Defending The Christian Faith
As Christians, we actually believe that we have solid answers to this life’s most important questions – but are we giving those answers?
The people in this world who are genuine believers in and followers of Jesus Christ generally believe in the Gospel message (Good News) specifically found in God’s word in the New Testament and prophesied in the Old Testament of the Bible. The Christian faith hinges on Jesus Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection to atone for the sins of mankind.
Those who believe and put their faith and trust in Jesus, enter into a relationship with God and are referred to as Christians. As believers, they inherit eternal life in Heaven because of the love and grace of God demonstrated by what Jesus did on the cross and His resurrection.
However, is it just a story from an ancient set of manuscripts written thousands of years ago and just one of many religions that the minds of human beings have to offer? Is it simply a religion that can only be engaged by blind faith? Is it only a matter of agreeing with the ideas and words of a moral teacher that was reported to be living in the middle east about two thousand years ago?
Defending the Christian Faith With Your Story
We’re going to talk a bit about defending the Christian faith using Christian apologetics. However, we first need to state something. Making an intellectual defense of the Christian faith is quite important in today’s world. However, in no way do we negate the effect of a believer’s personal story of their faith.
Sometimes the stories of our own personal faith in Christ would be the method that might affect a nonbeliever the most. You can always keep that in mind. However, let’s also live with the understanding that our conversations and responses to others may need to include other knowledge of factual evidence that points to the existence of God and the Christian faith.
Learning how to defend the Christian faith with historical facts and evidence can be a great tool in combination with our personal testimonies of what God has done in our lives.
Defending The Christian Faith – Do We Blindly Accept The Bible as Truth?
When people are asked to believe in the scripture of the Bible are they being asked to check their brains at the door and accept the beliefs of Christianity, that this Jesus was the Son of God come to pay for our sins? Should Christians expect those who aren’t familiar with a Biblical worldview to accept the Christian faith message by discarding all human reasoning?
Should they simply accept Christian beliefs with a faith that is backed up by no evidence other than the personal beliefs of Christians and a group of ancient writings about which they know very little?
Unfortunately, this is what many unbelievers feel when confronted with the Christian faith. However, the Bible instructs Christians to be ready to give an answer for what we believe.
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
The previous verse is perhaps the most quoted verse about something that we call “Christian apologetics.” Christian Apologetics is basically intellectually defending the truth of God’s word – defending the Christian faith. The word apologetics actually has its roots in the Greek word, “apologia, ” which simply means to give an answer in reply.
As the verse above mentioned, a believer should always be ready in defending the Christian faith, give a description of what God’s word says, and share their beliefs about life in this world from a Christian perspective. That perspective has, as its foundation the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That belief is inherent in the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God sent in bodily form to the earth as the Savior of the world.
The Role of Faith
Before we move any further along, let’s first recognize that we aren’t simply saying that believing that the Bible is God’s word is just an exercise of the mind or brain. On the contrary, Christians are called to a life of faith. A person becomes a true child of God – a believer – a Christian, by faith.
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”Ephesians 2:8
“Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”Galatians 2:16
The writer of Hebrews stresses the idea of the actual impossibility of pleasing God without faith –
“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”Hebrews 11:6
So, absolutely, our Christian beliefs involve trust. Faith is a fundamental platform of Christianity and a true and personal relationship with the God of the universe.
The Need to Sharpen the Skills of Apologetics
So, although the Christian life is to be lived by faith in the Son of God and the truth of the Gospel message, as Christians we are called upon to give an answer for what we believe. When we explain our faith to others we will often say, “I believe it because the Bible says it.” Okay, that’s not a bad answer if the Bible were everyone’s standard today.
Then you might be questioned, “Why would you believe a collection of copied and recopied ancient manuscripts from two thousand years ago or more?”
Statements like “The Bible says…,” “God’s word says…,” or even “Jesus said..” hold great meaning for believers.
