Apologetics

Biblical Apologetics and Ministry Today

From Paraklesis, a resource of Baptist Bible Seminary (Spring, 2013). Used by permission.

Apologetics is derived from the Greek noun apologia and verb apologeomai, which appear 18 times in the New Testament. In each instance, the terms emphasize the sense of defending or vindicating oneself and/or truth claims.

The New Testament authors repeatedly affirm the critical importance of defending or justifying the truthfulness of the Christian truth claims. For example, Paul commends the Philippian church for supporting him in the defense of the gospel (Phil 1:7, 16). Later, Paul defended himself against unjust allegations (1 Cor 9:3) and he defended his apostleship (2 Cor 12:19).

Toward the end of his ministry he wrote that at his first defense no one supported him though the Lord stood with him (2 Tim 4:16). When Paul appeared before the Roman authorities of Felix (Acts 24), Festus (Acts 25), and Agrippa (Acts 26), he presented a defense of himself and the Christian faith. Scripture writers repeatedly appealed to historical facts and logical arguments in presenting, explaining, and defending the truthfulness and veracity of the gospel.

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Christianity, No Fable

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CHAPTER V: CHRISTIANITY, NO FABLE

BY REV. THOMAS WHITELAW, M. A., D. D., KILMARNOCK, SCOTLAND

I. The first mark of the truthfulness of Christianity is to be found in

ITS SUPREME EXCELLENCE

as a Religious System. The unapproachable beauty and resistless charm of its conception, and the unique character of the means by which it seeks to carry out its aims, are not reconcilable with the notion of Fable.

If, however, notwithstanding, Christianity is a Fable, then it is the Divinest Fable ever clothed in human speech. Nothing like it can be found in the literature of the world. Paul only spoke the unvarnished truth when he declared that eye had not seen nor ear heard, neither had the mind of man conceived the things which God had revealed to men in the Gospel.

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The Testimony of Christian Experience

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CHAPTER IV: THE TESTIMONY OF CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE

BY PRESIDENT E. Y. MULLINS, D. D., LL. D., LOUISVILLE, KY., U. S. A.

Human experience is the one datum of all philosophy, and all science. The experience of the individual and of the race is the grist which is poured into all the scientific and philosophic mills. Hence Christian experience as a distinct form of human experience ought to receive more attention than it has ever received before.

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The Problem of Genocide in the Old Testament

Reprinted with permission from Baptist Bulletin Mar/Apr 2013. All rights reserved.

Troubling headlines

Recent incidents of genocide (the systematic killing of ethnic or religious groups) and ethnic cleansing (the forced deportation of ethnic or religious groups):

  • 1991 450,000 Palestinians expelled by Kuwait in retaliation for the PLO’s support of Saddam Hussein
  • 1993 170,000 Croatians and non-Serbs murdered or deported by Serbian rebels led by Slobodan Miloševic
  • 1999 800,000 Albanians flee their homes during the Kosovo War
  • 1994 As many as 1,000,000 Tutsi killed by Hutus in the Rwandan genocide
  • 2000 200,000 East Timorese killed or expelled from Indonesia after voting for independence in a 1999 referendum
  • 2003 450,000 from various black ethnic groups killed and another 2 million expelled from the Darfur region of Sudan
  • 2008 200,000 Karen and 120,000 other refugees displaced from their Burma (Myanmar) homes, fleeing to Thailand
  • 2012 400,000 people displaced in dispute between Bodos and Bengali-speaking Muslims of Assam, India

Problem: How should a believer respond to accusations about genocide in the Old Testament? Does the Bible encourage genocide for religious purposes?

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Intellectual and Moral Cowardice

I purchased a copy of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion* the other day. I teach an apologetics class at my church and wanted to actually read what one of the so-called “Four Horseman of New Atheism” had to say on the matter. My wife was horrified when I opened the package and held the tome aloft—she accused me of enriching a godless heretic who seems content to remain on a path leading inevitably to the fires of hell. I supposed she had a point, so I retreated to pragmaticism—how can I know what the man says unless I buy the book? My wife reluctantly agreed but was still suspicious, and ordered me to banish the text to a distant bookshelf, far from the reaches of our children.

Reading the first few chapters, I stumbled across a disturbing passage written by a well-meaning but ill-informed Christian to Albert Einstein. The missive was a response to a paper Einstein wrote in 1940 about why he did not believe in God. Dawkins evidenced contempt and scorn for this little letter, and I must agree he is justified in doing so. Here it is:

We respect your learning, Dr Einstein; but there is one thing you do not seem to have learned: that God is a spirit and cannot be found through the telescope or microscope, no more than human thought or emotion can be found by analyzing the brain. As everyone knows, religion is based on Faith, not knowledge. Every thinking person, perhaps, is assailed at times with religious doubt. My own faith has wavered many a time. But I never told anyone of my spiritual aberrations for two reasons: (1) I feared that I might, by mere suggestion, disturb and damage the life and hopes of some fellow being; (2) because I agree with the writer who said, “There is a mean streak in anyone who will destroy another’s faith.”…I hope, Dr Einstein, that you were misquoted and that you will yet say something more pleasing to the vast number of the American people who delight to do you honor. (38)

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Book Review - 7 Truths that Changed the World

As a pastor of a church plant with many new Christians, I found 7 Truths that Changed the World by Kenneth Richard Samples, to be a great foundation for a sermon series on the simple foundational truths of Christianity. The author does a great job of taking very complex subjects and making them palatable for the common reader like me. The book is not overbearing with the amount of information, nor is it too weak in defending the truth. It is a perfect balance between the academic and practical.

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