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Different Apologetic Approaches

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by christianyouth, Nov 4, 2007.

  1. christianyouth

    christianyouth New Member

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    It seems more and more I run into people who are skeptical of Christianity. They don't believe the Bible is God's Word, so what I say to them doesn't matter. This is very frustrating.If I appeal to fulfilled prophecy, historical evidence for Jesus' resurrection, or any other evidence for Chrsitianity, it usually turns into a debate.

    In the past I've watched apologetics series by RC Sproul and read books that say I should present evidence for the existence of God and then go into establishing the reliability of Scripture, and then go forward to preach the Gospel.

    So I'm confused, how should Christians go about apologetics? Is apologetics even necessary?
     
  2. TCGreek

    TCGreek New Member

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    1. The term apologetics is from the Greek word apologia, "the giving of a defense." It is used in Phil 1:16, where Paul says, "I am appointed for the defense of the gospel." Peter uses the same term in 1 Peter 3:15, "But sanctify Christ... always being ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you..."

    2. Apologetics is giving a defense of the Christian faith, and we see Paul doing that on Mars Hill (Acts 17). In fact, many conservative scholars consider the Acts-narrative as an apologetic document.

    3. There are two approaches to apologetics: 1. Evidential and 2. Presuppositional. Someone who combines both of these well is Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias @ www.rzim.org. Cornelius Van Til is considered, however, the father of presuppositional apologetics. You can look into his works @ www.wtsbooks.com

    4. Most Christian apologists of the Reformed bent favor presuppositional apologetics.
     
    #2 TCGreek, Nov 4, 2007
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  3. npetreley

    npetreley New Member

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    C. S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity", an apologetics book, really made a huge impression on me. I don't even agree with Lewis on many points now, but I still love the book. Anyway, based on the kind of impact it had on me, I'd say God uses apologetics. Necessary? Who knows, but if God uses apologetics, then that's a good thing.
     
  4. Helen

    Helen <img src =/Helen2.gif>

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    Christian Youth, when the Holy Spirit sent Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch, the only directions Philip got were to 'walk alongside.'

    Those are our directions, too. There is no ONE way to present the Gospel. Why? Because each person has their own way they have come, their own background, their own understanding -- so far -- of life, and their own questions.

    So we must walk alongside and be a friend. Listen to them. And then know your Bible well enough and have a close relationship with the Lord so that you can answer the questions they will ask when they see your life is different.

    Even then, keep the answers relatively short and to the point. Great long testimonies or apologetics are sometimes courteously received but rarely welcomed. Be there for them. Show them the difference Christ makes in a life and then be ready to answer questions. The questions may seem quite trivial at first. But the person will be checking to see if you are honest and straight.

    God bless.
     
  5. skypair

    skypair New Member

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    christianyouth -- I thought about this awhile and you know what? It might be best to ask them what would convince them that the Bible was God's Word. That way when you are done disclosing the truth (You probably have by now apologetics for each issue), they won't have any excuses. And if they still don't believe, you can tell them that they don't want to believe and that is part of the sin nature of man --- from which you go on to describe that and the gospel. :thumbs:

    One of the ususal ones is "contradictions," right? Ask 'em where. They won't know. Then you slide on into the 'will' explanation of the sin nature (they'd rather dismiss the Bible than to come face-to-face with God there) and there you go!

    skypair
     
    #5 skypair, Nov 4, 2007
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  6. christianyouth

    christianyouth New Member

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    God grants faith and repentance to His elect when they hear the Gospel proclaimed. Assuming this, why would apologetics be necessary?

    Let's take evidential apologetics. Goal : Establish evidences for Biblical Innerancy.

    What does this do? It takes it upon ourselves to convince someone that the Bible is the Word of God. But that begs the question, do we believe the Bible because of factual evidence or because the Holy Spirit told us it was God's Word?(witness of the Spirit)

    Establish factual evidence for Jesus' ressurection.

    If our faith originates from God, why bother? So when a child is saved at age 10, is it because he gathered up enough factual evidence?

    btw, thanks for the links TC, and the advice, all. I asked this question in sincerity, and have thought over it a lot, and I feel confident that apologetics, as defined today, is not necessary.
     
  7. skypair

    skypair New Member

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    "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible; by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever." 1Pet 1:23

    If the Word of God is not established as the authority, then you may have done a nice "sales job" but not given them anything. Your word on the Word is "corruptible," is it not?

