“You will die!” – One approach to Christian Apologetics

Dear readers, whoever you are.

This isn’t exactly what one usually would consider when they think of defending the Christian faith; the statement, “You will die.”  It’s not pretty.  It’s not nice.  We try not to think about it.  We try to push death out of our minds.  That’s why they call them casualties and not deaths!  That’s why they call them viruses, or the bird flu, or the swine flu, and not plagues! (Paraphrasing Henry Rollins) We don’t want to think about death!

To quote the Black Sabbath song, “After Forever,” “When you think about death do you keep your cool?”

Well to quote the song more, “I’ll be prepared when you’re lonely and scared at the end of our days.”  The answer in that song by Black Sabbath of course is “Jesus Christ is the only way to love.”

I know a pastor who sets up shop at university campuses.  He shares the good news of salvation with people.  However, if a person rejects the news.  If they are complacent, if they are ambivalent, he challenges them to consider the alternatives… what if there is no God, then you die and you are in the ground.  What if there is a God?  And you have rejected him? What if that God is Jesus?  What then?  Are you so sure… do you keep your cool when you think about death?

He told one student, “Well, just remember you are going to die.”  And the student left the conversation at that, but came back to him a month later and said, “Do you remember the last thing you said to me?”  The pastor did not.  The student said it had troubled him ever sense talking to him.  He finally came face to face with his own personal death, and was he so sure… was he so certain that he would be reincarnated as his faith taught.  The pastor shared, “Jesus will save you from that death. He paid for all of your sins.”

Part of apologetics is just properly explaining the Christian faith, and God’s Word can be divided into two camps, Law, and Gospel.  God’s Law shows us that we are sinners, that God’s wrath is upon us and that we justly deserve his eternal punishment.  God’s Gospel shows us our savior.  To learn more about Law and Gospel, click here.

So, you will die.  Worried?  Well, maybe you shouldn’t be complacent?  Don’t put off considering what lies beyond this life.  To be fair, I’ll say look to all religions, but I’d recommend looking to Christianity first, and I say this because it is objective, read 1 Corinthians 15 to know what I mean. That passage will show you the center of the Christian faith.  It will tell you where the Christian faith stands or falls.  It will show you that you are a sinner and that you will die for those sins, yet it also will show you the good news that Jesus died for sins, was buried, and on the third day rose from the grave as according to the Scriptures.

For more on sharing the Gospel on a college campus using a table-top evangelism style approach, listen to Reconnect Episode 6: Contradict – Campus Evangelism.

>>>Order Andy Wrasman’s book, Contradict- They Can’t All Be True.<<<

Reconnect 17. Sharing the Gospel when Defending the Faith

Episode 17
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Reconnect Episode 17
We should be evangelists first and apologists second.  When defending the Christian faith, we should always strive to incorporate the Gospel into our defense.  Why should we do this?  How can we do this?  Andy gives a brief explanation at the start of this episode, before reading an excerpt from his book Contradict – They Can’t All be True to answer these questions, before running these concepts through in practice on Cross Defense, a radio show hosted by Rod Zwonitzer  on KFUO out of St. Louis, Missouri!  Enjoy.

Reconnect Episode 13: God Is Too Big To Fit Into One Religion!

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Reconnect Episode 13
Do you want to have this conversation with your friends, small group Bible study, or class?  Here is the discussion guide that was used in this episode, free for your use: “No Religion Can Contain God!”. Please consider giving a shout out to Reconnect, andywrasman.com, and contradictmovement.org if you choose to use this discussion guide.  Thanks.

Reconnect Episode 8: Three Things Christians Say to Hurt Their Credibility

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George and Andy, discuss a series of articles from Credo House entitled: 21 Things Christians Say to Hurt Their Credibility.  In this episode they have time to discuss three of these statements:

1. “You can’t use the Bible to prove the Bible.”

2.  “Good question.  I’ll find the answer and get back to you.”

3.  “One white lie will send you to hell for all eternity.”

We want to be credible witnesses of Christ.
We want to be credible witnesses of Christ.

Andy and George agree that some of these statements really do hurt the credibility of our Christian witness and should be avoided, but they come to disagree with at least one of these articles, because they think the statement is in fact Scriptural, thus should be spoken, but maybe there is a better way of presenting the truth to a nonbeliever.

Other questions and topics emerge as they discuss these articles, such as: how do we know the Bible is the Word of God, how should we respond to questions we don’t know the answers, is it possible for Christians to have all the answers to life’s questions, what exactly is revealed to us in Scripture and why, how should we approach preparing answers to difficult questions raised against or about the Christian faith, why should churches teach apologetics, and the very controversial topic of varying degrees of punishment in hell!

