, how did time and space begin, is man different from other living things in the world, and how can a good God permit the evil that exists.   His responses are intellectually reasonable and convincing in part through his cold case examples to prove his point, thus making the book easy for the common man to understand as well as intellectually satisfying.

Wallace employs the same meticulous search for answers as he did as a detective.  By examining and eliminating other “suspects,” we are systematically and reasonably led to the conclusions that make the most sense on each topic discussed.

This book is an excellent resource for the Christian who wants to be more effective in the public square with their faith in an inoffensive manner.  With the information in this book, we can have a non-hostile and well-informed dialog concerning what is political correctness, what a lie is, and what is the Truth.   God’s Crime Scene is a tool for intelligent dialogue with people of different beliefs with confidence and gentleness.  Jim’s book is a great source of information for seekers of truth wherever they are in their journeys.   As a former atheist in search for answers to life’s difficult questions, his systematic investigation lead him to specific solid answers concerning the validity of the Bible.  Detective Wallace uses the same tools of the trade as he would have done in a cold murder case, to find the “culprit” who created the universe and everything in it.

I found the book very interesting and it inspired me to learn more about how the more how science confirms Christian claims.  They blend quite well instead of being opposed to each other.  My confidence in my ability to share Christianity has been enhanced through this study of Christian case making.

Having previously given several examples of Jesus’ and Paul’s use of persuasion and careful reasoning approaches to evangelism, let me now show you how God, through His inspired authors,studying-2-1475294 has given us the commission to each be careful and considered Christian case-makers.

Let me start by reminding you of Paul’s instruction to the church in 2 Corinthians 10:5

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

Through careful reasoning and persuasion we are to destroy the arguments raised against the knowledge of God, not through empty rhetoric, intimidating personality, abusive use of Scripture, or threat of force.

Over in Ephesians 4:11-13, Paul writes concerning the Christian’s gifts and design:

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. [NASB, emphasis mine]

Does the thought of evangelism make your palms sweat? Relax, that may not be your gifting. Paul says that some, not all, received the gifts of being apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. However, no such qualifiers are given in 1 Peter 3:15

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

This command is not issued to “some” of the believers, but seems to have the expectation that all believers should be ready to make a persuasive defense (apologia) of their faith. God expects all Christians to engage in apologetic study; this should not be simply a niche, academics club within the church, or a peripheral topic relegated to a specialist teacher or occasional special guest lecturer, but a discipline in which all Christians ought to apply themselves. As J. Warner Wallace puts it, “Christianity does not need another million-dollar apologist, we need a million one-dollar apologists.” We need people studying, getting into the game, engaging and improving their interaction skills as they do so.

Move down towards the end of the New Testament into the book of Jude, in which we will find this verse in Jude 1:3

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

We are to stand up for and contend for the faith! Not just as “true for me,” or a private experiential and subjective faith, but as a public, objectively true reflection of reality. Repeatedly we are called to a convinced and reasonable trust in Christ:

1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 – Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.

1 John 4:1 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Romans 14:5b…Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

2 Timothy 3:14 – But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.

You are probably familiar with the passage in Matthew 5:13-16 in which Jesus tells us to be salt and light in the world:

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

I believe that these verses instruct us to provide cultural correctives towards Biblical truth and morality as it goes astray, and do so by confronting ideas and arguments. If Christianity truly reflects reality as it is, even apparent contradictions between it and contemporary thought can be shown to be faulty. We need to approach each situation with care, tact, and discernment, using the right tool for the job at hand; use “gentleness and respect,” as instructed in 1 Peter 3:15 above. This tactical approach is summarized in Colossians 4:5-6:

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

In the next post, I will give you some practical reasons why you as a Christian should study apologetics (if the previous posts haven’t yet convinced you!).

Comments, questions, challenges? Email me through the form on my “about” page, we’ll discuss, and your comments may inspire a follow-up post!

(All Scripture in this post is from the ESV translation)

As you know if you’ve been reading along, I’ve been attempting to persuade the Christian who reads this that the Bible expects us to be able to make a good case for what we believe as corinth-greece-1212506-1920x1440Christians. Most recently, I have been working on showing how the Bible models the use of apologetics; in The Biblical Model, Part 2, I described how Jesus used careful logic and philosophy to show the truth of His claims. Today in this post, I want to lay out for you the way Paul used and instructed the church in apologetics.

