Case-Making 101: Five essentials in Christian Apologetics

Crown of thorns and bible on old wooden background

“Finding answers [about Christianity] is too important to approach causally or in sporadic snatches of time. I knew—and hope you agree—that these are urgent matters. Jeremiah 29:13 encourages us to seek God and his truth “with all your heart.””  –Lee Strobel, Former atheist turned Christian, award-winning legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, Author and Professor of Christian Thought at Houston Baptist University

For most of my life I had been skeptical, believing that truth about God, Jesus and the afterlife could never be known. When I finally got serious with God and began asking real questions it was then that the answers came flooding in. However, the answers did not come from Christians I knew.

You don’t need to spend the amount of money that I did going back to school to find the answers you just need to dedicate some time, find the right resources and the right people—the knowledge base is plentiful!

So why don’t most Christians have answers when questioned about Christianity? I believe it is urgent for Christians get equipped with knowledge about their faith. We are called to know what we believe and why we believe and then live it like our lives and our loved ones’ depended on it! (1 Peter 3:13-18)

Let’s look at five essentials in Christian Case-Making (Apologetics):

1) As Christians we should know how Christianity fits into the big picture of human history:

  • How Christianity is connected historically to Judaism.
  • How the New Testament, and Jesus specifically, is a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and the promises of God.
  • How early Christians, the first followers of Jesus, believed and taught that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Son of God and God incarnate.
  • How early Christians, by the Holy Spirit, taught about the saving works of Jesus and followed the ‘Great Commission’ fearlessly.
  • How early Christians were persecuted and many were martyred for a faith that they knew to be true (defense of objective truth).
  • How Christians have defended the historical reliability, inerrancy and inspiration of the Bible.

2) As Christians we should know how the birth of our Country was founded on the freedom to worship and serve God in our educational system:

  • How Education was practiced: All towns of 50 or more must have a school to teach the Scriptures to keep Satan from deluding the people… it be one chief project of the old deluder Satan to keep man from the knowledge of the Scriptures. (“The Old Deluder Satan Act” of 1647)
  • How most universities began as Christian universities to teach the Scriptures and share the Gospel. Harvard’s original motto was Veritas (truth) and their charter included this statement: To consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life.
  • How the movement from a Christian society to a secular society began with Philosophical changes in the universities.
  • How, until a little over a hundred years ago, science was the pursuit of finding God’s truth in life, nature, and medicine not the elimination of God in those areas.

3) As Christians we should know how public education in our country became secular in all of the major educational disciplines:

  • How some of these events lead to critical changes in educational philosophy: 1925 Scopes trial (evolution vs. creation); 1933 Dewey’s educational theories based on humanism; 1947 Separation of Church and State (300 years after Old Deluder Satan Act); 1962 No school prayer; 1963 No Bible reading in public school; 1980 No Ten commandments (or other religious postings) allowed in public places. Special note: 1970’s Terrorism becomes a way to express discontent both here and abroad.
  • How the result of this progression led to the expulsion of Christian thinking in Public Education and therefore the expulsion of God. Christian thinkers retreated to the pulpits and seminaries and Scholars who hold to a Christian worldview in their fields of study have been blackballed (Click here to see Ben Stein’s movie “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”).
  • How the trickle-down effect from the universities to our public schools has led to overall changes in culture that we see today. (See statistics from last week’s post)
  • How Faith has now become separated from reason and the two are not allowed in the same educational arena. (See the book Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey).

4) As Christians we should know that philosophical changes in education has led to many of the ‘isms’ we see today and none of these include God in any significant way:

  • In science: Naturalism, Materialism, Physicalism, Evolutionism
  • In society:  Secularism, Relativism, Hedonism, Anarchism
  • In faith:  Pluralism, Skepticism, Agnosticism, Atheism

5) As Christians we should know that Christian thinkers are returning, and their work is out there competing with secular philosophy in education.

  • Christian thinkers and scholars have been making attempts to catch up in the marketplace of ideas they had previously left behind by focusing on the legitimacy of a Classical Christian worldview, closing the fact-value gap, using reason, and giving sound evidence for objective truth in the areas of science, philosophy, history and education.
  • Click into the resource page of this website to view many of the top Christian thinkers and apologetists and some of their work; connecting to these types of resources is essential.
  • Thus the material presented in our Case for Christianity classes.

