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Christian apologetics

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Christian apologetics answers the question "is Christianity believable". In the past four centuries, many religious and spiritual beliefs have come under intense attack by radical philosophers and critics. The Christian faith has received a major portion of the attacks due to a number of historical reasons covered later.

Criticisms against the Christian faith have received so much media coverage that even well-informed non-Christians are aware of major charges against the Christian faith. Interestingly, books published against the Christian faith and sold from secular shops have become bestsellers even in countries where the buyers are not Christians. Such is the result of all this adverse publicity.

Impact of Secular Humanism and Academic Bias

Today a widespread atmosphere of criticism of Biblical teaching pervades college campuses. The Christian student faces criticism from other students in various forms. Commonly, even the Christian college student is challenged by questions against the Christian faith. Questions may occur with such high frequency that the Christian student is at a loss to answer. Often the Christian student has not previously encountered these questions and does not know what to think or how to answer. The Christian student may fall into the trap of thinking that if he does not know the answer, then correct or satisfactory answers do not exist.

Once a person erroneously concludes that answers do not exist for questions raised against the Bible, his own faith in the inspiration, authority, and the infallibility of the Scriptures suffers. He then finds himself in a split mentality: he knows that it is these Scriptures which have brought the message of true salvation to him, but at the same time he questions that all things written in the Bible are true! Apologetics offers answers to questions challenging the bases of Christianity. A study of Christian apologetics can help the questioning Christian find answers to problems and questions with which he is confronted. The Christian who is knowledgeable in Christian apologetics can share information with doubting persons and those who raise questions against the Bible.

Anti-Christian philosophies and thought patterns flourished in the last four to five centuries. Secular humanism, a philosophy in which man has been elevated to the position of God, is presently a dominant philosophy. Secular humanism is the foundation of most present-day thinking and education. Therefore, students who have attended present-day schools or colleges learn many things contrary to the Word of God. By the time a person leaves college, he accumulates hundreds of anti-Christian ideas resulting in distrust and doubt.

Although not every doubt can be solved, Christian apologetics provides answers to a sufficient number of questions and problems to support the faith. Christian apologetics can also explain the anti-Christian foundations of secular humanism which will help inquirers to overcome doubts and to see root causes of problems. Inquirers will then be able to deal effectively with many questions as they arise.

Everyone faces a variety of puzzles, questions, and fears. Difficult situations will not go away merely by ignoring them or by pretending that they do not exist. Facing a problem is difficult, and people often avoid problems. Avoidance of Biblically related problems can frequently be seen. Attacks against the Scriptures come from diverse fields and from people of high learning, making answering difficult. No one can ever hope to master all disciplines of study from which questions are raised. This difficulty induces many people to avoid facing the issues, but there is no need for avoidance. Acquiring basic tools of Christian apologetics will be sufficient to answer most attacks against the Bible and the foundations of Christian faith.

No person can ever hope to answer all questions, but every Christian should definitely know something about what godly men are doing in the field of Christian apologetics. Today, Christian society has numerous highly qualified and dedicated men of all disciplines of study who are searching the Scriptures to answer every question that has been hurled against the Bible. Naturally individuals become fearful of anti-Christian attacks, but can have confidence that the pursuit of Christian apologetics has answered and will continue to seek out answers to questions. In fact, today scholars around the world are publishing conclusions in defense of the Christian faith through hundreds of professional journals and popular magazines. The information is accessible to anyone.

The Bible will always be attacked, and there will always be people whose faith will be challenged. Proper use of Christian apologetics will help.

Defense of the Resurrection of Jesus

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is critical to the Christian faith. The Apostle Paul wrote, "if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain" (I Cor:15:14). Traditionally, Christianity has believed in a physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. [1]

In recent history Gary Habermas is considered the foremost Christian apologist for defending the resurrection of Jesus (See: Minimal facts method). [2][3][4][5][6][7] Dr. Habermas had a debate against the philosopher Anthony Flew regarding the resurrection which was chronicled in the work Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? The Resurrection Debate and the debate had a panel of debate judges. J. Hampton Keathley, III , Th.M. in his essay Evidences for the Resurrection wrote: "The decision of the judges were as follows. The panel of philosophers judging content cast four votes for Habermas who argued for the fact of the resurrection, none for Flew, and one draw. The panel of professional debate judges voted three to two, also in favor of Habermas, this time regarding the method of argumentation technique." [8]

In recent history some notable defenders of the resurrection include: William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, Edwin M. Yamauchi, N.T. Wright and Michael Horner. [9][10][11][12][13]

Legal scholars such as Simon Greenleaf, John Warwick Montgomery and many others have asserted that western legal standards argue for the resurrection of Christ. [14][15][16][17] Defenders of the resurrection of Christ also cite many distinguished legal authorities regarding the historicity of the resurrection of Christ. [18]

Christian Polemics

An important companion of apologetics is polemics. While apologetics is a defense of the Christian faith in response to attacks originating from people outside the Christian faith, polemics deals with attacks originating from within the Church. Many readers may be surprised that attacks arise from "within" the Church. However, people have always existed within the Jewish and the Christian faith who have attacked the Old and the New Testaments.

