Christian Apologetics Free Course 01, Lesson 06
Introduction To Integrated Apologetics, Lesson 06
The Purpose Of Apologetics
As said in the previous section, Christian Apologetics is a fast growing discipline. Thus it is possible to misunderstand or confuse the role, purpose, and contributions of apologetics. Students should take great care in noting what apologetics is meant to do, and also what it is not meant to do. The following points would help to clarify some of these issues:
APOLOGETICS IS A MANWARD OPERATION: The purpose of developing a discipline like apologetics is to defend the reliability of the Bible. It therefore addresses both the reliability of scriptural narratives as well as the premises upon which the Christian faith stands. However, Christian Apologetics is not an activity directed towards the Bible. In other words, the purpose of Christian Apologetics is not to defend the Bible with the attitude as though it is a helpless book. Rather, it is a manward operation meant to help those who are perplexed or distressed due to doubts. the Bible is defended to them, so that they might overcome the doubts that they have.
The Scriptures are quite capable of self-defense. It has stood assaults successfully for four thousand years while the critics and their contentions have been passing away. Hence the purpose of apologetics is not to lend a helping hand to the Scriptures, but to help the sincere inquirer. Thus the defense of the Bible is presented not for preserving the Scriptures but to preserve the faith of the inquirer. This is what’s meant by "manward operation".
Understanding this manward operation is necessary both for helping those who need apologetics and also for those who don’t need it. Our churches have a lot of people who never had a problem with their faith. They never doubted anything in the Bible, nor did they have to face any attacks against their faith in Christ. Many of these people can therefore become alarmed when they hear of "apologetics". They start thinking that the apologist is trying to defend the Bible for the sake of the Bible — to ESTABLISH that the Bible is the word of God.
Since these people almost never faced any serious challenges to their faith, and since they know that the Scriptures do not need to be defended by man, they tend to become skeptical or hostile towards apologetics. Unless the apologist explains to them the manward role, there is a possibility of them rejecting apologetics due to their ignorance.
Thus, to put the apprehensive people at ease, the apologist himself should first understand the motive and aim of apologetics. Only this clear understanding will help him to employ the methods of apologetics with the proper motive and in the right manner to the right audience. He would understand that not every Christian is his target. Only a person with this understanding will be able to put tense and skeptical, but God-fearing, Christians at ease.
APOLOGETICS HAS LIMITS: Since apologetics is a manward operation, it can never be used to prove that the Bible is the word of God. The best that it can do in this matter is to point to the unusual character of the Bible in matters of unity, accuracy, consistency, historicity and life-changing power. The rest is left to the inquirer. Accepting the Bible as God’s word comes only by an act of faith in which apologetics can play a very supportive role.
Thus the purpose of apologetics is neither to establish the Bible as God’s word, nor to create faith in skeptical minds. Rather, its purpose is to aid a person to see that the attacks brought up against the Bible are NOT valid. Once it is demonstrated that statements of the Bible and the facts of science do not conflict with each other, the way is cleared for the sincere inquirer for making the leap of faith.
BARRIER REMOVAL IS THE PRIME TARGET: The purpose of apologetics is not creation of faith as much as it is to remove the barriers that hinder faith. Such a removal of hindering factors often helps sincere inquirers to take a leap of faith and accept the Lord Jesus as personal Saviour. For others, who are already saved, the removal of barriers helps them to make a deeper commitment to Christ.
RATIONALIST DEMANDS MIGHT BE A BOON: Our rationalist age places a lot of demands before a statement is accepted as true. Many people think that this rationalism is sure to destroy the Bible. On the contrary, this is a blessing in disguise. Many demands placed by rational thinkers give us excellent standards with which to evaluate our statements objectively.
Enough information and evidence exists today to show, using the more sound principles of rational thinking, that the Bible is a unique book. But no amount of evidence can force a person, claiming to be a rationalist, against his will to believe. Even though the rational content of Christianity is fully logical, accurate, and reliable, Christian Apologetics is not meant for these people. Apologetics is meant for those sincere seekers who want to know how reliable the rational content of the Bible is.
PROCLAMATION IS NOT TO BE MINIMIZED: The saving message of the Bible will bring much fruit whenever it is proclaimed — even if there is much unbelief in the air. Therefore the purpose of apologetics is not to establish the divinity of the Bible first so that the gospel can follow. Unbelief will not change even if the most amazing proofs are presented. The purpose of apologetics is, therefore, to help that person who wants to abandon his unbelief that has been there due to his lingering but sincere and honest doubts.
APOLOGETICS DEMANDS WILLING RECEPTION: Apologetics is not treatment for deliberate unbelief. Rather, it is meant to serve as a cure for sincere doubts. It can work wonders when presented at the right time in the right manner for helping sincere inquirers.
There is no cure for unbelief except divine intervention. The best thing to do in such cases is to use the sword of the Spirit repetitively. It will discern and pierce the thoughts and intents of the heart. Apologetics, if needed, should be used only after such a breakthrough.
APOLOGETICS HELPS SEEKERS MOST: Apologetics has a definite value when one presents the gospel to unbelievers. Sincere and true seekers, whether from a Christian or non Christian background, definitely have many doubts that hinder them from taking the leap of faith necessary to trust in Christ. Apologetics helps by removing these barriers.
However, the purpose of apologetics is not to prove the divinity of the Bible first, so that the gospel could be presented on that basis. This would be only putting the cart before the horse. The gospel message works by its own power, and there is not need to convince the unbeliever of this power. At the same time, if he expresses his doubts, apologetics can be used to point to the uniqueness of the Scriptures. By doing so, the messages (the gospel and the defense) are placed in the proper sequence.
