Thinking Like A Christian - Defending Your Faith
Session 1: Introduction
1) What is “apologetics”?
a) Comes from the Greek apologia (aÓpologe÷omai), which is found 17 times in the New Testament, and means to defend or vindicate.
b) No specific way or type of defending the faith is offered in the NT, but we get the charge to do so from 1 Pet 3:15:
i) 1Pet. 3:15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
2) What is involved in apologetics? There are three different ways to look at the subject:
a) There are two aspects to apologetics:
i) Dismantling, or explaining away arguments against Christianity
2Cor. 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,
2Cor. 10:4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
2Cor. 10:5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,
Titus 1:9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
Titus 1:10 ¶ For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,
Titus 1:11 who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.
ii) Constructive, or providing proofs and evidences to support the faith
Acts 1:3 To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.
Luke 24:39 “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
Rom. 1:19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
Rom. 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
b) There are four functions to apologetics:
i) Vindication or proof
(1) Marshalling philosophical arguments and scientific and historical evidences for the Christian faith.
(1) This involves clarifying and explaining Christianity against attacks made on it from other belief systems.
(1) Answering the arguments non-Christians give in support of their own beliefs. This cannot stand alone, proving something else wrong does not prove that Christianity is correct.
(1) Consists in convincing people who do believe in Christ to commit their lives to him, applying truth to their lives instead of just making an intellectual exercise of it.
c) The overall argument for the defense of Christianity can be placed in a logical series of twelve steps (this is known as a logic based, rational argument for Christianity, where each step is examined by itself and proved individually before moving on to the next step):
i) Truth about reality is knowable.
ii) Opposites cannot both be true.
iii) The theistic God exists.
iv) Miracles are possible.
v) Miracles are performed in connection with a truth claim are acts of God to confirm the truth of God through a messenger of God.
vi) The New Testament documents are valid, accurate, and reliable.
vii) As witnessed in the New Testament, Jesus claimed to be God.
viii) Jesus’ claim to divinity was proven by a unique convergence of miracles.
ix) Therefore, Jesus was God in human form.
x) Whatever Jesus affirmed as true, is true.
xi) Jesus affirmed that the Bible is the Word of God.
xii) Therefore, it is true that the Bible is the Word of God and whatever is opposed to any Biblical truth is false.
When one or more of these systems of apologetics are completed, you have a complete, philosophically based and solid apology for Christianity, which can be summed up like this:
(From the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics)
“If a theistic God exists and miracles are possible and Jesus is the Son of God and the Bible is the Word of God, then it follows that orthodox Christianity is true. All other essential orthodox doctrines, such as the Trinity, Christ’s atonement for sin, the physical resurrection, and Christ’s second coming, are all taught in the Bible. Since all these conditions are supported by good evidence, it follows that there is good evidence for concluding that orthodox Christianity is true.
And since mutually exclusive propositions cannot both be true, then all opposing world religions are false religions. That is, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and other religions are false insofar as they relate to the teachings of Christianity. Therefore, only Christianity is the true religion.”
3) What is the point of apologetics? Is it just a philosophical exercise? No, it is intended to be a way to teach you how to effectively reach out to people.
a) This is the whole reason for this course, and is commanded by God
i) Matt. 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
ii) Matt. 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
b) We need to reach out to three specific groups of people:
i) Those from non-Christian backgrounds
(1) General considered to be those whom have never heard the Word, rare in the United States
ii) Those who come from some level of a Christian background
(1) Have heard of Christ, but for whatever reason never investigated or made a commitment
(2) Includes “cultural” and “social” Christians
iii) Those who have been taught and believe a false understanding of Christianity
(1) These generally fall into one of two categories:
(a) Those who have heard a corrupted version of scripture and believe it to be the real thing
(b) Cultists, and those who embrace and practice a false doctrine
c) These groups must be “pre-evangelized” before they can be “evangelized”
i) Pre-evangelism involves a number of critical points, including
(1) Relationships: the lost must learn to trust and respect you before they will listen to you. This can take much time and a great deal of patience.
(2) Common ground. Finding the place where the saved and the lost can agree – desire for peace, justice and hope may be a good start. Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:
1Cor. 9:19 ¶ For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.
1Cor. 9:20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law;
1Cor. 9:21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.
1Cor. 9:22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.
1Cor. 9:23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
Paul is not talking about becoming a drunk so one can sit in a bar and relate to drinkers, or inject illicit drugs so that one may evangelize addicts, but he is talking about talking to people on their level, not up in admiration, not down in contempt.
(3) Rational arguments: not based on the Bible, which these folks do not know, do not understand, and will not accept argument based on it!
2Tim. 2:24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,
2Tim. 2:25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,
d) Can’t assume that the lost have a Christian World View
e) Non-Christian World Views
iv) World Religions
f) Impact of Immigration
g) High Birth Rates
Text: When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook on Christian Evidences, Norman Geisler & Ron Brooks
The Apologetics Study Bible, Holman CSB
Charts of Apologetics and Christian Evidences, H. Wayne House
Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Norman Geisler
Christian Theology, Millard J. Erickson
Philosophical Foundation for a Christian Worldview, J.P. Moreland & William Lane Craig
Love God With All Your Mind: The Role of Reason In the Life of the Soul, J.P. Moreland
The Christian Mind, Harry Blamires
I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, Norman Geisler and Frank Turek
Unshakable Foundations, Norman Geisler
Who Made God?, Ravi Zacharias
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