Christian Apologetics Free Course 07, Lesson 3
The Tools of Christian Apologetics, Lesson 3
Errors and fallacies of logic have become powerful tools in the last century or so, because the radical establishment has spent considerable energy refining false logic to attack the truth. A very large proportion of assertions against the Bible has its foundation in fallacies of Logic. Even the most energetic and motivated Christian Apologist cannot counter these arguments without a basic background in formal Logic. The tool labeled Analyzing fallacies of Logic” handles this problem. This Tool might seem a bit difficult to many in the first reading, but this subject cannot be ignored by any apologist of substance. It would benefit Apologists if they spent a little extra time to reread and master this tool. Most people grasp the essence of the tool well in their second reading.
Propaganda and Mind Manipulation are not accepted as wholesome activities, though both of these are quite common in the modern world. Both these activities have existed for several millennia, but at a relatively superficial level. This changed in the twentieth century.
The rise of mass political movements and the rise of the consumer economy made it necessary to refine Propaganda and Mind Manipulation Techniques to a high level. An unbelievably large amount of money was invested by Business Houses, Activist Organizations and dictatorial governments (specially by the USSR and Chinese communists) to study these techniques in depth. Some of the best brains were put to the task between around 1900 and 1950.
A vast amount of information about influencing the human mind was discovered. Techniques and approaches for Propaganda and Mind Manipulation were developed and refined. Once business houses and political parties started using these techniques, Rationalists and Radicals obtained insight into these techniques and started using them to attack conservative thinking as well as the Christian faith.
In this way Propaganda Techniques and Mind Manipulation Techniques entered the arena to fight against the Christian faith. Those who fight against the Christian faith make liberal use of techniques from both these fields. Since these are empirically and scientifically discovered techniques, a person ignorant of their methodology cannot counter them effectively. Analysis of Propaganda Techniques and Analysis of Mind
Manipulation Techniques among the Tools of Apologetics provide the techniques and strategies needed to counter those who use Propaganda and Mind Manipulation to attack the Christian faith.
People have a notion that debating is a good way of bringing out truth. While all inquiries do have some kind of discussion built into them, that kind of discussion is not really a debate. The discussion associated with assessment of truth is more like continuous feedback and successive iteration till one reaches a reliable or objective conclusion. Debates usually do not take that route.
Right from the time of the Greek Sophists, pulpit-based public debates have been more a test of wits than of truth. The more skilled debaters are always able to sway people to their side, irrespective of whether they are right or wrong. Over the millennia, from the Sophists onwards, pulpit-speakers have carefully discovered, devised, and refined techniques of debating which aim at winning and not at discovering the objective truth. People who belong to activist groups and camps routinely practice these techniques, and use them from pulpits and through the media to win their campaign.
People who attack the Christian faith are all members of various activist groups, each with a clear-cut agenda. The Theological Radicals wish to do away with the doctrine of Bible Alone so that they are at liberty to order (or disorder) their lives. The humanists, the atheists, and the communists have their own proclaimed goal. The false cults have a similar end in mind. Of late the Muslims have joined the fray, challenging Christians to debate them in public.
The average Christian lives under the illusion that the Activist Debater from the Muslim, the Communist, the Cultist, or the Radical Theological Community is looking for the truth. He thinks that Christians can easily refute the debater and that the defeated debater will quickly accept the Christian truth. Nothing could be farther from the truth. No activist debaters ever concede defeat, even if all their points are unambiguously defeated. Worse, they are practically never defeated because they rely upon dishonest techniques of debate, which are often not understood by the average Christian debater.
Unfortunately, even many Christian Apologists take such debates lightly and plunge recklessly into debates with formidable opponents. The end result is humiliation for the apologist and loss for the Christian faith.
Christians are fond of relating the story of this or that Christian debater who “asked three questions and the infidel opposing him simply ran away from the pulpit”. Such things happen only in stories and not in the real world. Yet too many Christian Apologists are swayed by all this fancy talk, overestimate their power to debate, and take the plunge without second thought. Without exception the result is fatal, and thereafter they waste a lot of their precious time and energy to convince everyone that they were the real victors.
Debates these days are not fought over facts. They are fought to win the war of ideas, and the radical establishment is well trained in Debating Tactics. For example, Prometheus Press, the world’s largest atheistic Publishing House, distributes the Atheist Debater’s Handbook. So powerful are the arguments in this book that an average Christian Apologist would shudder if confronted by those questions in public. The reason is not better facts on their side, but better strategies and preparation.
In the section titled Analysis of Debating Techniques we present the tools and strategies to be used to counter the techniques used by radical thinkers against the Christian faith. Christian Apologists should not take debates lightly and should not rush recklessly into public debates without first mastering this tool.
An interrogator can frame questions in such a way that the responder is automatically incriminated every time, irrespective of the answer. A question like “Have you stopped beating your wife?” falls into this category. Radical thinkers and communicators have highly refined the techniques for asking deceptive leading questions. Thus the formulation of deceptive questions and the effective antidote to them should both be studied by the Christian Apologist. The anti-Christian establishment liberally uses leading questions to drive the unsuspecting masses, and even the untrained apologist, away from truth and into totally false conclusions. Analysis And Formulation of Leading Questions is a Tool we offer to counter this line of attack.
Most Christians, and a large number of Apologists, have not understood the nature and complexity of the art of questioning. Thus they keep emphasizing irrelevant questions while the important questions remain unasked. A battle is lost due to wrong strategy on the part of the ignorant Christian, and not because of any fault in Christian Truth. In the modules on Leading Questions we introduce this tool and explain how to use it to counter the anti Christian interrogator effectively.
