“The apostle Paul says what many pioneers of modern science believed, that nature itself is part of the evidence for the existence of God, ‘Since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made. So that men are without an excuse.’” – John C. Lennox, PhD., Professor of Mathematics at Oxford
A key branch of Christian Apologetics focuses on the existence and workings of God being evident through the design, complexity and mathematical stability of nature. Following the evidence to the implications it makes, in my view, is real science. However, as a biology teacher I am up against the monopoly and stranglehold Neo-Darwinian philosophy has on the public school curriculum in the United States. Understanding how Apologists like the Apostle Paul dealt with the philosophies of the cultures he ministered to might be a good example for us to follow.
The Apostle Paul wrote a majority of the New Testament Epistles and in each one of them you can find a form of apologetics being used. During Paul’s three missionary journeys he ran into cultures that are remarkable similar to what we have today. Paul’s skill at evaluating people and their worldviews was incredible. He used what they already knew to point them to the existence of the one true God of the Bible. His use of history, philosophy and science was remarkable. This makes him an excellent role model in showing us how to approach people with different beliefs and concepts of truth, even through the public school curriculum if we dare.
Who was the Apostle Paul?
- Paul, also called Saul, was a Pharisee from Tarsus. (Acts 9:11; Philippians 3:5)
- He was present and gave his approval at the stoning of Stephen. (Acts 8:1)
- He persecuted the early Christians. (Acts 9:1-2; Galatians 1:13)
- On his way to Damascus he was called by Jesus to be an Apostle to the Gentiles. (Acts 9:4-9; 26:12-18)
- He spent time (probably studying) in Arabia before beginning his ministry. (Galatians 1:17)
- He became the first Jewish missionary for the Gospel to the Gentile world.
- He developed leaders and planted Churches along with his companions and associates Barnabus, Timothy, Silas, Apollos, John-Mark, and the husband-wife team of Priscilla and Aquila.
- Paul’s Epistles are letters to the Churches emphasizing the Gospel, the importance of taking it to the whole world, and how to defend against false teaching (apologetics).
- Physician and historian Luke chronicles Paul’s missionary trips and sets the blueprint for the time and background for each Church and Epistle. (Acts 13-28)
A defense of the Apostle Paul:
Some skeptics will try to discount Paul and his work. However, there is ample evidence for the validity and authenticity of his work and apostleship:
Here are some examples of how Paul was consistent with the other Apostles and New Testament writers:
- Paul’s Epistles teach the New Covenant of Jesus as the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant. (Romans 11:27, 2 Corinthians 3:6, Ephesians 2:12)
- Paul was accepted by the Apostles in Jerusalem and by those they sent out to work with him. (Acts 13-15)
- Paul became hated by his own group – the Pharisees. (Acts 21-26)
- Paul’s teachings are supported by both Peter and Luke in Scripture. (Acts 9, 13-28; 2 Peter 3:15-16)
- Paul’s humility as a servant of Jesus is seen through his teachings and through his encouragement to “check it out for themselves in the Scriptures.” (Acts 14:15-20)
- Paul rebukes people for trying to worship him or hold him in high esteem instead of following Jesus. (1 Corinthians 1:11-17)
- Paul lived at the same time as the other Apostles, disciples and eyewitnesses who knew the story of Jesus’ life and teachings and would have rebuked Paul if his teachings contradicted them or was not from God based on Scripture.
Chain of Custody:
We can trace the chain of custody of Paul’s teachings through his disciples starting with Linus (2 Timothy 4:21) who is historically recorded to have been the first Pope following the deaths of Peter and Paul. Clement of Rome (Philippians 4:3, his writings – AD 80-140) who may have preceded or co-lead with Linus. These are the group of men who were their successors: Evaristus, Alexander I, to Sixtus I, Telesphorus, Hyginus, Pius I (ca. AD 90-154). Pius I and Justin Martyr (AD 103-165) were in the same Christian community. Justin taught Tatian (AD 120-180). According to J. Warner Wallace, “Tatian’s work, combined with this ancient canonical list, acknowledges the early formation of the canon in the chain of custody from Paul to the late second century.” The chain of custody can be further corroborated and established through other Apostles (Peter, John, Mark) and their disciples.
What did Paul say about himself?
Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by his resurrection from the dead, according to the spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, for his namesake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;
– Romans 1:1-6 (NASB)
Let me know what you think:
- Is it important as a Christian to understand the purpose and use of apologetics?
- Can we use apologetics skillfully in our culture and work environments?
For further reading I highly recommend: Cold-Case Christianity, by J. Warner Wallace
Join us next week as we continue our Case for Christianity
In these posts I am going to continue to present logical reasoning and sound scientific evidence not found in the public school textbooks.
This blog is part of a series. You can start the series by going back to the September 1, 2014 Introduction called A Case for Christianity: Why do we need one?
Always be ready to give an answer for the hope that you have in Christ Jesus as Lord. 1 Peter 3:15