Now that we have come to the end of our “Defending Your Faith 101” series it is important to review what we have learned so that we are equipped to share, and if needed, defend our faith in the public square. In our culture today we see statistics that bear out the need for Christians to know what they believe and why they believe it, and then share it while training up the next generation. The following are bullet point summaries of seven of the important take-aways from our series:
1. In order to be an effective “Defender” of the faith, we must regularly practice and grow in these four areas:
- Prayer (modeling Jesus)
- Bible study (hermeneutics – study the Bible in proper context)
- Christian Apologetics (defense of the faith)
- Discipleship (doing life with other Christians and bringing the Gospel to the world)
2. We must have a foundational understanding of historical Christianity and what has lead to where we are today:
- Christianity is rooted in Judaism- (a middle eastern faith that goes back to the creation of the world by YHWH – the God of the Bible)
- Christianity begins with Jesus- His life and ministry is evidenced by miracles and fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies; His sacrificial death for all humanity, and His Resurrection is in defeat of Satan (early first century AD)
- Classical Christianity- followers of Jesus Christ spread the Gospel; no denominations (mid-late first through third centuries AD)
- The Church of Rome dominates- beginning of the “dark ages” where Biblical illiteracy was prevalent (fourth through fourteenth centuries AD)
- The Protestant Reformation- advent of the printing press made the Bible available for everyone and the truths of Scripture were revealed (fifteenth through sixteenth centuries AD)
- The birth of a new nation- “freedom under God” and the United States of America had its foundation (seventeenth century AD)
- The move from a Christian society to a secular culture- the industrial revolution changed family life, and universities underwent massive philosophical changes in all of the disciplines – man-centered vs. God-centered (eighteenth through nineteenth centuries AD)
- Secular humanism reigns- Educational changes took place in the public schools (man-centered vs. God-centered) resulting from the trickle-down effect of the previous philosophical changes in the universities (twentieth century AD)
- The Isms- Flowing from previous changes in the educational system, there is a rapid expansion of postmodernism and its relativistic view of all belief systems within the culture – a post-Christian society had emerged (twenty-first century AD)
- Modernity/Nones/Apathy- Christianity becomes irrelevant to the culture – anti-Christian sentiments abound (the future)
3. We must understand the importance of truth in our faith and apply that to our worldview:
- Christian truth claims are not relative; relativism is a self-defeating worldview (just use the roadrunner tactic to bear that out)
- Christian truth is not a subjective preference (like ice cream flavors) but objectively true (true for everyone, everywhere, at all times)
- Christianity makes evidential truth claims and those claims will always correspond to reality (the way things really are)
- Christianity is based on a Biblical worldview and has the best answers for the tough questions of life concerning: God, origin, purpose, evil and suffering, and eternal destiny
4. We must articulate why Religious pluralism, like relativism, is a false worldview:
- Even though most of the major religions and belief systems have some things in common, their differences on the most important questions in life are distinct: (Who is God, what is my origin, what is my purpose, why is there evil and suffering, and what is my eternal destiny?)
- The major religions and belief systems are fundamentally different and therefore logically irreconcilable
- The major religions and belief systems are foundationally different
- The major religions and belief systems are salvationally different
5. We must understand that Jesus is unique amongst all other religious founders because He is the only way to the Father, the only one who came to solve humanity’s problems, and only He brought hope for the future:
- Jesus is the only one who claimed to be the Son of God and proved it through his ministry, miracles and resurrection
- Jesus is the only one who fulfilled all of the prophecies given hundreds of years before his time
- Jesus is the only one who brought not just mercy (forgiveness of debt), but grace (a gift of eternal life)
- Jesus is the only one who said it is done so that we do not have to do anything to earn salvation and entrance into Heaven
- Jesus teaches us that Christianity is exclusive in its truth claims, but inclusive in its invitation to all
6. We must know that the evidence for the existence of God is overwhelming:
- Philosophical Argument: Evidenced by, Anselm’s Ontological Argument and the Kalam Cosmological Argument
- Cosmological Argument: Evidenced by the 2nd law of thermodynamics; the theory of relativity; and the “big bang”
- Teleological Argument: Evidenced by the fine tuning of the universe where we see design through mathematics; design through engineering; design in physics (through anthropic constants); and design in biochemistry (through irreducible complexity in molecular machines and the information code in DNA)
- Moral Argument: Evidenced by a universal moral law found in the conscious of all humans (a law requires a lawmaker)
7. We must articulate that the Christian worldview has the best answer for the problem of evil and suffering:
- Christianity answers the origin of evil (God’s gift of freewill, and the effects of the Fall, resulted in the loss of a perfect relationship between humans and God, and we have suffered from human rebellion ever since; Satan and his demons engage us in spiritual warfare)
- God’s promise, through the covenants, is to bring us back to that original perfect relationship – This has been accomplished through the blessing of the promised Messiah; and the sacrifice and resurrection of His Son, Jesus (the result is a gift of eternal life in God’s house)
- Christianity gives us the proper perspective we need on eternity (our life is a ray, not a line with an end point)
It is not enough to claim Christianity as our faith of preference. We need to understand with all our heart, soul, and mind that Christianity is a truth claim. Christianity is extremely relevant in our culture today because it is not a faith that is blind, but is one based on intellectual thought processes, reasoning, and evidence. The Christian worldview is grounded in the Bible and, contrary to the skeptics, the Bible has the evidence to support its truth claims.
In our next series we will look at these evidential truth claims for the the historicity, inerrancy, and inspiration of the Bible. In that series, A Case for the Bible 101, we will use the acronym MAPS-S to help us remember the evidence categories: Manuscripts, Archeology, Prophecy, Science and Saved lives. The evidence in these categories come from both internal (within the Bible) and external (extra-Biblical) sources and we will look at them in-depth beginning next week.
As J. Warner Wallace says: “Christianity has so much evidence, it is like death by a thousands paper cuts.” In other words, if someone is able to counter one piece of evidence there are thousands of more pieces available. At some point the skeptic has to just stop and realize the foolishness of trying to disprove God’s existence and the truth claims of Biblical Christianity.
As a conclusion to our study, Defending Your Faith 101, I would like to recommend the documentary “Mining for God.” You can get it on DVD or watch it on Vimeo for a small fee. Here is an introductory trailer and if you would like to view it in its entirety go to the Vimeo link at the bottom of this trailer on YouTube:
The Apostle Peter tells us, near the end of his life: Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.
1 Peter 3:8-18 (NIV)
Join us next week as we begin our new series: A Case for the Bible 101
You will not find this material in the public school curriculum even though it is based on solid evidence and grounded in research. It is ironic that following the evidence to where it leads stops at the door of our public schools as they will not let a “Divine footprint” in! Join us as we examine evidence for Christianity and learn how to become a thoughtful defender and ambassador of your faith.
Click into the resource page of this website to view many of the top Christian thinkers and apologists along with some of their work; connecting to these types of resources is essential in your Christian growth.
Please let me know what you think: Give feedback, ask questions or send concerns in the comment section of the blog.
1 Peter 3:15