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Why I Believe - Rethinking Apologetics for the 21st Century, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
August 18, 2022 6:00 am

Why I Believe - Rethinking Apologetics for the 21st Century, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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August 18, 2022 6:00 am

Are you concerned about your kids and grand kids as the world becomes increasingly hostile to Christianity? Did you know a high percentage of youth who grow up in the Church are leaving the faith after high school? And do you increasingly wonder: What do we do? In this program, Chip brings real hope and real answers for anyone concerned about these disturbing trends.

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Are you concerned about your children and grandchildren as our world becomes increasingly hostile to Christianity?

Do you wonder why 70% of our youth are leaving the church five years after high school and what we can do about it? If so, stay with me. There's real hope and real answers on the way. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. The mission of these daily programs is to intentionally disciple Christians through the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram.

I'm Dave Drouy, and in just a minute we'll begin one of our more popular series, Why I Believe, Straight Answers to Honest Questions about God, the Bible, and Christianity. For the next several programs, Chip's going to tackle issues like creation versus evolution, the validity of the Bible, life after death, and why there's only one true God. So to help you get the most out of this series, let me encourage you to download Chip's message notes. They contain his outline, scripture references, and much more. Get them by going to the broadcasts tab at livingontheedge.org.

App listeners tap fill in notes. Well, with all that said, let's get to Chip as he kicks off his series with this message, Rethinking Apologetics in the 21st Century. We are living in a day of a tectonic shift in our culture that has greatly impacted the church. I don't know about you, but we are living in a day where evil is called good, where good is called evil.

We're living in a day where bitter is called sweet and sweet is called bitter, darkness is called light and light is called darkness. And according to the ancient prophet Isaiah, 2700 years ago, he said, when this happens, it brings great, great sorrow. I know many of you have to be deeply, deeply concerned of what you see happen in the culture and also happening in the church. We're seeing young people that don't walk with God anymore. We're seeing the moral values in the culture and outside the church rapidly, rapidly change. And we're in a series here called Why I Believe, and I believe we're in a day where we have to rethink our apologetics. You know, apologetics is that big word that's about making a defense for our faith. It's giving a reasoned verbal explanation for why we believe and we can explain this great hope that we have within us. But as you can see and as I observe as I go around the country, I meet parents and I meet grandparents who say to me, you know, we went to church regularly. We sent our children even to a Christian school or we sent them to a Christian university or a good secular university that had a good Christian group.

And it's now five or seven years later. They don't share our morals. They don't share our values.

They currently are living some with someone. I mean, the world is topsy turvy. And here's what I want to tell you. Our approach to apologetics that this is why I believe this is what I believe it's got to change because honestly, what we've passed on to our children and what's being passed on through the church at large with some really wonderful exceptions, it's currently not working.

You know, let me tell you what sort of the classic approach to apologetics is because it had a very powerful and good impact in my life. I did not grow up as a Christian. I had never opened the Bible in my life. I came to Christ right before I went away to college. And then I had a wonderful experience.

I mean, it was a campus ministry that grew. I got in the Bible. I mean, my life changed. I had deep loving relationships. I had peace and joy. My life changed so much, my dad who was a hardcore alcoholic asked me, what in the world happened to you? And I told him about this new relationship with Jesus. And I was reading the New Testament and my father trusted Christ, our whole family.

I mean, it was a revolution. It was awesome. And I graduated and I was a really good student. And the chairman of my department, I really admired him. And I think he really liked and kind of admired me. And I was ready to graduate and I, you know, graduated with honors and good things like that. And he had white hair and he was really bright and I really admired kind of what he thought in his opinion. And I could tell that he waited until I graduated because he wanted to ask me a question that might put our relationship at stake.

And so I was ready to walk across the stage like in a day or so and all the coursework is done. And I'll never forget this. I mean, this was like one of those pictures in my mind, Dr. P with this snow white hair and his arms crossed and the light was coming. It was a brick building that had ivy and he tilted his head and he said, Chip, can I ask you a question? I said, sure, Dr. P. He said, I just don't understand how someone who appears to be as intellectually astute as you are could actually believe in a literal Jesus and this born again stuff and that the Bible is really God's word. And then he followed that by asking me three or four rather challenging questions about my faith. How could I trust the Bible and could Jesus be the only way and isn't that narrow, et cetera, et cetera.

And it shook me. In fact, I'm going to go on record to say that it's not bad to have some doubts as a follower of Christ. It's not bad to get shaken now and then and realize I need to really think through what I believe and why. And I came away from that experience with three convictions. Number one is I was not going to throw my brains in the trash to follow Christ. I mean, this is a man I respected and and you know what?

