8 Ways You’re Doing Apologetics Wrong

From Caleb,

As I look around, I have come to realize a number of things Christians need to stop doing when it comes to apologetics. I am not perfect and boy oh boy do I mess these up sometimes, but my hope is that by the end of the article you will have realized an area you can improve your apologetic.

1.) You’re ONLY Doing Apologetics

Apologetics is great, but without the Gospel it is useless. The only productive thing that can be accomplished is debating if you’re well versed in apologetics but not sharing your faith. The apologetic information of the Christian has the power that it does because of the message of Jesus Christ. It has nothing to do with building strong, awesome arguments, but it has everything to do with the love of Jesus and his atonement for our sins on the cross.

2.) You Don’t Love the People You’re Talking To

Like #1 said, apologetics has everything to do with the love of Christ. Sometimes, utilizing apologetics can hurt, confuse, or offend the person that you’re talking to. As Christians, we know that what we are telling them is true, but if there is no love in the message, we will fail to communicate effectively. All love without truth is hypocrisy, and all truth with no love is brutality. The people you are talking to will sense this, and it will immediately become a turn-off that will turn their listening ears off and could potentially harden their hearts.

3.) You Use It to Boost Your Pride

This is a major no-go from God in everything, not just apologetics. In reality, using apologetics and sharing the Gospel is all about laying your pride aside and sharing the truth in love no matter what the cost is to you whether that’s losing your job, friends, possessions, or status. Plain and simple.

4.) You Don’t Use It to Share the Gospel

Using apologetics is great. Paul himself used as he said he reasoned in the Temple with the elders; however, Paul wasn’t reasoning with them simply for the sake of doing so or passing the time. He did it so that he could share the Gospel and communicate the Gospel more effectively with those around him. That is the purpose of apologetics; it was meant to go hand-in-hand with evangelism.

5.) You Don’t Use It

6.) You Don’t Think It’s For You

Allow me to blunt, so strap on you big boy/girl pants: If you do not think that apologetics is “for you” then you’re clearly not sharing the Gospel with people or interacting with unsaved people at all. If you are interacted with unsaved people and you’ve never had to use some sort of apologetics tactics or knowledge, you’re probably not taking your conversations with them past “Hi, how are ya?” These days you cannot avoid it, and if you are, this should raise serious concerns about how you’re practicing evangelism to the rest of the world around you.

7.) You Think It’s An Argument

If you’re in a conversation and are using apologetics, but you think it’s a argument, then you’re probably doing #1 incorrect as well. Using apologetics in a conversation is not something that you win or lose at; it’s just incorporating it into your conversations. We should not be aiming to beat another person down or to “win”; our aim should be sharing the Good News with them! If your aim is off, that means you’re striking out on #1 and #4.

8.) You Don’t Practice Conversation

Having all that information floating around in your head is like having an open fire hydrant: water is flowing with no direction. Without practicing these conversations in your mind, it’s impossible to direct, channel, and refine the information we are using in our conversations. Practicing using the information through imaginary conversations in your mind is like putting a fire hose on the fire hydrant: it allows you to pin point precisely how you want and would use the information you know in a real life conversation.

Why Christian Doctrine and Evolution Conflict

From Caleb,

As scientific research continues to grow and technology gets more advanced, the more Christianity is validated. This is found in the extreme complexity and fine tuning of life in the universe. With this being the case, is it possible that someday evolutionary theory and Christianity will merge together because of overwhelming scientific research? No, it won’t.

I want to start by making a clarification. There are two kinds of evolution: micro- and macro-. In micro-evolution, slight adjustments are made to a species that enhance its ability to survive in a given environment. These are also called adaptations. Macro-evolution, on the other hand, is when changes in a species lead it entirely change species. Micro-evolution occurs for certain, this is easily observable in nature. Examples of micro-evolution include, bacteria becoming resistant to a drug and Darwin’s Finches. There is poor evidence (none) for macro-evolution in nature, for more on this check out my podcast with Sean McDowell; however, in this blog, that’s not where I want to focus. I want to focus on why the theory of evolution can be harmful to following God.

Reality is the word theory has become thrown around. Both evolution and gravity are theories; however, there is clearly not as much evidence to support evolution as there is gravity. Also, if (macro-)evolution was true, why do so many people doubt evolutionary theory unlike gravity. There is clearly difference in the significance of the term theory among the scientific community. Just food for thought.

People have proposed the thought, “Why must they be separate? Couldn’t God have made all creatures through evolution?” Why yes, he very possibly could have. He’s God; he can do it however he wants. Although, I’ll tell you why I have strong reason to believe that he didn’t.

