Apologetics

This forum is for questions related to Herb's views, Bible prophecy and evidence for the truth of the Bible and our Christian faith (Christian apologetics). The questions are for Holly only. One poster per thread please.

Apologetics

Postby Hanani45 on Mon Nov 13, 2006 12:00 am

Hi Holly

Just a question regarding the apologetics of apologetics itself...
I know of the passage in Peter that says to always be ready to give an account or reason for the hope within us, but aside from this scripture is there any other references to the need for apologetics? I ask because I am mainly for apologetics, but one of my pastors told me that he has never really be an advocate of it. I can see it from the perspective of people not being able to be saved by the logic alone (without the influence of the Holy Spirit and the scales actually being lifted from their eyes that is), but I am curious as to how important logical arguments pro-Christianity are important to God. I also feel that much of the decline in prominence of apologetics is rooted in the advent of post-modernism and that 'experiences' and the such like of God have become more important to peoples' belief in Him than the sheer fact of His existance...

Thanks
Hanani45
 
Posts: 189
Joined: Wed May 03, 2006 3:22 am

Postby Holly on Wed Nov 15, 2006 12:47 am

Great question, Hanani45!

First, I’ll give my short and easy answer for those who don't want a lengthy response. Apologetics sounds complicated and mysterious, but it simply offers evidence for the truth of Christianity. Many non-Christians put up walls that keep them from being able to see the truth of Christianity. Apologetics seeks to break down those walls. Examples of those walls are issues like: How can a good God allow pain and evil? How can the Bible be true when it contradicts evolution? How can Jesus be the only way to God when there are so many religions in the world? (There are good answers for these questions, and they're not that hard to learn, but it does take some time and work.)

Of course, some people will never accept the truth of Christianity because they don’t want to know the truth. But, for those people who are honestly seeking God, apologetics can help them overcome their intellectual barriers to belief.

There is much biblical support for apologetics. God used apologetics (evidence and rational arguments) to prove that He is the one true God. Jesus used apologetics in the same way. The apostles also gave evidence and arguments for the truth of Christianity. Here are some verses that show Jesus and early church leaders giving evidence and arguments for Christianity:

• Acts 1:3 (Jesus gives physical evidence of His resurrection)

• Luke 24:38-43 (Jesus gives physical proof of His resurrection)

• Acts 17:2-4 (Paul seeks to persuade unbelievers of the truth of the gospel from Scripture and fulfilled prophecy)

• Acts 17:22-31 (Paul seeks to persuade the Greeks of the gospel, not from Scripture, but from their own views of God and from the fact of the resurrection)

• Acts 19:26 (Paul uses a logical argument to convince the idol worshippers that their gods aren’t really gods at all)

• Romans 1:18-23 (Paul offers evidence for the existence of God from creation)

• 1 Corinthians 15:1-44 (Paul gives eyewitnesses accounts for proof of the resurrection along with other logical arguments)

• Matthew 28:12-15 (Matthew defends the resurrection by refuting a contradictory theory that explained why Jesus’ body was missing from the tomb)

• 2 Peter 1:16-21 (Peter appeals to eyewitness accounts of the transfiguration)

• Of course, Jesus and the apostles perform many miracles as evidence of the truth of their teachings.

• They also repeatedly appeal to fulfilled prophecy as proof of their teachings.

• God also gives evidence for His trustworthiness throughout the Old Testament (see examples in my longer response below).



Here is my longer response:


The skepticism toward apologetics held by many people in the church today (including your pastor) is a manifestation of an unbiblical anti-intellectualism. This anti-intellectualism is supported by Bible passages that are often used out of context, such as Colossians 2:8, which warns Christians against pursuing “worldly wisdom” and “empty philosophy.” Some Christians have interpreted this passage to mean that Christians shouldn’t study philosophy or get higher education. Yet, the context of this passage shows that Paul is a warning Christians against being led astray by deceptive philosophies, not warning them against studying philosophy, in and of itself. In fact, the deceptive philosophy Paul is addressing in this particular passage is a religious belief system that combined Jewish mysticism and pagan beliefs. It was not a reference to all philosophy in general. Some philosophies are true, and some are false. We are to warned to stay away from false philosophies that aren’t rooted in Christ.

In contrast to anti-intellectualism, the Bible commands us to love God not only with all our hearts, but also with all our minds. The anti-intellectualism in today’s church is a current trend. In 18th century America, for example, pastors like Jonathan Edwards were among the most educated members of their communities. (Sidenote: I believe one reason the church is having so many problems today is because Christians are not being encouraged to think carefully about theology and Scripture, and they’re not learning how to read the Bible in context. As a result, a lot of bad teachings are going unchecked.)

A related reason that some Christians oppose apologetics is because they define faith as having blind belief in God (belief that has no good reasons for belief). But this is an unbiblical definition of faith. Biblical faith is having absolute certainty in God because He has proven Himself to be trustworthy. When we sit down in a chair, we have faith the chair will hold us. If the chair looks unstable, however, we’d be foolish to sit down. In the same way, we should put our faith in God because we have good, solid reasons to have faith in Him. God, Himself, gave us those reasons.