It wasn't just I have this emotional experience and had this great college experience. If that was just a little window of being idealistic, then it's got to measure up to the truth. Second, I'm not going to let someone I admire who's very, very smart intimidate me to give up my faith. And third, I made a commitment that I'm going to dig in and whatever it takes, I am going to learn the questions he asked me about the Bible, about the uniqueness of Christ, archeology, science. I'm going to focus and do whatever it takes and I'm going to do the research and then I'll let the chips fall where they may. I mean, if God's word and my faith can't hold up to scientific, archeological, philosophical research, then I'll give up my faith.

But if it does, then I will know this is really true. And really, the teaching in the series in the book that I wrote called Why I Believe is the culmination of that journey. And what I can tell you is, is that I've defended my faith in front of four PhDs. I've had the privilege of going around the world and different religions and philosophies. And here's my joy and here's my desire for you.

You can trust God's word, you can trust the person of Christ, but we have to rethink how we communicate this and what our apologetic is. But now I have to tell you an experience that I had not too long ago. I was teaching on controversial subjects because I mean, the morals have changed in America and the sort of lifestyles, LGBTQ and marriage and all these things are up for grabs. And I was teaching at our church about what the Bible says about homosexuality and what it says about marriage. And I remember a little 15 year old girl came up to me and she's a, I mean a sweet girl. She loves God. I think she even went to our Christian school.

I know her parents, very, very good people, but she's grown up in a completely different culture. And she came up to me and she said, you know, pastor Chip, I heard what you said. I know what the Bible actually says about homosexuality. I know you believe in the authority of scripture and all those things. I want you to know I love Jesus with all my heart, but I want to tell you something. If you're asking me to tell my friend who's gay that she's wrong or give up my faith, I'm going to give up my faith. And, and I mean literally my mind was going, what?

What? In other words, I grew up and many of you have grown up in a world that there's logic, there's authority, there's the Bible. This is what it says. This is, but she's grown up in a world when she has to choose between relationship and truth, without truth. She's lived in a world where you don't validate things by what the Bible says. You don't validate things by a person in authority like myself.

You validate it out of relationship and your experience. So here's what I want to tell you. The apologetics of the past have to be completely revised. We don't give up on all those reasons. I'm going to share some of those reasons.

I'm going to help you understand why you can trust the Bible, why you can believe in the resurrection, why the God of the Bible is the most logical, clear. I mean, it answers the biggest questions of life. But I'm going to tell you, we can't keep doing it the way we're doing it because look at the evidence. I mean, just ask yourself, how is it going? The culture's changing. The world is changing. How is the church doing? Let me give you some of the bad news.

And I don't mean to be negative, but if you need awakened, then let's get awakened. Our rational answering of questions simply isn't working in our day. What's the public view of Christians right now?

Hypocrites, sexual scandals in the Catholic church for decades, followed by cover-up, sexual scandals in evangelical Bible churches, Southern Baptist churches, major mega church pastors after decades of quote effective ministry now found out to have private lives. People are looking at Christianity and saying, we think you're bigoted. We think you're prejudice. We think you're irrelevant. We think you're intolerant.

We think you're the problem. The LGBTQ has very effectively reframed the entire argument, not around we have a sexual preference, but as a civil rights issue. And now Christians in our day are viewed as bigoted and prejudiced. And so there's this anti-Christian bias and it's popping up everywhere. A businessman in the Silicon Valley who was one of the founders of a major organization gave $1,000 to a cause not putting anyone down, simply saying that I believe historically that marriage is between a man and a woman.

That went viral on social media and he was ousted in his company. Companies like Chick-fil-A that close on Sundays who are loving and kind and care about people, but who basically just hold to a traditional concept of marriage have now been moved off and outlawed in major cities like San Antonio or in universities. We're living in a world where giving logical answers to our kids and to our neighbors and to our friends no longer holds water. Christians are viewed in a very negative light. Therefore, the message of the gospel, in fact, the next generation has come up believing that they need to be so concerned about their friends and not be too forthright that they actually think it's wrong to share their faith if it might offend someone else.

It's into that world that we have a new apologetic. In the church, here's the changes. Currently, church attendance is down, Bible engagement is down. The moral decline, 60% of evangelical Bible believing believers between the ages of 18 and 30 are currently in casual sex or sleeping together. Giving is at an all-time low financially. Per capita, actually those during the Depression gave more generously than today, and that tells us something has happened to Christians' hearts.

