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Answering objections to apologetics & reasoning

Updated: Feb 5




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Objection #1: "Doesn't Luke 21:14 say we should never prepare ahead of time in our defense

First, it's impmortant to look at the full context here.


Luke 21:10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17 You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your iendurance you will gain your lives."


A few things should be noticed from this text:

  • These words are spoken to the apostles and they wouldn't need to think about how to answer the unbelieving jews because they have been with Jesus and will have seen the resurrected Messiah by this point.

  • The word for answer is apologia (give a defense). The issue is not whether they will have to give an apologia, but that they are depending on the Holy Spirit to give them the boldness and words in the moment as they give their apologia.

  • None of the adversaries will be able to refute their words because it was irrefutable that they had been with jesus (Acts 4:14).

  • This passage doesn't negate post 1st century believers needing to "always be prepared" (1 Peter 3:15; Col 4:6) to make the most of every conversation nor does being prepared negate walking in dependency on the Holy Spirit.

David E. Garland's commentary on Luke is helpful here:


"The disciples will not need to memorize or rehearse some eloquent spiel to help them wriggle out of tight situations in the courtroom. The concern is not to secure an acquittal but to confront their accusers with the gospel and acquit themselves faithfully (see 1 Pet 3:14–16). All the speeches in Acts are delivered extemporaneously, but the disciples’ wisdom derives from God, not from their clever rhetoric (see 1 Cor 1:17–2:5).  What is guaranteed to the disciples is their successful witness to Jesus, not their safety or release, which is illustrated in Acts 4:14 (“But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say”) and 6:10 (“But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke”; see also 4:29; 18:9–10). (Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Garland)


Objection #2: "Apologetics relies on eloquent wisdom yet 1 Corinthains 1:18 says 'not with words of eloquent wisdom"


The full context of 1 Corinthians is not speaking against defending the truth here. This section Paul is talking about how Greek rhetoric style is not the power of the gospel, but the true message of Christ crucified.


Sproul describes it this way:


"The Corinthian church had an unhealthy regard for rhetorical display. Paul will focus attention on what true wisdom is (1:18-2:16; 3:18-23). In this verse, he reminds the Corinthians that the power of his own preaching did not depend on such skills (2:1-5)." Reformation Study Bible, 2017


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Objection #3: "Doesn't 1 Corinthians 2:2-5 say that Paul taught not with plausible words of wisdom and thus we shouldn't do apologetics?"

J.P Moreland and R.C. Sproul have helpful commentaries on this section of scripture:


"Some have wrongly concluded that his [Paul] contention means that reason and argument are pointless, particularly in regarded to evangelism. Let's just say for a moment that this is what Paul meant- that argument and reason were futile when sharing the Christian faith. If so, then Paul's meaning would contradict his own practices in Acts as well as his stated desire (in the very same epistle) for believers to argue the evidence for the Resurrection (see 1 Corinthians 15). This passage is more likely condemning a false and prideful use of reason, not reason itself. It is hubris (pride) that is the problem, not the nous (mind). God chose foolish (moria) things that were offensive to human pride to save mankind, but this does not mean God is opposed to reason properly used. For example, it is an offense to the prideful intellect to think that the greatest should be the servant of others, that strength comes through weakness, that giving your life away is the way to find it. The idea of God being crucified was so offensive that the Greeks would have judged it to be morally disgusting. Yet all these things are truly how God set up the world.


The passage may also be a condemnation of Greek rhetoric. Greek orators prided themselves on possessing persuasive words of wisdom. For the right price, they would persuade a crowd toward any side of an issue. They persuaded based on honed speaking abilities and not on the substance or merits of the arguments. (We would call this "spin" today.) If Paul is speaking to these folks, then he is also arguing against evangelists who focus on their speaking technique over the substance of their message." (Moreland, Smart Faith, 44-45)


The Reformation Study Bible from Sproul (RSB) says this:


"Taken by themselves, these verses might suggest that Paul was timid, uneducated, and unable to speak with force and eloquence. Both the book of Acts (e.g., 19:8) and Paul's own letters (ch 13) prove otherwise. Yet some found Paul's oral delivery to fall short of the standards of Greek Rhetoric (2 Cor 10.10) and his personal appearance to be unattractive (2 Cor 10.10; cf Gal 4:12-15). "Self-confidence," if it rests on arrogance concerning one's own strength, reflects a desire to be independent from God. Paul had learned that God can use human weakness to show forth his own glory (2 Cor. 12:7-10). Because he knew that men and women will be convinced by the gospel only "in demonstration of the Spirit and of power," Paul used his talents and training with a full and proper confidence in God, rather than relying on his own skills." (RSB, pg. 2018).


