{1}           Apologetics: Defending Christianity

1.                 Why do Christians need apologetics?

A.  Definition: Apologetics is the clarification and defense of biblical Christianity. Apologia (Greek) means defense. Apologetics is a declaration that what Christians believe is truth.

B.  Use inside the church: (1) to know the rationality (reasonableness) of our faith in order to stand firm in faith (Col 2:8; Eph 4:14); (2) to correct mistaken views and impressions of someone leaning toward apostasy (Jude 1:3,22-23); (3) to silence unbiblical positions by responding to false ideas and by clarification, refutation and encouragement (Titus 1:9-11)

C.  Use outside the church (facing non-believers): (4) to defend in response to charges or challenges (Ac 26:1-2; 2Co 10:3-5); (5) to witness (1Pe 3:15); (6) to evangelize (Ac 17:17-18)

     Defending our faith does not normally lead people to Christ. But it would at least overcome obstacles and dispel unfounded prejudice against Christianity and may later lead to faith.

D.  Dealing with doubt about our faith:

     Doubt may be the single most widespread problem among Christians today. Doubt can rob us of our peace and joy and hinders our relationship with God.

     When doubt drives us to earnest inquiry for truth, it can actually lead us to deeper faith.

2.                 What is the role of reasoning in building up our faith?

A.  Truth: There is only one truth; it is the description of reality. Only falsehood can contradict truth. Since Christianity is truth, there is no contradicition between faith and reason.

B.  Relationship between faith and reason: Faith is the confidence or belief in the truthfulness of the Christian position. Reason is the process of logical analysis; unbiased reasoning leads to truth. In fact, faith and reason are allies. If someone seeks the truth, in the long run it will take more faith not to believe because the proofs are so strong. Christianity is a rational faith.

C.  Reasoning encouraged in the Bible:

     Christianity is an intelligent faith. The Bible encourages us to use our minds and our reasoning to understand our faith. The Bible emphasizes knowledge, wisdom, discernment, and understanding in our growth to spiritual maturity (Eph 1:17-19; 3:14-19; Php 1:9-11; Col 1:9-10; 2Pe 1:5). Paul asks believers to “prove all things” (1Th 5:21; Php 1:9-10).

D.  Examples in the Bible:

     When doubters came to Jesus, He gave them real evidence to dispel doubts (Mt 11:2-3; Jn 20:27).

     There are examples in the early church defending the faith: the resurrection of Jesus (Ac 4:33; 1Co 15:1-8); the work of God in nature (Ac 14:15-17; Ro 1:20); the witness of changed lives (Ac 26:9-22; 1Ti 1:12-16)

E.  Reasoning as part of faith: Faith involves 3 facets. It is more than subjective belief (emotional element). It involves also objective understanding (rational or intellectual element) and a will to live what we believe (volitional element) (Dt 6:5; Mk 12:30).

3.                 What are the proper attitudes when defending Christianity?

A.  Main Bible verses: Based on the Bible, we can learn about our proper attitudes.

(1)  The most quoted verse is 1Pe 3:15. “Apologia” here means “answer” which is characterized by:

(a)  being ready: at any time

(b)  preparation: knowledge of the position defended and the attacks brought against it

(c)  gentleness: with patience, not emotional

(d)  respect: not with pride, arrogance or self-sufficiency; not an aggressive attack on the other person’s will or prejudice, but a logical account or reasoned explanation of our hope

(2)  Ac 22:1-21: the speech manifested an attitude of dignity, and a forthright response to the issues.

(3)  2Ti 4:16; Php 1:7,16: defense of the gospel in response to charges.

B.  Important elements:

     The defender’s tone, sincerity, care, concern, listening, and respect are as important as the logic used. The goal of apologetics is not obtaining victory but understanding truth. If the discussion leads to the understanding of truth, then both sides are winners.

     Questions of honest inquiry should be answered. However, we are not required to answer against hostile attack as John Stott says: “We cannot pander to a man’s intellectual arrogance, but we must cater to his intellectual integrity.” (Mt 7:6)

4.                 What are the techniques when defending Christianity?

A.  Principles (4 C’s found in Col 2:20–3:4): (1) Contrast (2:20-22, exposure of false ideas in light of truth); (2) Comprehension (2:23, of the false system); (3) Clarification (3:3-4, explanation of Christian truth); (4) Confirmation (3:1-2, encouragement of believers in truth)

B.  Use common ground and the Bible:

(1)  Common ground is the common understanding that Christians and non-Christians have about truth and life, including general revelation (facts in the natural world), laws of logic, rules of procedure in science, historical facts.

(2)  The Bible (special revelation, the Word of God): Some non-believers refuse to accept anything from the Bible. In those cases, it may be wise to limit the use of the Bible. But it should always be remembered that the Bible has unimaginable power that can break any resistance. (Heb 4:12)

C.  Recognize and dispel presuppositions:

     Sometimes, a perfectly rational argument will often fall on ears deafened by presuppositions originated from irrational sources such as prejudice and ignorance. These invalid presuppositions need to be dispelled, e.g. the irrational rejection of supernatural occurrences by non-Christians.

5.                 What are the major approaches when defending Christianity?

     Illustration: how to defend the reality of Christian re-birth?

A.  Subjective approach (Ro 8:7-8; Eph 2:3): stressing the uniqueness of subjective Christian experience. By my inner experience, I know rebirth is real. [faith without reason]

B.  Objective approach (Ro 1:18-20): stressing rational powers of the mind to find the truth. Evidences of changed lives of Christians shows that rebirth is real. [reason precedes faith]

C.  Revelational approach (Eph 1:17-18): stressing divine revelation. The Bible teaches about the necessity and reality of rebirth in Jn 3. [faith precedes reason]

D.  Integrated (verification) approach: synthesis of the best features of the above 3 approaches: by using logical analysis as well as the Bible. [reason supporting faith]