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February 12, 2022 12:01 am
As Christians, we must tell the world not only what we believe but also why we believe it. Today, R.C. Sproul discusses the role of apologetics in the Christian life.
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There are a lot of people who claim to have faith who really are simply superstitious people, and may even be fortunate enough to believe the right things for the wrong reason but were supposed to be able not to tell the world what it is we believe, but also why we believe it really is the difference between describing her faith in defending or Renewing Your Mind on the Saturday well today we continue Dr. RC Sproul series on classical apologetics. What if we had all of our ducks in room one of we had all of our evidences and arguments prepared are they really going to work on the unbeliever today. RC helps us understand how to fulfill the mandate to be prepared to continue today. Now with our study of apologetics and in our initial lecture, we saw that the term apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia we find it in the New Testament where the apostle Peter gives the admonition to the Christian to be ready always to give a defense for the reason of the hope that lies within us, and I mentioned that the task of the early church in many cases was to answer the critics who were giving distorted reports about the actual behavior and beliefs of the Christian community within the Roman Empire, but also, I mentioned how the early church fathers who were intellectually inclined engaged in a duel with the philosophers from the Hellenistic Empire and that those philosophical debates also contributed to the church is developing a full or apologetic know what I mean by that is this one way in which the church engages his apologetics is every time somebody raises an objection, whatever that objection is we have to respond to it .5 .5 point.
I remember being on a college campus many years ago with John guess the British preacher and evangelist, and John was doing an evangelistic outreach mission on this university campus and I had been with him and I was standing next to him. One of the more intellectually inclined students began to confront John with questions and objections to the truth claims of Christianity and patiently, one by one.
John answered this fella's questions and after about 20 of those responses and the fellow went to number 21 I interrupted us and hold it just a second I said what I said you know he's just answer 20 of your objections to you to your satisfaction, but no sooner does the answer one the near right ready for the next one hollers is going to go on. Somehow I have the feeling that you really are biased against the truth claims of Christianity and what you just want to do is debated all day, no matter how well your objections have been answered and was stopped him short right there where the point is that that is our task because as many objections as come were going to have to reply to them as long as history continues and people were making objections but on the other hand, there is what I call the positive task of apologetics where Christian philosophy constructs a whole philosophical defense for the truth claims of Christianity. That should be applicable to every culture, every theological or philosophical environment in which the church ever finds itself. So in that sense. That's when the apologists goes on the offense and constructs some kind of case for Christianity. Now in the history of the church. We've seen this.
We've seen apologetics we both defensive and offense of answering the objections that people raise and at the same time setting forth its own case for the truth, and there have been different approaches to the size of apologetics and Christians throughout history have disagreed as to what is the best method or strategy for presenting a case for Christianity.
I was on a radio program recently with a Lutheran scholar and one of the things that we were discussing was where you start in apologetics, and of course I've always taken the position that the starting point of Christian apologetics is the demonstration of the existence of God.
If you can get that established at the beginning. The rest is easy and the approach that I take for establishing the existence of God, as we will see in this course is basically through rational argumentation. But my friend the Lutheran said no not the best way is to argue historically from the historical Jesus back to the God who sent this historical Jesus and of course he and I differed on whether this was the most appropriate method.
Others argue that the first thing you should establish is the authority of the Bible because of yet the Bible establish then you got the existence of God.
Yet the deity of Christ need all the rest of the things established by virtue of that authority.
So we will spend some time in this course.
Looking at the different approaches and I will point out along the way, how people differ from my approach on this, but one of the questions that I get frequently.
Since I'm known to embrace reformed theology and reformed theology teaches that no one has the moral power to respond positively to the gospel or to the truth claims of Christianity, unless or until God the Holy Spirit changes their heart and so if we believe that that you can't argue somebody into a conviction of Christianity or into conversion. You can simply persuade them through rational arguments or of the charm that you bring to the discussion, but rather your impotence to change the soul of another human being that only the Holy Ghost can do that many of come the conclusions. I will then it would seem that apologetics is a Herculean waste of time. Since we can convert anybody with it. Why bother, and so anybody who is in the reformed tradition frequently is called upon to answer that question. If it's true that apologetics can't convert anybody then why do it. Why apologetics and that's what I want to look at today if we go back to the text that I mentioned in our last meeting from first Peter chapter 3 verse 15 I remind you of what it says sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.
Having a good conscience that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ might be ashamed. So here in the biblical context in which apologetics is enjoined. One of the important purposes of it was to bring the enemies of Christ and of those church to open shame. Now that reminds me of John Calvin who was usually considered to be the father of Calvinism. If anybody ever believe that it required the Holy Spirit to convert somebody that was John Calvin. If anyone believed that apologetics could never convert anybody. It was John Calvin.