Objection #4: "Knowledge puffs up, so we shouldn't study apologetics and theology" (1 Corinthians 8:1 & Isaiah 55:9)


In Isaiah 55:9 it talks about how God's thoughts and ways are higher than ours. Thus, some argue that it's a waste of time to even reason about God. This verse is referring to our finite and limited ability to fully understand God's ways. However, in the words of Dr. Moreland, "to use this passage as an excuse for ignorance or laziness wrongly twists the meaning of the verse." (Smart Faith, 46).


The full context of 1 Corinthians 8 doesn't support the conclusion of the objection above. The 'type' of knowledge Paul is talking about is knowledge about the true nature of idols vs other believers who stumbled over observing this.


An excerpt from Alisa Childers' article on this topic should help:


"...When someone uses a single verse to make a point, remember Greg Koukl's useful tip: Never read a Bible verse. Many words and phrases have multiple definitions and meanings, and when we don't consider the passage surrounding a particular verse, we may miss its intended meaning.


Right before the phrase "knowledge puffs up," the Apostle Paul wrote, "Now about food sacrificed to idols.” Some Christians knew that idols weren't real, whereas others didn't know that and believed eating food sacrificed to idols made it ceremonially unclean. In context, Paul was exhorting the believers who had greater knowledge to show love to those with the weaker conscience and to refrain from eating food offered to idols in front of them so they wouldn't stumble. His point was that knowledge should be exercised in love, to build up other believers and not our own arrogance.


"Just as we should consider verses in their contexts, our theology needs to be based on the whole of Scripture. Here are a few of the many places where Scripture speaks positively of knowledge:


Fools hate knowledge. (Proverbs 1:22)


A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel. (Proverbs 1:5)


Hosea chapter 4 says God's people perish for lack of knowledge regarding the law. 2 Peter 2:1 tells us to add to our faith goodness, and to goodness, knowledge. In Philippians 1:9, Paul prayed "that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment."


Paul even praises knowledge as a part of spiritual warfare in 2 Corinthians 10:5 by saying, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God." Proverbs 15:4 says the "discerning heart acquires knowledge," and Proverbs 1:29 warns of the destruction that follows a hatred of knowledge.


Over and over in Scripture we are commanded to seek out knowledge, and over and over we are warned of the consequences if we don't. In fact, when Jesus commanded us to "love the Lord your God with all your mind," He was saying we must love God with all of our intellectual capacity.


Knowledge must be held in tension with love. When it isn't, pride and arrogance can gain a foothold. But true knowledge is humbling. The more I learn, the more I know how much I have to learn—the more I realize my smallness and intellectual inadequacy.


When we engage our faith intellectually with love, knowledge will not puff us up. In fact, I have to agree with the writer of Proverbs who said, "Lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel!"



Objection #5: "Matthew 18:1-4- We need a childlike faith, not an intellectual faith."


Yes, we need a childlike faith that willingly trust in our heavenly Father. However, in Matthew 18 Jesus is condemning a faith that is boastful.


Jesus does not support a faith that refuses to love God with their mind, heart, soul and strength (Matt 22:37) and believe based upon the works of Jesus (John 10:38) and the inerrant account given to us in the scripture (Ps 110:160).


JP Moreland says that "in context, this teaching had nothing to do with the intellect. It was directed against being self-sufficient and arrogant. To be a child then is to be humble and willing to trust in or rely on others, especially God. The opposite is a proud, stiff-necked person, not an intelligent, reasonable one." (Smart Faith, 47)


Furthermore, Paul challenges the Corinthians for their childish and unspiritual faith in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3. Lastly, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:20 not to "be children in your thinking."


A Child like faith exhibits humble trust. A Childish faith refuses to grow up and love God with their heart, soul, strength and mind. Not the same thing.

Objection #6: "Hebrews 11 describes faith that doesn't need evidence"

For now, I will just post a link to another article by Erik Manning that answers this issue.


