Last 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.