Christian Apologetics Free Course 01, Lesson 07
Introduction To Integrated Apologetics, Lesson 07
The Christian world has many pseudo-apologists. Usually these people have some qualification in the sciences or humanities, but very little training in apologetics. When faced with troubling questions, they use their own human knowledge to build up a private system of apologetics. Not having a background in theology or apologetics, and not having come in contact with Christian apologists, their private system of apologetics might be quite deficient or even outright faulty. Yet due to non-contact with real bible-based apologetics, they continue to live happily with their own brand of apologetics in their world of ignorance.
Many of them recognize this deficiency as soon as they hear the presentation of a trained apologist. Thus they feel quite threatened when they listen to apologists. Instead of broadening their grasp of the subject by mutual interaction, they take recourse to attacking other apologists.
Of the six categories of people mentioned above, none has a valid biblical objection against the discipline of Christian Apologetics. Their objections and oppositions stem from their personal prejudices and ignorances. Consequently, the apologist should never worry about the opposition they put up. Rather, he should always expect some antagonism from them and try to use these to examine and refine further his presentation of the subject.
People who believe that the Bible contains errors, who are insensitive to others, and who would not like anything except their own private system of apologetics find their world collapsing when they see Christian Apologists in action. This is not a problem of theological origin. Rather, it is a personal problem that has no easy solution. Further, these people are not truth-seekers or sincere inquirers. Their aim is to impose their erroneous views upon others, and therefore their conversation is not marked for humility or the spirit of free, objective inquiry. Rather, their aim is to impose their erroneous views upon others. Thus it is a waste of time arguing or discussing with them.
The first three category of people above might readily listen to a good apologist if he is willing to explain the whole situation to them — that a lot of genuine seekers are indeed struggling due to these questions, and also that they should not run away from their own doubts. However, the last two categories (the compromisers and the spiritually insensitive people) may not listen all that easily. One should be quite discerning when talking with them lest one end up wasting time and losing patience.
The Lord Jesus Himself provides a good example that proof seekers are not to be shunned. When doubting Thomas demanded proof of resurrection, the Lord did not refuse his request. Rather, at the appropriate occasion he Himself personally, and with all compassion, invited Thomas to attempt his empirical verification.
The Lord did say that "blessed are they that have not seen, and yet believe", but surely this was not a rebuke for doubt but only a comparison of insights that different people had about Lord Jesus. This becomes very clear in the light of what the Lord Jesus did to other disciples even without their asking.
Most Bible readers overlook the fact that the Lord Himself was the first to offer empirical evidence to ALL the disciples, even without the disciples asking for it. The gospel says, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself : handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have" (Luke 24:39).
Doubt about spirituals is common even among dedicated Christians. If such people are sincere, one should surely help them by emulating what the Lord did with Thomas and the rest of the disciples.
Opposition to Apologetics
There are some Christians who are opposed to the very idea of apologetics. They do this because of a number of reasons, some of which are as follows:
DISTRUST OF REASON: Some people oppose apologetics because they are completely distrustful of human reason in spiritual realm. According to them, faith and reason are to be placed in totally separate compartments, having no role to play in each other’s realm. For them, reason is for the natural world while faith is something for the spiritual world. However, such a view that compartmentalizes truth lacks coherence. The Christian approach to truth is an integrated one where one has to accept that faith and reason do mix with each other in many realms of spiritual truth.
FEAR: Some people oppose apologetics because they find them selves ill equipped to face the attacks. So instead of facing the problems, and instead of making a defense for the faith that is in them, they prefer to run away from it all. Since apologetics is a very difficult subject to study and master, running away from the reality is easier for them than facing it. However, cowardice is NOT the way of Christian thought or practice.
Faith is the starting-point of Christianity, and once faith is established Christianity can be shown to be consistent with truth and reason. There are may who will be strengthened in their faith if this consistency is shown to them, and it is the task of the apologist to help every genuine inquirer.
WILLFUL BLIND OPPOSITION: Many people oppose Christian Apologetics due to their ignorance. Such people can be engaged in mutual conversation and a reasonable explanation will convince them that their opposition is ill founded. However, some people oppose Christian Apologetics and Biblical Creationism willfully and due to their stubbornness. It is usually futile to waste time upon them.
All serious apologists should expect some hostility. They should not waste their time either in worrying about the attack or in trying to counter the hostile parties. They should realize that a person willfully opposing apologetics is not a sincere inquirer. Further, there is no medicine to cure willful opposition.