But of course John Calvin did not abandoned this mandate that is given to us in the church and in his institutes when he is defending his case for the authority of sacred Scripture. He goes through a series of specific arguments for the integrity of the Bible including evidential arguments along the way and acknowledges that one point that all of these arguments as powerful as they may be, would never persuade somebody to acquiesce to the evidence unless or until God the Holy Spirit that his awakening work in that person's mind and in that person's soul.
And yet along the way. Calvin said that the evidence of which he was giving and the arguments that he was advancing were sufficient to stop the miles of the obstreperous interesting prick to stop the miles of the obstreperous not to convert the hearts of the strippers but the stop there. Mom's now you live in a culture today were in the intellectual world the truth claims of Christianity are not only rejected but they are ridiculed. Many of us have had the experience of sending our sons and daughters off to college where they became the object of the sports of the professors who made fun of them in the classroom for their na´vetÚ because they embrace their Christian religion on faith and their religious commitment was not intellectually respectable and so today it's open season on Christians who are accused of leaving their brains in the parking lot and of having to crucify their minds in order to embrace Christianity in the first place. Now when you go to the finest universities in the world today step in the philosophy department and you might have philosophers who don't embrace Christianity whatsoever but when they're examining the thinking for example of Augustine or the thinking of Anselm or the thinking of Thomas Aquinas or of Jonathan Edwards. Some of the greatest apologists that the church has ever produced. People may not agree with them or submit to their arguments, but it's rare that you find a serious scholar ridiculing Thomas a quant people may not agree with him but you cannot be intellectually honest. Even today, without dealing with the apologetic arguments for theism set forth for example, by Thomas Aquinas because he is recognized as an intellectual, Titan and all of the history of theoretical thought and in the Middle Ages and the University system in Europe where theology was seen as the queen of the sciences and philosophy. Her handmaiden, namely where philosophy was seen as the maidservant to assist the Queen people were atheists.
There were atheists in the Middle Ages, but they were pretty quiet in the culture because the assumption was in the intellectual world that to deny the existence of God.
For example, was to commit intellectual suicide because the case had been made so powerfully by Christian apologists at that time that people who didn't embrace the faith pretty much kept their mouth shut and that's what Calvin is saying with respect to the task of apologetics to stop the miles of the obstreperous that is to put restraints on those who are unbridled in their ridicule of the Christian faith.
I remember what Peter is saying here in the first century is that the Christians are being reviled.
That is, there being ridiculed, and he said you need to be standing ready at every moment to give a response to that, reviling, and to that ridicule that you might present the reason for the hope that is within you.
Were you not just sitting there saying, you know, I believe, because I took a leap of faith, and I jumped into the abyss and hope that Jesus would catch me but rather we are called as Christians to give solid answers to people who are raising questions and objections about the truth claims of Christianity and against those who are ridiculing the faith to put them to open shame to remember the Old Testament Israel is declared by the psalmist that it is the fool who says in his heart there is no God in our culture today, somebody who says there is a God, is regarded as a full, unscientific, unsophisticated, irrational, and the like and what is also happened in the last two centuries, or so I think in our Christian culture is that the church has surrendered the tools of apologetic defense were few would say the weapons of this warfare to the pagan. The pagan said for years and years and years. Christianity is not rational, and the Christianity is not scientific and they been telling us for centuries that the only reason you believe in the truth claims of Christianity is through some kind of gratuitous leap of faith, but what you don't have on your side they say to us is reason and science where what I'm going to try to demonstrate in our course of apologetics is that it is irrational to deny the existence of God and unscientific the reject the historic truth claims of Jesus of Nazareth. In other words, I'm not willing to surrender rationality and scientific empirical inquiry to the unbeliever. These are the tools of knowledge that God is given the human person to think with to study with to embrace reality and to discover truth with and if Christianity is true. Ladies and gentlemen, as I believe it is that we should be afraid of the normal tools of learning or scientific inquiry because an objective nonbiased application of the tools of learning if Christianity is true should verify and corroborate the truth claims of Christianity.
Rather than demolish them. In other words, we shouldn't have anything to be afraid of from reason or from scientific inquiry. If we do have fear from those levels.
Maybe what we have is not faith at all, but merely credulity. There a lot of people who claim to have faith who really are simply superstitious people and they may even be fortunate enough to believe the right things for the wrong reason but were supposed to be able not to tell the world what it is we believe, but also why we believe it while talking about Calvin and stopping the mass of the obstreperous with another very important point at this level. Calvin made a distinction that I think we need to understand between proof and persuasion proof and persuasion, said we could marshal evidence and arguments that are demonstrably that are overwhelmingly objectively sound to the point that they actually prove the thesis and have people remain unpersuaded by me that's true all over the place you meet people all the time you enter into discussion with you showing the case, it's clear all the data support your position and they refuse to accept that they refuse to acquiesce their stubborn they're biased. They don't want to listen to it that I want the facts to get in the way of their ideas and so on and so people can remain unpersuaded. Even though the proof is over whelming and so Calvin says the task of the apologists in the church is not to persuade with the proof only God will cause the acquiescence into the soundness of the argument without that work of the spirit. People will not submit because of the overwhelming bias that exists in the human heart against the things of God. So it's not simply that we are struggling against ignorance, but we are struggling against bias and discrimination against the things of God. When the gospel has always been an offense to fallen humanity and so the apologists has to understand that when he goes about his work that his task is not the persuasion but the proof to give a sound argument summary doesn't accept the argument. Jesus said you shake the dust off your feet and you go to the next time John Lord Montgomery tells a story of the skeptic Charlie who Charlie one morning when his wife went into wake him up so Charlie got a get out of bed to be late for work. Charlie said to his wife's. I can't go to work. I can't get out of bed.
