Christian Apologetics

A 13 class series covering a range of topics regarding christian apologetic studies from 2011. Audio and notes files are downloadable to aid in your understanding and research of the topic.


An Introduction to Christian Apologetic’s

Perhaps the most important question anyone can ask is that which Pilate offered to Jesus Christ in John 18:38: "What is truth?" Unfortunately, and like so many others, the cynical Pilate was not really interested in actually pursuing the truth and did not wait for an answer. Apparently, Pilate had either concluded beforehand that truth was either irrelevant or was to be found outside of this Galilean prophet, whom he turned over to Herod to be mocked and crucified. It is noteworthy that today we live in a pluralistic society where the greatest virtue seems to be "tolerance" for all viewpoints; like Pilate, various claims of truth are at best dismissed as irrelevant and at worst scorned as naive and bigoted. On the one hand, Christianity is merely viewed as one of many valid religious paths; on the other hand, it is ridiculed and dismissed as being filled with scientific and historical errors and hopelessly out of touch with the times. In the face of such hostility, the believer may be tempted to either retreat into silence or forge ahead blindly and turn a deaf ear to reason; in either case, the unbeliever's ridicule is justified, at least in their own mind. Fortunately, the Lord has provided a third option: the use of apologetic’s. NOTE SHEETS


EXISTENCE of God in an Age of Reason

North America, once considered Christian not only by itself but by other nations around the world, can no longer make that claim. So far have we moved from our Judeo-Christian moorings that in the 1960's a number of philosophers and liberal theologians popularized a "God is dead" movement, the culmination of a spiritual repression which found impetus a century earlier in the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, who provided atheism with a philosophical basis, and Charles Darwin, who offered a scientific rationale. Today atheism is implicitly taught throughout our public school systems because public education, in its attempt at being pluralistically "neutral" (an impossible task!), ignores God altogether. So God has become "dead" to most recent generations, not through atheistic propaganda but because of a perceived irrelevance to all academic disciplines--a vanishing character like the fading smile of Alice In Wonderland's Cheshire cat. Added to that has been a more aggressive and vindictive expression of atheism in recent years, in part, a backlash of the 911 terrorist attacks where religion in general and Christianity in particular were tarred along with religious extremism and held up as an oppressive threat to human welfare and social progress. How can a believer respond to such an assault on faith? NOTE SHEETS


Existence of God in a new age of experience

In the previous lesson the human dilemma was discussed--that men and women were created on the one had with a longing that can only be satisfied by knowing their Creator, yet on the other hand their sin nature compels them to flee from Him to Whom they are accountable and set their own autonomous boundaries. One response, as previously noted, is to deny God and the supernatural and reject religion altogether (modernism or atheism). But spirituality, like nature, abhors a vacuum, and the proliferation of mystical, experience-oriented religions in the last four decades of the twentieth century of America has swung the pendulum away from the hopelessness and despair of modernist rationalism to a more subjective outlook. And so another response to the human dilemma--and the focus of this lesson--is to adopt a religion that allows the human creature to exercise his or her innate spirituality while yet retaining control (supposedly) of their life and destiny. In the 1980's a New Age truly dawned, at least so far as we have witnessed a cultural shift from modernism, which dominated our thinking for several hundred years, to what is now called Postmodernism. A different apologetic is required! Exactly what, then, is Postmodernism and its spiritual expression, the New Age Movement, and how is the believer to respond to this new worldview? NOTE SHEETS


The Reliability of the Bible

It is not uncommon, when Christians share their faith with unbelievers and quote scripture, that an unbeliever will respond with something like, "You're using the Bible to make a point, and that's fine for you, but I don't believe the Bible." Much of the criticism that is leveled at Christianity is based on the assumption that a book as old as the Bible is bound to be unreliable, having undergone countless changes, losses, or additions over time. Can believers really know that what they hold in their hands today is what the writers of the Bible actually penned thousands of years ago? In this lesson that focuses on the reliability of the Bible, four witnesses that testify to the remarkable accuracy, transmission, uniqueness, and supernatural imprint of the Scriptures will be investigated. NOTE SHEETS


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The Formation of the Bible

"The Bible did not arrive by fax from heaven. . . the Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times, and it has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book. . . more than 80 gospels were considered for the New Testament, and yet only a relative few are chosen for inclusion . ." So declares a character from the best-selling adult fiction ever written, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (New York: Doubleday, 2003), which has sold over 40 million copies worldwide as of 2006. As we saw in the last lesson, the very words of the writers of the Bible have been preserved over the centuries with incredible accuracy. But is God's full, written revelation limited to just these books? It is true that there were other ancient Jewish and Christian religious writings. What about the Apocryphal books (found in Roman Catholic versions of the Bible) and the so-called "lost books of the Bible" that were discovered in recent years? Who decided what is and isn't "inspired" Scripture, and were their decisions tainted by personal or political reasons? The subject of how the various books of the Bible received their acceptance for inclusion is the study of canonicity. NOTE SHEETS


