MD 225 Apologetics

Purpose of the Course
The course “Apologetics” is designed to prepare every Christian and every student to defend their faith with proper reasoning based on the word of God.
A.      What is Apologetics?
  The word “Apologetics is derived from the Greek word “apologetikos”, which signifies the art of giving appropriate reply.
B.      Definition of the Christian Apologetics
  It is the scientific vindication of the divine origin of the Christian faith.  It is a sincere attempt to develop a complete system of proofs in favour of Christianity.
C.      What is the definition of Christian Evidences?
                   It is a method of presenting the scientific proofs of the divine origin of the Christian faith.  Christian Evidences are closely related with Apologetics.  Christian Evidence has three  major branches, namely Historical Evidences, Archaeological Evidences and Scientific Evidences.  The Bible and Christian faith are defended from these three aspects generally.
D.      Who is an Aploogist?
                   An apologist is the one who engages in the vindication of Christianity, using all Christian Evidences available.
E.      Jesus Christ,  the Greatest Apologist
                   Our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself was the greatest apologist, when he was doing His earthly ministry.  He defended the scripture, the existence of God, eternal things etc.
  • He recognized the authorship of Moses regarding Pentateuch, including Genesis, especially Gen. 1-11 chapters. (Mt. 5 : 17-20 ; 19 : 4-9 of Gen. 1 : 27 ; 2 : 24).
  • He rebuked, the Sadducees for their misunderstanding of God’s power and eternal resurrection. Mt. 22 : 23-33.
                   He always gave fitting reply to His opponents so that they could not answer to His questions (Mt. 22 : 41-46).  Although Jesus Christ is our Saviour, He was the greatest apologist during his earthly life before His death and resurrection.
F.      Apostles played the role of  Apologist
                   Apostles were the “living apologists” of their days.  They were living apologists for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  By saying boldly that they were the eye witnesses for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, they could defend their faith and message of the gospel.  Act 2 : 22-36 ; 4 : 20 ; 1 Jn.         1 : 1-2.
                   The four gospels, the acts of apostles, the epistles were written with the apologetic purpose primarily (Lk. 1 : 1-4 ; Jn. 20 : 30-31 ; 21 : 24-25 ; Act.          1 : 1-3).
                   Paul was  a good theologian as well as apologist.  He could convince many people through his intellectual arguments based on the Old Testament scripture.  His apologetic argument is summarized in Rom. 1 : 4-7.
G.      The Qualifications to be a Christian Apologist
  1. He should believe the God of the Bible (Heb. 11 : 6).
  2. He should believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God (2 Tim. 3 : 16-17).
  3. He must live a good Christian life. (1 Pet. 3 : 15).
  4. It is good to have a sufficient knowledge of church history and Christianity.
  1. The Biblical ground for Christian Apologetics
                   God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible writers defended the truth and opposed the errors.
          God            –        Isa. 1 : 18 ; 5 ; 41 : 21
          Jesus Christ –        Mt. 12 : 23-37
          Paul            –        Acts 17 ; Romans
                   So we have to defend our Christian faith as they did.
  1. The Biblical Teaching in Support of Apologetics
                   As Jesus Christ, the apostles and the early Christians defended the Christian faith, every Christian is encouraged to be an apologist for his faith.  Apostle Peter has well stated about defending Christian faith in his epistle (1 Pet. 3 : 15).  Jude also wrote about it (Jd. 3).
                   “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and always be ready to give a defense to every one who ask you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3 : 15).
  1. The Use and Value of Christian Evidences in Apologetics
                   Christian Evidences can not provide immediate and compelling certainty.  But they can establish a high probability in favour of Christian faith.  Since probability is considered a safe and reliable guide in the practical affairs of life, it is inconsistent to refuse Christian Evidences on the grounds they cannot provide absolute certainity.  The best Christian Evidence is oneself (Yourself) and one’s life (Your life).  If a Christian life is consistent with the Bible, it is the greatest evidence for Christian’s faith.  Hence Christian’s life is the  strongest Christian Evidence.
  1. Three Facts that Show the Use and Value of Reason in connection with Apologetics
  1. Man can not believe what seem incredible.
  2. Most men resent mere dogmatic assertion, unsupposed by reason.
  3. If Christians do not defend their faith with possible evidences / proofs, unbelievers are likely to think that no defence exists for Christian faith.
                   Hence, every Christian must be ready to give answer about his faith. (1 Pet. 3 : 15).  When we give reasonable answers, the unbelievers may change their views about Christianity and they can even accept Christian faith.
