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    Nov 23, 2014

    Class 7: Apologetic Conversations

    Series: Apologetics

    Category: Core Seminars, Apologetics, Evidence for Faith, False Teaching, The Problem of Evil, World Religions

    Detail:

    Apologetic Conversations

    This particular core seminar was initially conceived as an apologetic workshop where the teacher would recap a few major apologetic issues and responses for Christians, and then, blending the role of moderator and panelist, engage the class with questions related to how to answer a specific question or handle a specific topic. Accordingly, this material is designed for review, not new teaching. It may be more valuable to directly dive into material, depending upon the composition of the panel and class, and preference of the teacher.

    * * * * * * * * * REVIEW * * * * * * * * *

    WHY DOES APOLOGETICS MATTER?

    The discipline of Christian apologetics if for all Christians.
    1. Christians Should Be Able To Explain Why They Have Faith in Jesus. I Peter 3:15.
    2. Christians Should be Able to Critique Unbiblical Worldviews. In II Corinthians 10.
    3. Christians Should Use Their Minds and Intellect To the Glory of God. II Corinthians 10 – Christians are to take every thought captive to Christ. In Matthew 22, Jesus said the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
    4. Christians Throughout History Have Used Apologetics to the Glory of God.

    BUT……

    We do not “reason” people into the kingdom of God.

    (1) Christian apologetics answers non-Christians’ questions and removes distractions from belief. Christian apologetics involves answering questions and clearing the brush of false beliefs that obscures the solid ground of belief in Jesus. A natural part of educating and instructing non-Christians in a biblical worldview is being prepared to answer their questions.
    Christians should not be surprised or threatened by this. Questions should be expected and welcome

    (2) Christian apologetics, coupled with evangelism, points non-Christians to faith in Jesus. The point of Christian apologetics is not finally to win an argument, but to articulate and defend the veracity and reliability of placing one’s faith in the person and work of Jesus. Apologetics is the discipline that defends a biblical worldview, deconstructs unbelief and false belief, and provides a launching pad for enthusiastic evangelism.

    Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it’s the power of salvation for all who believe.” God saves through His gospel and we are His ambassadors.


    IS GOD GOOD AND POWERFUL IF EVIL IS REAL?

    Evil is real.
    God is all-good.
    God is all-powerful.
    1. God will end suffering and pain. (END) Our hope of Heaven. Revelation 21.
    2. God will execute his justice. (EXECUTE) Revelation. Psalms, prophets.
    3. God has experienced the worst human evil on the cross. He knows human pain and sorrow. (EXPERIENCE)
    4. God’s ways are above ours, he is outside of time. (ETERNAL). The “problem” of evil only exists in time, from our perspective. Human evil was born in the Garden, conquered at the Cross, and will be finally dealt with when Jesus returns.


    WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO HAVE NEVER HEARD THE GOSPEL?


    1. All humankind is already under God’s judgment because all men and women are sinful, morally accountable to God, and must give an answer to him. (Romans 1, 2, 3. Isaiah 40, 53, 64. John 3. Acts 17. Hebrews 9)

    Four C’s
    a. creation’s witness
    b. conscience within
    c. culpability in Adam and Eve in the Fall
    d. commission of sin personally

    2. Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord GOD will be saved (II Peter 3:9. Romans 5:8. Romans 10:13, Joel 2:32.)

    3. Bible has examples of people who are saved yet have incomplete information, BUT they are saved by faith in the God of Israel who has revealed himself. (Hebrews 11. Acts 10. Joshua 2. II King 5.)

    You are responsible for what you do with Jesus. Romans 10: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

    The application: in apologetics, anyone who raise this issue has heard the Gospel/is accountable to God.


    HOW DO I ENGAGE A BELIEVER IN A MAJOR WORLD RELIGION?

    Islam: Submission to Allah
     The Person and work of Christ; Mercy and Judgment

    Hindus: One God, many gods
     Karma as “gravity” or offense against a Holy God; contrast mysticism of Hinduism w/historicity of Christ

    Buddhists: Nirvana by eliminating desire
     Escape suffering by eliminating desire v. Christ defeating pain and suffering on the Cross; Assurance of the path vs. relationship with Christ

    Many religions make exclusive truth claims. Making such a claim does not prove truth. But it's not possible for all the major world religions to be valid ways to God when they make contradictory claims.

    WHY DO WE BELIEVE AN ANCIENT BOOK IS THE WORD OF GOD?

    Christians claim the Bible is God’s revelation to us over 1,500 years, in 66 books by 40 authors. Why?

    1) The New Testament documents are Historically Reliable and Credible

    Let’s start with the first point, the historical reliability of the New Testament documents.

    Homer Written 900 BC Earliest Copy, 400 BC Number of copies, 643
    NT Written AD 40-100 Earliest Copy, 125 AD Number of copies, 24,000+


     Despite the fact that it was written by many different men over 1500 years, there isn’t a single place where a Biblical author disagrees with another Biblical author. This is an amazing, often overlooked fact.
     The Bible is united in teaching its own authority, despite the fact that it was written by so many authors.
     Over the last hundred years, the veracity and reliability of the Bible has been has vindicated again and again and again as more evidence has been brought to bear.
     Historical finds of texts and archeology and artifacts do not prove Scriptures are the inspired, inerrant Word of God, but no archaeological discovery has disproved the historical veracity and reliability of the text of the New or Old Testament.

    2) Jesus’ Character is Shown To Be Trustworthy

     LEGEND?. Some people assert the historical Jesus never existed. But there is so much historical and archeological evidence to support his existence that every reputable historian agrees he was not just a legend.
     LIAR? If Jesus were a liar, why would he die for his claim, when he could easily have avoided such a cruel death with a few choice words?
     LUNATIC? And, if he were a lunatic, how did he engage in intelligent debates with his opponents or handle the stress of his betrayal and crucifixion while continuing to show a deep love for his antagonists?
     LORD. Christ said he was Lord and God. The evidence supports that claim.