Neil Shenvi is helpful on this topic as well:


"Faith is ‘trust’ or ‘confidence’ in things we hope for but do not see, not ‘belief without evidence... ‘faith’ cannot mean ‘belief without evidence’ because it is repeatedly used to describe the trust or confidence that individuals had in God after hearing Him speak to them or after seeing Him perform miracles... If you’re an atheist or an agnostic, God is not calling you to a blind leap in the dark. He is asking you to trust in Him and to be confident in his promises.”  

 (How does the Bible define faith? by Neil Shenvi)


Objection #7: "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."


The above statement may be generally true, but it shouldn't hinder people from proclaiming the gospel to strangers and reasoning with them on why Jesus is the Messiah (Acts 17:3). Otherwise, we could fall into the trap of never being able to share the gospel with people until we reach a nebulus friendship level.


Sure, people may care more about what you saw when they know you are genuine; however, I have seen the opposite be true as well.


For example, I have seen several people come to faith from downtown or campus evangelism and they were intially strangers to our evangelism teams. Yes, we were genuine and prayed for the people God had prepared for us to engage with (Eph 2:10), but we didn't wait until we had the unbelievers' permission to share the only message that can save them from God's coming wrath on unrepentant sinners (John 3; 1 Thess 1:10).


So, the most loving and caring thing you can do to a stranger is this: Share the gospel with them. The power is in the message of the gospel, not in your friendship with the unbeliever (as important as that is).


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Objection #8: "We shouldn't argue because Philippians 2:14 says do everything without arguing and 2 Timothy 2:23-26 says not to be quarrelsome."


The context in both passages makes a distinction that it is talking about the bad type of arguing, namely quarrelling. See Proverbs 20:3 for more on the danger of being quarrellsome.


Also, one should note that Proverbs 16:21-24 talks about how "sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness." Persuasiveness is linked with the "good" type of arguing and reasoning with people.


Objection #9: "1 John 2:27 & John 14:26- Do we really need commentaries, teachers & reasoning when reading the Bible? Doesn't the Holy Spirit just teach us?"


"A more careful reading of the passage [John 14:26] reveals that no promise is made that the Holy Spirit will teach the meaning of Scripture to believers. Instead, the passage promises the apostles that the Spirit will inspire them and aid them in remembering the words of Jesus." (Smart Faith, 37).


In regard to 1 John 2:27:


"Believers have an illumination from God through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who accompanies the Word and keeps them in the truth of the gospel. It is no contradiction that Christians should listen receptively to other believers, especially when they offer admonition and instruction. They also have the Spirit, and the confusion generated by false teaching is a real danger (Matt 24:24). The church needs teaches who are truly led by God's Spirit, but this text warns against false teaching that denies the gospel. Thus, John's readers "have no need that anyone [any false teacher] should teach" them (2:27), since the Spirit has assured them of the gospel truth. That Spirit-equipped teachers are given by God to the church is evident is passages such as Eph. 4.11 as well as the fact that John, indeed, is teaching the readers through the very writing of this letter." (Reformation Study BIble, 2271)

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Objection #10: "All arguments hinder unity in the church (2 Tim 2:14,23)."

Yes, there are some discussions that are useless disputes, hinder unity and are petty. These tend to be when one majors in the minors and becomes legalistic about it. However, that doesn't mean that we aren't called to contend for the faith (Jude 3) and handle the word of God accurately (2 Tim 2:10) and even rebuke when necessary (2 Tim 4:1-2). All of this can be done in a gentle posture. So, in this case, "arguments" can help protect unity in the church.


Furthermore, if we adopt a "no debate" policy in the church, we effectively hinder ourselves from protecting the flock from false doctrine. Paul says that those bringing in false doctrine are the divisive ones, not the ones protecting Biblical doctrine (Romans 16:17).


In the words of Greg Koukl,


"Arguments are good, and dispute is healthy. They clarify the truth and protect us from error and religious despotism. When the church discourages principled debates and a free flow of ideas, the result is shallow Christianity and a false sense of unity. No one gets any practice at learning how to field contrary views in a gracious and productive way. The oneness shared is contrived, not genuine. Worse, the ability to separate wheat from chaff is lost. When arguments are few, error abounds." (Tactics, 43)

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Objection #11: "Just love people into the kingdom. Don't try to reason with them or give them evidence."

Objection #12: "John 20:29- Doesn't Jesus praise blind faith?"

