What is Apologetics?

Apologetics may be simply defined as the defense of the Christian faith. The word “apologetics” derives from the Greek word apologia, which was originally used as a speech of defense or an answer given in reply. In ancient Athens it referred to a defense made in the courtroom as part of the normal judicial procedure. After the accusation, the defendant was allowed to refute the charges with a defense or reply (apologia). The word appears 17 times in noun or verb form in the New Testament, and both the noun (apologia) and verb form (apologeomai) can be translated “defense” or “vindication” in every case.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Challenges from 'Atheists': Why Do You Believe in the Christian God?

by Rob Lundberg

This is the first part of a series responding to questions that came from dialogues with atheists at March 24th's Reason Rally.

Christianity is a monotheistic faith.  However have you ever wondered about the other monotheistic faiths and why you believe in the Christian God of the Bible and not Allah?  Why do you believe differently from the Judaistic view of God?  

This question came from an atheist to me at the Reason Rally in the form of "why do you believe in the Christian 'God'?"  You know I had never been asked that question before.  However with a pause and a little thought, it really was not difficult a question.  Christian need to know how to answer this question, which is another reason to have apologetics training in our churches.

Dissecting the Question.

Whenever a question like this comes to the "table,' it is important to think about any alternative options that might come to the forefront.  Really this question is not difficult and it comes from the idea of religious relativism and the thinking that "if all gods are the same, why believe in the Christian "God?"  The question also self-destructs when one examines the popular world religions and their ideas of "God."

Breaking It Down.

First off the question shows an ignorance (in a positive sense) of world religions.  Not all religions say the same things.  All religions are superficially the same in that they try to answer the question of ethics (what is right and wrong?), and metaphysics (what is real?), and even epistemology (how does one know what is knowable?).   They all have answers to the four (4) fundamental questions that every worldview must answer cohesively:  (a) origin (Where do I come from?), (b) meaning (Why am I here?), (c) morality (How can I change?) and (d) destiny (Where am I going once this life is complete?).

These questions are the fundamental questions that every worldview must answer cohesively.  Bearing on this thought, every religion is within the scope of a worldview.  Of the four major world views (monotheism, atheism, pantheism and polytheism) each have their views of God's essence, existence or non-existence. 

From the monotheistic religions we have Christianity, Judaism and Islam.  All three of these religions believe that "God" is personal, in that "God" (Elohim and Allah) are personal entities but they are NOT THE SAME.  The question that remains, is is this "God" knowable in that can one know this "God" on a personal level?   

The answers even within the scope of monotheism differ.  How is this?  Certain strains of Judaism say "yes" and others say "no."  Islam says "no"you cannot know Allah personally.  More could be said about this and perhaps if you would like to pose a question below, I can treat this further.

Within the scope of the pantheistic religions of Hinduism and the Mahayana school of Buddhism, "God" is impersonal, and unknowable.  The concept of pantheism ("everything is "god"") separates these religions' views of God from the monotheistic religions.   The Theravada school of thought within Buddhism is more atheistic than the Mahayana school of thought. 

Mormonism, which professes to be a strain of Christianity is polytheistic in that there are many gods, and that Jesus is the only God in which they have to do.  This concept of polytheism falls under a henotheistic view of the metaphysical understanding of "God's" existence.  By henotheism, I refer to the belief and worship of a single god (in the case of the LDS that is Jesus) while accepting the existence or potential existence of other gods and goddesses. 


So why do I believe in the Christian God?  It is because the Christian God is self-existent, uncaused First Cause.  The Christian God, being uncreated, that is God is not created by human hands, unlike the pagan religions and in the minds of the atheists who contrive a God different from what I am describing, so as to try and defend their own personal rhetoric.  Not only is the Christian God these things, but God shows His personableness having created the universe from nothing, and fine tuned it for our existence (athropic principle). This same God is knowable in that He can be known through His Word (the Bible) and through an existential experience that is based on that Word.  The Bible is an historical record of His intervention into human history and describes Jesus who is fully God and fully man,  coming to demonstrate the life of God in front of sinful human beings, ultimately dying on a cross for the sins of humanity, and rising from the dead in the same body in which He was crucified.   Personal, loving, holy, just, and righteous.  Nothing can be said of the gods of Islam, and the pantheistic religions. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

How to Get Apologetics In Your Church Series at Apologetics 315

Why Apologetics Matters to Every Believer and Every Church* 
by Lenny Esposito

“Apologetics? What are you apologizing for?” “Is that a class that husbands are supposed to take?” “What is that?” These are questions I hear frequently whenever I mention the study of apologetics. It probably comes as no surprise the word “apologetics” is foreign to most people, even who are a part of the Christian church. Evangelicals, who define themselves by their passion to follow Jesus’ command to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations”(Matt. 28:17) will usually look quizzically ... more »

Editor's Note:  If you are not familiar with Apologetics 315 and the first series of installments on "How to Get Apologetics Into Your Church", you can obtain the first edition by clicking here.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Remembering Chuck Colson, A Great Statesman

Shortly after the Lord intervened in my life in 1980, I heard about Prison Fellowship and the man who started it, Chuck Colson.  I read his book of his personal testimony entitled Born Again.  As a pastor we took our men through his great study, How Now Shall We Live?, which was a study on world views.

Our prayers are with Chuck's wife Patty, his family and those with whom he ministered alongside.  He will be sorely missed, but we know that he is in the presence of his Lord and will be receiving his crowns to cast at Jesus' feet for his faithful witness and service to equipping the saints.

 LANSDOWNE, Va., April 21, 2012— Evangelical Christianity lost one of its most eloquent and influential voices today with the death of Charles W. “Chuck” Colson. The Prison Fellowship and Colson Center for Christian Worldview founder died at 3:12 p.m. on Saturday from complications resulting from a brain hemorrhage. Colson was 80.   To read the article on the BreakPoint ministry page Click here.

For those who saw a news story on this past Thursday. . .
April 19 9:24 AM - Note It was erroneously  reported that Chuck Colson had died last night. Prison Fellowship Ministries contacted the CBN network, which had issued the report. PFM CEO Jim Liske confirms that Chuck is still with us. The report, which was picked up by some media outlets, was an error. CBN retracted the story.  More here: colsoncenter.org/topnews/entry/44/19233.

Also from the Chuck Colson.Org website. . .
The Colson family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Charles Colson Legacy Fund. Condolence cards may be sent to Prison Fellowship Ministries, 44180 Riverside Parkway, Lansdowne, VA 20176.

Other Blogs Writing Posting on Chuck's Influence and Passing:

Tom Gilson, Thinking Christian Charles Colson 1931-2012
The FoxNews Report, Watergate Figure Chuck Colson Dies of Illness, 80
Remembering Chuck Colson, http://chuckcolson.org/?r=colson

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Half of All Americans Believe Bible, Quran, Book of Mormon Hold Same Truths

By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter

An in-depth study released by the Barna Group on behalf of the American Bible Society found that 50 percent of Americans believe the Bible, Quran and the Book of Mormon hold different expressions of the same truths. The survey also found that Americans' reliance on the Bible has decreased slightly in 2012 from 2011, although the Christian holy book retains an important place in people's lives.

The study, which was conducted in March and surveyed over 2,000 adults through phone and online interviews, found that 85 percent of American households own a Bible – although that number was down from 88 percent in 2011. Similarly, 48 percent agreed that the Bible has all the knowledge needed to live a meaningful life, while that number was 53 percent in 2011.  To read the rest of the article click here.

Editor's note:  This is one reason why we need apologetics training happening in the church.  To think that the Bible, and a religion like Islam with a totally different source book believed to be a revelation from Jibrial to Muhammad as the same?  

Here is something to think about.  First off a Muslim believes that the Old Testament (I'll call Absolute "A") was replaced by the New Testament (Absolute "B").   In AD 632, the Qur'an was completed, and the Muslim who holds tenaciously to the Qur'an believes that it and it alone is the supreme revelation of all revelations from God (who they call "Allah").  That would make the Qur'an Absolute "C."  

So in the Muslim mind, Absolute "C" has replaced both Absolutes "A" and "B."  What is to keep Absolute "D" from coming along?  That is where the Book of Mormon comes in, which has NOTHING similar to the Bible other than sounding like the Book of Isaiah with all its, "it came to pass" phraseology.  

Unless we start training the church why Christianity is true, the church in this country is headed for the precipice of insignificance in this country very quickly.  We need to get away from numerical growth and focus on spiritual maturity growth if the church is going to survive in this country.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

BREAKING: Pro-life, pro-family Evangelical leader Chuck Colson dying, prayers requested

by John Henry Westen

LANSDOWNE, Va., April 18, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Jim Liske, CEO of Prison Fellowship Ministries, gave the following update this morning to the staff and supporters of Prison Fellowship, Justice Fellowship, and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview:

“Dear Friends:
It is with a heavy, but hopeful heart that I share with you that it appears our friend, brother, and founder will soon be home with the Lord. Chuck’s condition took a decided turn yesterday, and the doctors advised Patty and the family to gather by his bedside.

