Lecture Six

 

The formal issues of Apologetics have been covered in the notes that you have been reading each week. However, for the sake of review, this lecture will cover terms that define the nature of the debate.

 

For instance, Epistemology is the study of how we know what we know. Ontology is the study of the nature of being, whereas cosmology deals with the cause of being. This leads us to the first question that we must answer for ourselves and be prepared to communicate to the independent man. (1) Does God exist? For a believer that question is answered by faith in the Bible. “In the beginning God” is sufficient for us. What follows in the Bible is a continued revelation of Himself.

 

Our belief in God is “ a priori,” that is, knowledge that is absolutely independent of all experience. Knowledge which is empirically based on experience or synthetic knowledge is “a posteriori. We are grateful for supportive evidence and experience that clarifies our belief, but faith is first. Faith is also reasonable. That is, Hebrews 11:1 expresses, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” It is also the concept of Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool.”

 

A delightful exercise that might flow from this course is a search through the Bible for the texts that deal with reason and faith. One can hardly read the excellence of Romans and Hebrews without being impressed with the logical, factual and effective approaches taken by the author.

 

The second question (2) addresses the existence of evil. Why is it here in our universe? Who is responsible for the presence of sin? Is God the cause of sin? Someone has said that these are the wrong questions. He was not puzzled by the existence of evil but the existence of good. This should remind us that if we ask the wrong questions we will get the wrong answers.

 

Physician heal thyself

 

Since judgment should begin at home and we should cast the beam out of our own eye before looking to the speck in another’s eye, a couple of questions are in order. Shouldn’t the messenger take time to be prepared? This course has been about preparation of the mind, but the person defending truth should start with heart issues. Motive in our approach to Apologetics is everything. For instance, our reactions to the rejection of the message will tell us a lot.

 

Students often feel compelled to win arguments in class. Why is that? It could be they are not sure about their position. Perhaps they view themselves as the center of the issue. These and many more things are very telling and call for a checkup of the heart, the inner man.

 

The other issue is to be sure that we understand our own positions clearly and that those views rise from the Bible. Sunday School classes are places where many people express a lot of opinions as if they really knew what they were talking about. In reality they are often reading into the Bible what they think. What I believe is not as important as what the Scripture teaches. It is a serious thing to hold error; it is worse to attempt to prove it from Scripture, and terrible to try to pass it on to others.

 

Apologists for the truth must be comfortable that they are speaking from God’s point of view. The independent man is not dumb, he just holds erroneous views. If he catches the believer pretending or napping, you can be sure he will happily point it out. On the other hand, even an intellectual pagan will have to respect the person who says, “I don’t know the answer to that one.” If he thinks we are rewriting the Bible for God, he will quickly see that we serve the same god.

 

Students should review the subject of Logic and make sure that they are careful in their presentations. The best presentations are the simplest ones. Remember that our goal is to “simplify to clarify.”  Add to that the rule that “similarities are not equals.” A careless approach to your apologetic will cancel your effectiveness.

 

We should also summarize the matter of attitude in our defense of the faith. It is possible to say very strong things and express hard truth without anger. If someone gets the idea that you are glad they are going to hell, the door will close quickly. We live in the age of “sloppy agape.” Evangelicals often look like Liberals in this matter. Chapter 14 said, “It’s all about love.  That is one-sided and, therefore, without balance. There is no God of love if there is no God of justice. God does love, but He also hates. Our goal is to be like God: love what He loves and hate what He hates.

 

Churches are filled with this kind of error and it cancels their ability to be effective in communicating the Gospel and the surrounding truth of salvation. An article was sent our way entitled, “Let’s (not) just praise the Lord.” It was a play on a popular chorus as you could guess. This makes you wonder if anyone ever reads the words to songs before we sing them. We are imbalanced if we think all current music is bad, but music is a bad place to get your theology.

 

The prepared apologist is the most effective apologist.

 

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