Christian Apologetics Free Course 01, Lesson 02
Introduction To Integrated Apologetics, Lesson 02
A Biblical Basis for Christian Apologetics
We have already seen that Christian Apologetics is that branch of Christian studies that deals with the defense of the Christian faith. This is fully a Biblical activity because it has been advised and demonstrated in the Bible at various places. For example, the Scripture commands: "Always be prepared to make defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15, RSV). This means that making a defense of one’s faith to those who question the Christian faith is a part of our spiritual duty. The word "Apologetics" comes from the Greek word APOLOGIA used here, and translated as "defense". So apologetics is a defending of the faith, not making of apologies as some might wrongly conclude from the English word ‘apologetics’.
A good definition of the character and function of Christian apologetics can be found in Scripture when it says: "We live in the flesh, of course, but the muscles that we fight with are not flesh. Our war is not fought with weapons of flesh, yet are strong enough, in God’s cause, to demolish sophistries, and the arrogance that tries to resist the knowledge of God ; every thought is our prisoner, captured to be brought into obedience to Christ" (II Corinthians 10:3-6, Phillips)
Almost all of the book of Job is an apologetics 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 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. Romans 1:20 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.
APOLOGETIC APPROACHES IN THE BIBLE: 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 is God who sent Him. Whether Pharaoh believed or not is a different subject, but we should not ignore that God provided demonstration when Pharaoh asked for it. We see the same thing in the case of Gideon who twice requested for signs, and was granted the request both the times. We see the same in the case of Hezekiah who was given a choice of signs to confirm that the Lord has spoken (1 Kings 20:5-12).
When Daniel and his friends spoke to the man who was in-charge over 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 were 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. And that is where Apologetics plays an important role.
APOLOGETICS AND POLEMICS: An important companion of Apologetics is Polemics. While Apologetics deals with objections and attacks originating from people outside the Christian faith, Polemics deals with attacks originating from within the Church. Many of the readers might be surprised when we mention attacks from "within" the church because none of us expects our own people to attack our blessed faith. However, people have always existed within the Jewish and the Christian faith who have attacked the Old and the New Testament.
These attacks come in two forms. First, in the form of distorted Bible interpretation. Second, through those false cults who claim that they are a true Christian group.
People who attack the Bible from inside the Church would include everyone who teach perverted doctrines. During the New Testament period this included the Ebionites, Pelegians, Montanists, Nestorians, Arians, and many others from within the Church. At the dawn of the twenty-first century this would include the radicals, the ecumenists, the Christian New Agers. This would also include those who teach salvation through baptism, those who attack the person of Christ (Smithism/Poonenism), and those who Hinduize Christian doctrines (Prajapati Proponents, Christian Vedantists), etc.
False Cults which claim to be Christian but who still attack the fundamentals of the Christian faith include, Jehovah Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, TPM (Ceylon Pentecostal Mission), Roman Catholics, The Toronto Movement, etc. Their number is growing constantly, and the leaven of their erroneous teachings is also spreading.
Though Apologetics and Polemics are two different activities, their ultimate purpose is one and the same: to refute error and to establish truth. Till a few decades ago they could easily be separated from each other so that those who practice Apologetics did not need to know about Polemics, and those who specialized in Polemics did not have to study apologetics. But no more ! All kinds of attacks against the Christian faith now borrow insights from each other, so that today every apologist must be an expert in polemics, and every polemicist must be an expert in apologetics.
Other Lessons In Course 01 Lessons
- Christian Apologetics Free Course 01, Lesson 01
- Christian Apologetics Free Course 01, Lesson 02
- Christian Apologetics Free Course 01, Lesson 03
- Christian Apologetics Free Course 01, Lesson 04
- Christian Apologetics Free Course 01, Lesson 05
- Christian Apologetics Free Course 01, Lesson 06
- Christian Apologetics Free Course 01, Lesson 07