Feb 132015
 

Apologetics part 2Last week we started to look at the subject of Apologetics. We saw it was not an apology for Christianity but a defence of the faith. There were a number of verses charging all Christians to defend and contend for the faith. We should do it on the offensive (Offering positive reasons for the Christian faith) and the defensive (Refuting objections against the Christian faith) and we also saw that it was not just for ‘clever’ Christians but we could all do it; with the help of the Holy Spirit and through diligent study of the word. We shouldn’t be lazy.

There are 5 main reasons why we should do it:

(1) It strengthens the faith of Christian believers

(2) It removes obstacles to faith (for the seeker)

(3) Enables us to communicate the gospel to non-believers

(4) Challenges pre-suppositions and worldviews that need to be addressed

(5) It is commanded in scripture (1Peter 3:15, Jude 3, Titus 1:9)

How do we do it?

People have what is called ‘plausibility structures’ we need to get through. Whatever we say, they are processing in their mind whether it is plausible or not. These could be doubts like ‘Does God actually exist?’ or ‘Was Jesus really a historical person?’ etc. These structures can be built through various life experiences, education, evidence and influence from people such as parents, teachers etc. What this basically means is that people won’t believe you until you acknowledge and dismantle these structures. This can be done in a variety of ways such as using evidence, exposing false ideas and using logic.

When you preach the Gospel to people, they also have defeater beliefs. According to Tim Keller, there are 6 basic defeater beliefs pervasive in modern western culture:

1) Other religions – there can’t only be one true religion

2) The problem of evil and suffering

3) The Sacredness of Choice

4) The Record of Christians

5) The Angry God

6) The Unreliable Bible

Now I hesitated to say all that because all the theory and technical stuff can be a bit of a turn off. It all sounds very confusing. Maybe you are a bit nervous about doing it and perhaps a bit fearful that you will be tied up in knots by persuasive people. What I have found though is that God will help you, even when you stumble, get all tongue –tied and are lost for words. God just wants us to be open and prepared to speak. He will help our feeble efforts.

Hopefully my own testimony can give you some encouragement. I became a Christian at a young age but never really spoke about Jesus to anyone until I left home. I moved up to London just before my 18thbirthday to work at the Ritz hotel as a waiter. It was then, living away from home, that I would sink or swim in my Christian faith. Thank God that He was looking out for me. A fellow waiter found out I was a Christian and on a daily basis would ask me every tough question you could imagine about Christianity. I didn’t know the answer to any of the questions, but would go away and study and come back with an answer that I was satisfied with. This served two purposes; It strengthened my faith and after 3 years my friend became a Christian (despite my sometimes quite feeble responses!!). So Arthur, if you are reading this, thank you. You helped me in ways you will never know.

God used that friendship and those questions to strengthen my faith and grow as a Christian and He will help you too.

I will be covering this subject for a few more weeks, when we will be considering some more questions and problems people have with the Christian faith and how we might respond to those problems. If you have a difficult question posed and would like me to tackle it, why not leave a comment at the bottom of this post or contact me on the contacts page? More next week.

 February 13, 2015  Posted by at 12:00 pm Apologetics, Evangelism No Responses »
Feb 062015
 

ApologeticsWe have been looking for a number of weeks now at bible difficulties and I have attempted to give an answer to many of the common objections people have to the bible and in fact the existence of God Himself. As you can imagine, opponents to Christianity are always trying to find fault and so it is important to bring a strong defence to what we believe.

This defence of the faith is called ‘apologetics’. It is not as the name might suggest apologising for the faith, but it is based on the Greek word ‘apologia’ which means ‘a verbal defence’. The term was used commonly in the Greek courtroom. In its essence a definition would be ‘A reasoned defence of the Christian faith against objections.

The 4 main bible verses that ‘apologists’ quote for using this form of defence are as follows;

always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect     (1 peter 3:15)

contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3)

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5)

And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures,  explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead (Acts 17:2-3)

It is important to mention though that these verses aren’t just for the elite few who are clever at debating. No, we should all know what we believe and give a reason for it. The trouble is, we live in a world where we see the church leader as professional. He is the one who will win all our arguments for us. If we could only get the people asking them to come to church.

I love the Alpha course, but one of its main drawbacks is we hand over our own responsibility of explaining the faith to our friends and relatives to the people who are running the course. Our culture has become used to being spoon fed information, and this can make us very lazy in studying for ourselves.

Apologetics can be defensive and offensive.

It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel. (Philippians 1:7)

The 2 Corinthians 5:7 passage I quoted earlier gives an example of the offensive side. But it is not about winning arguments. An important aspect, mentioned in the 1 Peter passage above is the way we debate and talk to people who oppose us. It is so important that every conversation is respectful and gentle.

A gentle answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1)

When we discuss things in a winsome way we leave the door open for further discussion. There is no point in winning an argument if the way we win it completely turns off the other person because we have been rude or aggressive.

