Our directive: “Have a ready answer for what you believe.”
Contrary to what the world thinks, Jesus did not ask His followers to believe with “blind” faith. Because He didn’t need to. He wasn’t a swindler, a magician, or a con artist. He was God. He spoke the truth, and demonstrated it time and time again.
We know, both from Scripture and the high volume of secular and Christian historical documents uncovered by scholars so far, that Jesus walked this earth, performed amazing miracles, willingly hung on the cross, and talked with hundreds of witnesses after He rose from death.
Historical documentation validates Jesus’ claims of who He says He is. Your faith, then, can be based on the strong foundation of this proof. You can toss out blind faith, like yesterday’s dinner!
Jesus wants us to be active, engaged followers; to believe in Him, but to know why we follow Him. Because if we don’t “know that we know,” as the old phrase goes, we stand a good chance of faltering at the lies our increasingly secular society packages as truth. “God is a myth,” it assures us. Its biggest lie of all, perhaps? “If God did create this mess, He walked away.He doesn’t care.”
During this blog series, let’s journey through the evidence highlighted in Evidence That Demands a Verdict, the newly revised and expanded apologetics classic by Josh and Sean McDowell. In knowing that our faith need not be blind, because it’s substantiated by fact, we gain the power to confidently show the world who God is: our Creator, who loved us so much that He willingly endured the cruelty of the cross to reconcile us to Himself. That’s Good News!
~ Apologetics: Defending, Not Apologizing! ~
The word apologetic does not mean that you’re sorry. Rather, it refers to your defense of what you believe to be true.
In the Christian arena, then, an apologist is any believer who defends Christ’s message against criticism and distortion by giving evidence of its credibility. We’re talking about a rational defense — not the belligerent, take-no-prisoners response, “God said it, that settles it, you should believe it!” that many Christians default to when challenged by skeptics. That is certainly not the tactic Jesus used when answering the Jewish leaders of His day.
Was Jesus an apologist? You bet.
As Douglas Grootuis so eloquently puts it: “Contrary to the views of critics, Jesus Christ was a brilliant thinker, who used logical argument to refute His critics and establish the truth of His views.” He adds, “Jesus’ high estimation of rationality and His own application of arguments indicates [sic] that Christianity is not an anti-intellectual faith. Followers of Jesus today, therefore, should emulate His intellectual zeal, using the same kinds of arguments He Himself used.”
Did you catch that last part? Intellectual zeal, people. There’s no blind faith in that. Note: blindly following a church leader isn’t a good idea, either. Remember Jim Jones? The story of a pastor gone very, very bad — and the congregation whose blind loyalty allowed him to become a monster.
~ Apologetics: Cement Your Faith ~
Okay, so we take it on faith that God, whom we can neither hear nor see, is really with us. Sitting in the dining room chair across from us, perhaps, or in the passenger seat as we bumper it to work during rush hour. But even His presence we don’t take on blind faith. Rather, we believe that God is always with us because in His Word He tells us He is. And we believe what the Bible tells us, because the historical documents from which it was compiled really exist — and have been verified as authentic.
It’s when critics challenge our belief in the Bible, with arguments such as, “No one who knew Jesus personally wrote the Bible,” that we find our faith faltering, because we have to admit we don’t know really know all that much about how the Bible came together. We begin to doubt — handing a whole lot of power over to another person who probably can’t prove the basis of his or her skepticism. But the good news: if we want to know these answers, they are readily available. And after researching them, we’ll be equipped with ready answers the next time we’re asked.
This reminds me of a time I saw a person post a scripture to Facebook, using it as his justification to mock Christianity. Lots of other people commented, adding equally disrespectful comments. What do you think this fellow’s response was, when I took the time to look up the scripture and found the reference he quoted wasn’t even in the Bible? “Oh. Um. I was just forwarding someone else’s post. Sorry about that.” SERIOUSLY? THAT’S IT? SORRY ABOUT THAT?
Beyond proving that 1) people post lots of untruths on social media and 2) lots of other people are only too happy to forward them, this example also proves that if I had just taken this guy’s word for it, my own faith might have been dinged. But because I routinely read my Bible, I knew the scripture didn’t sound quite right.
We’re at a major cross-roads in our society: we all recognize that the scales have tipped in favor of the skeptics. Who knows how many times a day misinformation about God, Christ, and the Church spreads across the Net?
One reason many of us are caving under the pressure of cultural tolerance: we don’t know who God really is, or believe how much He loves us, because we don’t open our Bibles enough.
A Christian who doesn’t read his or her Bible — but gladly gobbles up hours of Stranger Things or American Idol — demonstrates how little value he or she places on knowing God. Friends, we won’t be able to tell God some day, “I didn’t know the Bible was important.” We’ll have to admit, “I didn’t care to make the Bible important.”
Because of this inertia, many Christians claim to believe in God, but only a minority of them can articulate good reasons for why their belief in Christ is true.
Friends, we need a strong foundation of knowing what we know to stand against our postmodern culture’s claims that God is “just a myth” and “truth” gets to be defined by each individual. (A rational person should be able can easily see the silliness of this logic, if they want to. What happens when your truth and my truth are opposite? Shall we rock, paper, scissor it?)
~ Apologetics: Desperately Needed By Our Youth ~
Many college freshmen abandon their Christian faith after a professor publicly humiliates them by intellectually beating them up in class. “Prove Christ’s claims!” shout the professor. Lacking a ready knowledge of facts, the students cave — often assuming their parents taught them an outdated belief system. Often, students also leave the church when church leaders and parents fail to answer their intellectual questions about God and His ways. “Take it on faith” certainly doesn’t work at this point. Nor should it have to.
Seeking people naturally have questions. It’s my belief that many non-believers come to believe in Jesus after getting a taste of how much they are loved by Him. But to grow in Christ, people need to question and seek answers. The Church can no longer use the “take it on faith” default if they want people to find Christianity relevant for today.
Apologetics: Non-negotiable. Necessary. Now. Our youth might actually lead the way.
~ Apologetics: Your Next Step ~
The Christian faith is an objective faith; therefore, it must have an object that is worthy of faith. So our salvation comes not from the intensity of our belief, and certainly not from blind faith, but because of the One in whom we base our faith.
The historical events reported in the Scriptures are essential to our faith. And new evidence for these events continues to come to light. We hope that you’ll journey with us, over the next year, as we highlight this evidence outlined in Evidence. Together, friends, let us grow our knowledge and faith in Christ. Because now, more than ever, our dark, lost world needs us to share His light.
Become a dynamic Christian who influences the world for Christ by your unshakable conviction of His resurrection!
This blog post highlights Josh and Sean McDowell’s recently reprinted apologetics classic, Evidence That Demands a Verdict. We are certain this fully updated and expanded resource will be an effective evangelism tool for you, and strengthen your faith by answering the toughest questions tossed to you by skeptics. Know what you know, because it’s true!