    Now, of course, the Holy Spirit will establish the authority of the Word by faith IF one has received the right gospel. The gospel that "you are elect" would not be "incorruptible seed" nor would it enlighten anyone.

    IOW, it does have to be fixed in the unbeliever's mind that this is God's truth about God's plan for them and not just your truth about your plan for them, right?

    skypair
     
  8. Martin

    Martin Active Member

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    ==I think it depends upon the Christian and the situation he/she finds themselves in. There is no "one set pattern".

    Two great resources you might wish to check out:

    "Five Views on Apologetics" Edited by Gundry/Cowan

    This book lays out five different approaches to apologetics (Classical, Evidential, Cumulative, Presuppositional, Reformed). Each position is explained/defended by a scholar who prefers it and then their explanation/defense is analized by the other scholars. This is a great tool to have in your library.


    "The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus" By Habermas/Licona

    In this book, Habermas and Licona explain and use the minimal facts approach to apologetics ("just the facts, ma'am). They define this approach as follows:

    "This approach considers only those data that are so strongly attested historically that they are granted by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, even the rather skeptical ones." -pg44

    As a person who focuses on history when doing apologetics, I find this approach to be very helpful. Of course I can see where this approach would work in science as well.

    Habermas also writes the chapter on the evidential method of apologetics in the five views book. In that chapter he shows how the evidential method works and how it benefits from the minimal facts approach. He defends his position as follows:

    "Positive apologetics is all about having reasons, and the chief thrust of the minimal facts approach is to argue whenever possible on more limited grounds, both to challenge a larger range of thinkers and to show that our basis is exceptionally firm" -100 (Five Views).

    So, what is the best apologetical method for you to use? I think you have to examine all of the various approaches, used by Christians, and see which one you are most comfortable with. Not one of them is right and not one of them is wrong. All of them are good approaches, but not all of them work for all Christians.
     
  9. Martin

    Martin Active Member

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    ==Three reasons:

    1. It is commanded in Scripture (1Peter 3:15).

    2. Most lost people today, unlike in the past, no longer accept the Bible as accurate, thsu they reject its authority on most all subjects. Therefore you can quote Scripture at them all day and all night and get no place.

    3. Apologetics strengthens the faith of believers.
     
  10. christianyouth

    christianyouth New Member

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    My point skypair, is that no amount of human reasoning can estalish the Bible as God's Word. The Holy Spirit is what convinces us the Bible is the Word of God. Therefore, apologetics to try to establish the Bible as the Word of God is pointless.
    Martin, you said that we need to do apologetics because many people don't believe the Bible is God's Word. But can our apologetics convince them that the Bible is God's Word?
     
  11. dan e.

    dan e. New Member

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    Check out a recent book titled "UnChristian". I think it gives an interesting perspective on the skepticism towards Christianity. Much of it, according to the research, has nothing to do with evidences of any kind about the Bible, but more to do with the way the church relates to each community. The research is very interesting, and I think speaks to your question in the OP.
     
  12. skypair

    skypair New Member

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    And my point would be that on some level we must convince them that it is God speaking and not us, right? Else they won't believe God. But I think you know this intuitively and so I'll let you go. :saint:

    skypair
     
  13. christianyouth

    christianyouth New Member

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    We don't have to connive, convince, coerce, nothing. We tell people the good news, that there is forgiveness of sin to all who repent and believe.
     
  14. swaimj

    swaimj <img src=/swaimj.gif>

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    When the four men circumvented the crowd and let down their friend through a broken roof in front of Jesus they were seeking healing for their friend. Before Jesus healed the man however, he used the opportunity to demonstrate his authority before the unbelieving religious leaders. He said to the lame man "Your sins are forgiven you". The forgiveness of sins is not a fact that can be proven scientifically, historically, or philosophically. Rather, it is understood and received by faith alone. Having asserted an unprovable concept which the religious leaders did not believe, Jesus linked the unprovable to what WAS provable and what COULD NOT be refuted. He said to the man "take up your bed and walk". The man did so. Thus Jesus used the verifiable to demonstrate the unverifiable. So, for us, using verifiable proofs such as arguments for science and history to demonstrate things that can be received by faith alone is good and proper.
     
  15. russell55

    russell55 New Member

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    Because the Holy Spirit doesn't work in a vacuum. He uses means and one of his means to working faith and repentance may be establishing the reasonability of faith through apologetics.

