Five Things Christian Apologetics Must Have
I was raised in a Christian home, always active in an evangelical church, and was even on a first name basis with my youth pastor. However, I was not “apologetically” prepared for my first year in college. It started after freshman orientation when my advisor met with us and said, “Look, you’re getting a liberal arts degree so you have to take one class in religion and philosophy. Get it over with now. Don’t wait until the end.”
So, by the end of my freshman year, after taking Bible and Philosophy, I still considered myself a Christian, but I was fairly convinced as a result of taking those classes that the Bible contained historical errors and that no argument could prove the existence of God. Those were only the things I could verbalize. I had also internalized that some truth, especially religious truth, must be subjective and relative.
However, I still had this gnawing inclination in the back of my mind. Remember the youth pastor, who I knew by name? I thought, he was smart, went to seminary, knew Greek and Hebrew and even some philosophy, and he did not believe the things I learned in class. Why did I believe them? . . . because my college professor did? All I knew at that point is I had to look into matters more deeply.
Apologetics to the Rescue
Up to this point, all I was exposed to is what I now call evidential or historical apologetics. In other words, I knew the biblical and historical points regarding Jesus’ resurrection. However, that did not help with the philosophy or even supposed errors in the Bible.
Then I finally bought a book titled When Skeptics Ask. It changed me. It was the apologetic baptism I was hoping and looking for. What made that exposure better than any other? In short, it defined what apologetics is and is not, covered truth, arguments for God’s existence, different views of God (worldviews), and organized questions and points to show a systematic defense of the Christian faith.
I was hooked and still am. However, I have discovered that not all approaches to apologetics are created equal. I now use five principles to evaluate apologetics systems, people, books, curriculums, and other materials. If it does not measure up, it does not necessarily mean it is all bad, but it is not complete. Apologetics needs to include these five things:
Only upon these can we rest the claim that Christianity is true and everything opposed to it is false. Yes, there are difficult passages in the Bible, but the plain things are the main things. And yes, truth exists outside the Bible, but nothing can be true that contradicts the Bible since Jesus, the Son of God, taught it is the Word of God (John 17:17).
Never did I imagine apologetic resources would be so widely known and accessible as it is today. The internet has certainly made that possible. Yet it can be a blessing and a curse. I encourage you to evaluate apologetic programs, ministries, and materials so that they do not miss these five things. Your faith and the faith of those you disciple may well be compromised.
If you are interested in hearing more about how to evaluate apologetic systems and Christian education programs, we would like to invite you to our Spring Open House, on March 18th. On Campus and Live-Streaming options are available.
Dr. Potter is the author of Developing a Christian Apologetics Educational Program (Wipf & Stock, 2010) and co-author (with Dr. Norman Geisler) the Teacher’s Guide for Twelve points that Show Christianity is True (Bastion Books, 2015). He has written and published articles in the Christian Apologetics Journal, The Homeschool Digest, as well as the Christian Research Journal. Dr. Potter also serves as the Registrar and Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program.
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