Objection #13: "We should just let our light shine and not try to reason with people" (Matt 5:16)


At first this sounds correct. Yes, we should shine our light by good deeds, but the second part of the statement above is where it goes wrong. The main reason is that it builds an entire theological view based upon one verse, isolated out of its full context in the sermon on the mount and the larger context of the entire Bible. The life of service and love of the Christian individual and the church (ecclesial apologetics) should definitely be present, but it should also be paired with a consistent gospel proclamation that loves the truth (1 Cor 13:6) because knowing and believing in the truth of Jesus is what sets the enslaved sinner free (John 8:32).


Objection #14: "Jesus never commanded apologetics or that we should argue or ever defend ourselves or the truth of God's Word."


First of all, let's define terms so that we aren't equivocating on the word "argue."


  • According to etymology website, eymonline.com, this word meant "to make reasoned statements to prove or refute a proposition."

  • Introductory Logic defines an argument as "A set of statements, one of which (the conclusion) appears to be implied by the others (the premises). Arguments contain only one conclusion, which usually starts with therefore, thus, so, or in conclusion. Arguments may contain more than one premise. Premises usually start with because, since, for, or given that. In a good argument, the conclusion is supported or implied by the premises" (142).

  • "In logic, an argument is not a yelling match or a heated exchange of words. It is not an attempt to elicit emotions, like anger. Rather, it is a series of claims in which we try to convince someone of a new fact based on established, accepted facts. The claims that make up the argument are called propositions. A given proposition is always either true or false, though we may not know which." (Introduction to Logic, Dr. Lisle, 19)


Dr. Juan Valdes also adds helpful commentary on this topic:


"Should we engage in argumentation? Isn't it annoying to be around people that are always arguing? The answer to these questions depends on what is meant by arguing. First, we should avoid arguing altogehter if we mean quarreling, fighting, yelling, or bickering. After all, people that are constantly engaging in arguing are super annoying. On the other hand, however, if we mean discussing and evaluating truth claims and the evidence provided in their support, we should continuously engage in argumentation, as it is the essence of critical thinking. So let us first consider this positive form of argumentation in greater detail..." (How to Think, 135)


Dr. Valdes later goes on to say that the postive form of argumentation are used to

  • 1. Convince someone else. This inolves "offering reasons and evidence in support" of a position 136)

  • 2. Persuade others.

"Arguments to persuade are similar to arguments to convince in that we seek assent from our audience. However, there is a distinguishing factor. Crusius and Channell explain, "persuasion attempts to influence not just thinking but also behavior...persuasion asks us to do something." Persuasion involves much more than logical reasoning. Here we appeal to the elements of rhetoric, ethos pathos, and logos" (How to think, 137).


Dr. Groothuis also aptly stated the value of debate in the purusit of truth:


"Truth is the goal of writing and teaching if we are being intellectually honest. (I exclude intentional deception.) A true statement is one that corresponds to reality objectively. Our best shot at finding and promoting truth is through marshalling reason and evidence in support of truth claims using some form of argument, either inductive, deductive, or best explanation (abduction). A well-supported truth claim is what is called knowledge, as opposed to mere opinion (true or false).

The best forum for gaining knowledge is debate and discussion in which one hopes that the best argument wins. If a good argument turns a truth claim into knowledge, this occurs irrespective of anyone’s feelings about the matters under discussion. As Ben Shapiro says, “Facts don’t care about your feelings.” We can add, “Truth stands independent of our whims.” (Groothuis, Sensitivity Epistemology: A Knowledge-stopper to avoid)


  • What is a proposition?


Summary: every time someone makes a statement that has a truth value and someone disagrees with it, they are engaged (informally or formally) in a debate. The question is not whether you will debate in your life, the question is WHETHER you will learn how to do it with decorum or not. Wilil you honor God with your mind and use good or bad logic?


Now, let's unpack the Biblical case for reasoning and giving a defense. As state above, if we are talking about a positive form of argumentation, then no Christian should object to it.


  1. First, since all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 2:15-16), and Jesus is God (John 1:1), we need to take into account what Jesus has said through other authors of scirpture (2 Peter 1:21).

  2. God himself calls the foolish sinners to reason with him (Isaiah 1:18) and turn back to Him. Since we are image bearers of God (Gen 1:27) that reflect his logical nature, we should reason with others in our proclamation of his totally true message.

  3. The concepts of modeling love, turning the oither check praying for your enemies are not mutually exclusive from the entirety of the text of scripture that calls us to engage with others about the truth.