Let’s start in Philippians 1:16, in which Paul is writing to the church in Philippi. In this section of his letter, he is talking to them about his imprisonment, and how he is in this circumstance in order to provide “a defense of the gospel.” The word “defense” as used here is the Greek word apologia, which you will remember refers to making a case as in a court of law, and is where we get the word “apologetics”.

Since Paul considered himself a Christian case-maker, so let’s examine one example of his use of philosophy in making his case. As a Christian missionary, Paul concerned himself very much with proclaiming the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as actual events that took place. Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 15:17-20:

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

In this passage, Paul takes a big risk, putting his finger on an area where those who were hostile to Christianity could show it to be false. He hinges the entire belief system on the resurrection of Jesus: if He did not, in fact, come alive again after his death, Paul says that Christianity is a sham and that we as Christians are living a delusion. This sort of falsifiability clause strikes me as quite intellectually honest. If he was making this all up or otherwise knew this was false, there would be no reason for him to point out the way in which Christians, and Paul himself, could be shown to be fools. There certainly were plenty of people, then and now, eager to do just that. So by showing how to falsify Christianity, namely by producing the dead body of Christ, Paul provides another unique stamp on Christianity among religions, placing it in the realm of the empirical and historical, where it belongs.

The example above in 1 Corinthians is one specific example, but it isn’t the only one. Throughout the book of Acts, we have accounts of Paul reasoning and persuading wherever he went, finding common ground and building from what his audience accepted as authoritative. Several examples of this can be found all through Acts 17:

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things. And when they had taken money as security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.

10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds.14 Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. 15 Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed.

16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there.18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.

22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for

“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;

as even some of your own poets have said,

“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

This is quite a bit longer of a passage than I usually quote, but there are so many relevant things in this chapter that I want to draw your attention to, so I have bold faced the verses of note. To elaborate, notice in verse 2 how Paul reasoned from the Scriptures with the Jews. In verse 17, Paul is reported to have reasoned in the synagogue and in the marketplace, every day. And in verses 19-34, Paul reasons using the philosophical wisdom of the day among the assemblage of the wise in the Areopagus.

Paul’s method is the heart of cultural apologetics: knowing your discussion partner and what they consider to be authoritative, be it the scriptures, science, philosophy, or something else, and building on that foundation to show the truth of Christianity and the satisfying answers that Christianity offers.

Here is Paul’s description of the job of the Christian case-maker in 2 Corinthians 10:5

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

How does one destroy arguments? Not through raised voices, brainwashing, or even hurling Bible verses, but through better arguments.

So, if the model of Christ and the apostle Paul isn’t enough to convince, in the next post I intend to point out the specific commands in the Bible instructing us as Christians to be case-makers.

Comments, questions, challenges? Email me through the form on my “about” page, we’ll discuss, and your comments may inspire a follow-up post!

(All Scripture in this post is from the ESV translation)

cross-and-bible-1158304-1919x2844In part 1, I began to explain what apologetics, or Christian case-making is and isn’t, showing the goals and the practical use for Christians who seek to persuade others to follow Christ. In this post, I want to give you the origins of the word “apologetics,” and in doing so, I think you’ll start to see how Christianity has a rich origination in reason and evidence.

Origin of “apologetics”

The case-making concept, and the origins of the word “apologetics,” comes from the Greek word apologia meaning rationale or defense, as in a court of law, and can be found eight times in the New Testament:

  • Acts 22:1 – “’Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.’”
  • Acts 25:16 – “I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defense concerning the charge laid against him.”
  • 1 Corinthians 9:3 – “This is my defense to those who would examine me.”
  • 2 Corinthians 7:11 – “For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”
  • Philippians 1:7 –  “It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.”
  • Philippians 1:16 – “ The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.”
  • 2 Timothy 4:16 – “At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!”
  • 1 Peter 3:15 – “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”

This is also related to the Greek word apologeomai used ten times in the New Testament in a similar way as above:

  • Luke 12:11 – “And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say”
  • Luke 21:14 – “Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer”
  • Acts 19:33 – “Some of the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jews had put forward. And Alexander, motioning with his hand, wanted to make a defense to the crowd.”
  • Acts 24:10 – “And when the governor had nodded to him to speak, Paul replied: ‘Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense.'”
  • Acts 25:8 – “Paul argued in his defense, ‘Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.'”
  • Acts 26:1 – “So Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You have permission to speak for yourself.’ Then Paul stretched out his hand and made his defense”
  • Acts 26:2 – “‘I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews,'”
  • Acts 26:24 – “And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.'”
  • Romans 2:15 – “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them”
  • 2 Corinthians 12:19 – “Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved.”

