What is the deal with this whole ‘Apologetic’ movement and is it really necessary? Shouldn’t we just focus on preaching the Gospel? The Gospel, not a philosophical argument, is the power to salvation. This is a sample from the questions and statements that can be heard in churches across our brotherhood. In fact if you were to ask the regular church goer to define the term Apologetic I wonder if they even could?! So let us define the term before we attempt to broach the question of its necessity.
Even though it may sound like our English word ‘apology’ it is far from it. The word comes from the Greek ἀπολογία (apologia) which means a ‘defense’ or a ‘reasoned argument’. Therefore, apologetics is the branch of Christian teaching which attempts to offer a defense for the Christian worldview. This may include topics such as ‘The Reliability of the Bible’, ‘A defense of the Resurrection’, ‘An Argument for Creation Ex Nihilo’, etc… without necessarily using the Bible. But at this point some may say “Well that isn’t necessary because people just need to “have faith”. I have two points of contention with this statement:
(1) The Bible never tells us to separate our mind from our faith. In fact it instructs us to have rational faith. Jesus told us the greatest commandment was to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. (Mk 12:30). Peter commands us to always be ready to give a defense for the hope that is in us (1st Peter 3:15). The word ‘defense’ is the Greek word apologia where our term apologetics comes from.
(2) It defines ‘faith’ differently than what we find in the Bible. Faith isn’t some leap in the dark or a belief where there is no evidence. In fact that is the antithesis of the Biblical definition. The NT defines faith as trusting in what you cannot see based on what you do observe (Heb 11:1). We ask jurors to make a judgment in the courtroom on something they did not see (the crime) based on the evidence that is presented during the court proceedings. God puts us in the same seat. In fact one of the greatest pieces of evidence in the courtroom is multiple eyewitness testimonies. The content of our faith is the person and work of Jesus Christ but faith is simply accepting the eyewitness testimony of the Apostles (Rom 10:17). Therefore, faith and reason are not mutually exclusive. Furthermore God is the God who gave us the created world so we are without excuse (Rom 1:18-21). He also gave us the empty tomb/resurrection appearances so we could have eyewitness testimony and our faith wouldn’t have to rest on fairy tales (2nd Peter 1:16). So when someone says “we just need to have faith” I agree. But what I agree to is not a belief with no firm foundation or a blind leap in the dark. I agree with a faith that naturally flows from the evidence presented in both of God’s books; the Bible and the book of nature.
The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16) and I am not promoting the idea that philosophical arguments or dry manuscript evidence will ever save a soul. However, I am challenging the mindset which says “questions are bad.” The church lives in a different culture than it did 40, 30 or even 20 years ago. No longer can we tell people “The Bible says…” for they do not even accept its validity. In fact when we teach our young people, “Don’t question and just believe,” we are only compounding the problem. This is why different studies show that around 75% of young people raised in the church will fall away from the faith when they go to college. They read books like The God Delusion by Dawkins or God is Not Great by Hitchens. Their professors ridicule their faith and mock God as a jealous vindictive old man who commits many atrocities in the OT. They make claims that the Bible is full of contradictions which leave our students confused and clueless. The problem is that we as a movement have told them that the Bible is true but we have never told them why the Bible is true. Our brotherhood needs to catch up to the culture and approach it head on. There is no fear on the side of truth; if the Bible is God’s revelation and Jesus really did rise from the dead then we should expect our awesome God to provide us with the evidence we need to advance the Kingdom of God. What I am contending is that there are four major questions to be asked:
(1) Does truth exist?
(2) Does any God exist?
(3) Are Miracles possible?
(4) Did the Resurrection really happen?
The problem is that the church is stuck on number four while the culture is asking number one. How are we going to tell them that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is an absolute truth when they are questioning whether truth exists and flat out denying miracles from a philosophical basis?!?!
To find out what we must do come back Friday for my next post....to be continued