Evidential Apologetics Evidential Apologetics
Evidential Apologetics are Needed in Defending the Gospels
Consider a working definition of Christian Apologetics as the science of studying evidences to determine the truth or error of any given Bible situation, teaching, person, event or belief. This is especially pertinent to the life of Christ as recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This evidential apologetics emphasis systematically evaluates every text of the Gospels to determine its facticity or impractibility as a record o his life and ministry. It consistently weighs evidence before positing Faith or Doubt. It also insists that Facts be established as indisputably as possible before Faith is considered inevitable and Doubt equally intolerable. The point is always, "what is true?" If the evidence proves the Gospels unrealistic or false, disregard them and the Christ they present. If the evidence proves him as the Gospels record, believe in and obey him. In particular, Christian Apologetics objectively studies and evaluates evidences surfaced in the Gospels that so compellingly establishes truth about Jesus Christ as recorded that to remain a disbeliever in him constitutes sin John 16:22-25.
As the title insists, an evidence-based apologetic is necessary in defending Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Because Christians and Skeptics Have a Flawed Sense of Proof
Many Christian preachers and laymen consider their faith sufficient proof. They believe it; that settles it. In fact, that no more makes the Gospels true than the skeptics' unbelief makes them false. All that either proves is satisfaction in one's perspective and dissatisfaction in another, with human experience, not God's Word, the basis of both.
Because Christian Experience Is Only A Convincing Evidence of the Gospels
At least two Bible passages stress the necessity of a personal relationship with God. Deuteronomy 11:1-8 is one. Moses addressed the children of the generation of adults freed from Egypt. He noted that the third generation—grandchildren of the lost generation—lacked the personal experience of their parents. Since the parents "saw all these great things the Lord has done," they needed a personal commitment to God that would convince their children to follow him.
1 Peter 3:1-2 is another. Christian wives, who couldn't preach to unbelieving husbands, could still witness to them, who may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives."
These passages being fundamental to discipleship, why is one's personal relationship with Christ only a convincing, not the defining, evidence of his truth? First, though all experiences are first of all Personal—"Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy," Proverbs 14:10—one's experience may convince him, but not another. Evidence, in turn, based on fact, is TRUE now and forever, applicable to all, whatever we think, however much we love or hate it. Since its origins occur outside us, in God's Person, he makes the rules and we better obey or else! It is very compelling that God packs his Word with such powerful proofs, but says nothing of personal feelings John 20:31-32.
Because Personal Experience Alone Makes All Religions Equal
In fact, if all that matters in religion is personal experience—"it works for me"—Biblical truth is as irrelevant as political opinions are negotiable. Then any kind of god or religion suffices. Christians can insist that Jesus is the only way to God, but that's no different from the devotees of Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism saying the same of their founder. Each finds his leader essential to him; each in high dudgeon disputes any Christian's reference to Jesus Christ as superior to all. In fact, personal experience is useful to discipleship only as kindling to fire. It can strike a spark that begins, but needs logs to build, the blaze. Apologetics provides the logs!
However, even if some Christians admit we cannot build a Biblical faith on personal experience alone, will they turn for ultimate proof to the apologetic that stresses Jesus Christ as the God-Man whose life and ministry Matthew, Mark, Luke and John flawlessly recorded? Not necessarily; and for an obvious reason. As Christian apologists have discovered, the mind-set in many churches, rooted ever-deeper by 40 years of marshmallow preaching—soft, sweet, doctrinally vaporous—has left believers with flabby or atrophied spiritual brain cells. And the mental effort needed to reactivate them as spiritual muscles of the Holy Spirit-generated apologetic proves intimidating. Particularly since their feel-good pabulum has given them more contentment than Carnation's cows; and their feel-good experiences have been so embraceably cost-and effort-free. For why bother with thinking as the basis of our witness when we can merely make a throne room of our heart from which religious feelings can rule us and convince others?
Christian Apologetics: Study Should Never Replace the Power of God
Christian evidential apologetics is not the end goal and being a great apologist is not a badge of honor to be worn by the Christian as a demonstration of his intellectual abilities. Rather, it is a response to the calling of God upon all Christians (1 Peter 3:15) that is to be undertaken with love and humility: love of people and humility before God. Never let your study and practice of apologetics replace the power, received by faith, in prayer before the Holy Creator. Ask God to empower your words and open the hearts of those with whom you speak.... and then study and witness to the best of your abilities.
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Authored by Virgil Hurley and used by permission from his book, Their Own Best Defense, the first in a multi-volume series devoted to the text-by-text study of the chronological Gospels. This highly recommended resource is published by Redemption Press and available everywhere.
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