The fossil record shows that the population of animals on the earth looks more like an inverted pyramid: starting at the top there is a high population, and it decreases as you move down the pyramid. However, other people propose that there was one single organism and then all other organisms came from that. This is not what the fossil record shows. With the evidence that there were many more species and then it got smaller, it supports God creating all the animals on the earth like it’s said in Genesis.

This is another reason I think that God didn’t use evolution. Evolution steals glory right away from God. Evolution diminishes the creativity of God. It doesn’t make sense as to why Christ would use a scientific process to create life, when he could further display his glory by individually crafting each unique animal. It appears to be counter intuitive of how Christ does things throughout the course of the Bible. God is not random, and he does nothing blind; however, the process of evolution is blind. On top of that, unlike the rest of creation, mankind was created in the image of God and we have souls: we are different from all other creatures in this regard. Although, if we were to hold true to the theory of evolution, we would be considered no different than all other animals on the planet. There would be nothing unique about us, nothing worth saving. This directly conflicts with basic doctrine from the Bible.

How Can I Share My Testimony?

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

2 corinthians 5:20

This past summer I had an amazing opportunity to travel across the world and share my faith with those who have never heard the name of Jesus. In doing so, I gradually learned how to effectively share my testimony so that others would see the forgiveness of sins that is in Jesus Christ. I was taught a method that I shared with many believers in remote areas who needed to be discipled.

This method is simply called the 2, 3, 4 method. There are 2 parts to the Gospel: Your story and the story of Jesus. Remember that your story is only a part to the whole, much like a slice out of an apple. Your story is important, but keep it in the context of Christ. Your story includes 3 parts.

  1. Your life before you met/accepted Jesus into your life. When talking to people, tell them about who you were and how you acted before you accepted Jesus into your heart. In Acts 26:4-11 you can see Paul’s life before Christ.
  2. Next you share about how you met Christ and your transformation. Paul talks about his encounter with God on the road to Damascus in Acts 26:12-18. Many of us probably don’t have a story like Paul’s where God appeared to us on a road and blinded us, but some of us do. The fact is, however you met Jesus is just as important for Paul as it is you and I.
  3. Finally, the life you live after you accepted Jesus in your heart is what you share. Compare it to your previous life before Christ. Tell how you were once dead in sin, but now have assurance of eternal life. This part of Paul’s testimony is in Acts 26:19-23.

Sharing your testimony is crucial when you are trying to share the gospel with a neighbor or friend. Your story may be similar to theirs. They may be able to relate to your life before Christ, which may spur them on to learn more about this Jesus you are telling them about. Constantly practice sharing your story with friends and family so that you will be ready when God presents you with an opportunity to share your testimony.

Now, the second part to the Gospel is Jesus’ story. There are 4 parts to the story of Jesus.

  1. Judgement- We all face judgement for the sins in our lives. Romans 3:23 states that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We are all born with a sin nature and can do nothing on our own to fix this issue. Hebrews 9:27 says that “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” We will all be judged.
  2. Repent– Jesus taught us that we must repent- turn away from the sin in our lives. We must realize that we are all sinners and chose to run from that sin. In Matthew 4:17 Jesus said “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Without repentance, their cannot be turning away from sins, and therefore no forgiveness.
  3. Death– Through judgement and the knowledge that we have all sinned, it is then evident that this will lead to death. We all deserve death, both spiritual and physical. Romans 6:23 says that “The wages of sin is death.” The Bible tells us that Christ died for all; in Romans 5:8 it says that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ took death so that we don’t have to, he brings us hope!
  4. Resurrection/ New Life- Christ did not stay dead. He rose from the grave, conquering death and sin, enduring the sin so that we don’t have to. If we chose him, he will stand for us on judgement day, taking our sin and shame so that we can spend eternity in heaven with him. John 3:16 says that “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life. We have an inheritance in heaven with Jesus.

It is always important to talk about the story of Jesus when sharing the Gospel and your testimony. Make sure who you are talking knows that your new life is only possible because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, taking our sin and our shame.

Apply It!

Pray that God would give you 3 people this week that you could share your testimony and the Gospel with. Practice sharing your testimony with your family to figure out what you will say. Take courage and remember that God’s word will never return void! Follow his voice and share your story with those around you. If you don’t tell them, who will?!

Why Materialism Must be False

If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true…and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”

– C.S. Lewis

From Ben,

One of the issues with an evolutionary perspective is the idea of materialism. First off, let’s define materialism in these terms. Materialism is the idea that everything can be traced back to physical matter; there is no spiritual aspect to things or even a mind apart from a physical brain. Everything can be explained as a chemical interaction. But how can this be logical?

How can anything be logical if all thoughts are chemical reactions occurring in our brains.