    2) Jesus Claims that the Old and New Testament Books were the Word of God

    This material below may feel repetitive and granular for those who have been in the class throughout its duration.

    Old Testament

    John 10:34. Jesus even argues from the tense of a verb in Matthew 22. Jesus clearly assumes that what is prophesied in the Old Testament must be fulfilled, specifically concerning himself. Jesus establishes a pattern in Matthew 19 that is repeated in the rest of the gospels when he interchanges the phrases “Scripture says” with “God says”.

    New Testament

     John 7:16, Matthew (24:35), Mark (13:31), and Luke (21:33). Matt 7:29. Matt 10:19-20. John 14:26 and 16:12-13. Acts 1:8

     The New Testament writers understood authority had been given to them, and they do not hesitate to cite it. (1 Co 2:13, Gal 1:6-12, etc.)

     New Testament writers cite New Testament writings as Scripture – Paul does this with the gospel of Luke in I Ti 5:18, and Peter does this with the writings of Paul in 2 Peter 3:15-16

    QUESTIONS & LAUNCH POINTS FOR PANELISTS

    1. How can I believe in God when he is cannot be seen or known by our senses?

    2. Isn’t it intellectually arrogant to assert one can objectively know absolute truth? (Here I want to tackle the issue of absolute truth)

    3. If Jesus taught us to love everyone, why to Christians hate same-sex marriage?

    4. Why do you preach at people with a story that is only designed to wield authority over them?

    5. Don’t all religions just teach to be nice to people, live in peace, and love them?

    6. I believe Jesus was a real guy, but everybody knows he just died like everyone else, and then his disciples made up the story of the resurrection.

    7. Why does the Bible have two different gods – an angry one in the Old Testament and one of love and peace in the New Testament?

    8. Why do Christians want to take over the government and make everyone a Christian?

    9. If Christians really loved others, they would not shove their beliefs on them.

    10. How can you be a Christian when the Bible contradicts science and is full of errors?

    11. Many other men claimed to be prophets of God or the Way. What makes Jesus so special?

    12. It seems like a lot of your faith in the Bible is based on the evidence of the eyewitnesses, but that assumes that the Bible is true. Do you have anything better than that?

    13. It seems arrogant to say that Jesus is the only way to God. How can you be sure of that?

    14. Why does God judge humankind when people are basically good?

    15. Christianity and Islam both teach holy wars and are intolerant religions.

    16. As a Christian, I know apologetics is important, but I feel overwhelmed. I don’t even know where to begin.

    17. I like the Bible, but it has narratives similar to other ancient mythological literature and I don’t think it is true.

    18. How does fulfilled prophecy prove Jesus is God? Weren’t they just stories written after Jesus lived?

    19. I can share my testimony and explain the Gospel. That’s more important than apologetics.

    20. I heard Jesus didn’t really die on the cross, but was knocked out and came to in the tomb.

    21. Why are Christians such prudes and intolerant of modern moral norms?

    22. If God created the earth, who created God?


    Miscellaneous Notes and Responses

     People commonly say that "morality is subjective" or that it is "relative." But when they speak in a moral vein—which is to say, when they pass judgment on human behavior—they do so as moral realists. Most atheists are just as convinced as Christians that Adolf Hitler was an evil person.

     People resist moral realism because they think it leads to "intolerance." In doing so they make two fundamental mistakes. First, they fail to realize that tolerance itself is a value and that they are simply making this one value rule over all others. This is itself a form of moral realism. Second, they fail to understand that tolerance and moral realism can coincide.

     Most people want to serve God…usually in an advisory capacity.

     A god whom we could understand exhaustively, and whose revelation of himself confronted us with no mysteries whatsoever, would be a god in man’s image, and therefore an imaginary god.
    —J. I. Packer, theologian

     Human arrogance tends to believe that if we had been in charge of creation we would have done it better. As finite human beings we should not claim to know God’s will exhaustively.

     Why do bad things happen to good people?
    What good people are you talking about?

     Sincerity or intensity of faith does not create truth. Faith is no more valid than the object in which it is placed.

     The question must be, "What is true?" Read the original accounts and see what Jesus claimed about Himself. Not every religion can be true. Most are mutually contradictory. Either one is true and the others are false, or they are all false. Either Christ is who he said He is or He is not

     Christianity is "universal" in the sense that Jesus invites all people everywhere to receive the gift of eternal life made possible by the death on the cross.

     Since many basic tenets of different religions are contradictory, someone has to be wrong. Christianity’s uniqueness arises not from the narrow–mindedness of individual Christians, but from the extraordinary claims of Jesus Christ, attested by those who were eyewitnesses of His life, death, and resurrection.


    Resources:
     Fundamentalism and the Word of God. J.I. Packer
     Numerous titles and articles. Ravi Zacharias.
     When Critics Ask. Norm Geisler.
     Numerous titles and articles. J. P. Moreland.
     Christ and the Bible. John Wenham.
     Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain. C.S. Lewis.
     Numerous titles and articles. F.F. Bruce.
     The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith. Lee Strobel
     Numerous titles and articles. William Lane Craig.
     The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible. B.B. Warfield.
     New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, More Than A Carpenter, A Ready Defense, and other titles. Josh McDowell.
     Telling the Truth, Christ and Culture Revisited. Don Carson.
     Reason to Believe. R.C. Sproul
     Apologetics to the Glory of God. John Frame
     The Reason for God. Tim Keller