Last night I had the opportunity to speak with an amazing group of college students, the rarest of the rare, they were both Christian and headed to the Military as Officers. This was a mixed group of both mature believers, new believers, returning upperclassmen and freshman. When the group was asked how many had heard for Christian Apologetics only a few hands went up which surprised me. When I got a chance to speak there were two things I wanted to leave this group with regarding why Christian Apologetics are important for us believers.
Apologetics is not just about arguing with Atheists, its presenting evidence for the truth in what we believe. As Christians we must first gather the necessary intellectual evidence to prove our beliefs to ourselves before we can convince others. This means we must be able to provide evidence that truth is knowable and that we know the truth. Once we are comfortable in our knowledge of truth and the evidence that; the Bible, Creation, the Resurrection, and other core beliefs have sufficient evidence, we can benefit in a couple ways.
1. Apologetics assists in pre-evangelism. Sometimes the topic of pre-evangelism can be like pulling the pin on a live grenade in a room full of Christians. Some Christians would say that we cannot argue someone to Christ that this is the work of the holy spirit alone. Others may argue that the sufficiency of scripture alone allows us to reach a person and that the gospel is enough. I would agree with some of both points however, I think there is a need today more than ever for Christians to handle tough legitimate questions to try and open the minds of skeptics to the gospel . This is also a stance that Paul took, in Acts I7:23, Paul appealed to the intellect of those in the meeting of the Areopagus. Paul argues that they were ignorant of what they worship and that he knew the truth about God. As Paul in this passage, today we must sometimes tear down false ideas and faulty logic before we can share the gospel truth.
As Christians we find ourselves in a relativistic culture and in the information age. Many college students today are not raised in a christian culture but indoctrinated in relativism. They believe that truth is a matter of opinion and that they should do whatever “feels good” as long as no one gets hurt. This culture is running parallel with the information age where Atheists are getting out there message on the internet at a quicker pace than Christians, with a message of no accountability in the afterlife, this message is more palatable to the young relativist. Christians on the college campus now must be armed with the facts, so they may push through the layer of objections, before talk of jesus and being saved permeate the ears of the non believer.
When I was an Atheist, if you couldn’t answer my objections to evil or tell me why I should believe the Bible, our conversation was over. The gospel message did not make sense to me, until I ran into an apologist who could show me the flaws in my reasoning and provide evidence for the gospel truth.
2. Apologetics will also help us with doubts. This is another area where I believe we need apologetics to cement us in our faith. As an apologist I know my faith is rooted in evidence for what I believe. The other day I was walking with my son and I asked him where he was in his spiritual walk. He told me quite candidly that he believes but, sometimes he feels like god isn’t there. I think if we were honest we all could make this same statement couldn’t we? But what he said next really impressed me. He said that in those times he doesn’t feel the presence of the holy spirit he remembers the evidence for why he believes. I think this really illustrated to me how the knowledge of the evidence for faith helps us when we get insecure. It is not that the holy spirit isn’t with us it’s that we are emotionally insecure sometimes. It is during these times of emotional insecurity that apologetics help us appeal to our intellect for the knowledge of truth that makes our faith stick. This is why apologetics is so important for our kids, some students go off to college a christian and leave an atheist, by some I mean 70-80 percent. Why is this? Many apologists believe it’s because these students have not been prepared to be able deal with those doubts or emotional insecurity. So instead of being able to appeal to their intellect for the evidence for their faith, they turn to their atheist roommate.
By training our young people in apologetics, we are equipping them to pre-evangelize to those who have built up a layer of objections, insulating themselves from being able to hear to gospel message. We are also securing their faith for a lifetime because they will know that their faith is grounded in sound evidence.
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