Apologetics is the area of Christian study that defends or proves the truth of Christianity. Our English word apologetics comes from the Greek word “apologia” which means “to defend” or “to make a defense.” It was used in the Greek language to refer to an argument of defense in court during a judicial interrogation.
The Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament describes it this way, “The word was often used of the argument for the defense in a court of law and though the word may have the idea of a judicial interrogation in which one is called to answer for the manner in which he has exercised his responsibility, the word can also mean an informal explanation or defense of one’s position and the word would aptly describe giving an answer to the skeptical, abusive, or derisive inquires of ill-disposed neighbors.”
This word is used by Peter in 1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer (apologia) 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 conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
Peter is telling every believer that they should be prepared to present evidence for their hope in Christianity. This evidence can include what Jesus has done for them personally as in a personal testimony, but should also be able go beyond their personal feelings and experience.
The word "apologia" is used by Paul in Colossians 4:6: "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer (apologia) everyone."
Here the word "conversation" refers to your daily life.
Acts 22:1, "Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense (apologia)."
Philippians 1:7, "for whether I am in chains or defending (apologia) and confirming the gospel, . . ."
In the above verse the word "defending" (apologia) is for the skeptical unbeliever.
The word "confirming" is to the believer who believes but is under the continual assualt of a doubting world.
In Titus 1:7, 9 and 2 Timothy 2:24-25 the overseer and the "Lord's servant" must be willing to "refute those who oppose" truth and "instruct" those who "oppose" his teaching.
2 Corinthians 10:5, "We demolish arguments and evey pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
This verse indicates that part of apologetics is to attack or to go on offense against false philosophies.
Areas of apologetics that we will look at in this study are:
1) The Uniqueness of Christianity
2) The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ
3) The Authenticity of the New Testament
4) The Authenticity of the Old Testament
5) Philosophical Proof for the Existence of God
6) Scientific Prood for the Existence of God
7) Scientific Support for the Bible
8) Archeological Evidence for Scripture's Accuracy
Usefulness of Apologetics
1) Confirm your own faith
2) Withstand attacks of unbelief and skeptics in or out of the church
3) Testify to the truth more knowledgeably
4) Influence and enlighten people in a secular and skeptical society
Warnings to the Apologist
1) Cold Caution: An apologist can become cold and intellectual. Avoid this. Keep it personal and relevant.
2) Holy Spirit Caution: Arguing a person to acceptance does not replace the Holy Spirit's conviction. You can win the battle of the debate but still lose the war for a person's soul.
3) Accuracy Caution: An incomplete, inaccurate recital of hear-say will evoke a sarcastic rejection and become stones in the skeptics field.
Some People's Objections to Using Apologetcs
All of these are unwarranted objections to apologetics. Many of these are true statements but when taken out of context and misapplied they lose their veracity.
1) The Bible does not need to be defended
2) God can't be known by human reason - Understand that God's existence is revealed by reason. God's plan is revealed by revelation. Apologetics deals with reason.
3) Natural humanity can't understand.
4) Without faith no one can please God.
5) Jesus refused to give signs to evil men.
6) Proverbs 26:4, "Do not answer a fool according to his folly."
7) Apologetics is not used in the Bible. (See Acts 17:2 where Paul "reasoned" with the Jews and Acts 17:22-33 where Paul reasoned with the philosophers in Athens at the Areopagus.
There is no such thing as blind faith, atleast, not in the good or useful sense of the phrase. God has always provided enough evidence for you to put you faith in something: his actions, his existence, his word, Jesus' miracles, etc.
An unexamined faith is not worth keeping. When oppostion comes an unexamined belief system or blind faith will quickly collapse and be replaced by something that seems more defendable.
Evidence of the turth will produce faith. Romans 10:17 says "faith comes from hearing the message."
A rational person needs evidence that God exists before he believes that God exists. "What may be know about God is plain to them because God has made it plain to them. . . God's invisible qualities. . . have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that men are without excuse." (Rom. 1:19-20)
Jesus said, "Love the Lord you God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind." (Matt. 22:37) Point: The heart cannot truly belief what the mind rejects.
The Christian faith goes beyond reason but never against it.
"I KNOW whom I have BELIEVED." (2 Timothy 1:12)
Some Misconceptions Concerning Faith and Their Corrections
False Statement: Christianity is blind faith or intellectual suicide.
Truth: The Christian faith is based on evidence and God has always intended it to be that way. Consider: creation, the Red Sea, Jesus miracles, etc.
False Statement: If you believe something then it is true to you. That is your faith.
