Posts Tagged With: apologetics

Apologetics–What is it and why do we do it?

By Kelly Zens

Douglas Groothuis defines apologetics as, “the rational defense of the Christian worldview as objectively true, rationally compelling and existentially or subjectively engaging.”[1]   Apologetics is part of the Christian’s role in being Christ’s ambassador. Christians represent Jesus to the world. That role necessarily includes rationally defending Christianity against critics, respectfully responding to specific accusations, demonstrating and arguing for the truth of Christian claims and doing all of this with grace.   James Beilby sums up apologetics by stating it is the action of “defending and commending” the truthfulness of the essentials of the Christian faith.[2] It is important that apologetics deals with the essentials of the historic Christian faith rather than every doctrinal dispute among different Christian denominations.   While doctrinal discussions are important, they are not apologetics.

Christians engage in apologetics because our faith is the most precious thing that we have, and we believe that it adds immensely to the quality of our life. We want everyone we know and even complete strangers to be able to experience this life changing relationship with Jesus Christ. In addition, we are concerned with the eternal destiny of the unbeliever’s soul. No one wants even the biggest jerk to end up in hell.   Accepting Jesus gift of salvation through his atoning sacrifice is the only way for a person to obtain freedom from their sin (in this life) and eternal salvation (in the next one).

Additionally, Scripture commands us to engage in apologetics (I Peter 3:15-16). Jesus set an example of evangelistic outreach using apologetic argument throughout the gospels. Christian Apologetics mentions Jesus silencing the Sadducees in Matthew 22:33-34. The conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus in John 3 has a very apologetic flavor as well. As in the previous passage, he answers Nicodemus’ questions by giving him truth that changes his preconceptions. Paul also engages in apologetics as part of his evangelistic outreach (Acts 17). So having a direct command plus the examples of Jesus and Paul is sufficient reason to engage in apologetics.

The goals of an apologetic discourse are to remove barriers to belief and challenge assumptions that deny the truth of the Christian worldview. That is why is it such an important part of evangelism. Groothuis calls it “pre-evangelism.”[3] Addressing doubts or misunderstanding and providing clarity for believers is called internal apologetics. This is a very important function often seen in small groups or youth groups.   Responding to challenges brought by unbelievers can remove intellectual barriers and misunderstandings they have that are keeping them from faith in Jesus. This is external apologetics. Both believers and unbelievers can be the audience for apologetics. Both groups benefit from it. Acts 18:27-28 (NIV), where Apollos takes on the Jews, shows how Christians are encouraged by public external apologetics. “On arriving, he was a great help to those who by faith had believed.   For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.”   Apologetics provides believers with an important tool to both strengthen the faith of fellow believers and challenge unbelief in the unsaved and thereby hopefully bring them one step closer to a saving faith in Jesus.

[1] Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2011), loc. 153, Kindle.

[2] James K. Beilby, Thinking About Christian Apologetics (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academics, 2011), 14,19, & 21.

[3]  Groothuis,  loc. 199, Kindle.

northern-lights

Audiobook Nook

Are you excited about the Super Bowl game on February 5th or is it a dreaded time where all males in the household are dreaded for their football mania? If you avoid the Super Bowl for whatever reason, you can still learn from Football Psychology which has lessons that we all need to learn in life.

The FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) is designed to protect you the consumer, but powerful interests exist which are trying to undermine the provisions in this federal legislation. If you think or have reason to suspect that you credit score may have been illegally accessed by a banking or other institution or if some institution have wrongfully reported inaccurate information on your credit score, you need to know your rights and that institutions need a “permissible purpose” by law before they accessed private information from your credit score. What are My Rightsexplores some of those legal issues with guidelines on how consumers can better protect themselves (due to be released on audio in late February 2017).

Jeffrey Dahmer became very well-known in American history as a serial killer, but less is known about the religious influence of his grandmother who tried to steer him toward a different path. What was the role of religion in Dahmer’s upbringing that may have influenced his personal direction and did he genuinely convert to Christianity in his waning, prison days?  Find out in Adam’s new e-book  (see link above) and soon to be released in audio book format.

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The Baby Who Wouldn’t Be Aborted

by Adam Zens (picture by Dotty Zens)

Luke from Star Wars needs to recognize God’s hand in bringing new life into the world. Luke’s grandson just refused to be aborted. From all appearances, this baby had a lot of people trying to abort him.

It seems that Mark Hamill has been applying pressure to his son’s girlfriend to have his grandchild aborted. Thatis sad news. So much for the girlfriend’s “choice” in the matter. She aborted her first child which left her scarred and depressed. Initially, she went along with the family wishes and agreed to havea second abortion against her better judgment. But it was just not meant to be.

Her appointment for a surgical abortion was cancelled and she tried a medical abortion by taking abortifacient pills.  These pills caused bleeding but did not effectively abort the child. After this latter attempt, she decided that this child was supposed to live. What’s so crazy about this story is that it doesn’t end there! Her “choice” apparently did not carry much weight with the prospective father or grandparents who began harassing her and threatening that their son would abandon her and leave her alone as a single parent if she
kept the child. The plot further thickens when they scheduled another abortion surgery for her without her consent. This family does not give up easily. The reason that the grandparents gave for having the abortion is that theirson, Nathan, was not ready to be a father. What soon-to-be father really thinks that he is ready to be a father and since
when does a man have to use his parents to speak for him to his girlfriend?