However, in today’s American culture (as well as many other cultures) the respect or sometimes even a rudimentary knowledge of the Bible as the foundational platform of truth is not ingrained into as it was even in the middle of the previous century.
A half-century ago, the Bible had merit to a vast majority of Americans. Even if they weren’t active followers of Christ, many still held the historical belief in the Bible that included scriptures like the Ten Commandments. They held onto much of the basic morality as found in the Biblical scriptures.
Defending the faith has not just recently become of high importance. That’s always been a responsibility of Christians. However, in America, as we have seen the last century unfold, we witnessed schools/educational systems, media, and government make a transition. Many institutions had, at one time held to, at least a Biblical moral code, if not to the actual teaching of the Bible as truth.
However, as secular humanistic teaching began to permeate the thought processes and teachings of these institutions, they gradually delivered a generation of minds who had been taught to think outside of the Biblical worldview that the previous generations held.
As mentioned, at one time, even many of the irreligious in America still had a higher level of respect or tendency to be more favorable to the morality of the Christian faith.
Unfortunately, those times seem to have seriously changed. In the last few decades, especially most recently, more and more groups and individuals not only disagree with aspects of Christianity but have become hostile to the Christian faith.
Learning to Defend the Faith
Although I disagreed with quite a bit of his Reformed view of theology, I admire the statement of the famous Presbyterian pastor, R.C. Sproul:
“The defense of the faith is not a luxury or intellectual vanity. It is a task appointed by God that you should be able to give a reason for the hope that is in you as you bear witness before the world.”R.C. Sproul
Everyone has an opinion about various subjects. However, it’s quite important for believers in the word of God to lovingly and kindly take a stance, defend the faith, and share the truth of the gospel with nonbelievers. Plus, we can both share that it IS true and WHY we believe that the evidence of the truth of Christianity is very compelling.
There are quite a few great books outlining the evidence for Christianity, the resurrection of Christ, etc., and I will suggest some at the end of this post. However, the book first published in 1972, “Evidence That Demands a Verdict” has a title that I believe is fundamentally true. The evidence that is found for the life, death, and resurrection of Christ is substantial enough that it does demand a yes or no!
Let’s pray that many more of us will be able to articulate that evidence.
- Hardcover Book
- McDowell, Josh (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 880 Pages – 10/03/2017 (Publication Date) – Thomas Nelson (Publisher)
Giving Answers for Your Faith
The study of Christian apologetics is fascinating to me. Although accepting Christ by grace through faith is the fundamental Christian truth, seeing the truth of Christianity through the study of the reliability of the scriptures, historical evidence, science, and even moral philosophy can enhance your faith and help you to share with others.
There are so many resources available today for the budding Christian apologist. Another great resource I have may be one of the best and has been out for a couple of decades. It is called
I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist” by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek.
- Geisler, Norman L. (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 448 Pages – 03/01/2004 (Publication Date) – Crossway (Publisher)
Regardless of what resources you begin with, I would encourage you to dive in somewhere as a beginning Christian apologist if you haven’t already! If you need help with that, I would offer 5 beginning questions for which you could study to be ready to give an answer.
These questions and answers are found in many works of Christian apologetics. However, I will borrow the order of these five from Alisa Childers as she put together a brief and compelling video that we will link to at the end of the post.
5 Questions That Demand Our Answers
1- Have the New Testament Texts been corrupted through the years?
The short answer is no. Certainly, there were no printing presses at the time the books of the Bible were written. So, the scriptures had to be hand copied by scribes. The criticism that some make is that over hundreds of years, there have been so many textual errors that we cannot trust today’s scripture that we hold in our hands.
However, that simply isn’t true. The New Testament has an abundance of more manuscripts and earlier manuscripts (very important) to support its accuracy than any other work of ancient literature.
Most scholars agree that the New Testament has been copied with an astonishing degree of accuracy. The vast majority of “textual variants” are very so very minor and most of them are differences in spelling.
