An Introduction to Apologetics - The word "apologetics" comes from the Greek word "apologia," pronounced "ap-ol-og-ee’-ah." It means, "a verbal defense." It is used eight times in the New Testament: Acts 22:1; 25:16; 1 Cor. 9:3; 2 Cor. 10:5-6; Phil. 1:7; 2 Tim. 4:16, and 1 Pet. 3:15. But it is the last verse that is most commonly associated with Christian apologetics. "....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" (1 Pet. 3:15, NASB).
"Apologetics is the work of convincing people to change their views."
Therefore, Christian apologetics is that branch of Christianity that deals with answering any and all critics who oppose or question the revelation of God in Christ and the Bible. It can include studying such subjects as biblical manuscript transmission, philosophy, biology, mathematics, evolution, and logic. But it can also consist of simply giving an answer to a question about Jesus or a Bible passage. The latter case is by far the most common and you don’t have to read a ton of books to do that. Apologetics can be defensive and offensive. Phil. 1:7 gives us instruction on the defensive side, "For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me." 2 Cor. 10:5 gives us instruction on the offensive side: "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." The apologist can and should defend his reasons for believing (1 Pet. 3:15). But he can also go on the attack. He can seek out those who oppose Christianity (2 Cor. 10:5). Of course, he should be prepared to do this beforehand, and all apologetics is to be done with gentleness.
An illustration of what apologetics really is -Apologetics is somewhat of a lonely endeavor. It is possible for a person to give a great deal of effort to apologetic work, to defending God’s word, to answering questions, to reasoning with people and have it all seem as though it was worthless. Discouragement is a reality to the apologist. There are certainly victories, by God’s grace; but there are many encounters that could simply be classified as "unprofitable." To help you keep your eyes on the real issue of apologetics, I offer the following illustration. The idea is to get you to understand what your job is as an apologist, as someone who answers questions and objections, and points people to Jesus. I believe that if you understand where you are and what your ‘job’ is, then you won’t be as overcome with discouragement as you might otherwise be.
Apologetics is like . . . Apologetics is like a field. In the center of the field is a garden. This garden has one door, and that door is Jesus. There is one path that leads to that door. Inside the garden is eternal life in the presence of God. Outside the field, however, are rocks, boulders, thorns, thistles, valleys, hills, and many false paths that lead nowhere. The apologist resides in the field and points people to the true path so they can find the Garden. The apologist seeks to remove the intellectual thorns and emotional rocks that prevent people from finding the true path to God. Also, there are many people who are walking false paths (cults, philosophies, etc.) who will never reach that Garden. The apologist gently guides the person, removes the obstacles, and points in the direction of the Garden. When people arrive there, it is between them and God as to whether or not they enter. Picture yourself as a laborer in the field. It isn’t your job to save anyone. It is your job to point the way. You aren’t the only one in the field. Getting them to the Garden is not your job. They get there. You simply help them.
Eight reasons why we need apologetics -
The first and most obvious is because we are commanded to defend the faith: 1 Peter 3:15 says, "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."
Second, we need apologetics because it helps Christians know their faith. This is something that is sadly lacking among believers. Most don't know much about their faith, let alone be able to describe the Trinity, the two natures of Christ, His physical resurrection, or even to tell the difference between justification and sanctification. Apologetics helps to define and defend what the truth of the gospel is.
Third, apologetics is an attempt to keep people out of hell. God takes sin very seriously, and He will punish those who have rebelled against Him and are not covered in the blood of Christ. As Christians, we should be motivated to present the truth of salvation in Jesus. We should not sit idly by and ignore the dilemma of the unbeliever. We need to tell them that sin is real because God is real, and that breaking God's law has a consequence. Since we have all sinned, we cannot keep God's law perfectly. Also, we cannot undo the offense to an infinitely holy God because we are not infinite or holy; the only thing left for us is to fall under the judgment of God. But God has provided a way for us to escape that judgment. That is why God became man in Jesus. He claimed to be God, (John 8:24,58; compare with Exodus 3:14). Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross, (1 Pet. 2:24). By trusting in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, we will be spared from the rightful judgment of God upon the sinner. Salvation is not found in Buddhism, Islam, relativism, or in one's self: It is only found in Jesus. We need to not only defend God's word and truth, but also present the gospel to all people so they can escape the judgment to come.