 

The call to repent of our sins and put our trust in Jesus is the pattern not only of Jesus, but NT believers and in church history. Thus, urging others to repent of their sins and trust in Christ is another way of affirming that, ‘your foundation of trust in self (false worldview) will crumble upon the coming judgement of the Lord in the second coming of Jesus.’


So, it’s inevitable that if you share the gospel, you end up repeating what God has said, I.e. “this is sin according to God’s Standard given to us in His Word, repent from it, and you can find forgiveness in Christ alone.” The message of the gospel is inherently confrontational to the spiritually blind person with a false worldview and only God can open someone's eyes, humble them and give them a desire to respond in repeentance and faith accordingly (John 6:44; 2 Tim 2:25-26).

 

However, I should note that I often say in my evangelism training courses (citing Grek Koukl) that the “we want to make sure it’s the message of the cross that offends people at not the messenger.”

 

Yes, we shouldn’t be a “jerk for Jesus.” Sure, sometimes people get zealous without knowledge (Proverbs 19:2), but if we are in a faithful local church that holds us accountable, then it’s an opportunity for growth and pairing knowledge with our zeal to learn how to “walk in wisdom towards outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col 4:5-6).


Everyone that I train in evangelism is challenged to model the “ambassador model” that pairs wisdom, tactics, speaking the truth, and humility together. We have seen a lot of fruit from this training model already. Glory to God! 


Yes, we aren’t Jesus but we are called to be ambassadors of Christ that make an “appeal” and “implore” and even seek to “persuade others” for others to be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:11, 20).


Since we are called to faithfully point people to his Words and follow Jesus’ example in his high regard for truth (John 8:31-32; John 17:17) and are called to delight in the truth (1 Cor 13:6) and speak the truth in love to others (Eph 4:15), “speak the truth with his neighbor” (Eph 4:25), Christians lives should be filled with engaging with others about the truth of His word everyday.

 

Here are a few examples of believers in the OT, the book of Acts & early church history defending the truth of the Gospel & God’s Word in opposition to false worldviews: 


  1. Church history: Letter To Diognetus points out the false worldview of the pagans, talks about Christians serving and shares the gospel. 

    1. Others that do the same in the 2nd century: Irenaeus (discipled by Polycarp who knew John the apostle), Justin Martyr, Athenagoras and Aristedes both shared the gospel and pointed out the false gods of their culture.  

    2. Ecclesial apologetics: Click here to read Dr. Timothy Paul Jones article how the early church's care for the poor was an apologetic and how they arguing for the truth of the Christian worldview to the Roman pagans.

 

2. Proverbs 24:11- This verse speaks on rescuing those being led to the slaughter. Child sacrifice was common during OT times and still is today. So, I think a good application from it can be to defend the unborn through: pointing out the faulty worldview/idols of self serving that can’t account for human dignity and equal protection for our unborn neighbor AND encourage adoption, take care of mothers and aid to those in need AND pointing them to their need for a new heart. I have many pastor friends that regularly do this. Sharing the gospel with the unbeliever always comes into conflict with their worldview and thus their idols. Yet, it’s the means that God has ordained for his ambassadors to proclaim His message.


 So, in this case I would say that defending a Biblical worldview (the only worldview that makes sense of reality and self-evident human rights) is part of loving our neighbor & being salt & light in our world.  


3. The book of Acts 

  • Acts 14:15- Paul and Barnabas correct the false worldview of the pagans in Lystra saying “we are also men, of life nature with you, and we bring you good news, that yous should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.” 

  • Acts 15- the Jerusalem council is a defense and clarifition of the truth of the gospel and its implications.  

  • Acts 17- the entire chapter has paul reasoning from the scripture with Jews and gentiles about Jesus being the resurrected Messiah. 

  • Acts 26- Paul makes his defense (apologia) before King Agrippa and says what he believes is true and reasonable (26:25) and that he wants to persuade him to be a Christain as well (26:29) as a result of his defense of the gospel (26:1) 

 

 

So, let's look again at the proposition that “Jesus never told us personally to defend anything.” 


From scripture, I would say that, yes, he did since

  • Jesus is the ultimate author of all of scripture (2 Tim 3:16)

  • through Paul, God/Jesus said that we should always be ready to make a defense for the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15)

  • Paul said he was put here for the defense of the gospel (Phil. 1:16), and we should “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor 10:5). 