So now that you better understand the origins of the word “apologetics,” the biblical concept it comes from, and what its purposes are, why should we think that God wants us to defend Christianity in this way? In the next post, I’ll show the biblical model and commands concerning our responsibilities for making a defense.

Comments, questions, challenges? Email me through the form on my “about” page, we’ll discuss, and your comments may inspire a follow-up post!

(All Scripture in this post is from the ESV translation)

gavelAnd behold, a lawyer stood up to put [Jesus] to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

– Luke 10:25-28

What is Christian Apologetics?

In brief, it is the bridge between faith and the intellect, and is part of loving God with our minds. In this, and the next few posts, I’d like to go into some detail about the “what’s” and “why’s” concerning Christian apologetics. I intend to make the case for you both from a biblical standpoint as well as from a purely pragmatic one as to why you (if you are a Christian) should care about Christian apologetics and hone your skills in Christian case-making.

What apologetics isn’t

“Apologetics” is a word that may not hold much meaning for most, and may lead others to think it has something to do with being sorry. As in, “I’m a Christian, and I’m really sorry about that!” or “I apologize for what these other Christians are doing!” No, this is not what I’m meaning by the word.

Others may hear the word “apologetics” and think about someone who just really likes to debate and beat people into submission with their rhetoric and personality, someone who knows a few facts and is just looking to shout down any opposing viewpoint. While this sort of apologist does exist, this is not what I believe the Bible calls us to be, and not what I am going to try to show you.

Prepared to make a defense

Because of the unfamiliarity with the word by most, and the negative association many have who do know the word, I have been moving away from the word “apologetics.” Instead, taking a cue from J. Warner Wallace, I think a better term is “Christian case-making,” although for the purposes of this introductory post, I will be using the two terms interchangeably. The goal of apologetics, then, is to demonstrate the reasonable nature of Christianity and its ability to best explain reality among the competing hypotheses. It is the field of theology that provides defense of Christian truth claims by providing evidence in favor of those claims and carefully investigating opposing viewpoints. Christian case-makers are concerned with answering the question “what is the rational warrant for Christian truth claims?”

Broadly speaking, apologetics provides two services. For the Christian, evidences are marshalled which serve to strengthen our belief and trust that the Christianity is an accurate guide to reality. This also gives us courage and confidence to work to persuade others without having to rely only on our subjective experiences as evidence. As the Stand to Reason tagline goes, we want to show that Christianity is something worth thinking about. For the non-Christian, apologetics is pre-evangelism. It is not common that people on hearing Christian gospel presentation will immediately convert.  Often they will need convincing that it is an intellectually viable option. How can someone accept “God loves you and has paid for your sins,” if they are predisposed in belief that God cannot exist?

In part 2, I’ll show you the origins of the word “apologetics,” and in doing so, give a hint of the flavor of what and how apologetics should be.

Comments, questions, challenges? Email me through the form on my “about” page, we’ll discuss, and your comments may inspire a follow-up post!

(All Scripture in this post is from the ESV translation)

The Because It’s True blog posts a great letter to an atheist friend, and I agree with its message and want to share it with you.

Plus, it has this super Jabba meme picture. jabba

Dear atheist friend,

I think we want the same thing. Or, at least we both claim to want the same thing. Think about it. Why are you on the internet talking about all of the problems with religion? I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that it is because you are convinced that atheism is true, correct, and represents the way things really are. What is more, you want people to know the truth. You believe people’s lives will be greatly enriched by aligning their views with reality rather than delusion. Now, suppose you asked me the same question: why am I on the internet talking about my religion? My answer would be the same: because  I am convinced that Christianity is true, correct, and represents the way things really are! If you are willing to give me the benefit of the doubt, as I have given you, then you will have to conclude that we want the same thing. Like you, I want people to know the truth. I believe people’s lives will be greatly enriched by aligning their views with reality rather than delusion.

See the rest of the letter at the Because It’s True blog site here: http://www.becauseitstrue.com/blogarticles/dear-atheist-friend-i-think-we-want-the-same-thing

(picture from Because It’s True blog here)