Fourth, we need apologetics to counter the bad image that Christianity has received in the media and in culture. Televangelists and their scandals—both sexually and monetarily—are a disgrace to Christianity. The Catholic church hasn't helped with its scandals involving priests. On top of that, the media is very biased against Christianity, and you will see negative opinions of Christianity promoted everywhere.
Fifth, we need apologetics because there is a constant threat of apostasy in the visible Christian church. Such is the case with the Metropolitan Community Church denomination, which openly advocates the support of homosexuality in violation of scripture (Rom. 1:18-32). Also, as of 2002, the Evangelical Lutheran Church is in risk of apostasy by entertaining the idea of accepting homosexual relationships into church. "The United Church of Christ set up a $500,000 scholarship fund for gay and lesbian seminarians Friday and urged wider acceptance of homosexuals by other denominations." (United Church Makes Gay Scholarship, CLEVELAND, June 16, 2000, AP Online via COMTEX). Or "The supreme court of the United Methodist Church was asked Thursday to reconsider the denomination's ban on gay clergy." (Church court of United Methodists asked to decide on gay clergy ban, NASHVILLE, Tennessee, Oct. 25, 2001, AP World Stream via COMTEX). Such examples are demonstrations of the incredible need for defending biblical truth within those churches that claim to be Christian.
Sixth, another reason we need apologetics is because of the many false teachings out there. Mormonism teaches that God used to be a man on another world, that he brought one of his goddess wives with him to this world, that they produce spirit offspring that are born into human babies, and that you have the potential of becoming a god of your own world. The Jehovah's Witnesses teach that there is no Trinity, that Jesus is Michael the Archangel, that there is no hell, and that only 144,000 people will go to heaven. Atheism denies God's existence, openly attacks Christianity and is gaining ground in public life and schools. Islam teaches that Jesus was not God in flesh, that Jesus did not rise from the dead, and that He did not atone for our sins. It teaches that salvation is partly based on one's works and partly based on Allah's grace. It teaches that the Holy Spirit is the angel Gabriel (Sarah 2:97; 16:102); that Jinn are unseen beings created (51:56) from fire (15:27; 55:15); and that Muhammed was greater than Jesus. Even within the Christian church there are false teachings. We can see that from both within the Christian church and outside of it, false teachings are bombarding believers (and nonbelievers) all over the world.
Seventh, the rise of immorality in America is a threat not only to society but also to Christianity. This is a serious issue because an immoral society cannot last long. The Barna Research group statistics show that 64% of adults and 83% of teenagers said moral truth depends on the situation that you are in. 19% of the adult population believes that "the whole idea of sin is outdated." 51% believe that "if a person is generally good, or does enough good, he will earn a place in Heaven." When a society's morals fail, the society fails. Just look at history and think of Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece or present day Enron, Watergate, and White House interns. Immorality seeps down into all areas of our culture. Consider this: In the New York Times, online, of May 12, 2002, in the article "With Games of Havoc, Men Will Be Boys," the author, Warren St. John, interviews some players of what he says is a very popular video game. One young man says, "What I like to do is get in the car and drive around and do drive-by shootings. You can haul someone out of their car and beat on them and steal their money and their car. It's kind of amusing that you have that ability." .... A publicist from Long Island says the game's allure comes down to "just going on killing sprees." Not all video games are violent, but the fact that it is so popular and that the youth are being trained up by them is very disturbing. I am not advocating a theocratic sociopolitical rule administered by stern Christians wearing black-and-white outfits and tall hats. But these kinds of social trends are disturbing, and they reflect a moral decline in America, where what is good is called evil and what is evil is called good. God tells us in Phil. 4:8, Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. We cannot ignore God's word without a consequence.
