In this day in age, have you recently heard any blatant attacks on the Christian faith? We hear about so many "proofs" and arguments on a daily basis that supposedly disprove the existence of God. This is something that most believers in Jesus Christ must be aware of, as Satan is working around the clock to keep people in believing that God is nothing more than a fairytale. The greatest trick the devil can pull, is to have people believing that he, or God, doesn't exist. If people are lead to believe that there is no existence after we die, these people are on a dangerous road leading straight to Hell. Exactly what the enemy wants. I'll tell you what, there are no such thing as atheists in Hell, because everyone must bow the knee to God during their day of Judgement. Every knee shall bow, and every tongue must confess Jesus Christ is Lord, so sooner or later you are going to believe in God. It's best if it's sooner. Us as representatives of Jesus Christ must get to work spreading the Gospel by sowing the seeds into certain people's hearts, and watering the seeds already sown in other's. Our job is to spread the Gospel before people die, and we need to work fast. Many believers Trust in Jesus with their hearts and truly believe in the existence of God, but have difficulty answering some of the harder questions posed by skeptics, atheists, other religions, or anyone else outside of the Faith. Understanding apologetics is about educating yourself, understanding the Word, and preparing yourself for a spiritual battle so you can win over souls to Jesus Christ. That's the mission. It's not about looking smarter than somebody else, or winning arguments for the sake of boasting. This is something that has everything to do with leading the lost to salvation, and being equipped with both the right answers and the right scriptures will ensure victory. So let's dive in.
An apologetic is an argument in support of the Christian faith or defending it against accusations of irrationality, immorality, or other forms of inaccuracy aimed to discredit Christianity.
The Greek word for apologetics is apologia: and literally it means "a defense". This is also a court term. In ancient Rome, the prosecution would deliver a "katergoria" (a reason on why a person is guilty, or an attack on someone) and the defendant would respond with their apologia.
Allot of people hear the word apologetics and think that we are apologizing. This has nothing to do with apologizing for anything, it is about giving a defense as if our belief was on trial. With this mindset, we must be educated in what we believe in. Although God doesn't need a defense team, God will use you and your answers to ultimately change the heart and mind of someone's worldview. We are here to win souls and remove roadblocks that keep people from accepting Jesus Christ.
A great example of Apologetics in scripture is found in Acts.
18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
Notice how the Athenians spent all day everyday talking about new beliefs and the latest ideas in verse 21. These were the intellectuals of those day, much like allot of students and professors of college campuses of today. The bible states that Paul was disputing with Jews, philosophers, and other devout persons. As Paul began to talk about Jesus, they decided to invite him to a place called the Areopagus. This was a large meeting hall, where people of Athens would congregate to so they could debate and talk about new ideas, gods, and belief systems together. This is where Paul began to Preach Jesus and the Gospel to everyone. Normally, Paul would debate with the Jews by using the scriptures to preach Jesus, because that was something that they both had in common. The God of the Old Testament. Paul appealed to that, and used the Old Testament writing to prove the foretold prophecies about the Messiah being fulfilled by Jesus Christ. It's very interesting because when Paul begins to talk to the Athenians about Christianity, he doesn't use the scriptures to debate. He actually quotes from their own Roman poets and philosophers according to verse 28. He even stated that their altar devoted to "the unknown God" whom they ignorantly worshipped was in fact the God Paul was declaring to them. He doesn't use the Old Testament scriptures when witnessing to these group of people because they did not have the same appreciation for scripture that Paul had. He used common beliefs they had shared between each other to bridge the gap between the them. This is something that is common today. There was a point in time where you can go up to someone and say "You should do this, because the Bible says so" and people would honor due to their respect of the Bible. However, just like the Athenians in Acts 17, people do not have the same appreciation of the Bible today as us believers in Jesus have in this day in age. They just don't want to be told to believe what is in the Bible, they want to be told why they should believe it as well. This is what we are going to learn to do. Our answers will differ based off of the culture we are currently living in. But ultimately, the scripture behind our answers will always remain the same. We use apologetics not apart from the Bible, but as a compliment to biblical teaching.
The demands of religion are changing. People are more likely to walk away from a Faith where doubts are not answered. In fact, a very common occurrence of the youth is that they are taking on an atheistic worldview as they grow older. A common thread from this phenomenon is that you have a young person who is very involved and devoted to their church. More often than not, the churches these Christian youth are involved in are ultra-fundamentalist. This means that their churches are extremely rigid and not willing to think or even consider anything else outside of their very specific, planned worldview. These young people often grow up in these churches, and they have someone who they really look up to. This could be a Pastor, Minister, Youth Group Leader, Sunday School Teacher, or even a Parent. These youth will look at these positions of authority as a kind of spiritual leader. Sadly, when these young people have questions about something regarding their faith, they are put off or even chastised for asking questions. They are told “to not ask questions”, and to “just have faith.” These young people have an intellectual hunger that has not been fed in their current belief system. Atheism through science offers that intellectual food and also provides answers that they were once seeking as Christians that their previous spiritual leaders refused to provide them. Sadly, apologetics and truly studying the Word can answer many of these common questions, but many Christians are ignorant to answering these issues.