Apologetics has many forms, including studying and debating subjects such as; philosophy, biology, evolution, and logic. But it can also consist of simply giving an answer to a question about your own faith and why you believe and you don’t have to read a ton of books to do that. You certainly don’t have to be highly intelligent to engage in apologetics. Remember, in the New Testament the majority of the key leaders are pretty uneducated. It is only really the Apostle Paul who was really clever. The key is being filled with the Holy Spirit and diligent studying of the bible. God will guide your words when you stand for Him. A bible verse that gives me great strength is in Matthew 10:19-20 speaking about what will happen when we are dragged before rulers and authorities

do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Why not give it a try? See who you can start a conversation with this week?

Next week I will be looking at this subject a little further and giving my own testimony of how responding to a questioning friend helped me in my own faith.

 February 6, 2015  Posted by at 12:00 pm Apologetics No Responses »
Apr 042014
 

way truth lifeToday we reach number 6 of the ‘I am’ statements of Jesus. I am leaving number 5 ‘the resurrection and the life’ until the end because it will then really conveniently fall on Good Friday (unplanned but very appropriate).

Number 6 is possibly the statement which is most likely to get people hot under the collar; most people today would call it intolerant and bigoted. If you consider yourself ‘post modern’ this statement really sticks in the throat. Let’s have a look at the passage:

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:5-6)

I bet you that if I were to go out onto the streets now and ask the general public their opinions about religion, most people would say that all religions are basically the same; it doesn’t matter which one you choose, as long as you are sincere etc etc. I am horrified at how seemingly sane people can believe that all religions are the same. For one thing most religions contradict each other; how then can they possibly all be right?

Some people have tried to use the analogy of an elephant: each religion is like a blindfolded person feeling a different part of an elephant (ears, tail, trunk, legs etc). They all have different views as they are all experiencing different parts of the same thing. It is one elephant but they can’t see it because they are blindfolded. How condescending!

Another illustration is that God is at the top of a mountain and there are all sorts of different paths to reach him.

The people who use these illustrations are demonstrating breathtaking arrogance in their assumption that they actually know that all paths lead to God. The only one who could know how to get to God must be God Himself, no-one else could possibly know no matter how marvellous their explanations sound.

Jesus said ‘I am the way’. He didn’t say ‘I know the way’ or ‘I can point you in the right direction’. He is the way in Himself. If Jesus was not God and yet made this statement, He should be considered deluded or, even worse, mad. But everything Jesus did and said points to the fact that He was and is God and so this statement today must be taken seriously.

The stark question staring you in the face today is ‘what are you going to do with Jesus?’ If you reject Him there is no other way to God. But if you accept Him, the way is open to have a relationship with your heavenly father. It’s a simple choice but the most important choice you will ever make.

 April 4, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 pm Apologetics, Names of Jesus No Responses »
Jun 272012
 

If God then whatHave you ever asked yourself “What is the meaning of life?” Wondered about the secret to life, the universe and everything? Why are atheists so sure there is no God and categorically deny His existence? Why are many others so sure that He does exist?

Andrew Wilson is one of my favourite preachers and writers and is a very gifted communicator. In his latest book “If God then what?” he helps us to think through the huge questions of life; the sort of questions that get filtered out through the ‘white noise’ of everyday life and our busy schedules; questions that seem so big that we dare not tackle them.

Through his own (often amusing) experiences, and using modern metaphors of film, media, popular culture and history, Andrew walks us through 10 questions that he considers helpful “…if we’re ever wondering about truth, origins and redemption…” and how we find meaning in Life.

The first few chapters are about fundamentalism, knowledge, and how and where ideas come from. He travels through science and philosophy asking questions such as “how do we know things”,” how did we get here” and “how did the universe start”? In the second half of the book he proceeds to ask questions such as “what is wrong with the world, and what could be the answer?” He follows the argument that the existence of God is at least possible, and if that is the case, what would it mean for us?

We finally look at the ‘evidence’ for the resurrection of Jesus and how this one event in history, if true, has huge ramifications for the whole of mankind.

This book is a refreshing take on the whole subject of apologetics (presenting a rational basis for the Christian faith and defending it against objections). It takes the reader through logical arguments that are never ‘preachy’, using excellent and helpful illustrations.

I found this book extremely interesting, so much so that I read it within a week – amazing for a really slow reader like me! I found it hard to put down on occasions as I followed the flow of the author’s arguments. It will certainly get your ‘little grey cells’ firing better than caffeine, so I wouldn’t suggest reading it last thing at night. Andrew appears intelligent and well read but I would say that this book is very clear and accessible, especially for non-academics (again like me!).

When I first found the book on Amazon I was intrigued to read that the first review was written by an atheist who regularly reads books written by people he disagrees with. I thought “oh no, here we go”, but after trying to find problems and holes in Andrew’s arguments, he came to the conclusion that it was ‘disappointingly good’, a backhanded compliment if ever I’ve heard one. He even recommends it as a good book for those looking for a book on apologetics.

In my opinion this is an excellent book for Christians to give reasons for what they believe, and for non-Christians to why they should believe. So once you’ve read it, why not buy a copy for your friends who are seeking answers too?

You can buy the book by clicking on the link below. Just to be totally transparent, if you buy through these links I will receive a tiny commission. Thanks


To pay in pounds sterling click on the link above

To pay in American dollars click on the link above
 June 27, 2012  Posted by at 10:05 pm Apologetics No Responses »