In summary, every apologist should expect intense hostility from some people, but they should steer clear of them for the sake of their own effectiveness.
Public Debates With Hostile People
The purpose of Christian Apologetics is not winning debates, but establishing the truth. Our generation is known for lack of time for listening to prolonged debates, abounding with superficial people, and high on loaded words. In such milieu debating is NOT a good strategy for discussing spiritual truth. Thus the apologist should avoid debating in public, except in front of a mature crowd made up of a small number of seekers dominated by a true spirit of inquiry. Further, the other side of the debate should be presented by one or more persons who are not given to loaded words or to ridicule. People who are given to scorn can manipulate the audience in such ways that they can turn the public against the apologist even though they have nothing of substance against him.
Also, even when the apologist delivers straight lectures in a non debating fashion, some of these people (from the audience) will try their best to engage him in face-to face (speaker-to-audience) debates. Usually this will be a trap meant to discredit the apologist by subtle mockery. Apologists should develop practical strategies to foil their deceptive plans.
An apologist should never forget that a willful debater can very easily disturb his public presentation by resorting to mockery, sarcasm and other disturbing or distracting tactics. They should never be allowed to take control. The apologist should keep presenting his subject without allowing anyone with the spirit of mockery to dominate. Anything and everything they say destroys the serious mood of the audience, and once that is done the impact of even the best apologetic presentation can reduce to nothing.
Apologetics Through Compromise
Though the very essence of Christian Apologetics is non-compromise, some people do not seem to understand this. When this type of people see a conflict between two systems of thought, their response is that everyone should somehow to find a middle position. Unfortunately, this kind of a compromise is a slow poison that does more harm to truth than the fiercest attack directed against the Christian faith.
Two apparently conflicting reports can be reconciled with each other if they represent two different aspects of one and the same truth. For example, when the four blind men give four different reports about the elephant, their conflicting reports can be reconciled into a single picture. Or, when different people report different colours for the same chameleon, these accounts can be unified into one. This is made possible in every such case because the conflicting reports present DIFFERENT aspects related to one and the same entity. On the other hand, if conflicting reports come due to fundamental differences in the basic system itself, they cannot be reconciled.
For example, the demands of evolution and creation cannot be reconciled with each other because they represent two fundamentally different, mutually hostile, and mutually exclusive systems. They do not represent various aspects of the same truth, but rather two mutually opposing systems. They differ and diverge from each other right from the presuppositional level so that any attempt at reconciling them is a vain exercise. What’s needed in such cases is to scrape the inferior set of presuppositions, so that the remaining better set of presuppositions provides the more authentic picture of reality.
Further, whenever two opposing systems are synthesized into one, it is the truth that always suffers. When fresh food is mixed with decaying one, it is always the fresh one that suffers not the other way round. This is because all compromise hurts and eclipses the truth. The best example is the attempted reconciliation between evolution and creation.
To unify the radically differing principles of evolution and creation some compromise has to be made. Since evolution-believers would not give an inch of their territory, all burden for compromise falls on the side of creation. Consequently we find that all synthesis of evolution-creation begins with the direct or indirect denial of the Genesis creation account.
The synthesis between evolution and creation is usually designated by the name "Theistic Evolution". There are many shades of theistic evolution, but all of them agree that God used evolution as the method of creating the universe. When such a thesis is advocated, a question arises about the Genesis account of creation: If God created all, including man, using evolution then what about the story of Adam, Eve, the garden of Eden, the tree of knowledge and the serpent. All theistic evolutionists assure their readers that all this is only "poetic language" and that these are not to be taken literally. Thus by a stroke of pen the theistic evolutionist abandons the reliability of the Genesis account. With that goes the foundation on which the entire Christian doctrine stands.
Whenever two contradictory systems of thought are reconciled with each other, the truth always suffers. Opposites can be synthesized only at the cost of truth, and that is an alarming possibility for any apologist.
In this course we take an unashamed stand in favour of truth, total truth, and truth alone. There will be no attempt to mingle error with truth. Tens of thousands of Protestant Reformers sacrifice their lives to defend the truth expressed in the following statements:
Sola Scriptura (Bible Alone)
Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone Be Glory)
We unashamedly stand with the Fathers of the Reformation. The above statements form the presuppositions upon which this book rests. Since presuppositions play a very important part in apologetics, polemics, hermeneutics, and theology, we would devote another document to a discussion of presuppositions of various groups of Christians as well as non Christians.
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