5 Reasons why Christians should learn apologetics

Several months ago, when my Sunday school class learned that we were going to study apologetics, there was an audible groan in the room. Most people were less than enthusiastic.

I just don’t understand it. Maybe I am a nerd, but I am excited about apologetics!

Can apologetics be boring? Sure. But so can anything else. Literature, politics, science, current events, even music or movies can be boring. Heck, this blog post is probably boring!

Often, it isn’t the subject that’s boring, it’s the delivery.

I’m not a big fan of history. However, I have watched some fascinating documentaries. And, lo and behold, I learn something! Also, historical movies that are true stories are some of my favorites. 

So, when it comes to apologetics, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater!


Why do you believe in God? Why are you a Christian? How would you answer these questions if you were asked? Most of us would be stumped.

What if someone called you closed minded for believing that Christianity was true and all other religions were false? The exclusivity of Christianity is its greatest criticism today. How would you defend a faith that claims there is only one truth?

The majority of us would have difficulty addressing these subjects.

As followers of Christ, most of us tend to have an experiential and emotional relationship with God. We feel Him. He is in us.

However, feelings tend to be hard to articulate, and, they are less than convincing to an outsider. Answering skeptics questions based on feelings or an experience might not always be effective.


There are 5 reasons why Christians should study apologetics

1.  We are told to do so in scripture

But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.  1 Peter 3:15

2. To defend Christianity & spread the Gospel

It is crucial for us to respond to attacks on our faith. We must be able to answer the skeptic’s questions. We must have a defense.

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.   2 Corinthians 10:5

The Great Commission commands us to go out and make disciples. But, what kind of witnesses will we be if we look like bumbling idiots when we are challenged?! Who would want to join a religion full of dummies?

We must explore fundamental questions.

  • What evidence is there that God exists?
  • What evidence is there that God created the universe?
  • How do you explain evolution or the big bang?
  • How can one address the problem of suffering?

Emotional and relational people may be won over by loving relationships with people they trust. However, most likely, intellectuals will need to hear arguments for the existence of God, Creation or the resurrection of Christ.

Arguments such as . . . . 

  • The Cosmological Argument
  • The Fine Tuning Argument
  • The Moral Argument
  • The Contingency Argument

And we must always remember to present arguments with gentleness and respect.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.   Colossians 4:5-6

3. To have a strong foundation

Between 50 & 75% of young people raised in a Christian family leave the church after they leave their home. There is an abundance of research on this topic. The numbers may vary slightly from one study to the next. But they all come to the same conclusion. We are losing our kids.

The daunting reality is that a majority of youth group graduates lose their faith when they leave home. Why? Our kids aren’t developing a personal faith in Jesus Christ. They don’t leave home with a firm foundation.

Many of them don’t know why they believe in God or Jesus Christ.

We all need to know why we believe what we believe. That is our foundation. And, kids need to know why they believe, apart from their parents.

(there may be a book coming . . . . )

4. To love God with our minds

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind  Luke 10:27

Are you using your whole heart, soul, strength and mind to love God? I ask myself this question frequently. I know that I often fall short.

Loving God with all our minds means keeping our mind sharp. It means discovering all that God has for us. It means meditating on scripture, not just reading it. It means spending time pondering the things of God.

He gave us minds so we could love Him through our intellect. After all, all knowledge comes from God.

Here are some stimulating topics that may peak your curiousity.

  • What does the Second Law of Thermodynamics have to do with the existence of God?
  • How do Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the expansion of the universe, and the red shift point to a Creator?
  • Why does the existence of God explain intentional states of consiousness in the world?
  • What are some of the fundamental constants and quantities of the universe that seem to have been carefully dialed by a Creator to an astonishingly precise value that falls within an exceedingly narrow, life permitting range? (reasonablefaith.org)

Discovery is a gift that can enrich our faith, and cause us to fall more deeply in love with Elohim, the Creator God.

5. To see more of God’s character; to know Him more

While on the treadmill in the morning, I listen to William Lane Craig’s Sunday school class called Defenders. In the first class, he said that they would be exploring the attributes of God. I thought to myself, that sounds kind of elementary!