  1. The Two facts why Christian Faith is not blind Credulity.
  1. The Bible itself warns against credulity but encourages right discernment (discrimination) Mk. 4 : 24, 25 ; Lk. 8 : 18 ; 1 Jn. 4 : 1 ; Acts. 26 : 25, 26.
“Test all things, hold fast what is good” (NKJV – 1 Thes. 5 : 21).
So the Bible encourages the Christians to examine all based on the scripture while believing (Act. 17 : 11).
  1. Many persons of great intelligence have faith in the Bible. Many good Scientists believed the God of the Bible.
  1. The Four Right Ways on How to Deal with Doubters
  1. Be kind; avoid stirring up ill will.
  2. Try to convince by sound reason. (Christian Evidence)
  3. Keep your motives pure to win them for Christ not win an argument.
  4. Pray earnestly for doubters.
Although we give reasons for our faith, it is God who changes him (doubter).
  1. The Wrong Ways of Dealing with Doubters
  1. Do Not call them (doubters) dishonest; because
  1. You can not be sure they are dishonest.
  2. You can not fully understand their difficulties, if you have never had them yourselves.
  3. Even if they are dishonest, your accusation can only produce their anger, not admission.
  1. Do not treat them with contempt.
  1. Do not threaten them with the references from a book (the Bible), the authority of which they have not yet accepted.
So we have to be very careful of dealing with a doubter.  We have to deal with a doubter lovingly; better with true Christian love.
III.    Various Kinds of Doubters
                   The doubters who believes neither the Bible nor God can be classified into eight major groups.
  1. Honest Doubters : They have real intellectual difficulties, but they are willing to have them resolved.  They usually became believers, sooner or later.
  1. Skeptics : They are more doubters, and often somewhat aggressive.
  1. Infidals : They are a vowed unbelievers, openly against Christianity and the Bible.
  1. Free – Thinkers : These are also a kind of infidels who by emphasis on the supposed incompatability of Christianity with reason.
  1. Lampooners : Those who used to  ridicule Christianity rather than argument are called Lampooners.
  1. Cavillers : Those who haggle about small matters in connection with Christianity are known as cavillers.
  1. Rationalists : Those who claim to make human reason the finar norm, but they use it against the Bible.
  1. Liberals / Modernists : Those who have some degree of Christian belief.  They claim themselves Christians, but reject orthodoxy.
Note : When we deal with doubters, if possible try to understand what kind of doubters they are.  This understanding will help you to deal with them wisely.  Always avoid hot arguments and disputes while dealing with doubters.  Maintain good friendship with them without leaving your Christian faith.  Be strong in the Lord when you deal with a doubter (2 Tim. 2 : 1).
  1. State What are the four Chief Causes of Doubt and How to Deal with them.
                   The four chief causes of doubts are Real Intellectual Difficulties, Moral cause, Lack of Information and Inconsistent Professing Christians.
Dealing these causes
  1. Real Intellectual Difficulties
                   They are honest doubters.  Remind them that even Christians have some intellectual difficulties or doubts at times.  Our intellect can not understand all about God, because our intellect is limited and finite (1 Cor. 2 : 7, 16 ; Mt. 22 : 29).
  1. Moral Cause
                   Those who have this cause resent the Bible because it rebukes them and threatens punishment.  Get them to examine their motives that they may realize this (They may have wrong motives in life).
  1. Lack of Information
                   They have only a fragmentary knowledge of the Bible.  They  know only the so called “flaws”, since they have never read any good books on apologetics.  If we give proper explanation to them, they may accept it.
  1. Inconsistent Professing Christians / Hypocrisy
                   We have to tell them that the Bible itself condemns hypocrisy (Mt. 6 : 2 ; 5 : 16 ; 15 : 7, 16).  More over, Get them to see that the use of the word “hypocrite”.  We should get them acknowledgement of
  • The possibility of the existence of the opposite (good things meant here).
  • The high ethical standards required by the Bible. Hence hypocrites are no measure of the excellence of the Bible.
This explanation may help for certain extent to remove the causes of doubt.
  1. What is the main proposition to be proved about the Bible? What is its advantage?
              Many think the Bible is the religious book of Christians.  So we have to tell them politely the proposition that the Bible is the special divine revelation of God to mankind.  If this proposition can be successfully proven, it will carry with it the proof of the divine origin of all the doctrines of the Bible.
  1. What are the three basic statements that help us to prove the proposition that the Bible is a Special Divine Revelation.
  1. The possiblility of Divine Revelation.
  2. The Probability of Divine Revelation.
  3. The written Revelation / Word of God (God made a book).
Let us discuss   these three statements step by step.  It will help us to realize the proposition that the Bible is a special revelation of God.
