Home: Why Study Christian Apologetics?

Posted: October 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Apostle Peter provides us with the best rationale for studying Christian apologetics:

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

But Peter’s explanation to early Christians may leave some modern Christians and inquirers wondering what does the study of apologetics, that is the preparation needed for giving answers, actually entail? John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, provides additional insight. Click here to view his video at YouTube “What is Apologetics?” or view below.

Those of you who would like to read more on science and religion to strengthen your apologetical skills, we recommend Dr. Lennox’s book “God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?”

At this point you may be asking yourself, “…okay, but why should we study Natural Theology, why not stick with studying the Bible…” (revealed theology). We have all read the studies indicating more than half of Christian youth stop attending church when going to college. Prof. Craig, author of our text, points out that if God is attacked and youth do not understand how to present confidently, perhaps to peers studying physical or biological sciences, the reasons for their Christian faith, everything else (most importantly their Bible-based faith) will go.

Here is a link to a page at ReasonableFaith.org that addresses the usefulness of studying both natural and revealed theology. Below is an excerpt from that page we need to consider carefully as we embark on this study:

“Christian apologetics – Its usefulness

So I do not, in fact, think that Christian apologetics is necessary in order for Christian belief to be warranted. But it does not follow that Christian apologetics is therefore useless or of no benefit in warranting Christian faith. If the arguments of natural theology and Christian evidences are successful, then Christian belief is warranted by such arguments and evidences for the person who grasps them, even if that person would still be warranted in their absence. Such a person is doubly warranted in his Christian belief, in the sense that he enjoys two sources of warrant.

One can envision great benefits of having such a dual warrant of one’s Christian beliefs. Having sound arguments for the existence of a Creator and Designer of the universe or evidence for the historical credibility of the New Testament records of the life of Jesus in addition to the inner witness of the Spirit could increase one’s confidence in the veracity of Christian truth claims. On Plantinga’s epistemological model, at least, one would then have greater warrant for believing such claims. Greater warrant could in turn lead an unbeliever to come to faith more readily or inspire a believer to share his faith more boldly. Moreover, the availability of independent warrant for Christian truth claims apart from the Spirit’s witness could help predispose an unbeliever to respond to the drawing of the Holy Spirit when he hears the Gospel and could provide the believer with epistemic support in times of spiritual dryness or doubt when the Spirit’s witness seems eclipsed. One could doubtless think of many other ways in which the possession of such dual warrant for Christian beliefs would be beneficial.

So the question is: do natural theology and Christian evidences warrant Christian belief? I think that they do. In my published work I have formulated and defended versions of the cosmological, teleological, axiological, and ontological arguments for God’s existence and have also defended theism against the most prominent objections lodged by atheist thinkers to belief in God, such as the problem of evil, the hiddenness of God, and the coherence of theism. Furthermore, I have argued for the authenticity of Jesus’ radical personal claims and the historicity of his empty tomb, his post-mortem appearances to various individuals and groups, and the unexpected belief of the earliest disciples that God had raised him from the dead. Moreover, I have argued, using the standard criteria for assessing historical hypotheses, that the best explanation of these facts is the one given by the disciples themselves: God raised Jesus from the dead.

If these arguments are correct, then belief in Christian theism is warranted by natural theology and Christian evidences as well as by the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. Thus while apologetic arguments are not necessary for knowledge that Christianity is true, still they are sufficient, and this dual warrant for Christian beliefs can be of great advantage. Hence, the success of Reformed Epistemology and the failure of theological rationalism in no way imply that apologetics is useless or unimportant.”

Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/christian-apologetics-who-needs-it#ixzz2udth2bV7

Dr. William Lane Craig is perhaps the finest Christian apologist living today and our primary source of our apologetics study materials. His text “On Guard” and its accompanying Study Guide will be the basis for this program of study. The author of this online curriculum, Dr. Lachlan Galbraith, assumes all interested students will purchase Dr. Craig’s text and study guide. You will find these books available through ChristianBook.com or Amazon.com.

Dr. Craig’s background:

“William Lane Craig (born August 23, 1949) is an American analytic philosopher, theologian, and Christian apologist. He is known for his work in the philosophy of religion, philosophy of time, and the defense of Christian theism. Since 1996 he has held the position of Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University in La Mirada, California.” [From Wikipedia]

You may find Dr. Craig’s website www.ReasonableFaith.org very helpful. It offers videos, essays, and podcasts. Registration at the site is required and it is free. There are hundreds of podcasts available taken from outstanding lectures, many delivered to his Sunday school class at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church (Georgia).

PLEASE NOTE: The instructional philosophy guiding this online course calls for a flexible approach to class discussions. There are 10 modules keyed to the chapters in “On Guard” that are the basis of 25 lessons composing the curriculum; but this does not mean the “On Guard”material  and the correlated podcasts and supplementary videos could be covered adequately in 25 weeks. An instructor will probably want to permit the class to set the pace. Dr. Craig presents his material thoroughly and with remarkable clarity; however, the content is challenging, especially for those laypersons untrained in academic philosophy and theology. 

Lesson 1 assumes a viewing of the video above. You will need Dr. Craig’s “On Guard” books (both the text and study guide) to embark on this course of study. Lesson 1 assignment and activities can be viewed by clicking on the menu button above, or by clicking on this 1 link, or by going to the “Course Menu” page and clicking on the selected lesson link.

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Comments
  1. […] Dr. Galbraith, webmaster for this site, offers a website also dealing with the defense of the Christian faith, that is, Christian apologetics “Defending the Faith With Reason and Revelation”. To access this site click here. […]

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