The eight reason we need apologetics is because schools are not friendly to Christianity. My own experience in non-Christian schools was a strong awakening to the unprovoked hostility that exists in school, where the philosophy teachers, history teacher, and even the art teacher all took shots at Christianity. Don Feder in the Conservative Chronicle , in his article of September 22, 1993, titled "Fighting Censorship, PAW Does it Its Way", said that in some junior high libraries, book titles included The Joy of Gay Sex and How to Make Love to a single Woman. There is an impressions series for grades one to six which promote the New Age and the occult; a controversial drug education program called Quest, which tells students that they alone can decide whether or not it's OK to use drugs;as well as texts that direct students to fantasize about suicide, attack religion and undermine family authority. Following is an email I received that represents the hostility of secular schools.
Our daughter had acquired an atheist’s heart since leaving home and attending college. It seems that the books on college breed atheists because they are full of the philosophy of anti-God thinking. She has been in college for four years now, and one of the last times we had a chance to talk to her, she said that she doesn’t think about sin, or heaven , or hell anymore because, according to her, they do not exist. She said that when she was young and asked the Lord to come into her heart, she did not know what she was doing because children do what they are told. The fact is that Christianity is under attack in the world, and we need to fight the good fight of the faith without shrinking back. We need apologetics to give rational, intelligent, and relevant explanations of Christians viability to the critics and the prejudiced who would seek to undermine the teachings of our Lord Jesus. If there was ever a time that apologetics is needed, it is now.
Logic in Apologetics
Logic is typically very important in apologetics. To defend the faith, the Christian must use truth, facts, and reason appropriately and prayerfully. The Christian should listen to objections and make cogent and rational comments indirect response to th3 issues raised. Logic is simply a tool in the arsenal of Christian apologetics. Logic is a system of reasoning. It is the principle of proper thinking used to arrive at correct conclusions. Of course, some people are better at thinking logically than others, and there is o guarantee that using logic to the best of one’s ability will bring about the conversion of anyone. After all, logic is not what saves a person. Jesus does that, and we are justified by faith (Rom. 5:1). Therefore, the proper use of logic in apologetics is to remove intellectual barriers that hinder a person from accepting Jesus as Savior. Logic is to be looked at as the answer to every problem facing Christianity nor every objection raised against it. Logic has its limits. It cannot guarantee wisdom. It cannot prove nor disprove inspiration of love. It cannot replace the intuition gained through experience , the prompting of the Holy Spirit, nor the clear truth of God’s word. Nevertheless, logic is still very valuable and can be quite powerfully used by people, both saved and unsaved.
Opponents of Christianity use Logic
Sometimes an opponent of Christianity might use logic problems as a type of evidence against God’s existence. Consider this rather basic objection:
Proposition: God can do all things.
Statement: Can God make something so big that He cannot pick it up? If He can, then He cannot do all things because He could not pick up the rock. If He cannot, then He cannot do all things because He cannot make a rock so big he cannot pick it up.
Conclusion: Since God can do all things and we have shown that there are things He cannot do, therefore He cannot exist.
On the surface, this logic could be difficult to answer. But, all we have to is to think a bit more and we can see that the problem asserted above is not logical to begin with. Here’s the answer:
Proposition: God cannot violate His own nature; that is, He cannot go against what He naturally is.
Statement: God’s nature does not permit Him to lie, to not be God, etc.
Conclusion: Therefore, that statement that God can do all things, is not true and the conclusion raised against God is also not true.
Logic is a valuable tool in witnessing, particularly when using proofs of God’s existence. Consider the following basic approach using logic:
1. The universe exists.
2. The universe cannot be infinitely old; because if it were, it would have entered into as te of entropy long ago.
A. Entropy is the second Law of thermodynamics which states that all things are moving toward chaos and non-usable energy. In other words, everything is running down.