Polemic attacks arise in two forms. First, in the form of distorted Bible interpretation, and second, through false cults claiming that they are Christian. Polemic attacks on the Bible perverted doctrines. Examples in the New Testament include the Ebionites, Pelegians, Montanists, Nestorians, Arians, and many others from within the Church. Examples from the dawn of the twenty-first century include radicals, ecumenists, and Christian New Agers. Also included is the teaching of salvation through baptism, attacks on the person of Christ (Smithism/Poonenism), and Hinduized Christian doctrines (Prajapati Proponents, Christian Vedantists), etc.

Some of the major religious groups claiming to be Christian but who attack fundamentals of the Christian faith include: Jehovah Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, Mormons, and Roman Catholics. The number of small new religious groups is growing constantly, and the leaven of the erroneous teachings of many of them is also spreading.

Though apologetics and polemics are two different activities, their essence is the same: to refute error and to establish truth. Until a few decades ago Christian apologetics and polemics could be separated. Perhaps in the past, study of either apologetics or polemics was adequate. But no more! Attacks against the Christian faith now borrow insights from both apologetics and polemics making necessary the knowledge of both.

A Biblical Basis for Christian Apologetics

Almost all of the book of Job is an apologetic to justify God's dealings with man. In the face of opposition from his friends and family, Job tries to vindicate the reasons for his loyalty and confidence in the Lord. He makes it very clear that the Lord of Israel was not like the gods of the pagans around them; rather, He is a faithful God who would never fail those who trust in Him.

Psalms 14 and 19 are also apologetic in character. The Gospel according to John, according to the author himself, is an apologetic to lead people to saving faith in Christ. 1 Romans:20 confirms this when it says that the marvels of the nature are enough to indicate the existence of an intelligent and all powerful God. The message which the Holy Spirit delivered through Paul in Acts 17 is another example where an apologetic approach is used to preach the gospel to skeptical unbelievers.

Though the Bible places great stress upon faith and belief, and though it condemns deliberate skepticism and unbelief, it does not speak against reason and investigation. The Bible encourages the use of reason and investigation when they are done sincerely and as an aid to honest inquiry. Both the Old as well as the New Testament furnish ample evidence of this. What's more, God Himself gives evidence in numerous places to lead people into faith.

When God commanded Moses to go to Pharaoh, He gave two signs to Moses so that he could establish that it was God who had sent him. Whether Pharaoh believed or not is a different subject, but we should not ignore the fact that God provided a demonstration when Pharaoh asked for it. We see the same thing in the case of Gideon, who twice asked for signs, and was granted the request both times. We see the same in the case of Hezekiah, who was given a choice of signs to confirm that the Lord had spoken.

When Daniel and his friends spoke to the man who was in charge of them, he suggested that this steward should "prove" (investigate and conclude) them for ten days. Again this is the experimental approach, where a decision is taken on the basis of investigation.

Jesus and his biographers repeatedly stressed that the primary purpose of the miracles performed by Jesus was to demonstrate who He was, and not merely to bring health to the world. In many other places the Scripture stress that the miracles in the New Testament church were meant to ATTEST that God was behind all these things. Though Jesus chided "doubting Thomas" for his skepticism, He did not refuse to give proof. Rather, He invited Thomas and even other disciples to examine Him physically and conclude that He is risen.

Thus the Bible furnishes ample examples to indicate the necessity and the important role played by apologetics for the Christians as well as non Christian hearers of God's message. Though the Bible condemns unbelief, it encourages sincere inquiry.

Creation apologists

Below is a listing of creationist organizations and apologists:

Notable apologists

Modern

Early

References

  1. http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/crj0056a.txt
  2. http://www.garyhabermas.com/articles/dialog_rexperience/dialog_rexperiences.htm
  3. http://www.tektonics.org/books/lichabrvw.html
  4. http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/NTeSources/NTArticles/CTR-NT/Habermas-Resurrection1-CTR.pdf
  5. http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/NTeSources/NTArticles/CTR-NT/Habermas-Resurrection2-CTR.pdf
  6. http://www.garyhabermas.com/articles/crj_explainingaway/crj_explainingaway.htm
  7. http://www.apologetics.com/default.jsp?bodycontent=/articles/historical_apologetics/habermas-nt.html
  8. http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=639
  9. http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/menus/historical.html
  10. http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/easter/articles/josh2.html
  11. http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/easter/articles/yama.html
  12. http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Early_Traditions.htm
  13. http://www.michaelhorner.com/articles/resurrection/index.html
  14. http://www.bibleteacher.org/sgtestimony.htm
  15. http://www.mtio.com/articles/bissart1.htm
  16. http://lawreligionculturereview.blogspot.com/2005_01_01_lawreligionculturereview_archive.html
  17. http://www.trinitysem.edu/journal/philjohnsonpap.html
  18. http://www.ankerberg.com/Articles/apologetics/AP0302W3.htm

Apologetics Topics

References

Historical Apologetics:

  • The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ Gary Habermas, College Press: Joplin, MI, 1996
  • The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, Gary Habermas, Gary Licona, Kregel, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1994. ISBN 0825427886
  • The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus. Lee Strobel, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1998. ISBN 0310209307
  • New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell, Thomas Nelson, Inc, Publishers, 1999. ISBN 0785242198

External links