  1. The way to prove the possibility of a Special Divine Revelation
One can not deny the possibility of a specific effect (The effect here is the existence of a book from God), without logically first denying the possibility of the existence of a cause, sufficient to produce such an effect (cause sufficient here is the existence of God).  Hence, the possibility of the claims of the Bible being true must be admitted by anyone who believes in God, and the denial of this possibility can only be made by those willing to also  adopt atheism.
  1. The way to Prove the Probability of a Special Divine Revelation
                   The failure of man throughout history to solve his most urgent problem has culminated in a world of crisis of such serious proportions as to render highly improbable, his ability to even halt, let alone reverse, this world wide deterioration.  Men commonly attempt to alleviate and to correct difficulties related to that in which they have substantial interest, and it is therefore highly probable that God would do the same.
                   If every one walk according to God’s word, there may not be beggars.
  1. What Fact helps us to show the reasonableness of God giving a written revelation.
                   Experience has proven the untrustworthiness of memory and oral traditions, but has also proven that much higher trustworthiness of written history.
                   However, some object this.  Their objection is “If God was really, virtually concerned with man, He would convey to each man a subjective revelations”.
                   The answer to this objection is as following:
                   We are in no position to determine what mode God would use; we can only determine that the mode used would be sufficient to accomplish His purpose.  Here the mode used is the written form.
The written form is the Bible, the word of God – read, lived and spoken.
If we use these three statements (A, B & C) to prove the proposition  that the Bible is the special Divine revelation, many may accept our claim of the Bible.
  1. Contrast the Demonstrative Proof and Evidential Proofs
Demonstrative Proof:
It is that which compels belief (For example) That which we receive directly through our senses of sight or touch or that which can be proven mathematically.
Evidential Proof :
It is that which depends upon the gathering and weighing of evidence, even if this be a rapid and simple process. (For example) A jury must decide the guilt or innocence of a man charged with murder, when the absence of any eyewitness to the crime requires the weighing of circumstantial evidence.  In such instances, relative certainty as to guilt is considered on entirely reasonable grounds for rendering a verdict of guilty.
In such a manner, it may be shown that faith in the Bible is more reasonable than doubt; by the persuation of evidence which points to this conclusion.
  1. Distinguish between Internal and External Proofs
A.   Internal Proofs are those proofs which are gained from an examination of the Bible itself (Proofs taken from Bible verses).
Eg. The superior ethics of the Bible.
  1. External Proofs are those proofs which are gained from sources outside the Bible.
Eg. Archaeological confirmations of the Bible facts and Bible history.
  1. The Role of Archaeology in Christian Apologetics
              In the last century, there were many attacks on the Bible regarding the history recorded in it.  However, many Christian archaeologists took great efforts to prove the history, mentioned in the Bible.  By their sincere efforts, they proved many facts concerning the Bible.  For example; some questioned about Hittite Kingdom.  In the last century, Christian archaeologists found the facts about Hittite Kingdom.  It proved that every statement recorded in the Bible is true.  Archaeology has confirmed the historical accuracy of the Bible.  (For more details of Christian Archaeological findings, study the subject “Bible Archaeology”.  This subject is also available in CALS).
  1. The Superiority and Purity of the Bible’s ethics
              This is generally admitted by those best qualified to such a pronouncement; students of comparative religion.  The value of the testimony is enhanced by the fact that many of these scholars make no Christian profession.
              The Bible has given us the best ethical teachings on Marriage, Sex, Adultary, Divorce, Money etc.  Ethical teachings of Jesus Christ is well appreciated by non-Christian scholars too.  This makes one thing clear that the Bible has superior ethics than any other scriptures of other faiths.  This superiority of Bible ethics is possible, since it is God’s revelation.
  1. The Unity and Consistency of the Bible Teaching
              Although the Bible was written by about 40 authors over a period of not less than 1600 years, these 66 books reveal a consistency through out for which there is no parallel in literature and which demands for its most plausible explanation – the constant exercise of a single superintending mind.
  1. The support for Bible’s Appearance of Truthfulness
              The appearance of truthfulness is supported by an already substantial and still increasing amount of archaeological confirmation of this historical data (Bible Data).  A large amount of literature has already been produced in this area and new works are constantly appearing.  It should be noted that some of the strongest affirmations for the historical accuracy of the Old Testament have come from archaeologists who are not identified with historic Christianity.