Even though this is morally tragic display for grandparents who are attempting to shield their son from the consequences of his own reproductive actions, it is instructive on some level. Mark and Marilou Hamill are right that it is very difficult to bear and rear a
child without a mother and father.

I am all for two parents. It takes a mother and father to bring a child into the world and it takes the duo to rear that child. Any disruption in that pattern results in social and emotional chaos. There is a significant relationship between the act of procreation
and the responsibility for taking care of that child when it later enters the world. Even for those who believe that abortion is (or should be) a more normative experience can know the harrowing experience of being without the support of the father during the decision to abort, as Laurie Abraham reports about her first abortion.

In our society, parents, and especially mothers, are strongly encouraged to abort their child when there is a prenatal diagnosis that suggests a Down Syndrome child is in the womb. Statistically, you are likely to never take a breath if your mother receives this sort of diagnosis.

As to the negative publicity that this situation will bring on the Hamill family, it’s tragic, but it can be overcome by one person taking responsibility for his actions. Who knows if the baby who would not be aborted will ever be loved, or even acknowledged, by
his paternal grandparents or his biological father?

Talk about having to grab a kicking and screaming man-boy and to drag him into the world of becoming a new father! Sheesh!

Who’s up for a Star Wars movie boycott?

mother-and-child-2

Audiobook Nook

Our worldview has a lot of influence on how we see our fellow human beings. They can either be precious and made in the image of God or they can be the result of a blind, evolutionary process which does not see any inherent value in perpetuating human life and flourishing. In Worldview Apologetics (Amazon ebook/audio), Christian apologist, Pradeep Tilak goes from apologetics theory to tackling the engagement of others who have a non-Christian outlook and may not even comprehend the basic value of human life in a world fashioned by God. Obviously, the abortion industry has a vested interest in promoting a world-view where one human life can easily be sacrificed to not inconvenience another human life. The author offers some ways that worldview proponents and opponents might graciously challenge each other while learning about their philosophy of life in the process. One great talking point between abortion proponents and opponents is the historical tendency for abortion propaganda and access to be aimed at one particular minority, such as African-Americans.

One fictional TV character who had an abortion in order to further her and her husband’s careers is Claire Underwood of the Netflix production, House of Cards. The director of HoC is fairly honest about portraying how the loss of that child may have irreparably hurt the bond between Frank and Claire and has caused them both pain in perhaps undefinable ways. Another fictional TV character who did not abort her first child, even though her conception resulted from the rape of a sibling, is Norma Bates of Bates Motel fame. This story does develop, to some extent, how emotionally damaged her son became without knowing who his true father was or why his mother was so emotionally distant from him.

 

 

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Living the Power of Love

You may wonder why I talk about marriage and family so much. It is because I want to see everyone happy and fulfilled. I want the people that I love (and even the ones that I don’t) to know God. That is what marriage and family have done for me. While I am far from mastering either, like most of life these things are perfected by doing them. While I realize that some are called to be single, I honestly do not believe many are.   Most of us practice our faith and get to know God through marriage and family. Having and raising a family are the gospel in action or applied apologetics, if you will.

I talked last week about understanding God’s passionate love for us through the picture of marriage. That is something you cannot understand unless you have experienced passionate, faithful, committed love. It changes your understanding of God entirely and it builds your faith. In the same way, you cannot understand God’s faithfulness unless you have committed to love someone when they were behaving in less than loveable ways. The Old Testament prophets speak continually of God’s faithful love for his bride even while she turns away. Those books paint a pretty graphic picture of the many ways that we stray from God. It is not possible to understand God’s constant unchanging love until you try loving someone when they are difficult and obstinate. It is impossible to be married without experiencing this at some point. It gives you a new appreciation of God’s love for you.

Marriage is also a testament of the power of love.   Adam’s love (or God’s love expressed through him) has changed the way that I think and the way that I behave.   The direct experience of God’s love has also changed me. Having witnessed what God can do through love encourages me to hold on to hope through difficult times.

Jesus “for the joy set before Him endured the cross,” (Hebrews 12:2). None of us are asked to endure a cross, although it may feel that way when we have to lay down our selfishness in order to love. It is difficult to appreciate how hard this is until you try it for a sustained period of time. The amazing part of all of this is that Jesus is both the motivation and the source of grace for our efforts. He is both the reason and the method for doing it. He is the reward. He has done a much harder thing than he is asking of us. He set an example. So loving our spouse is our act of love for our Lord. This act changes us. Loving God enables us to love and makes us better at the same time. And it’s fun. How cool is that?

Worldview Apologetics cover with audio book credits       Worldview Apologetics: A Christian Worldview Apologetic Engagement with Advaita Vedanta Hinduism is finally published as an audio book! Author, Pradeep Tilak and Locust & Honey Audio Book Production have collaborated for several months on this project of making Worldview Apologetics into an audio book for listeners to enjoy. Learn more about the ultimate perspectives, both religious and philosophical, of Hindus and Christians. What are some key areas with similarity and dissimilarity? How might the Christian approach a dialogue with a Hindu believer? Pradeep delves into these questions and others while using an eclectic mix of Christian apologetic schools of thought.

Worldview Apologetics has now become available on Amazon with a free listening sample as well as the full audio book version. Additionally, for those who already have the Audible app for their computer or other device, the audio book is available there.

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