So, if we faithfully proclaim Christ (2 Cor 4:5), we must speak about his holiness, the coming wrath for unrepentant sinners (Matt 7:24-27; Romans 1:18; 2:4-13; 2 Peter 3:7) and forgiveness found in Christ alone (romans 3:23)- which will inherently address their false worldview and idols when we speak HIS message. We are heralders of His message, of His Gospel (Romans 1:1; 2 Tim 4:2).  


So, I’m not sure how we could live in the world if we could literally never defend any idea in school, work or families. I was deceived several years ago through progressive ideology and wish others would have defended historic Christianity and persuaded me. According to scripture, it would have been the most loving thing they could do for me.


Our ministry has seen the fruit of defending the truth of the gospel and resurrection of Jesus with students and the fruit it has born in their lives. I am grateful for those that gently restore me (Gal 6:1) when I try to build my life upon anything else but upon the solid foundation of God’s Word. Those that remind me of scriptures teaching that before Christ I was enslaved to a false worldview of self-worship, like Paul reminded the gentiles of their “weak and worthless principles of the world” (Gal 4:9), and reminded others to refocus on Christ, are being salt and light. It’s part of Iron sharpening iron to the believer (Proverbs 27:17).


Remember that “defending” an idea is not the same as “quarrelling.”


 As mentioned earlier, those two concepts are not the same and 2 Tim 2:24-26 make that distinction between correcting others (which implies you are defending what’s true and what is not) and silly quarrelling.


Furthermore, even saying that we shouldn’t defend something is a defense against making a defense.


Lastly, I would also affirm that God alone is the one that changes hearts (“God may perhaps grant them repentance” 2 Tim 2:25) , yet since we know that people knowing & appropriately responding in faith to the truth (John 8:32) is valuable and what “sets people free,” we should continue being faithful ambassadors that speak, explain and clarify the truth to others and leave the results to God.  

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Objection #15: "Christian philosphy distracts from what the Christian is called to do in evangelism and discipleship." see Colossians 2:8


First, it should be noted that the objection above is a philosophical claim against philosophy. Thus, it's a self refuting statement. Philosophy deals with the nature of reality (ontology), how we know what we know (epistemology), how we should live (ethics), and what is beautiful (aesthetics). All Christians are apologetics, theologians and philosphers whether they like it or not. They question is "will they be a GOOD and faithful one at that task? No, I'm not saying everyone is called to be a professional philsopher, apologist, theologian, but let's not act like we don't deal with these concepts (even if they are background assumptions to how we live life) in our everyday life.

"Good philosopy must exist, if for not other reason, because bad philosophy must be answered. (C.S. Lewis, Weight of Glory, 58).


Lastly, Colossians 2:8 is talking about worldly Philosophy, not Biblical philosophy or thinking.

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Objection #16: "Reasoning with others makes no room for the Holy Spirit"

God ordains the ends and the means of all things in history. His means are using people to proclaim the truth of His Word and point peole to the truth (2 Tim 2:24-26). There is no contradiction between people reasoning with others (Acts 17) and realizing that we must be dependent on the Spirit in prayer during those conversation and that God is Sovereign over the unbelievers heart and in making him a believer (John 6:44). Yes, it's a mystery to a certain extent, yet we understand that faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ, which requires people to speak and explain the Word (Romans 10, Act 10). The Spirit works through these means.


Objection #17: "Jesus did not give an answer/apologetic for false accusations in his trial and neither should we." (Matt. 26:63)

This is another very creative work around to avoid the Biblical command and examples of sharing the truth of God's Word and persuading others to trust in Him (2 Cor 10:3-5, 1 Peter 3:15; 2 Cor 5:11).


We should note the difference between narrative and prescriptive texts. The early disciples talk about making the case that they were eyewitnesses of Jesus (All of Acts, 2 Peter 1:16), yet Jesus intentional actions in his trial are very different. What Jesus is accomplishing His pre-crucifixion trial is different from what believers in the risen are called to do: Persuade (through their life and words) others to trust in the historically confirmed Savior.


Now, lets make a note of several things that Jesus did in his trial:


  • He had already made the case that he was innocent before his trial (John 8:46) and mentioned how he spoke openly (John 18:19) about all of his teachings.