For example, God told the Israelites that only He knows all of the future, so only He is capable of saying what will happen before it happens (Isaiah 44:7). He also said that only a foolish person would worship a created idol (Isaiah 44:9-20). In fact, God criticizes such idol worshippers for not using their intellects, saying, “Their minds are shut (the idol worshippers), and they cannot think. The person who made the idol never stops to reflect, ‘Why it’s just a block of wood! ... Should I bow down to worship a chunk of wood?’ … The poor deluded fool … is trusting something that can give him no help at all” (New Living Translation). In other words, God rebukes the idol worshippers for putting their blind faith in objects that aren’t trustworthy — in contrast to putting their faith in God, who is trustworthy. God also repeatedly reminds the Israelites that He brought them out of Egypt with His power. He then asks them why they would turn away from Him to serve other, powerless gods. These are all logical arguments for belief in God.

It’s true that someone can’t come to Christ by their own human logic, without the aid of the Holy Spirit. But that doesn’t mean that Christians should reject logic. God, as I’ve tried to show above, is very logical. Jesus is called the Word or logos (Greek for logic). The rules of logic simply reflect the order of God’s creation. The problem isn’t with logic. The problem is — because of the Fall — people’s hearts have become twisted with evil and their minds have fallen, so their human logic and ability to reason soundly are impaired. We need God to redeem us, including our minds.

Just because the Holy Spirit must open people’s eyes to the truth of the gospel doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t use apologetics to reach them. If that were true, then it would be just as wrong to use evangelism or any other method. Apologetics is one tool the Holy Spirit can use to bring people to belief in Christ.

The fact is that all Christians (including your pastor) engage in apologetics. The question is, are they doing good apologetics or bad apologetics? For example, if someone asked your pastor why he is a Christian (or why he believes the Bible), what would he say? Perhaps he would say that he just knows in his heart that it’s true. If so, a Mormon could (and will) say the same thing. (Mormons claim to have a “burning in the bosom” experience that verifies to them the truth of their faith.) But the Bible teaches us that our hearts are deceptive, so we can’t go by our feelings alone. So, when sharing the gospel with people, we don't want to encourage them to just trust their feelings. We want them to seek the truth. And that requires looking at the evidence.

If someone asked me why I’m a Christian, I would say that Christ has revealed Himself to me. But I would also say that I have investigated the truth claims of Christianity and found that they are supported by the evidence (historical, scientific and philosophical). When it comes to other religions and worldviews, however, the evidence is weak and lacking. In other words, they are shown to be false. This makes sense because Jesus said that He is the truth and that those who are on the side of truth listen to Him.

I agree with you that the influence of postmodernism in the Church has contributed to a neglect of apologetics. In a postmodern culture, truth is seen as unknowable. Therefore, people focus on having experiences without concern about whether those experiences are grounded in truth. Instead, people (including many in the church) have become more interested in how the experiences make them feel.

I hope this answers your questions! Please let me know if you need any further explanation or clarification.
Holly
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Postby Hanani45 on Wed Nov 15, 2006 7:12 am

Thank you Holly for such a detailed explanation, I do value it greatly.

The insights into various uses of apologetics in Scripture are particularly precious, because I've also often thought that there must be a good way to present Christ to the Gentiles that fits in with their culture and understanding, just as He was a fulfillment of the Law and Prophets in Jewish society. The references you provided have given me a bit to think about and look into with regard to that...

I am arriving at the opinion that the term apologetics has fallen into misuse more than anything, because if people really knew what it was about they couldn't really oppose it could they? The fact doesn't help that the Greek apologia (which to my understanding is some kind of legal defense in a court of law etc;) is most commonly used in English as 'apology' which makes apologetics seem like an unacceptable compromise of apologetically trying to justify one's faith. Especially the term 'apologist' probably gets more people thinking of 'one who apologises' rather than 'one who practices apologetics'.

Thanks very much again for your response
God bless
Hanani45
 
Posts: 189
Joined: Wed May 03, 2006 3:22 am

Postby Hanani45 on Wed Nov 15, 2006 7:12 am

Thank you Holly for such a detailed explanation, I do value it greatly.

The insights into various uses of apologetics in Scripture are particularly precious, because I've also often thought that there must be a good way to present Christ to the Gentiles that fits in with their culture and understanding, just as He was a fulfillment of the Law and Prophets in Jewish society. The references you provided have given me a bit to think about and look into with regard to that...

I am arriving at the opinion that the term apologetics has fallen into misuse more than anything, because if people really knew what it was about they couldn't really oppose it could they? The fact doesn't help that the Greek apologia (which to my understanding is some kind of legal defense in a court of law etc;) is most commonly used in English as 'apology' which makes apologetics seem like an unacceptable compromise of apologetically trying to justify one's faith. Especially the term 'apologist' probably gets more people thinking of 'one who apologises' rather than 'one who practices apologetics'.

Thanks very much again for your response
God bless
Hanani45
 
Posts: 189
Joined: Wed May 03, 2006 3:22 am

Postby Holly on Wed Nov 15, 2006 10:52 am

Hanani45,

Yes, I agree that many Christians just misunderstand what apologetics is. The term does create confusion because of its similarilty to "apology." Good thoughts.
Holly
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Posts: 565
Joined: Mon Mar 13, 2006 1:34 pm


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