Christian apologetics

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Christian apologetics is the defense of the Christian faith through logic-based arguments. The term comes from the Greek word apologia, which means "defense". There are a number of subfields within apologetics. Some apologists specialize in internal biblical consistency (such as JP Holding, owner of the website tektonics.org), others in scientific defenses of the Bible, and still others in historical or philosophical defenses of Christianity (such as Gary Habermas or Lee Strobel). Although some feel that their faith needs no justification, many feel that Christians should be prepared to defend and spread their faith by intellectual means, especially as many people will not accept Christianity without a "rational" reason to do so.

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Christianity

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Contents

History of Christian Apologetics

Christian apologetics has existed as long as Christianity itself. Jesus himself spent time in the temples and synagogues, debating and explaining the meaning of the scriptures. The Apostle Peter exhorted early Christians to practice apologetics, writing,

"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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." 1 Peter 3:15-16.

The Apostle Paul also spent time in Athens, debating Stoic and Epicurian philosophers. Acts 17:16.

Great theologians such as Athanasius, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Augustine, and Aquinas continued the tradition of apologetics on a dramatic scale. At the same time, apologetics was practiced by countless individual Christians, explaining and defending their beliefs.

Purposes

Apologetics has generally been used for two purposes: Efforts to persuade others of the truth of Christianity, and efforts to defend the reasonableness of one's own beliefs, while not seeking to convince others of their truth.

Types of Christian Apologetics

Evidentialist apologetics

Evidential apologetics seeks to defend Christian belief through evidence. This can take the form of:

Philosophical apologetics

Philosophical apologetics seeks to defend Christian belief through philosophical argument: primarily arguments for the existence of God. This can take the form of:

  • The Teleological argument: When you find a watch in the sand, you infer that it is designed, even if you do not see the designer, because it is complex, has a definite purpose, and could not have come to be through any known non-intelligent causes. Therefore, when we observe a complex, purposeful universe which could not have come to be through any known non-intelligent cause, it is reasonable to infer the existence of a designer, aka God.
This is connected to the anthropic principle, which is the argument that so much fine-tuning and exact physiological constants allows us to be here, provides evidence in support of an intelligent designer.

In the 20th century, this argument has been strongly supported by science, with the discovery that the universe had a beginning. Prior to the 1920s, it had been widely believed that the universe's existence had been eternal. [4] This verifies the very first three words of the Bible: "In the beginning."

  • The Ontological argument: God is the being than which no greater can be conceived. It is greater to exist than to not exist. Therefore if you conceive God as not existing, you are not conceiving the being than which no greater can be conceived, and are therefore not conceiving God. Therefore it is impossible to conceive of God as not existing. Therefore God exists.
  • The Argument from morality: All humans are born with a natural, moral code. A moral code implies a moral code giver, aka God.

Presuppositional apologetics

Presuppositional Apologetics seek to defend Christian belief by showing that belief in Christian precepts is necessary to make sense of the human experience as a whole.

Christian Apologetics and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

see also: Christian Apologetics and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is critical to the Christian faith. The Apostle Paul wrote, "if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain" (I Cor:15:14). Traditionally, Christianity has believed in a physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. [5] The Christian apologist Michael Horner of CRU has an excellent resource which offers a defense of the resurrection of Jesus Christ entitled Did Jesus really rise from the dead?. In addition, Dr. Gary Habermas offers an online audio library which defends the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In recent history, Dr. Gary Habermas is considered the foremost Christian apologist for defending the resurrection of Jesus.[6][7][8] [9][10] Dr. Habermas had a debate against the philosopher Antony Flew regarding the resurrection which was chronicled in the work Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? The Resurrection Debate and the debate had a panel of debate judges. J. Hampton Keathley, III , Th.M. in his essay Evidences for the Resurrection wrote: "The decision of the judges were as follows. The panel of philosophers judging content cast four votes for Habermas who argued for the fact of the resurrection, none for Flew, and one draw. The panel of professional debate judges voted three to two, also in favor of Habermas, this time regarding the method of argumentation technique." [11]

In recent history some notable defenders of the resurrection include: William Lane Craig, Ben Witherington, Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, Edwin M. Yamauchi, N.T. Wright and Michael Horner. [12][13][14][15][16]

Legal scholars, legal authorities, and eminent lawyers such as Simon Greenleaf, John Warwick Montgomery, Lord Darling, John Singleton Copley, Hugo Grotius, Lord Caldecote, J. N. D. Anderson, Lionel Luckhoo, and many others have asserted that western legal standards argue for the resurrection of Christ. [17][18][19][20][21]

Question evolution campaign

See also: Question evolution! campaign

Since World War II a majority of the most prominent and vocal defenders of the theory of evolution which employs methodological naturalism have been atheists.[22] In 2011, a campaign called the Question evolution! campaign was launched by the biblical creation organization Creation Ministries International which is a worldwide "grass-roots movement to challenge the anti-Christian dogma of evolution".[23] The focus of the Question evolution! campaign is on 15 questions that evolutionists cannot answer.[24] The campaign will be primarily conducted in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa.[25]

Christian Apologetic Ministries

There are a number of internet based Christian apologetic Ministries or Christian apologetics ministries which have a internet presence. Some of the more notable Christian apologetic ministries are: Fixed Point Foundation[26], Tekton Apologetics Ministries, LeadershipU, Probe Ministries, Christian Answers Network, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, and A Christian Thinktank.