  1. The efficiency of the Bible to meet the human needs
  1. It satisfies man’s longing for communion with God.
  2. It provides power for man’s conscious weakness.
  3. It affords comfort in adversity.
  4. It promises the solution of all human problems.
  5. It satisfies the desire to be right with God.
  6. It cancels / removes the fear of death (Heb. 2 : 15).
Since the Bible has efficiency to satisfy the human needs (soul’s need), it must certainly be from God.  Because God can satisfy a human soul.  The Bible, as God’s word only satisfies the human soul.
  1. The Unique Character of Jesus Christ
Jesus made claims inequalled by any other man who has ever received a substantial following including persons of acknowledged intellectual achievements and honesty.
Although He claimed to be
  1. i) God incarnate.
  2. ii) The only Saviour of mankind.
iii)     The one who would ultimately judge the world.  He was nevertheless humble and unaffected.  The ideal example of that servanthood to which he called his disciples.  Indeed, the character of Christ is so unique that he has been admired and lauded by many who are not Christians but who have placed him at the very apex of all those man of the past who have lived exemplary lives.
  1. Faultless Life of Jesus Christ
During His earthly life, Jesus Christ lived the most perfect life.  The people lived contemporarily during his life time could not find any fault on Him.  He often challenged that “who can accuse of me”.  Even his opponents could find any charge on Him.  The rulers (Pilate and Herod) could not find any unlawfulness in Him. (Lk. 23 : 4, 14, 15, 22, 47 ; Mt. 27 : 54 ; Mk. 14 : 55-57).  His haters (Pharisees / Sadducees) could not prove any charges on Him (Mt. 26 : 59-60).  Judas, the betrayer confessed that “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (Mt. 27 : 4).  All these evidences show that Jesus Christ lived the perfect faultless life.
  1. The Resurrection of Christ
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is questioned by critics of the Bible.  One cannot prove it scientifically.  However the facts concerning resurrection of Christ are proven sufficiently by apostles to the doubters of the first century.  Apostles said, “we are eyewitnesses of His resurrection” (1 Jn. 1 : 1-2).  Apostle Paul wrote “there are more than five hundred witnesses” (1 Cor. 15 : 6).
Two witnesses are necessary to prove any regarding the law suit.  But in the case of resurrection of Jesus, there were more than 500 witnesses.  This itself is sufficient as a proof for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  1. The changed life of Disciples – A positive proof of Jesus’ resurrection
The remarkable change in the life of disciples is a positive evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  They were cowardice after the death of Christ.  They all ran away from Jesus, when He was crucified (Mt. 26 : 56 ; Mk. 14 : 50).  But when they saw the resurrected Christ with His glorified body, they got boldness to face the opposition.  They boldly said, we are witnesses of His resurrection” (Acts 2 : 32).  They preached the gospel boldly for the sake of resurrected Christ.  They suffered infact they died for the sake of gospel.  They got this boldness by seeing the resurrected Christ (Acts 4 : 29, 31).
  1. Conversion of Paul – A Proof for Jesus’ Resurrection
Saul was the Hebrew name for Paul.  He was vehemently persecuting Christians when he was in Judaism.  He even took part in killing Stephen (Acts 7 : 58 ; 8 : 1).  He was a leader of those who persecuted Christians.  He led a team to kill Christians in Damascus (Acts 9 : 1-2).
He became a Christian, and stopped all his violent acts against Christians.  He preached the gospel of Christ (Act 9 : 20).  After his conversion he suffered much for Jesus Christ.  His life was changed.  He was a murderer before his conversion, but he became a missionary after conversion.  This change was possible, since the resurrected Christ had changed his life completely.  Hence the changed life of Paul was a great proof of Christ’s resurrection and of Christianity.
  1. The Prophecies of the Bible (Biblical Prophecies)
Man may know the future from his past and present understanding for some extents.  But the Bible prophecies (Predictions) are different from this (such future predictiobn – like  politics and economics).  The Biblical prophecies have the following special characteristics.
  1. The Biblical prophecies contain numerous details.
  2. They contain concerning events far remoted in time from the life of the writer.
  3. They contain no element for which they were present indications (indeed, some elements were strongly opposed by existing circumstances, then).
  4. They are beyond the power of any person or group of persons in fulfill accidentally or intentionally.
These characteristics are seen in all Biblical prophecies.  Such predictions fulfilled in the history accurately.  Some prophecies were predicted more than 100 years earlier of their actual fulfillment. (Ex. Cyrus, the King of Medo-Persia – Isa. 45 : 1).
  1. Bible’s influence in the Society / Social Issues
  1. Like Paul, many notable conversions have been repeated many times in the history of Christianity. The drastic changes in these lives have been recorded in detail and are well attested as to their truthfulness.  No such results have ever followed in the lives of those who have submitted wholeheartedly to infidelity and rationalism; but often the opposite has resulted in those who followed rationalism (atheism).