Truth: It is not how great you believe something that makes it true, but believing something that is true that makes your faith great. The value of the Christian faith is not in the one believeing, but in the one who is believed in. Jesus is the object of our faith.
False Statement: There is virtually no difference between Greek mythology and the Christian stories.
Truth: All ancient myths have been exposed long ago, but it is comon to see the secular world still trying to undermine Christianity even today. After all the ancient religions have fallen to the skeptics, Christianity is still alive and still under attack.
Myths never claim to have eyewitnesses as Christianity does in 2 Peter 1:16, 1 John 1:1-3, Luke 1:1-3, Acts 1:3, 1 Corinthians 15:5,6. The Apostles did not try to convince the public of Jesus life and death but appealed to them by asking them to recall what they themselves had seen as in Acts 2:22 and Acts 26:24-28.
One of our challenges today is that the modern historical approach to history is rooted in the philosophical presupposition that there is no God.
A presupposition is what a person believes before the evidence is looked at. Often a person’s presupposition does not allow them to accept the clear evidence or the truth they are being presented. This applies not only to non-believers but is an issue for all people including Christians who have presuppositions concerning the interpretation of scripture.
Modern historians who presume there is no God consider the gospel account of Jesus and his life as inaccurate because of the miracles and supernatural events. The modern philosophical presupposition is that we live in a closed system with no supernatural. So the modern world begins its “fair and open-minded” investigation of Biblical history by having to reject any reference to God or to the supernatural.
The result is that many times modern skeptics are not debating the Christian from a position of knowledge or evidence but from a presupposed position of assumptions they refuse to give up. Much of the time this is a reflection of their heart and not their mind.
Faith and Reason
Reason moves our wills from the outside. Faith is our hearts giving assent to the evidence. Faith then moves our wills from the inside. This is why demons can see the evidence but they will not be moved by it. They are against the evidence. Reason can prove that God exists but cannot convince the unbeliever to believe in God. Reason allows us to confront the unbeliever with the evidence of truth.
Reason is like describing the sun to a blind man. He feels the warmth, eats the crops, but can’t see the sun. Faith (or, revelation) is like the blind man receiving sight and seeing the sun for himself.
Christianity is the only true religion among many religions.
The Bible Claims Uniqueness
- ONLY GOD: The God of the Bible is the only true God (Jeremiah 10:10-2)
- ONLY WAY: Christ is the only way to God (John 14:6)
- ONLY WORD: The Bible is the only true revelation from God (Isaiah 8:20)
- ONLY HOPE: Faith in Jesus is the only way of salvation (Acts 4:12; Gal. 1:9)
Christianity Has Unique Historical Basis
- Christianity is not based on Jesus teachings but on Jesus, who he is, the person Christ, the Son of God. Salvation is not in the teachings of Jesus but in Jesus.
- Islam is based on the teachings of a man, Mohammed, not on Mohammed himself.
- Buddhism is based on the teachings of Buddha
- Confucianism is based on the teachings of Confucius
Christianity Has Unique Account of Origins
- Christianity describes the origin of the universe as a special creation by an eternal, omnipotent, personal God. In comparison other religions are impotent in discussing the topic of origins. No other religion goes back to the absolute beginning before anything existed. All other religions merely discuss the reforming of pre-existent material.
- Babylonian religions began with a primeval chaotic mixture of three waters
- Egyptian religion assumes initial watery chaos from which everything evolved
- Greek mythology have a chaos of water at the beginning
- Roman writers describe a beginning from a universal blind interplay of atoms
- Secular Humanism supports a sophisticated process of evolution of pre-existing material
No other cosmogony (theory of creation) goes beyond what currently exists back to the First Cause. All other cosmogonies begin with space, matter and time already in existence. No can answer the question, “Where did these come from?” The Bible gives a reasonable explanation: These vast and complex physical things came from an eternal, omnipotent and personal God:
- Eternal God explains the concept of time
- Infinite God is the adequate cause of space
- Omnipotent God accounts for the existence of power and matter
- Omniscient God explains intelligence and order of creation
- Personal God is why there is life, personality and freewill within creation
Evolution or primeval chaos with colliding atoms cannot explain any of these things: time, space, power, matter, intelligence, order, life, personality and freewill.
There is no other person in history like Jesus Christ. The prophecies of his coming is unmatched by any world leader or world event. His short, humble life resulted in history changing influence on people, religion, philosophy, cultures, nations, standards and time itself. It is ridiculous to think that Jesus never lived considering the enormous impact his life has had. The ignorance of believing that Jesus never lived is only out done by the ignorance of rejecting the existence of God.