    As a side note: Apologetics is also important for those who already believe, to establish the reasonability of their faith.

    This is a false dilemma. The Holy Spirit confirms that the Bible is God's word, but one of the ways he does it is by using factual evidence to show that it is reasonable to believe that the books of the NT are apostolic work.

    The resurrection is a historical event, a historical fact. One of the means the Holy Spirit uses to convince people of it's historicity is the historical evidence for it. The apostles themselves used arguments from the historical evidence to show the truth of the resurrection. Why shouldn't we?

    Because God uses the message and the knowledge of the evidence to work faith. No one comes by way of the factual evidence alone, and many come by way of no factual evididence at all, but our faith is not unreasonable, therefore, we should expect that being convinced of the reasonability of the faith is a factor in many coming to faith.
     
  16. Martin

    Martin Active Member

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    ==Apologetics, in this case historical apologetics, cannot prove that the Bible is God's Word. That is a matter of faith. However what apologetics can do is show an unbeliever that the Bible is historically trustworthy. That is a great starting point and it is a starting point that God has used in many lives to bring people to the belief that the Bible is the Word of God. That the Bible is historically trustworthy helps Christians in their faith as well. After all, if the Bible is the Word of God we would expect it to be historically accurate. So apologetics is needed. Mainly in a world where certain "scholars" go on tv/radio/internet and claim that the Bible is not trustworthy. Their claims must be answered.

    See 1Peter 3:15
     
  17. christianyouth

    christianyouth New Member

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    Martin, it seems you have a very desupernaturalized view of conversion here. You are saying that it is necessary to convince people that the Bible is historically reliable. Does that aid the Holy Spirit in regenerating?

    "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word."
    "It Pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."
    "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of GOd unto salvation, to the jew first, and also to the Greek."

    You see, God uses the Gospel as the means for saving His elect. Therefor apologetics is just a distraction.
     
  18. Martin

    Martin Active Member

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    ==I am not talking about conversion. Coversion is an act of God. I am talking about proving to the world that the Bible is trustworthy. You cannot do that by just quoting it, you must show them that what it says and what history says is the same thing (because it is). Paul used the same type of technique in his ministry. He started with what the people knew and moved forward from there (Acts 17:22-31). In other words, he proved to them that his message was trustworthy. Now his audience and our audience are very different in the issues they will bring up. However one thing that has not changed is the need for apologetics (1Peter 3:15). If a person, a lost person, does not believe the Bible is historically/scientifically trustworthy they are not going to believe anything it says. If they can be shown that it is trustworthy they are in a better position to move forward in accepting its truths. Does that guarantee conversion? No. However God does use apologetics to bring people to a knowledge of the truth. Don't forget, God ordains the means and the ends.

    ==God ordains the means and the ends. God uses people. He uses evangelists, preachers, family members, friends, co-workers, and yes apologists. It is the same thing. None of these guarantee conversion, but God does use them to bring about conversion. If this were not so Peter would not have commanded us to be ready with an answer.

    ==That, is unBiblical.
     
  19. Humblesmith

    Humblesmith New Member

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    Martin, Russell, and Swaimj have made excellent points. the HS convicts and God does the miracle of conversion and regeneration, but that does not eliminate the need for us to give answers.

    As Martin pointed out, apologetics is commanded in scripture, and is therefore not an option for us today. Further, IT WORKS, as demonstrated in Acts 17, where Paul used sound reason and cultural apologetics to lead into the gospel. At the end of the chapter, there were salvations.

    Plus, no one ever comes to Christ because they think it is irrational, unreasonable, or absurd. Everyone who is saved, in some sense, thinks it is a reasonable, logical thing to do.

    I can't remember who said it, but someone once commented: How could God, who gave us the very capacity that sets us apart from the animals, fault us for using that capacity?

    If you want the list of verses that command us to use apologetics, start with Martin's post on the first page. There are others, of course.
     
    #19 Humblesmith, Nov 9, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 9, 2007
  20. christianyouth

    christianyouth New Member

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    Still thinking through this issue. Until I reach a verdict I don't think I should post, in case I say things that are wrong and unbiblical. Thanks for the advice always and all who participated in this thead. :)

    Unfortunately, I havn't been able to find anyone who is against apologetics as done today, so just by that reason alone I'm gonna lean toward what you guys have said. Tomorrow I have no plans so I should be able to do some reading/writing on this issue, and hopefully come back tomorrow night and contribute to this good discussion.
     
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