  2. Bible’s influence on communities is also remarkable. The best civilization goes with the Bible.  The more widely is its influence, the more substantial and beneficial the changes wrought.
Eg.    Education in under development communities.
          Institutions of mercy (Social work organizations).
Elevation of women.
                   Note :  Christians were pioneer in Social work for others
  1. Is there any historical error in the Bible?
Detailed Answer : The answer is that there exists no proven historical error in the Bible.  Many have been claimed but all have been shown to be without basic truth / value (proof).
  1. Proof for Historical Accuracy of the Bible
          There are many evidences available in the modern findings to prove the historical accuracy of the Bible (Example).
          Until 1860 AD, no evidences existed to support the existence of the Hittites, referred to well over a dozen times in the Old Testament.  Canon Cheyne, a leading Scholar and Clergyman in England at that time, wrote in the Encyclopedia Britanica that these “unsupported” references were “unhistorical”; a perilous and highly illogical  method of reasoning and which would; if carried out consistently put the Bible writers on the defensive at every point of their unconfirmed testimony concerning matters of history.  But in 1888, archaeological evidence enabled Dr. A.H. Sayce, to publish his book entitled, “The Hittites, the story of a Forgotten Empire”.  This finding about the Hittite Empire proved the historical accuracy of the Bible.
  1. Does Science disprove the Biblical claims?
Note :  Scientists could never disprove the Bible.  However, they make contradicting statements against the Bible.  They can never prove their points / statements, just because they make statements against the Bible.  Even in the matter of Darwin Theory (Evolution Theory), they made up a theory against the Bible.  But, till today they could not prove it.
  1. The Statement of Rudolf Virchow, the Father of Modern Medicine.
The name of Rudolf Virchow is second to none in the history of physiological study.  For 30 years president of the Berlin Anthropological society, he occupies the unique distinction of being called “the father of modern medicine”,  as the result of having discovered the germ theory of disease.  He has been rightly called the greatest benefactor to the human race in modern times.  He said,  “It is all nonsense.  It can not be proved by science that man descended from the ape or from any other animal”.  Since the announcement of the theory, all real scientific knowledge has proceeded in the opposite direction.
Note :  According to these Scientific findings Darvin theory is wrong.
  1. Science contradicts Science. Prove it.
Science often contradicts its own findings.  One scientist’s statement or finding is rejected by other.  More recently, they have made one of such contradicting statements.
Example :  Pluto has been considered as one of the planets for more than 70 years.  However, the scientists have dropped it from the list of planets in October 2006.  Pluto is not a planet.
Question :  Since science often contradicts itself, How can we fully depend on science? 
  1. Are the Biblical miracles possible?
Yes.  The miracles mentioned in the Bible are possible.  (Here, The Biblical miracles are different from the so-called miracle activities of today).
  1. The Miracles of the Bible Days
The miracles happened during the Bible days were the direct intervention of God in the nature.  The critics say miracles are anti-natural.  Our answer to their criticism is that the miracles are not anti-natural but the Biblical miracles are supernatural.  Since God is supernatural being.  He can do supernatural acts – by intervening temporarily in the nature.  We should not compare the supernatural being (God) with nature.
  1. The Supernatural Acts of Supernatural Being
The supernatural acts are possible with God.  God is the one who made the natural laws of universe.  Since He made such natural laws, He can temporarily suspend such natural laws when He wants.  As the maker designer and author of natural laws, God has every right to suspend those natural laws those he made when it is necessary.
  1. Define and Refute Atheism
This word is derived from the Greek “Theos” (God) with the negative prefix added.  It therefore indicates, a denial of the existence of God.  Since, as we have seen, the theistic inference is natural and normal to all men, atheism must be considered an abnormality produced through a perversion of the reasoning faculty.  Hence atheism is a natural outcome of imbalanced mind.
          How to become the best Christian Apologist
  1. He should read the Bible regularly and systematically, so that he can be well versed with the Bible. (Mt. 12 : 3,5).
  2. He should be a good Christian before the public.
  3. He should collect all positive information made by scholars of other faith in support of the Bible and Christianity.
  4. He must prepare himself as to how to answer to the criticism made against Christianity and the Bible.
  5. He should read the books on Christian Apologetics tirelessly.
Student’s Assignments
  1. Define Christian Apologetics.
  2. What are the qualifications of an Apologist?
  3. What is the Biblical teaching in support of Apologetics?
  4. What are the right ways to deal with doubters?
  5. What a person must do to become the best Christian Apologist.
Note : Write the answers for these questions and send them to CALS.  Write your Register Number and name on your answer sheets.