If you want to chime in on any of these topics or give a short review of any episode of Reconnect, record a short 30 second to one minute long audio clip, stating your name and the episode number you are addressing, and send it to Andy at andy@contradictmovement.org as an mp3 file.  If you have any questions you want addressed on the show, send them there via email as well.  Thanks.  Reconnect us, Oh Lord. 

How do religions contradict each other?

If someone says that all religions have the same teachings, and same basic principles, and you share that this is not the case; religions contradict each other in ways that are irreconcilable to anyone who is an orthodox adherent to their religion of choice.  To be able to back up your assertion, simply have memorized a few doctrinal categories and several of the world’s religions’ positions for each of those categories.  Spitting out a few examples of what different religions teach, say, in the categories of who God is, what the source and focus of revelation is, and what lies after this life, should be enough to demonstrate some very stark contrasts in beliefs.  Clearly, all religions don’t teach the same views on life, God, and the destiny of mankind, but can you quickly demonstrate it?

The following image is a photo I took of a student’s test that asked this basic question.  Check out how he answered the question (click the image to enlarge):

Religious Contradictions

What is apologetics?

What is apologetics?

Apologetics comes from the Greek word, apologia, which means defense.  Building a case for or defending a certain position of thought or belief is called apologetics, and a person who supplies the defense is called an apologist.  There are many different types of apologists.  Every religion can have its own apologetics.  This blog deals explicitly with Christian apologetics.

What is required for apologetics?

Apologetics is a difficult branch of Christian study.  It requires a working knowledge of many branches of Christian theology (read “What is Theology”).  For example, before a defense for the Christian faith can be given, the apologist would need to know Christian doctrine inside and out in order to know if the objection being raised against Christianity is even against a true teaching found within the Bible.  The apologists would then need to be able to correct the misunderstanding in biblical teaching from the scriptures in a way that the objector will understand.  Sometimes the misunderstanding comes from not knowing the full context of that passage within its chapter or book or within the Bible as a whole, which would require Biblical Theology.  Other times the misunderstanding might arise from a lack of knowing the cultural context, historical context, literary type, or the Biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek, which would require Exegetical Theology to resolve the doctrinal misunderstanding behind the objection.

The Apologist would need to know Historical Theology, which deals with the history of the church and church movements.  This might be necessary to know in order to answer objections to the church’s involvement in the Crusades, or objections that there isn’t satisfactory archeological proof to back up the Bible’s claims.

The study of Philosophy from different worldviews would be necessary to understand and relate to the mindset of anyone an apologist might meet.  Philosophy is good for the apologist too, because it helps the apologist build reasons for the Christian faith based on reason and logic, so as to be able to make a defense for the existence of God without needing to use the Bible.  This is important because if someone doesn’t already value the Bible as the Word of God or agree with its historical reliability then it has no authority or reason to be trustworthy to that person.

Pastoral Theology is also necessary in apologetics.  Many people may offer objection after objection and hear answer after answer but never come to faith, not because the answers weren’t satisfactory for their intellectual yearning, but because of another issue in their life: a vice or lifestyle they refuse to give up, growing up in an abusive Christian family, hurtful words from a pastor or church member, or some other personal issue apart from “head knowledge” objections to the Christian faith.

A Christian apologist must also study other religious faiths. It’s important to be able to show that you care enough about a person to take the time to learn and understand what he or she believes without only having the agenda of changing his or her believes to yours.  Also, some religions might have similarities in beliefs, teachings, and practices as Christianity, and if so these similarities might be good starting points to create a bridge to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It’s also good to know what other religions teach so that the prevalent teaching that all religions are at their core the same, or that they all are just different ways to the same end, can be countered by actually showing the specific differences that make them each truly unique.

A good knowledge and following of pop culture is helpful for apologetics.  Television shows, movies, music, and art all tend to present a certain worldview or philosophy in life.  Evidence of this is the current fad of putting out books with titles such as The Philosophy of South Park, The Philosophy or Star Trek, and The Philosophy of the Simpsons.  Being aware of the religious imagery, ideas, and philosophy of the people an apologist interacts with is key to initiating religious conversations in a way that is not as confrontational and in fact natural – it’s simply talking about issues brought up in a movie.

Important to Remember

Apologetics is not purely an academic, “head” practice but it is also very a “heart” practice.  Apologetics is very much related to being considerate and polite when presenting the teaching of the Christian faith and always handling the objections to the faith out of love for the objector.  “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophesy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NIV).

It’s important to remember that apologetics does not save a person’s soul.  God saves people, all three persons of the Trinity – the Father through sending his Son and accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Jesus in offering himself as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world, and the Holy Spirit through creating faith in the hearts of men.  Christians should never lose sight of this, so that we remain ever humble and in prayer through all apologetic efforts, trusting that it is the Spirit at work in us to bring others into faith in Christ.

Finally, no Christian is off the hook when it comes to apologetics.  “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer [apologia – a defense] to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV).