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.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

What's Wrong with This Picture? When Churches Pitch Reason from Faith

Introduction.

This picture hit Facebook and caused a stir among many of us in the apologetics community. Some were face palming, others were just tweeting and commenting with UGH! There were even some questioning if this was for real, being suspicious that it was of a Photoshop picture. For me, I thought it would make a good blog posting of how some are helping along the conflict between faith and reason.

It is not my desire to further the viral nature of the picture. Nevertheless my intent is to address the message on the billboard (in the picture), and show how it could be an indicator for why a reasonable faith causes skittishness and is perhaps an unwelcome conversation in many churches across our land.

I plan to do this by giving just a quick summation of the logical problems the marquis' statement and the Scriptural problem going along with it.  By the time I close, my hope is that you will see how this statement breaks down, and why we need a revival of critical thinking and apologetics in the church today.

The Sign's Problem

The problem with the sign is two fold, having both a logical problem and a Scriptural problem.  Let's look at the statement and examine the wording and the logical fallacy interwoven in it.

Allow to restate the problem: The message on the sign saying, "Reason is the Greatest Enemy Faith Has" is an illogical statement.  How so?  Let's first look at the logical problem.

The Logical Problem

Looking at first glance at the statement, one would think that reason could be the greatest enemy to faith. In fact it is, if you have a faulty definition of faith and the misplaced role of reason. I will get to that in the second part of this section.

The logical problem with this marquis sign is that the creator of it had to use reason to say that reason is an enemy of faith. What do I mean? Is that statement in support of faith a reasonable statement?

The statement, "Reason is the greatest enemy faith has" is a statement about faith. It is expressing a  concern that reason is going to destroy faith if one uses reason (too much or too little) or any reason at all for that matter. The problem is that the creators of the sign used reason, to create what they thought was a reasonable statement about faith.

So my question is once again, did they create the statement on this marquis to be a reasonable one?  If the answer is in the affirmative, then the statement self-destructs. How so? The creator of the message used their reasoning to support their understanding and concern for "faith" by saying that one cannot  apply reason to faith, because reason is faith's greatest enemy.  The statement self implodes because it is not a logical statement.

The Scriptural Problem

The scriptural definition of faith, found in Hebrews 11:1, says nothing about pitching reason out the door to have a pure faith. In fact, if we were to look at that passage, it says, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

I am not going to get into an entire discourse on the subject of faith. Let me invite you to check out my posting on the Understanding the Meaning of Faith, that I wrote last May.  The problem with the statement on the marquis, at least from this writer's perspective, is that there is no room for evidence, in spite of the Scriptural definition given by the writer of letter to the Hebrews, who put "evidence" in the "definition."

The unfortunate thing about the marquis' message is that it plays right into the kinds of definitions being thrown down and used by those attacking the definition of "faith." We do not have to look to far to see the definitions on faith coming from the Dawkinses, Boghossians, and the Harrises. We can go on the social networking chat rooms and see how people are influenced by short-sighted definition which says that faith is, "believing something with no evidence."  This is not biblical faith, and not only real definition of faith.

Conclusion.

I could have jumped into this subject and written a long treatise. Let me invite you to go to the linked posting I wrote in May, which will give you the definition of faith.

When we talk about biblical faith, we are implying that we are trusting something or someone. We do this in familial relationships. We do this in the marital relationship. For those of use who serve or who have served in the military, we swore an oath to be faithful to the country and the support and defense of the Constitution. None of these things were blind "follow-ship" other than being faithful to carrying out the orders of an irresponsible commander.

When we get on a plane to fly from say Richmond to Providence or Boston, we know that the plane can fly, but we don't know the pilot. However we are trusting the pilot to get us from Point A to Point B.  That is trust. In the case of the Christian understanding of faith, we are trusting in the historical crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our redemption and salvation. And oh, we have reasons to have this kind of faith and believe it to be true.  That is what we call giving the evidence (apologetics) for having this warranted faith.

All this said, allow me to close with a quote from one of my favorite apologists, Ravi Zacharias. In his book A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism, he says the following:  "God has put enough into the world to make faith in Him a most reasonable thing, and He has left enough out to make it impossible to live by sheer reason or observation alone." God allows reasons for us to believe. The sign does not appear to be in agreement with reasons and faith being allies.

That said, the sign shows me a problem of encouraging the kind faith that is delusional and causes one to commit intellectual suicide.  The kind of faith encourage by that sign is NOT a biblical faith.







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