What is Apologetics?
Apologetics is the reasoned defense of the Christian religion.
Christianity is a faith, but there are reasons for the faith. God did not ask us to have faith in that which is unreasonable.
Apologetics is expressing the King’s Gospel utilizing the King’s thinking and the King’s language.
Apologetics and Moses
Any prophet whose words did not come to pass was to be killed.
Deuteronomy 18:21-22 You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?” If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.
Apologetics and Elijah
1 Kings 18:21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.
Elijah was calling for a decision and for an action based upon evidence.
Apologetics and Isaiah
Isaiah 41:21-23 “Present your case,” says the LORD. “Set forth your arguments,” says Jacob’s King. “Bring in your idols to tell us what is going to happen. Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come, tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods. Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear.
Isaiah 46:9-10 Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.
God is stating that fulfilled prophecy is an evidence of veracity.
Apologetics and Jeremiah
Jeremiah 28:9 But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the LORD only if his prediction comes true.”
Apologetics and Jesus
This is my beloved Son …
Nicodemus understood Christ to be the Son of God due to his miracles.
Jesus Christ utilized miracles as an evidence of his deity and the truthfulness of his message. (I.e. Moses)
Apologetics and Paul
Acts 19:8-10 Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. (dialegomai: dispute, reason, preach, argue, discuss, mingle thought with thought)
Acts 17:19-34 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.) Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone– an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” At that, Paul left the Council. A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others. (Here the resurrection is a proof of Christ’s deity.)
Romans 1:19-20 Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities– his eternal power and divine nature– have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
There is general revelation – natural theology.
This general revelation is clear.
This general revelation is continuous, from creation.
This general revelation proceeds from the visible to the invisible.
This general revelation leaves humans responsible. This general revelation is not enough.
Man’s intellect has been damaged and distorted by the fall, but not utterly depraved. The mind rightly acquires knowledge, while the heart warps, depravedly interprets, and suppresses the knowledge.
1 Corinthians 15:1-8 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (Paul used the proof of the resurrection as a springboard for Gospel proclamation.)
Colossians 2:1-5 I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
Apologetics and Peter
1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts set apart 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 … (apologia – defense, answer, clearing one’s self, reasoned statement or argument)
Apologetics and John
1 John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Apologetics and the Early Church
Apologia – a response or reply to objections.
Early apologetics were first a defensive science.
Justin Martyr, an early apologist, made his arguments before the Emperor of Rome. His chief task was to clear up distortions concerning the Christian faith. The early church was viewed as seditious (by not worshipping the emperor), atheistic (because they did not worship the gods in the Roman temples) and cannibalistic (because they celebrated this feast called the Lord’s Supper.)
Modern Day Apologetics
Christians should not surrender rationality and scientific inquiry to the secular world. The commonsense tools of learning can be used to corroborate the truth claims of Christianity. (R.C. Sproul)
Providing an intellectual defense against the assaults of anti-Christian thinking.
Construction of a Christian philosophy or world-view that establishes Christianity and shows the futility of any other system of thinking. (Presuppositional)
The Weak Nature of Apologetics
No right-thinking apologists believes that you can argue someone into the kingdom of heaven.
Jonathan Edwards, “Reason cannot make the knowledge of God real to the unregenerate.”
The right-thinking apologist must understand the difference between “proof” and “persuasion.” No matter how strong the proof or argument, someone may still not be persuaded. Proofs do not solve the problem of prejudice, bias, and ignorance. All reformed believers hold that the Holy Spirit must be the one to convince and change. (I.e. Devil) You cannot predict or mandate a change in belief. The role of the apologist is proof, not persuasion.
It is true that “man cannot know any truth without grace.” (St. Thomas Aquinas)
Only the H.S. can convince one of the validity of the Scriptures.
1 John 5:9 We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.
Matthew 13:11 He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.
Matthew 16:17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.
John 6:44-45 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.
1 Corinthians 2:10-12 But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
1 Corinthians 2:14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 John 2:20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.
The Instrumental Nature of Apologetics
Remember the three elements in authentic faith:
- Hearing the Content (Knowledge) (Noticia)
- Understanding the content and agreeing to its veracity (Intellect) (Assensus)
- Submitting oneself to the truth (Trust) (Fiducia)
Man may be regenerated without the mind, but man may not be fully converted without the mind. A person must understand before he can believe. We must be given reasons before we can believe.
We argue like we pray. We argue like we witness. We argue like we live.
God already has decreed whatsoever comes to pass, but he commands that we pray in order to see God’s effective hand at work. God already has decreed whosoever will come to faith in Christ, but we witness as the means to bring in the elect. We understand that God must open eyes and hearts, and we argue effectively as the means through which He tears down barriers and objections to the Gospel. (Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility)
Therefore, man begins with the mind, while we understand that God begins with the heart. The heart as the primacy of importance, but the mind has the primacy of order.
Logic is the non-negotiable rules of thinking that have come from God. You have to play according to His rules. Everyone, Christian or non-Christian, operates according to these rules. (First Principles of Thinking) If knowledge is possible, what would it take? What are the necessary conditions for us to have a proof for the reality of God? Without these 4 principles – no knowledge can be known – about anything
- The Law of Non Contradiction – A cannot be A and non-A at the same time and in the same relationship.
- The Law of Causality – Every effect has an antecedent cause. There is never an uncaused effect.
- The basic reliability of sense perception – Through our senses we are able to learn something. We know that our senses can be deceived, they are not infallible.
- Analogical use of language
Logic is not a humanistic, man-made invention. Logic did not originate with us, nor where these laws created by man to serve man’s purpose. They are discovered.
“So we begin with logic because we must, and in the end we come to the God who proves that we may.” There is no escape from dependence upon the mind. We must begin our thinking with logic, for that is the only way that we can think. We cannot even presuppose God except to logically do so First we use logical laws then we learn of the God who made them. Logic is the presupposition to the presupposition of God. If we think we cannot trust our thinking, we must trust our thinking that we cannot trust our thinking. To deny logic, one must affirm it.
The presuppositional approach is to attack with logic the illogical schizophrenia of the unbeliever’s thinking. (79:3, Bahnsen)
Therefore, Christians are not fearful of logical discourse, for it is not the facts nor the logic that keeps an unbeliever in the dark, but rather their hardened, depraved heart.
The question is one of honest thinking vs. dishonest thinking.
Christians are not Rationalists – we do not only believe what we can fully comprehend
Christians are not Gnostics – depending on supernatural, mystical, non-empirical evidence
Christians are not Fideists – taking a leap of faith
Christians are Apologists – arguing offensively and defensively for the faith. We do not put logic above God. In using logic, we are simply using God’s tool to know God.
Puritans spoke of two books, the “book of nature” and the “book of Scripture”; the “book of nature” best being interpreted by the “book of Scripture.”