MODULE 13 - CONTENDING FOR THE FAITH


(Kingdom Harvesters)

Welcome to week 13 class!


Learning Objective:

For the disciple-servant to gain an understanding of how to defend his or her faith


Things to do on this week:


-Review the answers to Week 12’s questions.

-Read definitions for Apologetics before you start the lesson.

-Reading Assignment: 1 Peter 3:15; Jude, vs.3; Acts , Ch.17:1-3; Acts 17:16-34; Acts22:30- Acts 23:7; Acts 24:10-25; Acts 26:1-29

-Watch the videos by Christian apologists, Voddie Baucham, William Lane Craig, and Dr. Gary R. Habermas.

-Read “ Points to Ponder”.

-Answer this week’s questions; and submit the answers by 12 Noon, EDT, on Monday, June 21st, 2021.


Blessings,

Sandra Thomas Brown



Definitions


*Apologetics: “ Systematic argumentative discourse in defense ( as of a doctrine)”.


**“Answer”( in 1 Peter 3:15): “ Apologia”-“ Defense”; “ A verbal defense…speech in defense”; “ a reasoned statement or argument”

Apologetics is, simply put, the field of theology that makes reasoned arguments to defend the gospel. There are a number of approaches. There are 4 major methods. They are:

Classical

Evidential

Presuppositional

Experiential



Points to Ponder

The first 2 that were mentioned, Classical and Evidential, are the most widely accepted of the approaches. Classical apologetics involves using reasoned arguments that assert the existence of God as a first-step in defending the Christian faith, before providing other evidence(s).Evidential apologetics omits the first-step of Classical apologetics, and begins with known, historical facts that support Christ’s resurrection, as well as other miracles. Presuppositional apologists do not believe that presenting evidence of God’s existence, Christ’s resurrection, etc., are necessary to persuade people of gospel truths. They believe that God’s existence speaks for itself; and that events in the Word of God should be assumed to be true. They believe that unbelievers either cannot understand rational arguments about the gospel because of their fallen spiritual state, or that they understand gospel truths, but reject them. Experiential apologists see no need for rational arguments at all, only the Holy Spirit’s persuasion of the hearers of God’s Word.


All of the approaches have strengths and weaknesses. The Classical method makes sense if you are sharing the gospel with someone who knows nothing or almost nothing about God, or is an atheist, an agnostic; or someone who practices a Non-Christian religion. Many people who do not fit the biblical definition of a Christian believe in God; so in many instances, it won’t be necessary to present arguments to them about God’s existence.

Experiential apologists leave out too many details that people need to hear where Christianity is concerned. I would agree with them that there is a “ simplicity” – a term that Paul used- to the gospel; and it all DOES come down to faith, and believing and receiving it, or not believing and receiving it. However, as we saw in this week’s reading about the ministry of Paul, he often reasoned with people before winning them to Christ. As their name suggests, Presuppositionalists assume that God’s existence speaks for itself [ and actually, according to a number of scriptures, it does]. Unbelievers, from their perspective, either can’t or won’t accept the truth; so for most, their starting point in ministering to unbelievers is the gospel message. Even though their method is frowned upon by many apologists, and may not work well in many instances in persuading unbelievers, it should not be dismissed. We don’t think about it this way; but most evangelistic messages, and likely most outreach encounters in America, involve this method; even though we are not conscious of it.


I have to be honest.In many ways, the Evidential approach makes the most sense. Like the Presuppositionalists and Experientialists, Evidentialists don’t try to persuade the hearers that God exists. Instead, they see presenting historical evidence and fact-based arguments that demonstrate that Christ’s physical resurrection occurred, also “prove” the existence of the One who sent Him. Although presenting evidence to prove or persuade skeptics that Jesus’ resurrection actually occurred isn’t necessary in every instance, there is a biblical pattern of affirming Christ’s resurrectionthat is seen in The New Testament.

All of the apologetic methods have their pros and cons; but some are, overall, more sound and more effective than others. However, we should bear in mind that the circumstances should dictate which method/methods are used. Often a combination of methods will be used in outreach to others. The main concern should be winning people to Christ, instead of which method is used.


I chose 2 videos that use different approaches for you to watch. One is by Gary Habermas, who uses the Evidential approach regarding Christ’s resurrection; and the other one is by Voddie Baucum, who is a Presuppositionalist. I chose these 2 apologists and these videos specifically because Habermas and Baucham are more plain-spoken in their presentations, and easier for the average person to follow. Even if you don’t understand everything that you hear, listen to them, anyway. The Bible teaches ministers and even mature believers to “study” to be good “workmen ”for the Kingdom of God. That requires us to be diligent servants who are informed, and well-rounded. I, myself, will probably begin working on another degree soon for that reason [ Yet, as I have said before, we do not HAVE to go to a seminary to be effective for the Kingdom of God. Each one of us needs to do what we believe the Lord would have us to do, individually]. I’m sure that in listening to these lectures, you will hear something that you will find useful at some point. Even though I am not using any videos on the Classical method, there are numerous debates , if you like that presentation, and/or lectures by great Classical apologists, such as William Lane Craig, as well as additional videos by Baucham, Habermas,, and others, on YouTube.

***

Note: On today’s Habermas video, there is a point where, just to be clear, he, himself, is not saying that God’s Word is not inspired, but that those who do critical analyses, and may not be believers, see the Bible, or portions involving Christ’s resurrection, as authoritative works, but not inspired. We know that 2 Timothy 3:16 states that “ All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God…”. The phrase “inspiration of God” in this verse is from the Greek term “Theopneustos”, which comes from “ Theos”- meaning “ God”, and “pneustos”, literally meaning “ to breathe”. The Greek term “pneuma” means “ Spirit”, regardless of whether it is speaking of the human spirit, or the Holy Spirit; but since in 2 Timothy 3:16 it is referring to God’s Spirit, it refers to the Holy Spirit’s work in moving upon the writers of the Word of God.




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HOMEWORK


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