Another reason why we need apologetics is because the view of truth is changing. There was a point in time where people made decisions about something based on what seemed to be the most reasonable or rational course of action. But now, people are more likely to make a decision based off of an emotional judgment. Another common thread of people losing their faith is the idea that God’s ways don’t agree with him. People often have their own view with how they want things done in life and how their lifestyle should be. Then, when God’s word doesn’t line up with their own thoughts, they have problems with God. Some people don’t look at the facts and say, “this must be true”, but rather they look at their feelings and ask, “does this match with how I feel?”. Their standard of truth is themselves, not the objective truth. This is how most people in today’s society assess what is true and what is not true.
The final reason why we need apologetics is because the nature of skepticism is changing. Skeptics are becoming more hostile to traditional faith views. As we move further and further into the future, people want to destroy the traditional values Christianity holds because these values do not agree with the worldly values attempting to infiltrate our lives as a whole. People even accuse our faith in Jesus Christ as dangerous, and put true Christianity on the same level as other immoral belief systems/extremist religious atrocities such as: the catholic crusades, Islamic jihadists, and other cults involved with horrendous actions justified in the name of Religion.
70%-75% of Christian youth leave the church after high school.
More than half of all college professors view evangelical Christian students unfavorably. This is becoming a trend in higher education.
Christian students are not equipped to resist rabidly anti-Christian college professors who are intent on converting their students to atheism.
College professors are five times more likely to identify themselves as atheist than the general public.
Christian youth in America are not being taught to cross examine the skeptical and athiestic views they encounter when they leave home.
Worldview: A particular philosophy of life or conception of the world.
A person’s worldview will affect the way in which they look at and interpret everything. It is essentially a lens we look through daily, and through that lens we are able to make judgments based off of what we see. This means that two people can look at the same thing, but come to two separate conclusions. The fact is we each have a completely different past from everybody else, so the same answer is not going to come to mind for every single person.
Do you have an answer?
My answer: I personally see an adorable kitten just relaxing, and almost dozing off. I really want to pet it. That is a cute, fluffy, and adorable animal isn't it? Did you come to the same conclusion? What does this have to do with worldview? Although I view this image as a cute little cat, someone else views this picture as a dangerous, rabid animal that can kill someone if not euthanized. Think about it. If someone as a child was bitten by a cat carrying rabies, that person's worldview on animals will be completely different than from someone who was raised with 5 loving pets in their household. This is how we get the famous phrase: One man's trash is another man's treasure. Everyone's life experience plays a huge factor in their worldview on many different things.
Defending the faith by highlighting pieces of evidence. A great example of this would be our fossil record. We see the fossil record in different orders, layered up amongst each other. Allot of Christians look at the fossil record and say, "This looks like a world-wide flood that deposited these sedimentary layers and covered them over." Then there's some other people, even some Christians, who will look at the evidence and say, "This looks like millions and millions of years of deposits of sedimentary layers." These different worldviews disagree. We can see the evidence, look at the evidence, but come to a different conclusion of it. Although Evidential Apologetics plays a large role in apologetics as a whole, the fault in using evidential apologetics alone is that different worldviews will result in different interpretations of that very evidence that everyone can clearly see. A great example is found in Acts 14:
15 And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:
Paul and Barnabas preform a miracle, healing a crippled man who was never able to walk since from his birth. Even though the people in Lystra witnessed the evidence of the miracle, they had different interpretations of what they saw. In Paul’s mind, if they saw the miracle happen, they should have believed in Jesus Christ since that is what he has been preaching all along. Although Paul and Barnabas knew it was through the power of Jesus Christ that healed the man, the pagan people saw Barnabas and Paul as gods taking on human form. In the pagan’s minds, they saw that same power as power coming from the ancient gods: not from the power of God. In fact, they called Barnabas; Jupiter, and called Paul; Mercurius: These were two names out of the many gods they worshipped in their specific worldviews. In their belief, the Greek gods once took on human form before, so after seeing Paul and Barnabas they percieved that these were the same gods coming back again into the world in the likeness of human beings. This is why evidential apologetics itself is not too strong of an argument when used alone.
This is essentially tearing down irrational worldviews and building a solid one in it’s place. Before you can use evidential apologetics to address the evidence, you must lay the groundwork of the correct worldview first and destroy the incorrect worldview. If a person has a worldview that claims there is no God, then telling that person Jesus raised from the dead will not mean anything. You first must show them that there is a God, and that there can be a God. You must confront opposing worldviews first. Once you create the possibility in one's mind that God could exist, their interpretations of evidence can now be opened to a biblical interpretation.
