Saturday, January 13, 2007

Hello, world!
It's been a while, but I'm back. Sorry for the very long delay. Over the course of the delay I came to the realization that there is virtually no way that I'm capable of maintaining this blog everyday. So I've decided to attempt to post once a week rather than once a day. Accordingly, I've decided to change the topic to one that is more suitable to a once-a-week format. The new topic will be "apologetics." I will be borrowing extensively from the AWANA elective: FAITH ON TRIAL as well as the lectures presented by Mr. R. I have received permission from Mr. R. to use his lectures, however I have not been given permission to use his name on the Internet. Thus, he will remain known only as Mr. R.

So without further ado, lesson 1:
Lesson 1: An introduction to apologetics.
This lesson is divided into 3 parts:
1. What apologetics is
2. Why a Christian should care about apologetics
3. How apologetics ought to be used

1. What apologetics is.
Wikipedia describes apologetics as: "[T]he field of study concerned with the systematic defense of a position." Christian apologetics is the study of the defense of the Christian faith utilizing logic, reasoning, and external evidence.

Word root:
Our English word "apologetics" originates from the Greek, 2-word term: APO-LOGOS.
The first word: "APO" means "against"
The second word: "LOGOS" means "word"
So the APO-LOGOS literally means "against-word" or a word against something formerly said.
Another form/tense (this is a foreign language) of the word is: apologia

In Roman courts of law the prosecution would present a "kategoria" as an accusation against the defendant. The defendant would then respond with his "apologia" as a defence. Apparently, the men who wrote The Bible were referring to a defensive action; apologetics is to be used to defend Christianity against the assaults of others. (Yes, I know that "a good defence is a strong offense," but that's beside the point.)

2. Why a Christian should care about apologetics.

The primary reason a Christian should be concerned about and study apologetics lies in 1 Peter 3:15
"but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;" (NASB)
The word "defence" in this verse is the Greek word "apologia." So, apparently Peter wanted the Christians he was writing to (and us) to be ready to give an "apologia" to those who challenge God's Word.

It is comforting to know that the early apostles practiced what they preached. Here are 2 examples that illustrate how Christians are to present their "apologia":
Paul presents his case and argues persuasively in Acts chapter 26. The word "apologia" is used in verse 2 when Paul states: "I make my defense."
Paul uses a cognate term when he mentions his "defence... of the Gospel" in Philippians 1:7

Clearly apologetics is pertinent to the Christian due to the fact that we are ordered to study it and to its usefulness.

3. How apologetics ought to be used
There are are several points a Christian must remember when utilizing apologetics in an evangelical setting.
-Do so in gentleness and reverence.
1 Peter commands us to do so with gentleness and reverence. Be gentle about presenting your case
-Don't be argumentative
Similar to the last point. It is very easy to transform a witnessing opportunity into a full scale argument. Don't! The person you are talking to will most likely go defensive and become very difficult to persuade.
-Keep the focus on the person you're talking to
In some formal settings this is impossible. However, in one-on-one conversations keep the focus on that person's relationship to Jesus, not on how you can prove something from the Bible is true. Apologetics is very useful for assisting a person overcome genuine doubts; it is usually very unproductive at persuading people who have already made up their minds and have no intention of changing their opinions.
-Don't be afraid to say "I don't know"
Just make sure that every time you admit that you don't know you follow up by saying, "But we can find out." Every argument a person can make against the Bible has already been made and disproven; the hard part is getting the answer to the person.
-Remember that only the Holy Spirit can lead a person to salvation!
This is extremely important! Even the best argument in the world won't convince anyone unless the Holy Spirit moves that person's heart. Don't be afraid to pause and pray with the person.

This concludes our first lesson on apologetics.