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, May 28, 2017

Quick Answers to the BIG 4 Objections to the Christian Faith

Having been involved in the realm of apologetics for quite a few years now. there are several objections or questions that come to the forefront over and over again. These objections impact in one way or another what I call the BIG FOUR: 1) the matter of whether or not truth is absolute or relative; 2) God's existence; 3) Biblical authority; and 4) the credibility and historicity of Jesus' resurrection.  In this post I would like to just provide for you some quick responses so that you can keep them at your fingertips or in a folder and refer back to them when you need them.  Also I pray that what is provided here, will put you in a mode to research and reinforce these quick answers. 

Question #1:  Is truth absolute or relative? 

Many people today wrestle with this idea of truth being relative. Some even question whether or not truth exists.  Some people take things that are mere preferences (subjective) and try to make them absolute (objective). But truth is not like favorite ice cream flavors or brands of clothing. There are three major laws of logic.  One is the Law of identity where A = A.  Another is law of non contradiction, where there cannot a be statement that is both truth and false at the same time (A not = non A).  The last one undistributed middle (1. Jesus was a moral teacher.  2 Buddha was a moral teacher.  3. Therefore they are the same.)  Truth by definition is that which corresponds to reality and is objective whether the one embracing relativism likes it or not. Truth points to the One who gave us truth, because His attribute is truth (John 14:6).

Question #2:  How can we know that God exists?

Something inside us causes us to investigate outside of the five senses of sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch. That investigation pushes us to look to the origin of the universe, asking questions like where do I come from? Why am I here? What is the starting point of right and wrong? And where am I going after this life is over?  From science we can see that the universe has a beginning, that it has design, and that there is a moral element to the universe.  Anything that has a beginning has a beginner. Anything that has a design has a designer. And the very fact that morals exist let's us know that there is a Moral Lawgiver.  That beginner and designer of the universe must be Uncaused.  That Uncaused Cause is who we know and understand to be the God who started and designed the universe and us and gave us a moral law.  

Question #3: Have the New Testament Documents been changed or corrupted?

Given the fact that the original documents no longer exist, and that there are some over 400,000 variant texts, scholars engage in a science what is called textual criticism.  The goal of textual criticism is to reconstruct the wording of ancient texts. We have over 5800+ Greek New Testament parchments and fragments along with hundreds of Syriac, Coptic and Latin manuscripts. With the plethora of manuscripts (handwritten copies), and early manuscripts, this science can be done with a great deal of precision. The New Testament documents have more manuscripts and earlier manuscripts with a few being within 25-30 years of the original texts with more accuracy than any work of ancient classical literature. The very fact that the New Testament has been copied to a precision of 99.5% accuracy, and with all the over 400,000 variant texts out the .5% in question doesn’t impact a single core doctrine of the Christian faith.

Question #4: How do we know that Jesus' resurrection really happened?

Liberty University Historian and New Testament scholar Gary Habermas has collected over 1,400 of the most critical scholarly works written on historical Jesus studies between 1975 and 2003 and many of those writings are zeroed in on Jesus' resurrection. These works range from ultra-liberal to far-right conservative scholarship. Over this timeframe, Dr. Habermas discovered that virtually every scholar on both sides of the aisle agreed on several points that can be verified outside as well as inside the Bible, surrounding the resurrection of Jesus. Here are four of them :

1. It is a historical fact that Jesus died by Roman crucifixion.

2. Jesus’ disciples believed He rose from the dead and appeared to them, and they were willing to suffer and die for these beliefs.

3. Saul of Tarsus was the great persecutor of the early church who encountered the risen Jesus and  became the apostle Paul.  After his encountering the risen Jesus, he became one of the greatest defenders of the faith and evangelists, writing about 31% of the New Testament. Paul's conversion experience is irrefutable and verifies that the tomb of Jesus is a valid possibility along with the other factors listed here.
4. None of Jesus' half siblings believed He was who He claimed until after the resurrection.  James, the brother of Jesus was a skeptic James who suddenly converted after he believed he saw the risen Jesus.  This same James is the one mentioned in Acts 15 as the overseer at the Jerusalem Council. He also has a book of the New Testament attached to his name.

One final note, Dr. Habermas noted that around 75% of scholars also agree that Jesus’ tomb was found empty. The best explanation of these "minimal facts" is that Jesus was, in fact, resurrected from the dead!

Take these four responses and use them to share with those who are challenging your faith and the faith of your family and friends.  Please feel free to email me at realissueapologetics@yahoo.com if you have any questions that we can answer for you about these or other objections. 

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