As you know, Chuck underwent surgery more than two weeks ago to remove a pool of clotted blood on the surface of his brain. And while we had seen some hopeful signs for Chuck’s recovery—including his ability to talk happily with Patty and the kids—it seems that God may be calling him home.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus? A Short Summation

What makes Christianity different from other religions? It is that the Founder of the Christian faith rose from the dead. As you celebrate this resurrection season, let me give you three facts that give validity to Jesus’ resurrection. His resurrection was foretold in the Old Testament, prophesied by Jesus himself, and those who claimed to be eyewitnesses were willing to die for believing in a resurrected Christ. These are three truths you can share with others as you explain why you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ.

Truth #1: Old Testament Prophecy Predicted Jesus’ Resurrection.

Jesus is unique among all people in history in that he is the fulfillment of centuries of Messianic prophecies, which are found in the Old Testament of the Bible. These prophecies foretold his place of birth, details of his life, his mission, his nature, his death, and his resurrection. Some scholars estimate that there are more than 300 Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament that refer to the Messiah (Jesus). One is Psalm 16:10-11:
You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay. You will make known to me the path of life. In Your presence is fullness of joy. In Your right hand are pleasures forever.
Peter preaching on the day of Pentecost says that this psalm is a prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection (see Acts 2:25-28 & 31) − Jesus’ body would not undergo decay. The Apostle Paul, speaking at a synagogue service, also connects Psalm 16 with Jesus’ resurrection:
Therefore David also says in another psalm,
“You will not let your Holy One see corruption.”
For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption (Acts 13:35-37).
Truth #2: Jesus Prophesied His Own Resurrection.

Jesus spoke openly about what would happen to him when he came to Jerusalem:
The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again (Mark 8:31; see also Matt. 17:22; Luke 9:22; and John 2:18-21).

Those who consider the resurrection of Christ unbelievable conjecture that the early church put these statements in Jesus’ mouth well after his death. But anyone giving an honest reading of the Gospels can come to their own conclusion that Jesus himself often spoke of his resurrection.

Truth #3: The Change in and Commitment of the Eyewitnesses.

Up to this point we have seen that the Old Testament predicts the resurrection of the Messiah. Second we see that Jesus makes more than one statement about his own death and resurrection. This now brings us to a quick look at three key facts that cannot be denied. In fact most scholars find these facts hard to refute.

First, it is a historical fact that Jesus was crucified by the Roman government (Matthew 27:31-56; Mark 15:20-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:16-30). Secular writers like Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, Mara-Bar Serapion, and the Talmud all record his crucifixion as a historical fact!

Second, the disciples went from scared believers to bold eyewitnesses of a resurrected Messiah (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16; Luke 24:1-43; John 2:22; ch 20; 21:1-23). They also proved their conviction in Christ’s resurrection by being willing to pay with their lives for saying that “Jesus is Lord.” For example, Luke records the martyrdom of James, the Son of Zebedee (Acts 12:1-12), one of the apostles of Jesus. Jewish secular historian, Flavius Josephus confirms the execution of James in his Antiquities of the Jews, Book 20 ch. 9. The eyewitnesses were willing to die for their claim of that Jesus was still alive!

Third, there was a first century religious “terrorist,” known as Saul of Tarsus who persecuted the Christian church. But Paul claims to have encountered the risen Jesus on his way to imprison Christians (Acts 8:1; 9:1-22; 17, 19, 20; 22:6-21; Phil. 2:2-11). Paul was a fanatical Pharisee and a student of the great Jewish rabbi Gamaliel. All these led him against a belief in Jesus’ resurrection. But his conversion, subsequent mission work, and suffering for his faith are a testimony to the reality of Jesus’ resurrection and of his appearance to Paul (Acts 9:15-16).

The message about Jesus Christ can be summed up this way. Paul said:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures . . . (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
The resurrection cannot be taken out of the Christian message. IF Jesus is not risen from the dead, Paul himself says that his message is WORTHLESS! (1 Cor 15:12-19). BUT if Jesus is risen, then we have victory over our sins and hope beyond the grave. These three truths testify that Jesus is RISEN!
Rob Lundberg is the Director of Stand4Truth.Net Apologetics Ministries. Rob is available to speak to your church or your group. For more information go to http://www.stand4truth.net or email Rob at stand4truthapologetics@gmail.com. Have a question needing answered? Call 540.424.2305.  

Note:  This text is available in a PDF format for your church bulletin.  If you would like a copy email us at stand4truthapologetics@gmail.com and we will get it out to you before Sunday morning.  Blessings, RL.