I know that God is good, gentle, merciful, compassionate, just, powerful, full of grace, and loving. He is the Mighty God, Prince of Peace, and Wonderful Counselor. I am aware of His omniscience, omnipotence, and that He is omnipresent.

However, I had never thought about His eternity, His aseity (self existence), His foreknowledge or middle knowledge (hypothetical knowledge), fore ordination, and immutability (changelessness), to name a few. The philosophical study of God is fascinating!

Have you heard of the Euthyphro dilemma? I hadn’t until recently. It basically asks the question, ‘Is something good because God wills it? Or, does God will something because it is good?’ Crazy stuff!

There is so much to learn about our God. We could spend a lifetime and only scratch the surface of the complex and multifaceted nature of God.


So, I challenge you as I challenge myself to think about and write down answers to the following questions.

Why do you believe in God?
Why are you a Christian?
Why is your faith important in your life?
What exactly do you believe?
What evidence is there for the existence of God?
What evidence is there for the resurrection of Christ?


The following are great resources for the study of apologetics:

I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist, Frank Turek & Norman Geisler
Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, William Lane Craig

 

4 Things that I never would have thought of if I made up God

Atheists who argue that God doesn’t exist assume that a human being could have made up the God of the Bible.

I disagree.

I have heard many arguments for the existence of God. However, I have never heard the argument I would make. My argument is that we NEVER could have made up the brilliant complexity that is our God . . . . NEVER!

How do I know God exists? Because He is infinitely more complex and brilliant than I or anyone could have imagined. Our finite, human minds could not have even close to dreamed up a God like ours.


If I made up God, there are 4 things that I would never have thought of.

1. I would not have made up a God whose glory is directly tied to our satisfaction

A god who is indifferent to the satisfaction of his creation seems more likely than a God who goes above and beyond for us. Why shouldn’t God require us to obey him in order to receive love and blessings? After all, humans are cause and effect beings. It makes more sense to us.

However, our God requires very little and gives abundantly. He is good, and He desires good for us. Because God is good, we can be satisfied in Him.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”   Jeremiah 29:11

Our God is good, wholly and completely, and He wants good things for us. He wants us to be filled . . . to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:29).

How wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ   Ephesians 3:19

I could never have made up a God in which . . . .

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Psalm 23:5

My cup overflows?! Nope, I would never have made up a God like that! We have a God that goes above and way beyond for us. Why is it necessary for Him to do this? It isn’t.

While everything that He does is for His own glory, according to John Piper in his book, Desiring God,

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

We want God to be glorified and He wants us to be satisfied. It’s mutually beneficial. The way He designed everything is perfect. He goes on to say,

“We get the mercy; He gets the glory. We get the happiness in Him; He gets the honor from us.”

He is so good! And when we live to glorify Him, our lives are transformed. No one would have ever made up a God that was so good.

The more I walk with God, the more I realize that everything he says and does works. Everything that He commands us to do brings Him glory, and in turn brings us the most good.

2. I could not have made up the story of Jesus

Earning our way to heaven seems logical. You get what you work for. The Big Man Upstairs doesn’t need to concern Himself with the tiny inhabitants of this insignificant planet.

We know that grace is freely given through Christ. However, earning our way to heaven seems much more logical.

Christianity is the only religion where God is really God. Because it’s the only one where God saves the people instead of the people saving themselves
~ Why So Many Gods, Tim Baker & Kate Etue

Even if I included a savior in the story of my made up God, it wouldn’t have been one like Jesus.

Jesus Walks On WaterI would not have made up a savior who was a servant of all. Before Christ, the idea of a servant king would have been absurd. Jesus was not who the Jews were expecting.

The Gospel writers never would have made up a savior that washed the feet of his disciples; or, a savior that during most of his ministry didn’t have any possessions or a place to call home; or, a savior that was born to an unwed mother in the midst of barn animals!

Who would make up a savior like that?! Especially if you want people to worship Him!

Even if I had made up a God who sent a savior that was a servant king, I could never have thought up the crucifixion story. No one could have. It’s unimaginable.

Jesus needed to die to save the world. Blood needed to be shed, the blood of a lamb. The horror and miraculous power of the events of Jesus death and resurrection is incomprehensible. No human being could have ever made it up.

The story of Jesus is perfect; it is divine. A finite mind would never have come up with a story of redemption so perfect as the story of Jesus.

3. I could not have made up the concept of Church

Who would ever make up the idea of a group of followers that make up a ‘body’ with the savior as the head? Uh . . . not me! It’s kind of a crazy concept!

As the church, we are part of Him, and part of each other as He is part of us. There is a divine connectedness between us all and our God.

 

 

4. I would not have made up a God who uses suffering to annoint us

I definitely would not have added this on the list if I made up God! I would never have made up a God that would require me to walk through the fire; to face the trial head on; or, to walk through the storm. The fire is hot and it burns. Storms beat us up. Trials push us to our limit and are exhausting.Untitled design (11)

I would make up a religion that included avoiding pain and suffering because that is consistent with human nature. Our instincts tells us to avoid pain at all costs.

When everything in me says ‘go around’, God says, ‘I will get you through’.

Our God perfectly designed us so that we gain when we lose. Through suffering, we receive that which we could not without it.

The human spirit will not even begin to try to surrender self-will as long as all seems to be well with it. ~C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

God knows the human condition. He knows that most humans will not surrender their will in the midst of comfort. And, God does not require that we do in order to follow him. He has made a way. It is called suffering.

It is through suffering that the scales come off our eyes and we begin to really see and know God intimately. Who knew?!


God’s story is beautiful. It’s perfect in every way. It’s divine. It’s brilliant beyond what the greatest storyteller could ever write.

 

The 2 sides of the coin of faith

This past semester I taught a worldviews and apologetics curriculum at my church that required a lot of supplementation and additional research. As I prepared, I found myself swimming in a sea of endless philosophical, theological and scientific statistics, facts, and arguments. This was a whole new world to me. My head was spinning! Who knew that the world of Christian apologetics was so extensive?!

For more than a decade, my brother has followed theologian, Christian apologist and philosopher, Dr. William Lane Craig. Since I started watching debates several months ago, however, I have gained a great deal of respect for him.

Aside from the fact that Dr. Craig is brilliant and intellectually WAY over my head, his heart and his faith make him a compelling evangelist as well. It isn’t often that you see someone who has a healthy balance between the intellectual and the emotional side of their faith.

In his debates, he speaks of five arguments for the existence of God.

  1. God is the best explanation for the origin of the universe
  2. God is the best explanation for the fine tuning of the universe
  3. God is the best explanation for the existence of objective moral values in the world
  4. God is the best explanation for the historical facts pertaining to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth
  5. God can be immediately known and experienced

The first four deal in the realms of science, philosophy, theology, history, and are basically facts and proofs. Then you get to the fifth argument, and it is purely personal and experiential.

A statement about knowing and experiencing God is emotional and quite bold for such a scholarly environment. It takes tenacity, and a humble heart to make such claims in the presence of highly esteemed intellectuals. Often, the world of academia has divorced the heart from the mind.

“Arguments for God could actually distract our attention from God himself”
~ William Lane Craig

I greatly admire him for not putting all of his eggs in one intellectual basket. Believing in God purely based on Kalam’s Cosmological argument, the teleological argument, or Leibniz’s contingency argument, as interesting and intellectually stimulating as they are, can only get you so far. At some point, one has to go beyond the intellectual realm to the heart and soul. For that is the realm of faith.

God is personal. And, The most wonderful part of this life is to know and experience Him.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.   James 4:8

I do believe that we can experience God intellectually as well as emotionally. My brother has said this for years. After all, He is the source of all knowledge.

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.  Proverbs 2:6

I would encourage the more emotional believers to not neglect the intellectual side of God’s character. It’s sad when people assume that apologetics is dry and boring. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It is like saying God is boring. How absurd!

When I started exploring apologetics, I was like a kid in a candy store! I found so much joy from gaining more awareness of this awesome God I serve. It added to my awe of Him. Discovering new aspects of God’s character is absolutely thrilling!

Similarly, intellectual and scholarly Christians should seek to know God on an experiential and emotional level. Things like singing praise songs or raising hands to God in worship may seem trivial to a scholarly person. However, exploring the different aspects of God’s character can only enrich your faith.

God is so immensely . . . . well, immense!! There are so many aspects of His character that it would take an infinite number of lifetimes to explore them all.