Introduction to Apologetics

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Approximately 6.7 billion people share our planet, and about one third of them follow the Christian faith. If that's the case, why isn't the world a better place? After all, Christianity is a religion based on Jesus Christ. If all these Christians acted the way Jesus acted, we would see a lot more love and goodwill and a lot less feuding and fighting. But the world is full of feuding, evil and suffering. So either many of those people who call themselves Christians aren't doing what they're supposed to do, or Christianity isn't really all that it's cracked up to be.

 What about God? Almost everybody believes in God, including Muslims and Jews. But do they believe in the same God as the Christians? And what about the Hindus, who believe in lots of gods? Who's to say they aren't on to something? How can anyone religion have a corner on God?

Given all these variations, what's wrong with finding your own path to God? We can't see him, and he's not talking, so we just have to have faith, because we can't actually prove whether or not …

  • God exist
  • God made the world
  • Jesus is the Savior of the world
  • The Bible is true and trustworthy

Can We know These Things?

A lot of people – including many Christians – believe these statements to be true, but they don't think it is possible to actually know  they are true. They think that faith in God is a personal, subjective thing and cannot be known in the same way you know that the sun will come up tomorrow in Chicago, or that you have a cousin in California. So they believe in God because it's the right thing to do, or because it helps them deal with life, or because actually that's what they were taught. But they don't believe anyone can actually know that God exists.

Then there are those people who flat out deny that God exists, precisely because no one can prove He does. They believe that ultimate reality includes only what you experience with your five senses. The bottom line is that only nature is real. Anything above nature otherwise known as a supernatural – is not real.

As Christians, we disagree with these two conclusions: that God cannot be known and that God doesn't exist because he cannot be known. We believe you can know God, and you can know that God exists. We believe in a reality that goes beyond what we can touch, taste, smell, hear, or see. You may not be able to prove this reality in a science experiment, but neither do you have to accept it without any evidence.

Belief in God is more than a leap in the dark. He may be full of mystery and wonder, but we can know Him just as surely as we know the sun will come up tomorrow. Yes, faith is involved in knowing God, but it is a faith based on evidence.

The Benefits of Apologetics for the Christian

For the Christian, being able to explain the truth claims of the Christian faith serves a very important purpose: It gives you a much greater appreciation for God, Jesus, the Bible, and everything else that is part of your faith. When you know the reasons for what and why you believe, you gain confidence and assurance.

The Benefits of Apologetics for the Non-Christian

Many Christians believe that their faith is being attacked by non-Christians, especially in this postmodern age of moral relativism when there doesn't seem to be much room for objective truth. Christians are often criticized for being narrow-minded and judgmental of other beliefs. That's a legitimate issue, and it's something Christians need to address, buth they shouldn't be afraid of such criticism and the questions that come out of it.

Christians shouldn't get defensive when they are questioned and criticized. If someone is questioning God or Jesus or the Bible, they must be interested in having answers. When Christians know what they believe and are able to answer the questions and objections posed by those who don't accept the truth claims of the Christian faith as vaild, they are using apologetics to open up productive conversations that can lead others to a saving faith.

In a Gentle and Respectful Way

Many people are sincerely asking questions about God, Jesus, the Bible, the origin of the universe, the Trinity, suffering and evil, heaven and hell, and other hot button topics. We should not take offense when someone inquires about these things. When you take questions and objections about God personally, you have a tendency to get defensive, and that road leads to a unproductive dialogue. The Bible never ask you to get defensive about your faith. 1 Peter 3:15, 16 says, "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. "

These verses are at the heart of the field of the study of Christian apologetics. Apologetics- Comes from the Latin word apologia (defense). Too often people have use apologetics in order to defend the Christian faith. Apologetics is more than explaining the truth about God than about defending God. Christian apologetics is most useful when it points to the correct point of view, rather than trying to disprove someone else's view.

Providing explanations isn't optional for the Christian. As apostle Peter says, it's a responsibility. Christians always need to be ready to explain their hope. But when we offer our explanations, we aren't to do so with a condescending or judgmental attitude. As Peter advises we should give our answers "in a gentle and respectful way."

Foundational characters of apologetics:

  1. We need to know what we believe.
  2. We need to present the truth in love to those who are asking questions about our faith.

Summary

The benefits of Christian Apologetics:

  • It gives you a much greater appreciation for God, Jesus, the Bible, and everything else what is part of your faith.
  • "Apologetics gets at the heart through the head. The head is important precisely because it is the gate to the heart. We can love only what we know." -Peter Kreeft.
  • Providing explanations isn't optional for the Christian. It's a responsibility.
  • Apologetics isn't about winning arguments. It's all about presenting the truth in love. Peter Kreeft -" The warfare is against unbelief, not unbelievers, just as insulin is against diabetes, not diabetics. The goal of apologetics is not victory, but truth."

References:

Bickel, Bruce and Stan Jantz. Evidence for Faith 101:Understanding Apologetics in Plain Language. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008, 15-18

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