Apologetics

Theology Thursday - Christians Aren't Atheists!

Justin was a Christian apologist who wrote in the mid-second century. He wrote his First Apology to the Roman Emperor “in behalf of those of all nations who are unjustly hated and wantonly abused, myself being one of them.”1 Justin eventually suffered martyrdom, according to Eusebius, at the hands of Crescens, a Stoic philosopher and apparent blackguard of the vilest sort. Eusebius remarked that, “After Justin had frequently refuted him in public discussions he won by his martyrdom the prize of victory, dying in behalf of the truth which he preached.”2

In this excerpt,3 Justin defends the faith against the pagan slur that Christians were atheists:

Chapter 5: Christians Charged with Atheism

Why, then, should this be? In our case, who pledge ourselves to do no wickedness, nor to hold these atheistic opinions, you do not examine the charges made against us; but, yielding to unreasoning passion, and to the instigation of evil demons, you punish us without consideration or judgment.

For the truth shall be spoken; since of old these evil demons, effecting apparitions of themselves, both defiled women and corrupted boys, and showed such fearful sights to men, that those who did not use their reason in judging of the actions that were done, were struck with terror; and being carried away by fear, and not knowing that these were demons, they called them gods, and gave to each the name which each of the demons chose for himself.

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Should ‘Presuppositional’ Apologetics Be Rebranded as ‘Covenant’ Apologetics?

In 2013 K. Scott Oliphint of Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia published a book which he has called Covenantal Apologetics. I reviewed the book here and recommend it. But I expressed reservations about the writer’s agenda of rebranding Van Til’s apologetic teaching in line with the book’s title. Coming as it does from one of the foremost representatives of Van Til’s presuppositional approach, the thesis deserves attention. As I said in my review, by “Covenantal” Oliphint means the “covenants” of covenant theology.

Now nobody is going to disagree that Van Til often spoke about fallen man as a covenant-breaker. And no one will dispute that by that designation he had in mind the theological covenants of Reformed Covenant Theology. You cannot read Van Til very far before running into statements he makes about “the Reformed apologetic.” For example,

All men are either in covenant with Satan or in covenant with God. (Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, 4th edition, edited by K. Scott Oliphint, 300)

This is the kind of thing covenant theologians say (or used to say). Van Til did not refer to his approach as “Covenantal Apologetics,” but I think he might not have minded too much. Still, is it right?

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How to Honor Christ in our Apologetics

By Jordan Standridge. Reposted from The Cripplegate.

There was a man who thought he was dead. In fact, he told all his family members that he was dead. Finally, after months of being unable to convince him, they dragged him to a doctor. The doctor, also unsuccessful, finally asked him, “Do dead men bleed?” The man responded, “Of course not!” The doctor promptly took out a knife and cut the man’s finger, and as the man watched the blood run down his hand he exclaimed, “Wow! I guess dead men do bleed!”

This man had presuppositions he brought with himself to that doctor’s appointment. He believed that he was dead and no evidence was going to change his mind. In a similar way, every one of our evangelistic encounters happen with someone who has preconceived notions and presuppositions.

Understanding why people don’t believe the gospel is key. Either they lack the evidence and are just waiting for the perfect argument to come along or they are blinded by their sin and need the gospel. As believers, we are called to make a defense. 1 Peter 3:15 gives us our calling. Peter says,

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect

This verse gives us three keys on how to do apologetics that we should apply in our everyday conversations as we “make a defense” with unbelievers.

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A Brief Summary of Presuppositional Apologetics

Many people have maybe heard of what is called presuppositional apologetics but have little idea what it actually is. This situation is made worse because some defenders of the Faith are labeled presuppositional but, in fact, aren’t. So how should I describe it?

The first thing I would say is that although I personally have few problems with it, “presuppositionalism” is not perhaps the best name for the approach. A more preferable title would be something like “theological apologetics.”

Nevertheless, we are stuck with the name so we better understand what we mean by it. In this approach a “presupposition” is not just a prior assumption which one brings to a problem. It is not, e.g., supposing that the Bible is God’s Word and seeing where that gets you. This only makes your presupposition a “hypothetical,” not a necessary stance. But a “presupposition” here means an “ultimate heart commitment” to some interpretation and explanation of reality.

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Communicating Biblical Worldview to Millennials & iGens (Part 3)

Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Conclusion: The Taste and See Apologetic

Psalm 34:8 invites the reader (or listener) to “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” In the context David recounts how God had delivered him from something he deeply feared, and he calls upon those who know God to exalt Him. The Psalm is a rich testimony of the faithfulness of God in the lives of those who depend on Him.

While it addresses “saints” (34:9), and is thus not inherently evangelistic, the theme, content, and delivery fits well Peter’s apologetic paradigm from 1 Peter 3:15. It certainly offers an account of the hope that was within the Psalmist. Again, even though David addresses saints in the near context, his invitation to “taste” in verse 8 implies that his intended audience in the immediate context had not yet tasted.

It is fitting, I think, to draw a secondary application of Psalm 34:8, suggesting that such an invitation would be fitting for an apologetic/evangelistic encounter – especially in engaging the common sentiments of Millennials and iGens.

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Communicating Biblical Worldview to Millennials & iGens (Part 2)

Read Part 1.

Applying Peter’s & Paul’s Communication Model to Millennials & iGens

“We report, you decide.” It’s a slogan from a popular news outlet that positions itself as different from other agenda-driven media by its “fair and balanced” posture. How successful this network has been is a matter of debate, of course, but the formula is actually a good one for another mode of communication — especially for the emerging and distinct audience of the 21st century. In order to understand how that formula is especially fitting of this generation, we need a bit of context on how this present generation came to think that way it thinks. So let’s look back.

Following World War II and the culminating failure of the modern project, postmodernism rejected the idea of a grand narrative as a guide for humanity and culture. More specifically, postmodernism dismissed the modern metanarrative that discovery and technology would lead humanity to a utopian future. Technology had not succeeded in ushering in a golden age, instead it brought on the wings of the Enola Gay the most effective device for mass destruction the world had ever seen.

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Communicating Biblical Worldview to Millennials & iGens (Part 1)

Presented to the 2017 Calvary University Pastors’ Conference on Apologetics, Calvary University, Kansas City, April 20, 2017.

Biblical Models for Communicating Truth to the Unversed

Peter provides the only direct apologetic mandate in Scripture,1 reminding his readers in 1 Peter 3:15 to “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.” The word translated defense is the Greek apologia, and it references a justification of a position or an argument upon which basis a position is to be preferred. Peter was talking to regular believers, challenging them to (1) have the proper perspective of and response to Christ, (2) to be always prepared to give an apologia, (3) in response to those who ask, (4) specifically providing an account for the hope within them, (5) with gentleness and reverence.

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The Apologetic Value of Paul's Epistles

(About this series)

CHAPTER IX - THE APOLOGETIC VALUE OF PAUL’S EPISTLES

BY REV. E. J. STOBO, JR., B. A., S. T. D., SMITH’S FALLS, ONTARIO, CANADA

“Paul is the greatest literary figure in the New Testament; round him all its burning questions lie.” “There is nothing more certain in ancient literature than the authorship of the more important of the Pauline epistles.” These utterances of Dr. Fairbairn in his “Philosophy of the Christian Religion” bring us face to face with the apologetic value of the writings of the Apostle to the Gentiles. The oldest Pauline epistle is divided by little more than twenty years from the death of Christ, and by a still shorter interval from the Epistle to the Hebrews and Apocalypse; so that Paul’s interpretation of the Christ has a distinct bearing upon the Gospels and later Christian literature.

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