Families are fractured. Divorce is about the same in the Christian community as the non-Christian community. We find that 68% of our children five years after they leave high school are abandoning the faith.

I mean, I could go on and on and on. We have the highest level of people who have no religious affiliation. Of those under 35, it's like 25, 30% of them have no religious affiliation, and Generation Z, those coming up, literally, they don't know God, they don't know the Bible, and Christianity is currently to them irrelevant. I mean, these are big, big issues.

It's gonna take more than opening the Bible and telling your kids or sitting down with a friend over a coffee and telling them, here's the five or six intellectual reasons why I believe in God's word or why I believe Jesus is the savior of the world. It's gonna take a bit of a different apologetic. We are much more like the first century than we are the last century, and what I mean by that is that many of us have grown up for quite a while where the culture agreed with what we believed. You know, it supported it. The major institutions supported it, and now we're living in a world that is more and more and more anti-Christian.

So here's what I wanna suggest. I wanna suggest that we rethink, because of the change in the culture, our apologetic. Yesterday, apologetics were about what we believe and why, and it was aimed at answering the skeptic and his questions or her questions. Today, ready for this? I believe we need to aim apologetics first and foremost toward believers, especially young people, aimed at answering the questions that equip them to keep their faith.

Something fundamentally is wrong with the current Christianity and the current church and the current faith when those inside our churches and our families are leaving the faith. Second, yesterday we needed to master facts and data and history to intellectually prove what we believe is true. Today, we need to model concern and compassionate and a lifestyle that proves that what we actually believe is even relevant. Third, yesterday we needed to win the debate. In fact, remember the day when evangelicals and atheists would debate.

No one even wants to hear a debate. Today, we need to win an audience. We need to live in such a way where people are asking us, how do you have a marriage like that and how do your kids turn out like that and how do you handle the adversity coming your way with such an amazing, kind and loving attitude? Fourth, yesterday we communicated on a level playing field that presumed the truth was objective reality. Today, we communicate on the shifting sands of truth as a subjective reality.

I told you that story of that high school girl. What I want you to know is that this whole next generation and millennials, they look at life through different glasses. They don't look at facts and say, well, these are three facts and these are logical and therefore this is right and that is wrong. They're evaluating truth not as an absolute but something that's relative and it's why the experience of the collective group, it's what they feel. That's your truth. That's my truth and so now as you begin to talk to people, I can give them five or six good reasons or scientific facts and the response is, that's your truth.

That's not my truth. Recently, a lady who I really admire, her name is Rosario Butterfield and she was a teacher in elite school. She was a lesbian and she made friends with a pastor and he invited her over for dinner.

I don't mean just a few dinners but it was months and months and then a couple years and she often left and she said it disturbed me. We disagreed about the homosexual lifestyle. We disagreed about truth and epistemology and how you come at truth and she was a literature professor and very, very, very bright but she says as they love me and love me and love me and I begin to examine what I believed and why, I begin to understand. God began to move in my heart and so she goes to this prestigious university and she shares her testimony and if I gave you the name of it, most of you would say, wow, are you kidding? I mean, it's one of the elite sort of the Harvard's of Christianity and when she got done, students protested and here's what you need to get.

They protested and the sign said, it's just your story. In other words, their comment was, yeah, we love Jesus but now you're alienating people that are LGBT because she was a lesbian teacher who came to Christ, saw what the scripture said and says, now this is my new lifestyle. So what I want you to understand is that it's a whole different world and just facts, the shifting sand of relative truth means our apologetic and our way to do our apologetic has to change. Fifth, yesterday the church and the culture shared a general knowledge of the Bible. I mean, you could talk about Adam and Eve or Noah or Jonah or Jesus or a few of his stories and people would go, yeah, I got you. Today, both the church and the world is biblically illiterate. I've had the privilege of teaching literally all across America and multiple places around the world and I can't start anymore and assume that people know even the general idea of scripture.

It causes us to start at a different starting point. Sixth, a committed Christian man or woman in the past and yesterday was admired. She's a woman of integrity. He's a man who loves God. He's a man who leads his family well.

I mean, that's the kind of person you want to be. Today, a strongly committed man or woman has actually been called dangerous. Recently, they were doing some appointments for court positions of very significant roles and they had Senate hearings and a couple senators came out. There was a lady who was a strong candidate and she happened to be a devout Catholic and she had very clear views on the life of the unborn. And it was just that, no, I believe life begins at conception.

