Apologetics, Questions, Issues
Apologetics and You
by Ed Vasicek
Very soon, Hollywood will release a fiction movie titled The Da Vinci Code. The movie is based on the best-selling fiction book of the same title. The claims of the story contradict history and involve some blasphemous conjectures. The story claims that Jesus did not claim to be God and that such a belief was not propagated until the fourth century (This is absolute nonsense.). It also claims that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had several children, which coincides with Mormon belief, although Mormons believe He had several wives.
Although these claims are absurd, gullible people will fall for them. However, they will also produce positive results as we will be forced to think more deeply about defending our faith. The systematic defense of our beliefs is called "Christian Apologetics." Apologetics (which has nothing to do with saying, "I'm sorry," but more like, "I'm not sorry") involve answering questions or objections to Biblical doctrine, setting forth a positive case for Christianity, or creating a climate suitable for discussing the claims of Christ.
Most of us cannot argue apologetics on a high level, but all of us should be able to answer some of the most basic questions with simple, non-technical answers. So let me ask you, how would you answer the following questions: 1) How do I know the Bible is true? 2) Aren't all religions equal? 3) If there is a God, why do disasters happen? If you are not sure, read on. But do more than read on: learn the material below.
Let's take a look at the first question: "How do I know that the Bible is true?" The simplest answer for this one is the existence of the nation of Israel. The Bible tells us that Israel must survive because that nation plays a key role in the end times. Yet there was no nation of Israel from 70 A.D. (when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem) until 1948, when the U.N. proclaimed a Jewish state. Not only does their survival indicate the truth of Scripture, but the attempts to annihilate them evidence that another force is at work to prevent end-time events from occurring.
Another hands-on proof for the truth of Scripture is fulfilled Bible prophecy. We have copies of the Old Testament that are dated before the time of Christ, and the Jewish Bible is the same as the Christian Old Testament. Jesus fulfilled these prophecies, and there are too many and some are so specific that they could not have been fulfilled through coincidence. The prophecies predict the city in which Christ was born (Micah 5:2), His death, burial, and resurrection (Isaiah 53), and a host of other details.
The second question, "Aren't all religions equal?" is really based on some wrong assumptions. The question itself implies: "Since religions are pretend anyway, the purpose of religion is what it does for you or society." The problem is that Christianity is not a philosophy with some made-up miracles added on. Christianity is founded upon miracles and history, particularly the resurrection of Christ. If we believe that Christ rose from the dead, He is clearly authoritative in what He says. He is Lord, the Master, the one who has more authority than any others. And Christ taught that He was the only way to God (John 14:6). Christianity is not true because it works in lives, but, rather, it works in lives because it is true. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then Christianity is a false religion and offers a false hope. Jesus is either Lord, liar, or lunatic.
The separation of religious truth from actual history and logic comes from the assumption that religion is in the realm of pretending (which might be the actual belief of most religious people, although they would not put it so bluntly). Although Biblical Christianity does include a philosophy of life, it is a factual faith based on tangible and physical events in history. Just as 2+2=4, the Bible presents spiritual truth in the same manner. We do not have a "2+2= whatever-works-for-you." No, 2+2=4 whether you like it or not, believe it or not, or want it or not. We must come to a verdict: Biblical Christianity is either true or false.
The third question, "If there is a God, why do bad things happen?" presents a great opportunity for the Christian to show how the Christian faith is consistent with reality. Whereas some religions teach that evil is an illusion, while others teach that there is no real difference between good and evil, Christians believe that evil exists. Evil is the spoiling of the good. Whatever God creates is good, but He created creatures (man is among them) with the ability to choose the good or to spoil the good (evil). Because mankind chose evil, God has cursed His creation (all of nature). Part of that curse includes natural disasters.
But God knew this would all happen from the beginning. He planned a way to redeem this cursed creation by sending Jesus Christ to bear our sin and rise again. When we accept Christ, we are better off than we would have been without a cursed creation. God works a greater good by allowing evil now (Romans 8:28). Although we cannot understand how specific events contribute toward a greater good, the curse upon creation is temporary and will produce something all the better—for those who love God.
Therefore, evil is real, and we have hearts that are deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). The newspaper headlines are consistent with a Christian worldview.
Obviously, we could go much deeper into each of these matters, and there are hundreds of other questions people could and do ask, such as "Did Christ really rise from the dead?" or "How old is the universe?" Fortunately, our church library is stocked with a big Apologetics section and a Creationism section for further study. If you have access to the Internet, the www.christiananswers.net website can get you started.
Peter exhorts us, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter 3:15). Let me encourage you, if you cannot answer the above questions off the top of your head, study the material above until it flows. If you cannot understand the concepts, "say the words," and then you will probably catch on to the concepts. Only the minority of us will delve deeply into apologetics, but all believers need to know these ABCs.
Reprinted from the April 2006 Body Builder, a publication of Highland Park Church.
Highland Park Church
516 West Sycamore Street
Kokomo, Indiana, USA