Christian websites with a large focus on the topic of atheism

TFT.JPG

Four of the more notable Christian apologetics which have a large focus on the topic of atheism are: True Free Thinker, the Creation Ministries International resources on atheism, the Fixed Point Foundation website, and Atheism Analyzed.

Christian apologetics clubs on college campuses

Ratio Christi is a global movement that equips university students and faculty to give historical, philosophical, and scientific reasons for following Jesus Christ.

The Christian apologetics organization Stand to Reason wrote:

Ratio Christi, a fairly new apologetics organization that is seeking to change the intellectual atmosphere at universities by bringing Christianity into public, academic discussion. Their goal is to start on-campus apologetics clubs at 500 universities in the next five years. This is where you come in--because it’s also Ratio Christi’s goal to connect each of these clubs with a person who has been trained in apologetics (but who probably has a different day job) to act as chapter director.

Ratio Christi helps each chapter organize one or two campus-wide events a year by connecting them with speakers and debaters like William Lane Craig and Gary Habermas, helping them find the funding, etc. But after the event has come and gone, the lay apologist is still there to lead discussions and interact with the Christians, skeptics, atheists, and seekers who may never have realized that Christianity has a weighty intellectual tradition behind it.[27]

Recommended books

General Christian apologetics:

  • Carl Gallups, The Magic Man in the Sky: Effectively Defending the Christian Faith, WND Books, 2012, ISBN 1936488523[1]
  • Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict Fully Updated To Answer The Questions Challenging Christians Today, 1999, ISBN 0785242198
  • Lee Strobel, Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus , Zondervan, 1998, ISBN 0310209307
  • Gary Habermas and Michael Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, Kregel Publications, 2004, ISBN 0825427886

Old Testament apologetics:

  • Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable & Relevant?, IVP Academic, 2001, ISBN 0830819754
  • Kenneth Kitchen, On The Reliability of the Old Testament, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006. ISBN 0802803962

Biblical creation apologetics:

See Also

External Links

General Christian apologetics websites

Historical and legal apologetics

Historical apologetics:

Christian legal apologetics:

Bible archaeology

Bible archaeology and dating:

Christian worldview/Christian philosophy

Videos on atheism:

Websites, articles and videos focusing on atheism:

Creation science ministries and other resources

Conservapedia articles on evolution and creation science:

Bible prophecy articles and websites

Analysis of Bible prophecy from Christian scholars/apologists

Rebuttal to atheist Steven Carr concerning Bible prophecy:

Biblical inerrancy resources

Resources for becoming a Christian

Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane by Heinrich Hofmann.

see also: Resources on becoming a Christian and Resources for leaving atheism and becoming a Christian

Below are some resources on becoming a Christian:

Tips on choosing a Christian church:

Spiritual growth as a Christian:

References

  1. Evidences for God From Space—Laws of Science
  2. Thompson, Bert, So Long, Eternal Universe; Hello Beginning, Hello End!, 2001 (Apologetics Press)
  3. http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/AstroPhysicalSciences14.html
  4. http://www.harvardhouse.com/Science-Religion.htm
  5. http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/crj0056a.txt
  6. http://www.garyhabermas.com/articles/dialog_rexperience/dialog_rexperiences.htm
  7. http://www.tektonics.org/books/lichabrvw.html
  8. http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/NTeSources/NTArticles/CTR-NT/Habermas-Resurrection2-CTR.pdf
  9. http://www.garyhabermas.com/articles/crj_explainingaway/crj_explainingaway.htm
  10. http://www.apologetics.com/default.jsp?bodycontent=/articles/historical_apologetics/habermas-nt.html
  11. http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=639
  12. http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/menus/historical.html
  13. http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/easter/articles/josh2.html
  14. http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/easter/articles/yama.html
  15. http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Early_Traditions.htm
  16. http://powertochange.com/discover/faith/jesusrose1/
  17. http://www.bibleteacher.org/sgtestimony.htm
  18. http://www.mtio.com/articles/bissart1.htm
  19. http://www.ankerberg.com/Articles/apologetics/AP0302W3.htm
  20. http://lawreligionculturereview.blogspot.com/2005_01_01_lawreligionculturereview_archive.html
  21. http://www.trinitysem.edu/journal/philjohnsonpap.html
  22. Question evolution! campaign
  23. Question evolution! campaign
  24. http://creation.com/question-evolution
  25. http://www.fixed-point.org
  26. Ratio Christi Apologetics Clubs
  27. http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/darwin.html
  28. http://www.icr.org/store/index.php?main_page=pubs_product_book_info&products_id=2176
  29. http://www.ldolphin.org/chance.html
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