I mean, the science is in. Even Planned Parenthood when they don't talk about a fetus anymore and they talk about a baby. And two senators in our country in America said, this lady cannot be a judge in our court system because of her dangerous ideas.

It's a dangerous idea in America in our day to believe that an unborn child's life should be protected. Think of how much has changed in our world. Seventh, we used to be able to begin with the truth and then express grace. I mean, people believe that truth was absolute and we would say, this is right and this is wrong. Today, we must begin with grace in order to share the truth. What I want you to know is that the apologetic has to start with how you live and how you treat people and that we actually make an impact and we actually demonstrate that we deeply, deeply care. It's not about a competing philosophy anymore. No one wants to hear what the Bible says or anything about Jesus until they see a life that's attractive, that's loving, that's caring.

Chip will be back in just a minute with his application. You've been listening to the first part of his message, Rethinking Apologetics for the 21st Century from his series, Why I Believe. Now, as you may or may not know, there's actually a lot of solid, verifiable evidence that supports Jesus' existence and his ministry. The real challenge is articulating that and other biblical truths to those who genuinely want to know more.

So how do we do that? Well, in this series, Chip shares ways we can effectively and winsomely answer honest questions about our faith that will attract people to the Gospel, not repel them from it. For more information about Why I Believe or our resources, go to LivingOnTheEdge.org, the Chip Ingram app, or call 888-333-6003.

Chip's with me in studio now, and Chip, you know, I don't think I've ever heard you more passionate about a particular series than this one. Share with us, if you will, what's behind that. I think first, Dave, this was a real challenge to me personally. It was a number of years ago and the issues were quite different, but I had to have a faith where I didn't throw my brains in the trash. And so at an early age, working through these issues was very important. I think the second reason why I'm so passionate today is the world has changed and apologetics needs to be refined. It's completely different this time around with our own children and grandchildren. I mean, the rules have changed. The right answers and the facts and the research alone, they just don't suffice anymore.

That's so true, Chip. So what are you hoping to accomplish through this series? Well, three things. One, I want to help parents, pastors, and grandparents, and literally youth workers understand that it's a whole new world and it requires a different approach to apologetics. The second thing I want to do is create a resource to help them first understand and then second, help their kids own their own faith in a way that it comes from their heart. And then third, I want to help all of us be equipped so that we can build the kind of relationships and have the opportunity where those facts and those truths and that evidence really come into play after we've built a bridge where people are literally asking us about the hope that's in us. Well, thanks for that insight, Chip. Well, I hope you'll join us for each part of this series and let me also encourage you to get plugged in with the resources for Why I Believe Too, whether that's Chip's popular book or the small group study guides. During this series, we've discounted both, so order either of these resources today. To learn more, call 888-333-6003 or go to livingontheedge.org.

App listeners, tap special offers. Now with a final thought, here's Chip. As we close today's program, I think I need to clear up a misconception. Yes, we need to be prepared with answers and we have to know the truth. And yes, we face some real challenges in our culture. But I want you to know, God always changes one person at a time. And I just want to remind you that the average person is far more willing to listen to your answers than you might think if you have a real relationship, if they know that you really care. I know there's a lot of frustrated parents and grandparents and even youth workers that talk to me about, wow, you know, I give people eight reasons why I believe in the Bible or why I believe Jesus rose from the dead and it's like BB's off a tank. Well, it's a new day and it's a new world. And what I want you to know is that we're going to learn a lot of good answers and we're going to learn to winsomely share our faith and engage and communicate with the next generation. But I will tell you there is something that never, ever fails.

It's a four-letter word, but it's not a bad word. It's love. People long to be loved. People long for peace.

People's lives aren't working well. Whether it's teenage suicide or anxiety or family breakups, what the world is looking for, what people, what your neighbors, what your co-workers, what your grandkids are looking for is someone who deeply cares and accepts them. Once you build that bridge, we will give you some tools to help them know about Jesus, the Bible, and eternal life. Stay with this.

I think this series is going to be a real help to you. Thanks, Chip. Let me take just a brief second and thank the generous people who make monthly donations to support the ministry of Living on the Edge. Your faithful gifts help us inspire Christians to live like Christians.

Every gift makes a huge difference. Now, if you haven't partnered with us yet, would you prayerfully consider joining the Living on the Edge team? Make a one-time gift or set up a recurring donation by going to livingontheedge.org or texting the word donate to 74141. It's that easy. Text the word donate to 74141 or visit livingontheedge.org. App listeners, tap donate. Well, until next time, this is Dave Drewy saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-09 07:53:45 / 2023-03-09 08:03:32 / 10

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