Christian Apologetics Free Course 03, Lesson 01
One difference between the Christian faith and many other world religions is the historical nature of Bible. Though all the other religious books offer many stories, these do not claim to be histories.
Even in those places where other religions claim to be presenting actual histories, the philosophy and theology of those religions do not depend upon the historical narrative. Thus even if those historical narratives are false, or even if they are eliminated, it makes no difference to the philosophical and theological claims of those religions. This is particularly true of all Oriental religions. But the same is not true of Bible or of the Christian faith.
The Christian faith is solidly and inseparably based upon history. If Adam, Eve, Eden, Flood, Moses, Prophets, Jesus, Pentecost, and the Apostles are eliminated from the Bible, then nothing substantial remains of Christian faith. Ultimately all the foundational, cardinal, and major Biblical doctrines depend upon the historicity of the events recorded in the Bible.
The historical nature of the Bible has been recognized by radicals and atheists much more than the Christians. They know that if this foundation can be destroyed, then the Christian faith would automatically crumble without additional effort. They have been shown to be right in the liberal churches. In these churches pastored by theological radicals, the members were told for decades that there is no historical basis for the Bible.
About five decades of such teaching, and all these churches reached the lowest level of spiritual decadence. There is today no spiritual perversion which is considered wrong by the laity or the clergy of the liberal churches. It is their offspring who ushered in the era of promiscuity and infidelity, illegitimate children, divorce, abortion, serial marriages, and all conceivable and inconceivable sexual orgies in the western nations.
Bible-believing Christians have recognized the perils befalling the Christian if the historical basis of this faith can be shown to be invalid. Consequently, for the last two centuries many thousands of brilliant scholars have devoted their entire lives to examine, clarify, and defend the historicity of the Biblical narratives. So much so that entire disciplines of study and research have come up in seminaries, colleges, and Universities around the world as a consequence of all this. Such is the importance of historical studies for the Christian faith, and Historical Apologetics is only a small part of these historical studies. We would look at the following subjects in this chapter:
1-Tools Of Legal Method/Apologetics
2-Tools Of Historical Apologetics
3-Application Of The Tools
4-Other Values Of Historical Investigations
Let us study each of them in greater detail:
Tools Of Legal Apologetics
Each branch of learning has its own tools of study, methods of evaluation, and approaches to deduction. Often the methods that work in one branch do not work in another, though all of them are based upon the common foundation of logic.
Thus the tools of physics are not that of medicine, and that of mathematics are not that of history. Only in interdisciplinary studies do some of the tools overlap, and even here things are not often easy. That is the reason why very few people opt for research/teaching in interdisciplinary fields. Even many areas of Christian Apologetics are interdisciplinary in nature, and it is here that very few people work. Most of those who are interested in Apologetics prefer single disciplines like Pure Philosophical Apologetics (say, Philosophy Of Religions) or Pure Rational Apologetics (say, Bible And Science).
Legal Apologetics is a combination of Legal and Historical Reconstruction. Since it involves the Legal and Historical processes, it is necessary to understand the tools used for both of these methods. The tools of Legal Method are as follows:
1-The Legal Reconstruction Method: Legal Apologetics deals with the legal investigation of whether a certain thing has taken place or not. Thus in court cases a large chunk of time is spent in deciding whether a certain event has taken place or not.
Information is collected from the available witnesses. They are then cross-examined to determine both their personal integrity and also to determine the integrity of their descriptions. Once all the available witnesses are cross-examined, and once all unacceptable and unestablished information is ruled out, the rest of the information is compiled into a coherent story. This story is then accepted as a reliable reconstruction of the things that transpired in relation to the events under investigation. This is the way in which Courts of Law reconstructs alleged events, and then punishes or acquits the accused.
Since the events of the Bible are historical in nature, the method of legal and historical reconstructions apply to the historical events recorded in the Bible. Further, since the historical narratives have become the favorite target of attack for radicals and rationalists alike, the legal/historical reconstruction becomes an important tool in the hands of the Christian Apologist.
2-Sufficient And Total Proof In The Legal Method: Most people who talk of “proof” have only the so-called “scientific proof” in their mind. However, the field of investigating truth is much broader than that of physical sciences, and therefore the methods of obtaining and assessing proof is also much broader. What is ample proof in one discipline might be totally worthless in another field, and thus it is essential to look at a few types of proofs.
In mathematics and geometry, proof consists of showing that a certain set of conditions are true of certain objects, irrespective of the type of object selected. For example, if a certain property is demonstrated to be true for a number “n” (where n can have any value whatsoever), then it is accepted as proof that this property is true for any number whatsoever. Similarly, if a certain property is shown to be true for a triangle chosen arbitrarily, then this property is assumed to be applicable for all triangles in the Universe. The same is the case with all proofs of geometry.
In scientific proof the event under consideration is repeated under various conditions and in various laboratories. If the event repeats itself under the same set of circumstances, it is assumed to be true.
In legal/historical proof it is necessary to demonstrate that an event has probably taken place beyond all doubt. It is also necessary to demonstrate that taking place of this event is the best explanation of the data available.
In all three cases above, something is accepted as true or proven if the proof available is sufficient. “Total” proof of an event means that one examines each and every conceivable possibility and establishes each one of them to be true. This is humanly never possible. Thus in a court of law, once the general truthfulness of a witness is established, his individual statements are accepted to be true. Similarly, in the case of the Bible, it is humanly not possible to verify each of the tens of thousands of historical statements. Thus, what the legal expert or the historical looks for is the general trustworthiness on those points that can be checked. If those are found to be true, it is considered sufficient for accepting the rest are to be true.
For example, it is not possible to verify whether Abraham uttered each one of the statements attributed to him. However, if the historical existence of Abraham, the cities mentioned in connection with Abraham, and the information in general are found to be true, this is considered sufficient proof that the narratives related to Abraham are true. This is the standard procedure for proof followed in all legal and historical practices.
On the above count, the existence of Abraham, Moses, the kings of Israel and Judah, the prophets, the proclamations of the Gospel narratives, etc. are found to be sufficiently proved and demonstrated.