Courses

I. Introduction

A. Definition:

       According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, apologetics can be defined as "the intellectual defense of the truth of the Christian religion, usually considered a branch of theology." It is the systematic argumentation or discourse in defense of a belief system.
       It is, in essence, the nature of evangelism: giving an answer for those who ask.

B. Scriptural basis

       But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscious, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Peter 3:15-16)

1. Attitude

       I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.Matthew 10:16

       Always humility, as Jesus is recorded as indicating in the book of Matthew. Know what you are talking about, but if you are arrogant or boastful, then you know a lot less than you think you do. The nature of education is this: the more you know, the more you realize how little you know or can ever know. If you become proud and arrogant in your knowledge, then your education has short-circuited and you know nothing. I cannot stress this too much. You will not, in the Spirit, take what you learn in this class and use it to "nuke" the Mormons, JW's or other unredeemed people. This is not a contest. You are not going to battle against flesh and blood. You are trying to rescue flesh and blood. Remember, your goal, always, is to win the lost. Wisdom -- which comes from God -- will teach you how to do that with each person. You'll notice, in reading the Bible, that no two evangelistic presentations are alike. Learn something from that.

2. What is to be defended?

       The hope that you have. We are not in the business of trying to apologize for the actions of other Christians or ourselves. We are sinners. Admit that, and accept the fact of wrong doing in the course of church history and in the Christian church of today. Yes, the televagelists are scum. Yes, the church is filled with hypocrites. Yes, there is often legalistic self-righteousness, arrogance, boastful pride, power mongering, self-serving. But how is this different from the world at large?
       Certainly, Christians SHOULD be different. But they aren't, usually.
       That is unfortunate, and makes the defense of Christianity -- that is, the positive portrayal of Christ all the more difficult. But remember, the central issue must remain Christ. If YOU or I are the issue, then we've messed up already and this verse explains what we need to be doing.

II. Theistic Evidence

John Calvin wrote:

       Some worthy persons feel disconcerted, because, while the wicked murmur with impunity at the word of God, they have not a clear proof at hand to silence them, forgetting that the Spirit is called an earnest and seal to confirm the faith of the godly, for this very reason, that, until he enlightens their minds, they are tossed to and fro in a sea of doubts.

       Does God exist? The Bible offers no arguments for God; instead it simply assumes Him. Why? Because the existence of God cannot be proven. On the other hand, it is equally certain that God cannot be disproven.
       Much to our dismay as theists (people who believe in God), we cannot hold up a smoking gun and triumphantly state "Ahah! The anti-theistic arguments are proven false!" Neither can non-theists trumpet "Ahah! The theistic proofs have been falsified." The atheist who argues that believers in God are ignorant fools and the theist who argues that those horrid disbelievers are mental midgets are both whistling in the dark.
       The existence of God, in the final analysis, is simply a presupposition -- that is, an assumption lacking both proof and refutation.
       This should not seem odd to us.
       In any deductive theory, since each proposition or step in the theory is proved from preceding propositions, a beginning must be made somewhere with unproved assumptions. We must arrive at the chicken that laid the first egg, as it were. For example, in geometry Euclid's first axiom (presupposition or assumption) states: "Given two points there is an interval that joins them." -- a fancy way of describing what a line is. But -- and this is important -- there is no PROOF for Euclid's statement. One must make the decision either to accept or reject his presupposition, and then build the rest of geometry from that point.
       What can be offered as evidence for a given axiom or presupposition can never be imagined a proof. One of the greatest mistakes theists or atheists make is to believe that undying proof exists for their respective positions. At most, all that either position has is evidence.
       So now the obvious question: how is an individual to decide which view is the best? What is the truth? How do you make up your mind?
       Several arguments have historically been raised in attempts to prove the existence of God. Though failing as proofs, they remain useful as organizational tools in our discussion of evidence for God. Four of the best may be listed as follows: 1) Mystical Experience, 2) First-cause, 3) Design and 4) Moral.