She says why not. He said because I'm dead and dead people can get out of bed that people can go to work his wife's adultery silly Charlie are talking to me your wide-awake your fine there's nothing wrong with you get out now and go to work. He says I can't I'm dead so she can persuade Charlie that he's alive and so finally she called the doctor and the doctor comes and tests of Charlie's life-size listens to his heart and takes his pulse and all that and says Charlie, your fine there's nothing wrong with you get up now and go to work so sorry Doc, I can't care what your stethoscope tells you where what the vital signs are dead and I know it and nothing you can tell me is going to change my mind and so the doctor said the Charlie's wife from afraid your husband leaves a different kind of doctor than than what I do and so they bring in the psychiatrist and so the psychiatrists University know how you really feel about this Charlie, why is it that you're feeling like maybe one of the debtors. If you have a bad experience of it she starts analyzing for Charlie to no avail within the psychiatrists as we know Charlie, this one action of biology that need to known. He sweats that is when people die, their heart stops beating.
And so the blood is no longer sent through their system. So, dead people don't bleed cursive really never knew that his assurances prove it says okay so he takes Charlie down to the morgue and they look at a cadaver and the psychiatrist takes little pins and starts poking them in the thumb of the cadaver, no blood comes a and Sica said now do you believe me Charlie.
Charlie said Yep you're right.he said that people don't bleed psychiatrists rises S1 forces strong enough commitment and exit were sensitive receiver thumb and so Charlie stuck out his thumb and the psychiatrist took his needle punctured Charlie's thumb and it started to bleed in the psychiatrist look at the Charlie now what you say how busy his dead people bleed after nothing was going to convince Charlie that he wasn't dead because he didn't want to believe that he was alive. I can remember an axiom I learned when like the first year I was a Christian, a little aphorism that went like this people convinced against their will hold their original opinions still and when it comes to the intellectual victory in debate.
Most victories don't take place really on the spot. They don't take place until a person puts her head on the pillow that night.
Most people when they lose an intellectual argument know it. They may not admit they may want not to submit to it when they put their head on the pillow at the end of the day they knew that they lost. Now there's value to that, according to Calvin, on the one hand to stop the mouse of the strippers, but in that venue. What's so important for that is to give protection to the young Christians. Christians who haven't had the opportunity for advanced studies in apologetics, and so on.
Who when they're exposed to an avalanche of criticism from the scholars than they are frightened by that, then the task of apologetics is to shore up their confidence in their faith because of Satan can paralyze a Christian does not to destroy your faith.
But if he can make you embarrassed to speak out because you listen to all these critics all the time if he can embarrass you and intimidate you. He can neutralize you as a factor for the kingdom of God out there, and I remember when I was in seminary and was exposed to all kinds of skeptical theories. I couldn't answer everything that the professors threw at me but I took great comfort by studying scholars and other institutions who could answer their questions and I said when there is a body of knowledge out there and there are giants of the faith who have been able to handle these people and that gave me comfort until I could learn those things for myself.
At least I had the assistance. The pastoral assistance of those who were doing the work of apologetics in the early church. Not everyone can do with Justin Martyr could do but Justin Martyr gave credibility to the whole Christian community and that's one of the reasons why this task of apologetics is why do we engage in apologetics. We've just heard Dr. RC Sproul's clear answer to the euro and Renewing Your Mind. This is from his series defending your faith and they were glad you joined us today. I hope you make plans to join us every Saturday because were airing all 32 lessons from the series and were making the full collection available to you on 11 DVDs simply contact us today with your donation of any amount to look at your ministries and will send them to you.
You can make your request email@example.com or you can call us with your gift at 800-435-4343 throughout the series. Dr. Spruill demonstrates the reason, logic and science are really our allies in defending the existence of God in the Christian faith. These messages are helpful for students of all ages from high school through college and beyond.
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To learn more. Just go to connect.linear.org next week. Dr. Spruill explained that only the Holy Spirit can change a person's heart and mind that doesn't relieve us of our duty to explain the gospel and defendant.
I hope you'll join us again next Saturday for Renewing Your Mind