Difficult Issues - Part 1

When believers share their faith with skeptics, certain issues are often, if not inevitably, brought up by the unbeliever as points of contention. Many of these issues tend to revolve around the apparent conflict between the Christian's belief in a good and loving, all-powerful God and negative (or apparently conflicting) realities of human experience. Many Christians themselves wrestle with such doubts! Why, for instance, would such a God allow the human suffering and evil that are so rampant in the world if He could remove them?* And how could a loving God condemn people who have never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus? What about the miracles in the Bible--can an intelligent person raised in our scientific and technological age really believe in such things? What about all of the wars and killing that have been done in the name of religion? Such questions have supposedly driven some people to unbelief and others to new Age pantheism. Within these next two brief lessons such issues can only be touched upon but, even so, it is hoped that believers will be able to acknowledge some of the reasonable expressions of God's sovereignty in spite of difficult human experience. NOTES SHEETS


Difficult Issues - Part 2

The closing decades of the twentieth century and early twenty-first century have brought about a seismic cultural shift in our country due to a massive influx of different cultures and religions. Whereas the majority of immigrants in the early years of our country's history came from Europe and were predominately Christian or Jewish, today we are seeing explosive growth among people from the East and Middle East who are bringing many "new" religions to our shores. We are now a pluralistic and multi-cultural nation. The Christian faith is not only no longer taken for granted but any insistence of salvation through Christ alone is deemed both an affront to our vaunted hospitality as well as downright offensive and intolerant! Yet salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone stands uniquely in contrast with all other religions, and ever since Jesus proclaimed, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the father except through me" (John 14:6), both an invitation was offered and a gauntlet of sorts was thrown down that would predictably offend many. While our culture's reactions to the exclusive claims of Christianity have seemingly become more vocal and sharp in the past few decades, such "outrage" is certainly not new. Indeed, much of the persecution the early church faced from the Roman Empire was not due to the Christians worshiping a different God but that they worshiped Jesus Christ exclusively. Rome was extremely tolerant of different faiths, so long as homage to the Emperor was included in the mix, and Christians refused to do this. So we, too, are called to take a stand for the particular truth that is found in Christ, despite those teachings of Scripture that are inherently offensive (e.g., hell) and the stigma we bear due to injustices done in the name of our faith. How do we answer the critics? NOTE SHEETS


Uniqueness of Jesus Christ

Was he just another Jewish prophet, or was he a social revolutionary? Was he another one of the world's great religious and ethical teachers, finding his peers among the likes of Krishna, Buddha, Confucius, or Mohammed, or was he just an ordinary but noble man to whom his eager followers credited preposterous feats? Perhaps, as some New Age’rs claim, he spent many of his younger years in India sitting at the feet of Eastern gurus and became one of many "enlightened ones" that have graced history. Some have claimed that he did not exist at all, but was a fabrication of the early Christian's--a mythical hero who embodied their ideals. Or, as Christians have claimed, was he the very incarnation of God, who alone offers salvation and eternal life? Just who was Jesus? One thing is certain: no other person has impacted history as much as this prophet from Galilee, and whereas other religions stand on their ethical/spiritual teachings, Christianity stands on its founder. One can dismiss the person of Buddha from Buddhism, and still be a Buddhist. Likewise, Mohammed can be extracted from Islam or Confucius from Confucianism, and the respective religions can remain intact. But one cannot separate Jesus Christ from Christianity without destroying it. This lesson and the next will focus on the unique person of Jesus Christ--who he really is--and what it means to all of us. NOTE SHEETS


Resurrection of Jesus Christ

As noted in the last lesson, Jesus Christ was the most unique person in history; certainly the claims of deity that he made about himself stand apart from any other great religious leader. But with all of his uniqueness, if Christ had died like any other man, been buried, and decayed to ashes, he would have forever remained just one of a number of great individuals throughout history, such as Buddha, Mohammed, Zoroaster, and the like. But Jesus Christ substantiated his remarkable claims by doing what no other man has ever done--he rose from the dead, and in doing so, convincing many of his followers that he was indeed who he claimed he was-- incarnate God. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the "proof of the pudding" that validates who Jesus was, and it is the hook upon which the whole of Christianity hangs. But is the resurrection fact or fable? The answer to that question is crucial, because so far as mankind is concerned, no other historical event has so much significance! NOTE SHEETS