The largest issue with this point of view that often comes to my mind is the conscience found in every person- the moral compass inside of us all that separates right from wrong and produces feelings of guilt. How are human beings born with an idea of what is good and what is bad? Materialism would say that it is all matter, there is no true good or bad because everything is simply chemicals reacting to create a response. Does materialism explain this idea of a conscience in humans? I believe it does not.

Another major issue with the idea that all things are only physical is the idea of truth itself. If every thought is simply chemicals interacting, then how can we trust anything that we say, or others say? The materialist point of view says that you have no control over what you say, think, and do, because it is all simply a physical interaction within your brain that does not involve immaterial feelings or knowledge. Once again, how can we believe in ourselves and those around us to make “good” choices when they actually have no control over their thoughts or actions.

How do beliefs and values play a role in a materialistic evolutionary perspective on the world? They simply don’t make any sense. The thought that unguided evolution would produce beings that hold believes, pursue truth, and have values does not directly align with evolution, nor materialism. Evolution simply cares about behaviors, not beliefs. Materialists have no substantial argument as to how the ability of humans to think and hold personal views on things developed from only physical matter.

This leads us to the incredible complexity of the world and all processes that occur within. As science has progressed and academia has been able to study life on a much more microscopic level, the simple theories of evolution have begun to fall apart. The chances that a random occurrence would cause such complex and incredibly-designed life forms is just not plausible or rational. In this case, there had to be something (or someone) immaterial, that is supernatural, that created and designed such processes. This view completely clashes with the views of a materialist who would believe that random events caused unguided evolution, which produced human beings.

Practical Application:

When talking to someone who you know as an evolutionist, bring up the idea of materialism. Ask them if they truly believe that every thought they have and every belief they hold is simply a chemical reaction occurring in their brain. Bring up the fact that if materialism were true, how could we know anything to be trustworthy or moral. Also, ask your friend about their conscience and if they feel guilt when they do wrong, then ask them to explain how this developed simply through matter. Always be polite and respectful, showing the love of Jesus in every response and interaction.

If you want to educate yourself further on the idea of materialism, I highly suggest researching and reading articles on Thomas Nagel. Nagel is an atheist, but is not afraid to say controversial things on reason and evolution itself.

Miracles: How do we know Jesus Performed Them?

The Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the raising of Lazarus, even the Old Testament miracles, all are freely used for religious propaganda, and they are very effective with an audience of unsophisticated and children

~ Richard Dawkins

From Caleb,

Miracles are what make the Gospels not only extraordinary but also cause for rejection by many people. If the Gospels were simply records of the life of a normal human being, people would have no problem accepting Jesus as a crazy Jewish rabbi that had some wacked-out teachings and created a large following. Historians and archaeologists support and validate that Jesus of Nazareth was a real man that walked the earth around two thousand years ago.

Josephus, who was 1st century Jewish Historian, was one of many historians to validate the life of Jesus. Many times in his writings he mentions Jesus. While there is record of a man named Jesus people may suggest the fact that it could have simply bee another man that went by the same name; however, this possibility it ruled out when we see how these historians specified the characteristics of Jesus and those who followed him. In these historical documents, most writers consistently talk about Jesus as “The King of the Jews”, or they mention how he gained a great crowd of Jewish followers.

From these sources and evidence within, it can be understood that these historians were writing about the same Jesus from the New Testament in the Bible. Although, despite having these external pieces of evidence, many people will deny the entirety of the Gospels because of the accounts of Jesus performing miracles.

How might you defend the fact that Jesus performed miracles? People won’t often deny the fact that he lived, but people will more often than not deny the things he did while he lived on earth. Josephus wrote not only about the life of Jesus but also the things that he did. Some speculate that Josephus had his writing edited and changed by a Christian writer after his death, which makes them unreliable; however, his writings have been sifted through by scholars and this is how they have determined the original copy of his writings were reliable. In his original Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3, Section 3, Josephus wrote this about Jesus:

“a wise man. He was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of people who receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following among many Jews and among many of Greek origin.”

These startling deeds are deeds far beyond what would seem in the natural realm of possibility; this greatly supports the claims of Jesus’s miraculous actions in the New Testament.

Since some may question the reliability of Josephus’s writings, another piece of evidence is from the Talmud, a collection of Jewish teachings based around the Old Testament, where they briefly document the nature of Jesus’s actions. The Talmud describes Jesus as a sorcerer who used the magic arts he learned in Egypt. All of these are great pieces of evidence for Jesus performing miracles.

Practical Application

How do you use this knowledge to share the Gospel with people? If someone directly objects to it, it is easy to simply answer the question with evidence, such as historians’ writing about the deeds of Jesus. When in a conversation talking about things that are doubtful, it is easy to transition and start talking about this topic. You could talk about how incredible it is that the miracles of Jesus seem so far fetched, yet there are even people that back it up. Then behold! The conversation has just begun!