Anticipation of His Coming
The Old Testament prophecies foretold:
- The Lineage of the Messiah
- The Birth Place of the Messiah
- The Time the Messiah would be Born
- The Things the Messiah would do
- The Purpose for the Messiah
- The Details of the Death of the Messiah
- The Resurrection of the Messiah
Book by book list of OT prophecies concerning Jesus
OT prophecies of Jesus First Coming
Anatomy of the Messiah
This had never occurred. There are myths of demi-gods being born as a result of union of men and gods, but here God himself is conceived and born. It was a fully natural birth yet with no genetic connection to a father yet with human form from his mother. This had never been seen or imagined.
- Jesus was the creator (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16)
- Jesus claimed to be God in front of the high priest (Mark 14:61-64)
- Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” Then the Jews took up stones to stone him. (John 10:30-33)
- Jesus spoke as if he was God: “I say unto you . . .” (Matthew 5:20, 22)
- Jesus asked for and accepted worship as God. (Matt. 8:2; 14:33; John 20:27-29)
- Jesus critics said, “He claimed to be the Son of God.” (John 19:7)
Jesus lived an entire life without sin in thought, word or deed.
- Peter wrote: “He did no sin.” (1 Peter 2:22)
- John wrote: “In him was no sin.” (1 John 3:5)
- Judas said: “I have betrayed the innocent blood.” (Matt. 27:4)
- Pilate said: “I find in him no fault at all.” (John 18:38)
- Paul wrote: “He knew no sin.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- Jesus said: “I do always those things that please him (the Father).” (John 8:29)
Jesus’ teachings have penetrated into many cultures, other religions and the quotes of many leaders. Jesus’ sermon on the Mont, the Upper Room discourse, the parables and other teachings are without parallel in history. Many non-believers and scriptural skeptics say that Jesus was the greatest teacher ever. Yet within Jesus’ teachings he continually includes the awareness and the claim that he was the one and only (unique) Son of God.
Jesus died of his own free will. Concerning his life, Jesus said, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own accord.” (John 10:18) The book of John records that while on the cross Jesus said, “It is finished.” Then John writes, “With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
The final and greatest proof of Jesus’ absolute uniqueness was that he rose from the grave with a resurrection body that was seen, heard and touched by many people. Other religious leaders are dead and their tombs have become memorials for their lives. Jesus’ life is still experience today.
An Article on the Uniqueness of Jesus
KEY POINTS (back to the top)
1) "apologia" means to give a defense by providing evidence
2) Evidence comes before faith.
3) Part our responsibility is to know the evidence and provide the evidence.
4) Apologetics was used by the apostles; evidence was provided by God.
5) Jesus said to love the Lord your God with all your mind.
6) Christianity is different from a myth since it has stood the test of time because it has evidence and eye witnesses.
7) The object of your faith is what makes faith great, not how sincerely you believe something.
8) Christianity is unique when compared to other religions and philosophies
OTHER SITES with more information concerning apologetics: (back to the top)
1) An Introduction to Christian Apologetics
2) What is Apologetics 2
3) Anthony Flew's Story - The leading atheist of the 1900's and a debater against C.S. Lewis now recognizes the existence of God
APOLOGETIC BOOKS from Galyn's Bookshelf: (back to the top)
"Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics by Norman L. Geisler, ISBN 0-8010-2151-0
"Many Infallible Proofs" by Henry M. Morris, ISBN 0-89051-005-9
"Evidence That Demans a Verdict" Josh McDowell, ISBN0-8407-4378-5
"Christian Apologetics" by Norman L. Geisler, ISBN 1-56563-800-X
"Apologetics: An Introduction" by William Lane Craig, ISBN 0-8024-0405-7
"Vital Apologetic Issues" by Roy B. Zuck, ISBN 0-8254-4070-X
"The Case For Faith" by Lee Strobel, ISBN 0-310-24188-X
"101 Reasons You Can Believe" Ralph O. Muncaster, ISBN 0-7369-1198-7
QUESTIONS (back to the top)
1) What is the Greek word for apologetics or defends?
2) What is one of the main apologetic verses?
3) Name four areas that apologetics can help prove for the Christian faith.
4) Name two uses for apologetics.
5) What are three cautions to the apologists.
6) Can you explain why "blind faith" should not be part of the Christian experience?
7) What is the difference between subjective faith and objective faith?
8) Give examples of reason and faith in your life.
9) Describe some presuppositions that you might have.
TAKE THE TESTS -
Sect A, Ch 1 -Introduction to Apologetics
Sect A, Ch 2 - Uniqueness of Christianity
Sect A, Ch 1 - Contrast Faith and Reason
Sect A, Ch 2 - Christianities Uniqueness