3. The universe is not in a state of non-usable energy; therefore it is not infinitely old.
A. If the universe were infinitely old, the universe would have run out of usable energy long ago.
4. Since the universe is not infinitely old, it had a beginning.
5. The universe would not have brought itself into existence.
6. Something before the universe and gather than the universe had to bring the universe into existence.
7. That something is God.
All logical proofs for God have strengths and weaknesses. But the Christian should not be afraid to use logic, reason, and evidence when defending the faith.
I suggest getting books on introduction to logic and go through what you can. Absorb as much as possible. Also, learn to ask questions in discussions. Learn to think about what the ramifications are of what people are saying. Look for logical flaws in their speech and your own. If it helps to learn from actual dialogues, go to the Apologetics Dialogues page and read some of the actual dialogues I’ve had with unbelievers. They should help to see how to “do apologetics,” though I have much to learn in this area.
Is logic a common ground between the believer and the unbeliever?
Some state that there is no common ground between the believer and the unbeliever, and that the unbeliever’s initial presuppositions against the Christian God do not allow him to accurately reason concerning God, the world , truth\, or himself. Therefore, some Christian theologians conclude, there can be no ultimate common ground because the unsaved are unregenerate and their presuppositions are opposed to true rationality.
“Logic is true, not because it is a reflection of God’s nature, which is order and truth.”
I believe that logic is indeed a type of common ground. But I do not believe that it possesses some innate quality that renders it above human capacity or limitations, nor does it possess any ethereal, mystic qualities that somehow transcend the blinding influence of sin. I think that logic, use properly, always vindicates the truths found in the bible and points to God – weather or not an unbeliever acknowledges.
Logic belongs to God. This is so, because God has invented the universe, the physical laws, mathematics, and all other natural and true phenomenon in it. Existence has an order because God gave it order. Logic is true, not because it is logical, but because it is a reflection of God’s nature, which is order and truth. Therefore, logic ultimately belongs only to God and can only properly be used by him and, in matters pertaining to God, by the Christian.
This is not to say that an unbeliever cannot master the logic, say of mathematics, better than a believer. There are areas on knowledge common to both and God has give some people abilities not possessed by others. However, this is not an assertion that all Christians, when speaking of God, do so flawlessly. Many Christians are very illogical when they try and defend God.
The fact is that no one can blame to have ultimately mastered the logic. In a perfect world with unfallen people, reasoning would be a marvelous adventure that would lead us to more of God’s revelation and truth. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a fallen world where sin has influenced not only our bodies, emotions and wills but also our minds.
Is logic enough?
Is logic enough for the Christian? No, it isn’t. Logic has two major flaws: first, it is only as good as the one who is using it (though that really isn’t a flaw in logic.) second, logic doesn’t save. Jesus does. We cannot reason someone into the kingdom of God. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin and righteousness and who opens the heart to understand the truth (John 16:8.)
But if that is true, then should we even bother to try and reason with unbelievers? Absolutely, yes. For several reasons:
We are commanded by God to give an answer to unbelievers (1 Peter 3:15) and to reason (Isaiah 1:18.)
God can, in his sovereignty, use our witness and reasoning to bring someone into the kingdom. He is not limited by our inadequacies.
Answers that are in agreement with God’s word, given to unbelievers, even if they are rejected, are still true answers. The unbeliever will be held accountable on judgment day for rejecting those truths.
Logic is a tool for the Christian. It is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, if you accept the truth that logic belong to God, then you should be encouraged to use it. But, don’t let it become an idol; that is, it is not the answer to the problem. As Christians, we need to use logic, as well as evidence, prayer, God’s word, love, kindness, etc, in our efforts to win people to Jesus. Reasoning has a valuable place in apologetic and with the believer. It is worth doing well. But use it with love, prayer and patience.
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Join date : 2011-07-20