What in the world is Apologetics?
This is going to be what this course is about. The discipline and science of apologetics. Which in the world of theology is a separate science to theology itself. The science of apologetics is to provide and intellectual defense for the truth claims of the Christian faith. This is the type of help that would result in knowing what to believe and why to believe it. This is the task of what apologetics is about.
The Greek word is apologia: the term means to give a defense or reply or answer. 1 Peter 3 uses this word as an admonition with respect to this aspect; to be able and be ready to give a response to the hope that is in us. That we would stop the mouths of the obstreperous and unbridled and those that revile these same claims would be ashamed. At this time in the church they needed to have a defense for all the accusations and charges to the Christian community. At the beginning it was The demand for Emperor worship and the saying of Kaiser Kurios and the true life story of Justin Martyr and his defense of the reality of the true God. The charge that Christians were atheists. Polycarp the bishop of Smyrna and his discourse with the Emperor Antoninus Pius The charge that they were cannibals. The eating and drinking of Christ’s body and the rumor of this spread throughout Rome. A clarification needed to be made. Again, a sound and cogent apologetic was the tact.
A new world view had been given a new ethic to be enunciated. Not just a new religion but a new philosophy. As Greek ideas were waning, at this time, in the schools of new-Platonism, Stoicism, Epicureanism, Aristotelians and other systems competing with Christianity in this beginning period. Our early forbearers were able to make a clarifying response to these schools of thought. They dueled with the best philosophers of their day. They appealed to the LOGOS. John introduced this concept in John 1:1. The Greeks used this concept for centuries and the Christian used this as the concept of Christ as Lord.
A full orbed Apologetic
The way in which the Church engages in apologetic answers, when challenged or when there is an objection, we have to respond to it. It must be by point by point by point. That you deliver the truth claims of who Christ is. One might say one’s defensive stance.
The positive or offensive position would be to construct a whole philosophical defense of Christianity that should be applicable to every culture and every theological environment which the Church ever finds itself. A case for the Truth.
Christians have wrestled with the best strategy for presenting the best case. So where do you start?
You might say that the first method is the case for the existence for God. But others argue for a historical approach. So there can be differences in which may be the most appropriate method, In this course we will discuss some of these different approaches.
A Reformed view: Why convince others to moral ascent if it is a Herculean waste of time?
If we can’t convert thru savvy and compelling reason, why bother? Why do it if it can’t, in the end, bring faith and conversion to anybody?
1 Peter 3:15: This is a mandate to do specific kinds of things. To have tools and to use them. To have weapons and to be able to know tactics of skill and use and a manner and attitude of delivery. To be wise and winsome.
Is Christianity true? What is faith and what is credulity?
If these tools are rational and supportive they should verify the truth claims of Christianity rather than it be demolished. We should have nothing to be afraid of from reason or scientific inquiry. It is our ally and asset. If we do have fear from those levels of opposition then, perhaps, what we have is not faith at all but credulity (willingness to believe or trust too readily, esp. without proper or adequate evidence; gullibility. )
There are a lot people that claim to have faith but really are just superstitious people. They may even be fortunate enough to believe all the right things, but, for the wrong reasons. We are supposed to be able to tell the world what we believe, but, also, WHY we believe it.
Calvin and the obstreperous:
He made a distinction between proof and persuasion. You can marshal evidence that is demonstrable. That is overwhelmingly and objectively sound to the point that they actually prove the thesis and yet have people remain unpersuaded by it. So, the task is not to persuade but to form a proof that is unassailable. A sound argument. Even if it is somewhat offensive.
The story of Charlie and his thinking that he is dead. His wife tries to persuade him. Then his Doctor tries to persuade him. Then a psychiatrist tries to prove to him he is alive. Nothing was going to persuade him that he wasn’t dead, because he didn’t want to believe.
Axiom: people convinced against their will hold their original opinions still.
Victories in debate don’t happen immediately but when one loses they know it. They may not admit it or submit to it but when they lay their head on their pillow and sleep they will know it.
To give protection to young Christians to these ideas of contrary argument. Also, the avalanche of challenges from scholars or other skeptics. Just to paralyze you and embarrass and intimidate you can render you paralyzed, But there is a body of knowledge that can answer these skeptics. Here we will get the assistance of help from others. This is why this task is so important.
If you would like to go over any of this, you can contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
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