Biblical Faith and Modern Science

Today it is popularly believed that there exists a tension between science and religion, that one must choose between the "empirical facts" of science or the "subjective fantasy" of religious faith. Some scientists have gone so far as to say that modern science makes it impossible to believe in a personal God. Bowing to the popular opinion of modern scientists and to the enormous pressure they exert in academic circles, some believers have concluded that the Bible is authoritative only when it speaks on spiritual or (perhaps) moral issues, but must be handled allegorically with regard to scientific matters because it is "prone to errors." After all, it is acknowledged that "God never intended the Bible to be a textbook on science." But Christianity and the Bible have nothing to fear from true science, for the same God who authored Scripture created the natural world and its laws. While it is not within the scope of this lesson to address all areas of controversy, it is hoped that this study will demonstrate that, at least at the basic level, biblical faith and science are compatible. NOTE SHEETS


Biblical Faith and Modern Science - Questions of Origins

It is no surprise that many people choose to trust their financial security and even their very livelihood to the Laws of Probability. They hope that the value of their stocks will increase over time, or that bonds are usually a "safe bet," or, if they're willing to take a somewhat greater risk, they'll invest in commodities or other higher risk options in hope that their financial windfall will be greater. Professional gamblers "play the odds" to an even greater risk, and everyone knows that casinos make their money by depending on the Laws of Probability, that their patrons will typically lose more to them than they'll win. Many people will gamble away a few dollars in lotteries despite the fact that the odds against their winning are several million to one. But would the average person be willing to gamble on a ten million dollar lottery with his or her month's wages if the odds were a million to one? Maybe. What if they were a billion to one? Probably not. What if they were one hundred trillion to one? No way! It is surprising, then, that multitudes of people are so easily willing to gamble on eternal issues against probabilities that far exceed our very comprehension. By ignoring God, or even denying Him, they disdain the overpowering evidence of intelligent design in the creation. NOTE SHEETS


Biblical Faith and Modern Science - Evolution and The Fossil Record

In 1859 Charles Darwin published his classic book, Origin of the Species, that promoted a view of naturalistic, chance-through-time evolution of life without reference to any need of divine intervention, and a major conflict between science and religion was seemingly born. As English scientist Richard Dawkins has noted, "Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist." In 1925 this confrontation between Darwinistic evolution and biblical creation came to a head in Tennessee with the famous Scopes "Monkey Trial"--loosely (and inaccurately) portrayed in years since by the stage drama Inherit the Wind--a play that pitted the agnostic Clarence Darrow and the ACLU who represented biology teacher John Scopes (accused of teaching evolution) against the State of Tennessee, represented by William Jennings Bryan. While evolution lost in court, it won the day so far as the media was concerned, and since that time there has been a 180 degree shift in academia toward the exclusive teaching of evolution. Many scientists staunchly affirm that evolution is integral to all disciplines of science; at the same time, belief in evolution--and the atheism it has fostered--has been a justification for racism and oppression (e.g., Hitler's application of Darwinism and Nietszchean philosophy). Countless youth have turned away from their religious upbringing when exposed to its implication that there is no need for a Creator and are supposedly forced to choose between "blind faith" or "reason." Yet what the schools and media so often fail to tell us is that, as scientist Michael Denton has pointed out, evolution is "a theory in crisis" and the so-called "proofs" offered for it rest on a very faulty foundation NOTE SHEETS


Biblical Faith and Modern Science - The Early World, Dinosaurs and the Deluge: a Young Earth Model

Old earth or young earth? The issue continues to be debated among sincere believers of both persuasions. A straightforward exegesis of Scripture leans toward a literal six-day creation, and whereas some scientific evidence points toward long ages of time, other points toward a more recent timetable. Evolution, of course, requires long periods of time, and theistic evolutionists adopt modern science's timeline and propose an allegorical interpretation of the days of Genesis, chapter one. Progressive creationists also hold to an old earth model, deferring to scientific evidence indicating the earth is billions of years old. Young earth creationists, on the other hand, take issue with the philosophy of uniformitarianism, which assumes that natural processes have always operated in the same way, and instead point to God induced catastrophism, and explain an old-appearing (but young) earth as God having created the universe and all things in it fully mature (e.g., full-grown trees with rings already present). Last week's lesson demonstrated that macro-evolution doesn't fit with the facts. So, if all creatures weren't necessarily separated by long periods of time, is there any evidence for that, and are there other explanations for what we see in the fossil record? Obviously, the Bible is silent on a lot of these issues, nor were scientists present to actually observe what happened in the past. What follows contains, to be sure, speculation, but provides a possible biblical scenario. NOTE SHEETS