Below are a common examples of worldviews that are self contradictory, and what many people today believe in. We must destroy the false worldviews, so that the truth can open their minds to accepting the correct one.
Simple answer to destroy this worldview is to ask this question: Is that absolutely true?
If they say yes, they automatically contradict their own worldview by stating their belief as true, even though they claim they do not believe in absolute truths. If they say no, than their statements and current worldviews are both false and cannot be used in an argument to prove truth.
This is also false. You can ask that person this question: Is that statement a material thing? That person is making a philisophical statement, a statement of belief. A Metaphysical reality, and yet they are claiming nothing but the physical. You can also argue non-material things that do exist such as:
You can ask that person: "Is that scientifically proven?" or "how do you prove science?" That's not a statement of science, rather it is a philosophical statement. Even f it were, you would be using science to prove science, which is called circular reasoning. Circular reasoning occurs when the end of an argument comes back to the beginning without having proven itself.
If the Premises are true AND they logically lead to the conclusion, then the conclusion must be true. A Logical argument is going to be comprised of 2 or more premises that are supposed to be true statements, and those premises will add up to a conclusion. Again, the premises have to be true and logically connect in order for the conclusion to be absoltuely true.
All cars have wheels.
The object in the picture is a car.
The object in the picture has wheels.
Yes. This is logical because all cars have wheels. Premise 1 is true, Premise 2 is true, and both premises logically connect to lead to a truthful conclusion.
Most dogs have 4 legs.
The animal in the picture has 4 legs.
The animal in the picture is a dog.
No. Premise 1 is correct, and Premise 2 is also correct. However the conclusion is wrong because the picture to the right is a horse. Logically, many things have 4 legs, not just dogs. Although the premises are true, they do not logically connect.
Everything with 4 legs is living.
The objects in picture to the right have 4 legs.
The objects in the picture to the right are living things.
Of course not. Why? Because Premise 1 is not true. Again, both premises must be true and logically connect in order for the argument's conclusion to also be true.
Many people who deny the faith want to live a lifestyle that is not consistent with Christianity. This is why many skeptics who are shown logical proof for the existence of God will still choose to deny it. People will often put up a barrier of intellectualism to hide the fact they just don't want to follow God's Law. Many times people who claim intellectual reasoning behind their disbelief truly have an emotional issue with the truth.
Before you can convince anyone of anything, they have to be willing to listen to you. That's the hardest part. Answering objections and many of these topics we are going to discuss during these lessons will be the easy part. The hard part is gaining the trust of the person you are witnessing to. A person with sever emotional issues will be difficult to speak with. The moment you attempt to speak reason or rational with people who have been hurt, they will immediately retreat back to their emotions. This is the "I can't be a Christian because another Christian hurt my feelings" argument, which is common amongst many atheists and ex-Christians. This is not a rational reason to reject the truth of Jesus Christ. This changes your perspective on people's minds. By thinking if you provide a rational argument, people are going to believe you and become Christians, you will realize this is not always the case.
Consider Pharisees and Jesus. Jesus time and time again not only provided evidence through his miracles proving that He was the Son of God, but He also maid various references using the Old Testament scriptures as well as through His teachings claiming to be the Messiah prophesied about in the scriptures. Raising the dead, healing the sick, casting out devils, and raising the dead are few among many evidences proving Jesus was from God. Yet none of these miracles convinced the Pharisees. They still despised and hated Him. That's because you may have overwhelming proof of something that is absolutely true or have an answer to every single question thrown at you, it really comes down to the other person's heart on whether they want to forsake their beliefs to follow the truth, or continue to live their own lives how they see fit, regardless of what the truth is.
Our example. There are 5 testaments of Jesus' life. Mathew, Mark, Luke, John, and the lifestyle of following Jesus. Many people will never read those first 4. For some people, their biggest exposure to Jesus is how they see you living your life. The moment you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and God, you also became hired to work in the field of soul-winning. All of us in Christ are testimonies of His Grace, and we must follow the example Jesus left for us. That's what will be a major factor in influencing others about what you say and leading them to Christ. If you live representing Jesus in an exemplary way with love and truth, this could be what breaks down the barrier of emotion for some people and you might gain ears for them to hear about your beliefs.
Jesus did not answer every single critic. Lets go to the Bible:
If they said by John's authority, they would be admitting that Jesus was the Son of God because that is what John the Baptist preached. But if they said of men, the people would have stoned them, because the people held John as a prophet. Like cowards, they didn't answer Jesus. Even though they knew the answer, they were just too prideful to accept it.
Apologetics is an important study all believers in Jesus Christ must commit to. We need to be ready to give an wise answer to all who ask about our belief. As we continue further, we will dive into more in-depth studies on both presuppositional and evidential apologetics in regards to the Truth of the existence of God. To proceed to the next lesson, Click the link below.