In summary, those who argue against the Christian faith have, in the twentieth century, refined their art and craft to a high level of perfection. Insights gained from the whole spectrum of Social Sciences have been pressed into service to enhance the potency and power of these attacks. Christian Apologists cannot win against them without an equally powerful set of tools and strategies. Thus the need for Tools of Apologetics.
How Do These Tools Work? The radical establishment has developed numerous techniques and strategies to attack the Christian faith. All these approaches depend upon dishonesty: they sidetrack, confuse, build stories upon false premises, misguide, and (most often) cheat the process of logical reasoning. Worse, they do this in such a subtle and convincing manner that the average Christian is not able to spot the catch.
Trained Christian apologists may be able to spot the deception, but private perception is not sufficient to convince the audience or win the argument. Unless they are able to make the people also see the tricks in the radical’s arguments, they will never be convinced of the truth. Worse, unless they be made to see the truth, they will keep believing the critic to be true, more knowledgeable, and sophisticated. The Christian side loses, not because of any inherent weakness, but because the defender was not prepared for the task.
Christian Apologists should also keep mankind’s depravity and rebellion in mind. They should never forget that the Old Sin Nature exerts considerable influence upon the choices and outlook of believers. Consequently, hidden in a corner of their subconscious many of them have an inclination towards error. At times they [Christians] long that that which is wrong would prevail. You need to see some of these Christians who lose their temper and become hysterical when a conservative Christian Apologist is able to win the audience or the argument.
Many apologists simplistically assume that everyone will accede to and accept their arguments in favour of the Christian faith as soon as they make their pronouncement. Things do not happen that way. On the contrary, they will have to peel the opponent’s arguments layer by layer, and dismantle his/her artificially contrived edifice brick by brick. Then and then only will most people, among even a Christian audience, accept the contention of the Apologist. This is where the tools come into play. [Never forget that today a good number of Christians in the audience want the Christian Apologist to fail, and the opponent to win. With this kind of “friends” the Apologist does not need many enemies to make his task difficult. Adequate preparation is the key.
Once the Apologists start using the Tools, both opponent as well as audience will have to reckon with the subject, not merely with what the opponent has presented from the pulpit, but at the foundational level. Once the audience sees them dismantling the critic at the root level, they will realize that the critic’s arguments cannot be sustained, and the criticisms will be exposed as false. This is how these tools work. But they do at least one more thing. They help to systematize the counterattack.
A determined opponent will never easily give up. He or she will keep piling up objection after objection against the Christian faith. Thousands of questions may fall into a single category, such as “Bible Difficulties”. The radical will never tire of bringing up the next objection because doing that is a hit-or-miss affair involving very little energy. However, solving and diffusing each objection requires much more effort and soon the Apologist as well as the audience will be worn out, handling hundreds or even thousands of questions that keep coming in a seemingly endless stream.
However, the Tool-based approach helps here in a special way. While the opponent can bring in an endless stream of questions from a single
category such as Bible Difficulties, tool-wielding Apologists know that these are not really thousands, or even hundreds, of different objections. There are not more than 15 categories of Bible difficulties. Thus as each objection comes up, they explain the category to which it belongs. Once a second or third question from an already introduced category comes up, they only point to the category to which it belongs, and does not waste time in solving the problem from scratch. The audience, having already understood that category, is able to grasp the solution to each new problem from that category without another elaborate explanation from the Apologist. The critic will also realize soon that piling up any more objections from one and the same category is not going to take him/her anywhere. This is a powerful way in which proper tools and strategies help the Christian Apologist.
How To Practice Using The Tools: There are at least ten powerful Tools of Apologetics, each with at least ten categories, and many subcategories. This means an Apologist has to remember anywhere from five hundred to one thousand subcategories or more to practice Christian Apologetics effectively. This may look like an impossible exercise, intimidating him. But this need not be not so.
Almost every practical subject contains thousand of sub-categories of information, and yet people are able to handle them well. A medical doctor studies hundreds of body-parts with thousands of possible abnormalities, medicines, and corrective measures. All of them together make hundreds of thousands of pieces of information. Yet he is able to use this knowledge because of a corpus of categorized information, regular exposure, deduction, action, and feedback. The more doctors pass through this process, the more expert they become in use of the tools learnt. They seem to pull out information on the rarest of the rare cases like a magician’s trick. Practice makes perfect. The same is the case with the Christian Apologist.
Just as a medical doctor works first as an intern, prospective apologists should submit to a period of formal or informal training. They should read everything they can get. They should pay special attention to question-answer columns in Christian (and even conservative non-Christian) magazines. They should buy every question-answer book on Apologetics and Issues that they can find. They should search the Net for question-answer columns that are handled by experts. They should also take time to listen to question-answer sessions handled by experts in Christian programs.
They should then take time to reflect upon how they would answer these questions. They should compare their own answers to those of others, and discover the best possible response. They should also invest in studying the art of communication. Plenty of printed and electronic resources are available on effective communication. They should then try to write down answers in their own words. They can even try to have them published, but that is not the main aim of this exercise. They should try to write the answers because writing makes a person exact. Mastery over a set of tools is both a science and an art. It never comes to an end, and therefore Apologists should keep reading, should keep listening to question-answers, and reflection on these topics should become a life-long passion. Reflection produces a cumulative and synergistic effect in their minds, helping them to weed out the useless and present the rest in the best possible way.
Summary: Christian Apologists have two choices. They can try to handle each and every objection individually, wearing themselves out but without being able to stop the adversary who keeps piling up objections. Alternately the Apologist can use the tools and strategies explained in the next sections, do an efficient job of dismantling the opposition, and silence the critic more efficiently.