Of all of the variants between the New Testament manuscripts, well over 99% of them make no difference at all in the interpretation of scripture.
You can be confident in the reliability of the scriptural text we have today. When you have time take a look at “The Reliability Of The Bible: Are You Really Sure?”
2- Is there real evidence that the resurrection of Jesus Christ actually happened?
Dr. Gary Habermas has spent his professional life researching and examining the historical, philosophical, and theological issues surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus. He looked at over 1400 scholarly works written about the resurrection of Jesus. He looked at a combination of resources from far-left liberals to those on the far right.
Although the scholars might differ in their final conclusion, virtually every one of those scholars aligned on several key issues that they believed were factual.
- Jesus’ death was by Roman crucifixion.
- Jesus’ disciples believed that He rose from the dead and appeared to them. Plus they were willing to endure suffering and die for these beliefs.
- The most staunch persecutor of the Church, Paul, suddenly became a Christian after he had an experience with who he believed was the risen Jesus Christ.
- James, the brother of Jesus, who didn’t initially accept Jesus as the Messiah, was suddenly converted when he believed he had seen the risen Jesus.
- About 75% of these scholars believe that Jesus’ tomb was found empty.
3- Hasn’t the world of Science virtually disproved God, anyway?
The answer is no. Science cannot disprove the existence of God. When someone says, “God does not exist” it’s not at all a statement of science. This is a matter of philosophy or faith. Scientists can’t disprove the existence of God in a laboratory. Scientists work within the confines of the material world and the essence of God is “spirit,” not material.
“For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”John 4:24
To claim that there is no God scientists must exclude anything outside of the material realm.
4- Does the Bible Condone Slavery?
As to what we know as slavery, absolutely not! Slavery, as we have known it as a stain on U.S. history, is the type that existed with the ownership, abuse, and forced labor of African Americans. However, when we look at the Old Testament the word translated into English as “slavery” is not the same thing at all.
In Jewish history, there was a system in which a destitute person who somehow owed a huge debt to another could volunteer to work for them to pay off the debt. They would be provided food, shelter, and protection from being mistreated.
If it was found that the owner was being cruel to the servant, it was required that the servant be released. After a period of six years, in the seventh year, they would be released from their debt. So this system that was instituted to allow the destitute to pay off their debt did not resemble the evil slavery that comes to our minds. It wasn’t a perfect system, but it was not a cruel and brutal system. In addition, human trafficking was punishable by death in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 24:7).
In New Testament times, the Roman government sanctioned a type of slavery different from the servitude model that God had allowed for the Israelites. The Roman type of slavery was never condoned in the Bible. And the type of slavery that occurred in America was evil and is never condoned in the Scripture. For more info on slavery and the Bible check out Paul Copan’s “Is God a Moral Monster?”
5- Is there evidence outside of the Bible that Jesus actually existed?
Absolutely. The most noted historians and writers who wrote about Jesus were Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, Pleghan, Celsus, and quite a few others. Although many writers and scholars do not believe in Jesus as Christ, most secular scholars do accept Jesus as a real historical person. The fact that the actual person, Jesus, existed in the areas around Jerusalem is not even denied by most liberal scholars.
Most secular scholars today dismiss those beliefs that deny the very existence of Jesus as fringe theories. The basic fact that Jesus lived is very widely believed by secularists and Christians alike.
How To Defend The Christian Faith? With Love and Kindness.
I hope that in some small way, this motivates you to learn more about defending the Christian faith using Christian apologetics.
However, if you do, be careful to do so with love and kindness. We don’t want to have historical facts and tons of other evidence that point to the truth of God’s word and use them like a hammer.
Unbelievers do not want to receive a lecture from someone who exudes the attitude of a know-it-all or someone who is arrogant or demeaning. Be considerate. Be gracious. Be respectful.
However, tell the truth about the greatest news in the world!
A book that covers much of this topic and will give you a lot of guidance on the subject is: