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The Apologetical Encounter

Written by | December, 2011
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Post Categories Christian Apologetics

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

In this series we have seen the importance of apologetics and learned about what makes up a worldview. We have seen that the Christian worldview is in complete conflict with all others on all points. Only Christianity can account for the existence of objective morality, the uniformity of nature, and the existence of the laws of logic.

Because God is the origin
of all knowledge, “we take captive
every thought to make it obedient to Christ”
(2 Corinthians 10:5). Those who do not do so must, by definition, have contradictions in their worldview. By defending Christianity on a worldview level we don’t need to be experts in biology, astronomy, archeology, geology, or chemistry. We can argue indirectly and ask which worldview makes those fields of study possible.

Arguing indirectly may seem evasive, but its value is in the ability to get to the heart of the matter quickly. Christ did this very same thing in Luke 18 when the rich young ruler asked, “Good teacher, what must I do to be saved?” We might expect Jesus to have answered, “Believe in me and you will be saved.” Instead, Jesus asked, “Why do you call me good?” Rather than argue on that man’s definition of good, Jesus answered his own question by saying, “No one is good–except God alone.”

Let us follow Jesus’s logical chain. If Jesus is good (as the rich young ruler believed) and no one is good except God, then Jesus must be God. Only God has the authority to tell that young man how to be saved. Rather than accept that man’s definition of good, Jesus establishes Himself as the authority and proceeds to answer based
on that.

The apostle Paul argued on a worldview level when he witnessed to the philosophers in Athens. We see him practice what he would later teach in Romans chapter 1. He did not try to establish some neutral ground and argue towards Christianity. Instead he appealed to God as the Creator (Romans 1:20; Acts 17:24), to God’s control over history (Romans 1:24; Acts 17:26), to man’s dependence upon God (Romans 1:18-20; Acts 17:28), and to the fact that God’s existence is evident to all (Romans 1:19; Acts 17:27-29). Only when Paul mentioned man’s need for repentance and the necessity of belief in the risen Christ did the philosophers interrupt and begin to mock him.

There is another Bible verse with good advice on how to defend the faith. In Proverbs 26:4 we are told, “Don’t answer a fool according to his foolishness, or you too will be like him.” If the Christian doesn’t sublimate every thought to Christ and allows the non-Christian to believe he has authority apart from the Lord, that Christian will end up like the unbeliever, a fool.

Instead, we are told that we should “Answer a fool according to his foolishness, or he will think he is wise” (v. 5).  In other words, we might say something like, “Okay, let’s say for a moment that God does not exist. How do you explain…?”  Basing all of reality, knowledge, and ethics on something other than the lordship of Christ will always lead to contradictions and errors in thinking, and it is our hope and prayer that we might be able, with the Spirit’s help, to expose their foolishness.

In order to justify unbelief, many will try to throw up intellectual smokescreens to distract the conversation from the true heart of the matter. While training in apologetics will help to diffuse that smoke, it is important to remember that someone’s rejection of God’s authority is not philosophical or scientific, it is ethical. The last thing Paul relayed to the Athenian philosophers was a call to repentance together with an assertion of Christ’s resurrection. How did they react? They threw up a smokescreen by mocking Paul about the resurrection. Because the resurrection was ridiculous according to their worldview, they figured they didn’t have to worry about repentance and God’s judging the world by the Man whom He has appointed (Acts 17:30-31). They rejected Paul’s message to cover up their sin and their accountability before God.

Because man’s problem is ethical in nature, we will have confidence only when our apologetic begins and ends with God’s Word. That Word alone is sharper than a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12), for it tells the non-Christian that he does not honor the Creator as he ought and that salvation does exist alone in Christ Jesus.

Apologetics is defending God’s Word by always being ready to give an answer for the hope that you have, with Christian meekness and godly fear (1 Peter 3:15). Some will indeed mock, yet some will believe (Acts 17:34). God expects only that all our answers be based on the authority of His Word.

 

(The apologetic method and organization for these articles is taken from the book Pushing the Antithesis: The Apologetic Methodology of Greg L. Bahnsen, American Vision, Powder Springs, Georgia, 2007.)