APOLOGETICS IS NOT SCIENTISM: Scientism is the belief that ultimately everything has to be explained with the help of science. This is a false belief.
Modern science has been developed only for studying matter an energy. Thus nothing beyond matter or energy can be studied with the help of modern physical science. Thus the apologist recognizes that his aim is not to explain everything with the help of science. Rather, he uses science where it is a scientific subject, history where it is a historical subject, logic where it is a logical subject, and so on. He also recognizes that in some places none of these subjects apply, but that the subject can be understood only with faith. In such places he emphasizes faith.
Practical Value Of Studying Apologetics
Christian Apologetics as a distinct discipline of study and communication is at least two thousand years old now. Practical observation in these two millennia coupled with what the scriptures say have led to the recognition of many practical values of studying apologetics.
CONSERVATION OF OWN FAITH: It is possible for a person to be a good believer in Christ but still remain ill-informed about problems in the real world. Many of these problems and movements attempt to question his faith, and therefore if he suddenly meets them one fine day, there is a high possibility of shock, surprise, and even withdrawal.
On the other hand, if a person has at least some idea about the challenges coming from all kinds of errant movements, then he will be better able to face them when such an occasion comes. Spiritual life is a warfare, and a person who has studied the enemy’s tactics and terrains is better prepared for war than one who is ignorant.
Withdrawal from physical strain makes our bodies weak, while exercise and hard work makes our bodies strong. The same way, successfully facing the attacks against the Bible helps one’s own faith to become stronger in the longer run.
BETTER ABILITY TO COMBAT: The way in which the Christian faith has been attacked has changed from generation to generation. Some arguments come back to force in every generation while some are affective only in a certain period of history. At the same time, answers to these questions have been becoming more exact, refined, and powerful. No person can now know the major lines of attack or the appropriate answers without studying apologetics.
A formal and systematic study of apologetics gives not only sufficient background, but also makes the person discerning as to which line of reasoning and answering is likely to have the greatest impact on the listeners.
ABILITY TO RECOGNIZE REFINED ENEMY TACTICS: Every generation of critics is bound to raise up some new objections. A person who lacks preparation or background might suddenly find himself at a loss of words, but a trained person might be able to hold the ground even if the attack comes in an completely unexpected manner.
Actually, all accusations fall into certain broad categories. a person who has a systematic introduction to apologetics will be able to see the question and immediately understand the category to which it belongs. He will therefore be able to hold his ground without a sudden loss of words.
AID IN WITNESSING: In turn all of the above activities aid one’s ability to witness powerfully for Christ. The resistance to the gospel from the rationalists has become very strong. (These days rationalists are found not only outside the Church but also within it). They exert considerable influence upon young minds.
Thus the young people come to the gospel with many doubts that block them from taking a leap of faith. However, a person having some background in apologetics can help this young person when he puts forward his sincere doubts.
Non-interest In Christian Apologetics
Among Christians there are some who do not take any interest and who do not give any encouragement to Christians interested in Apologetics. They do so not due to any fault of apologetics, but mainly due to their own misconceptions, and misunderstandings. Such people can be divided into six categories:
1-People who never had any doubts in these subjects.
2-People who never had to face questions and attacks from scornful people.
3-People who have indeed faced personal doubts and external attacks, but who have been running away from facing the challenge.
4-People who believe that the Bible does contain errors.
5-People who have lost sensitivity towards the pains and problems of others.
6-Pseudo Apologists who love prestige, but who have never mastered the subject.
THOSE WHO NEVER HAD DOUBTS: Of these five, people who have never faced any problems are fortunate, but they should not assume that others will have a similar experience. Nor should they assume that others are having doubts because they lack spiritual commitment. A healthy person should never feel proud against a sick one. The right Christian response would be sensitivity and sympathy.
THOSE WHO NEVER HAD TO FACE ATTACKS: People who never faced any attacks against their faith from friends, coworkers or the popular literature have no justification to assume that others are equally safe or insulated. In fact the majority of people among our young educated people face some sort or other of attack from their peers or contemporaries. Thus people need to be sensitive to their doubts, rather than ignoring their need for apologetics.
PEOPLE WHO FLEE (Escapists): People who have faced doubts and external attacks, but who are running away from it all are doing great harm to themselves and also to others. Doubts and fears never decrease by avoiding them. These have to be faced objectively and courageously. Those who run away never develop a balanced or whole spiritual life. The fear they are trying to hide will gradually eat up their mental peace.
PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE IN ERROR-PRONE BIBLE: Some people believe that the Bible contains errors. They prefer diluting the historical and scientific accuracy of the Bible. They want the best of both the worlds (which in itself might be a legitimate desire), and feel that the Bible should be diluted to achieve this goal (which is a wrong assessment). Consequently many of them become quite hostile when they spot anyone defending the Bible.
People who believe that the Bible contains errors become panicky when someone defends the Bible. Unfortunately, and unknown to many of us, there are plenty of these people within the Christian world. They get annoyed when someone starts talking of a literal creation, historicity of the Bible, or anything that seems to imply that the scriptures are beyond error. They are spiritual compromisers, and they will surely attack anyone who takes a non compromising attitude.
PEOPLE INSENSITIVE TO OTHERS: Some people become spiritually so insensitive to other believers that even the slightest mention by others of their spiritual problem or doubts provokes great anger, hostility and contempt from them. Since apologetics starts with the assumption that people can have problems and difficulties in believing the Bible, any mention of this subject acts as a great provocation to insensitive people.
People who have become insensitive towards the needs and pains of others are never able to appreciate the problems faced by others. Most of such people live in an artificial world of their own selfish creation, where they never have to be sensitive to the needs of others. Thus they become more and more hardened towards others who face real-world problems and dilemmas.
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