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Stay with us over the course of a year and you will learn to be a thoughtful defender of your faith. Christianity can be brought back into the marketplace of ideas by engaging the culture using…

  • God’s Word that holds timeless truths
  • The example and teachings of Jesus
  • The example and teachings of the early Christians
  • AND Apologetics: The Biblical call to all Christians to be able to give a defense of their faith, like one would do in a court of law.

Apologetics=apologia in the Greek meaning to give a defense.

Christian Apologetics seeks to address misconceptions and defend the Christian faith from an intellectual point of view along with a Biblical worldview. It deals with the pursuit and defense of GOD’S TRUTH.

For a short video by Alex McFarland click here: Christian Apologetics.

For a longer and more in depth presentation by Sean McDowell click here: Apologetics for a New Generation.

Apologetics has been used since the time of Jesus and helps point people to the truth found in Scripture—the connection of the Old Testament (covenant) to the New Testament (covenant)—and the ultimate truth that came in the person and teachings of Jesus.

The Apostles and early followers of Jesus used Apologetics:

Paul used Apologetics during his mission trips… Yet Saul (Paul) grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.  Acts 9:22

Apollos used apologetics… For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.  Acts 18:28

Peter used apologetics in Acts chapters 2, 3 and 10 and in both of his letters.

Stephen used apologetics in Acts chapter 7 before they stoned him and he became the first Christian martyr.

John used apologetics throughout the entire Gospel of John and his 3 letters.

The early Church fathers (leaders and disciples of the Church in the first three centuries like Justin, Origen, Ignatius and others) used apologetics.

Jesus used apologetics:

(Jesus said…) But I have a greater witness than John—my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me.  John 5:36

Jesus used the apologetic approach to give evidence that He had the power to forgive sins on earth…

Jesus climbed into a boat and went back across the lake to his own town. Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.” But some of the teachers of religious law said to themselves, “That’s blasphemy! Does he think he’s God?” Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts? Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” And the man jumped up and went home! Fear swept through the crowd as they saw this happen. And they praised God for sending a man with such great authority.  Matthew 9:1-8

Apologetics in action

A Model- Paul’s Apologetics approach in Acts 17:16-34

(Read the passage first then review the following points)

  1. Paul saw what was going on in the culture (v 16)
  2. He had compassion and concern for the people being deceived by Satan’s methods (v 16)
  3. He took action by asking to speak and by asking questions (v 17)
  4. He stayed on message with the Gospel, who Jesus was, and what He did for us (v 18)
  5. He celebrated the uniqueness of the Gospel as compared to what they knew about their gods (vs 19-20)
  6. He built common ground using something they knew, the “unknown god” idol in their city (vs 22-23)
  7. He addressed origins: Where do we come from? (vs 24-25)
  8. He discussed our purpose: Why are we here? (vs 26-27)
  9. He used truth based on reality known to all (v 28)
  10. He appealed to their common sense which is built into all humans (v 29)
  11. He addressed consequences especially eternity (vs 30-31)
  12. He left the results to God by trusting God’s Holy Spirit with the hearts of those he spoke to (vs 32-34)

Join us this year as we examine evidence for the Christian faith and learn how to apply Apologetics. Share this information with others who are asking those difficult questions. You will not find this material in a public school curriculum even though it is based on solid evidence and grounded in research that supports its claim. It is ironic that following the evidence to where it leads is not allowed in our public school system as they will not let a “Divine footprint” in the door!

Let me know what you think: Please give me feedback, ask questions or send concerns in the comment section of the blog.

Teri Dugan

TeriDugan@truthfaithandreason.com

Always be ready to give an answer for the hope that you have in Christ Jesus as Lord. 1 Peter 3:15

2 Responses to Case-Making 101: Five essentials in Christian Apologetics

  1. This is a terrific overview….thanks! I marked this as a “keeper” as it is so concise and covers a well defined outline that most others don’t seem to. This will be very useful. I am just starting out in the area of Women’s Ministry and Apologetics, so thank you for doing this work. Soli Deo Gloria!!