  • Jesus rebuked Peter for defending Jesus during his arrest and conceded that this was the hour of darkness (Luke 22:47-53) and that his kingdom is not of this world, otherwise it would have fought to stop his arrest (John 18:36). Lastly, he previously affirmed that he came to lay down his life (John 10:18; Matt 20:28; Isaiah 53) for his sheep (John 10:11).

  • Jesus did ask why one of the officers struck him when the High Priest questioned him (John 18:23).

  • Jesus did affirm that everyone on the side of truth listens to Jesus (John 18:37)

  • Jesus did affirm that Pilate's authority only exists because it has been given to him from God (John 19:11).

  • Pilate didn't find Jesus guilty, (Luke 23:14) but ended up delivering Jesus over to be crucified after the Jews demanded that Barabbhas be rleeased and Jesus be crucified (Luke 23:18-24).

In summary, using Jesus' trial is a weak example of why we allegedly shouldn't re4qason with people.

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Objection #18: "Apologetics & arguing turns people off"


First of all, please see my section above on how I define good arguing vs bad arguing (quarrelling). If we don't define our terms on this issue, then people keep talking past each other with their equiovocation and assuming I'm talking about quarreling, which I'm not. Quarrelling of course does turn people off.

Next, we must learn the he importance of knowing how and when to Engage:  

 

I don't have a problem with anyone disagreeing with me. I really don't. I respect people around me more when they respectfully disagree with me and state their reasons why and even attempt to persuade me to this position and allow me to share principled reasons why I disagree.  

This type of dialogue happens frequently with unbelievers at UTEP. Nearly all of our conversations are very thoughtful.  

However, the moment I can tell it's time to leave the conversation (online or in person) is when someone refuses to seriously interact with what I've said and continues to misrepresent my points, goes to attacking my character or some other red herring, genetic fallacy or constant fallacies (especially after they have been addressed).  


At that point, Proverbs instructs us to not answer that person anymore and move on. Biblical wisdom instructs us when to engage and when to pull back.  Dr. Plummer describes it aptly on how Proverbs 26 instructs us on these tpes of encounters:

"Here is an example of two side-by side biblical proverbs that seem, on face value, to conflict:

Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself (Prov. 26:4)

Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. (Prov. 26:5)


We must realize the circumstantial nature of proverbs to affirm the truth of both these proverbs. Depending on the receptivity of the fool to rebuke, one of these proverbs will apply to any fool's folly. In other words, if a fool is recklessly unwilling to listen to the input of others, you yourself don the fool's cap when you try to reason with him (Prov. 26:4). However, there are situations where calling out a person's foolish actions will prevent him from moving on in destructive self-deception (Prov. 26:5). Wisdom about the situation is needed to know which proverb applies."

(40 Questions about Interpreting the Bible, Pgs. 237-238)


Little time in Biblical wisdom literature can lead us to having zeal without knowledge (Provers 19:2, Romans 10:1-3).


When we fail to apply Biblical wisdom in our engagement with others, it will result in us becoming aggressive in our "info dumping" apologetic bombs on people without the skills of effective maneuvering in a conversation. It's the same reason I keep hearing stories from people that say, "well I used to do apologetics and I was real aggressive and now I don't do apologetics anymore." Why not just repent of your prideful engagement instead of quitting doing what you are biblically commanded to do: defend the truth (1 Peter 3:15)! Furthermore, those same people (oddly) frequently end up becoming apologists against apologetics. They ironically end up argue against arguing. If one is truly consistent and disagrees with any form of arguing, then they must not ever state their reasons for why they are against arguing, cause at that point they would be arguing in support of their proposition: don't argue. Ergo, Self-refuting views always end up self-destructing.  


Another translation could be: "I was rude when sharing the truth, so now so I don't share and defend the truth people anymore. I want people to just look at my life and then they will know the truth." 


However, someone might say, "no, I still share the truth with people, but I don't argue with them or give reasons anymore. I just share the gospel and then trust God to work."


At first glance, there is a lot to commend in that second response. However, sharing the truth with someone is valuable. Knowing when to disengage with someone is valuable. Yet, be UNWILLING to answer questions is Unbiblical.

At minimum, if they ask, "why should I trust in Jesus when I'm a good person?" you should be able to give an answer from scripture. So, the person that insists in their false pride that "I'm so spiritual I don't need to give answers to people," yet goes on to give an answer (whether it's an answer from scripture, their testimony or elsewhere) is STILL giving an answer to the unbeliever.


Again, the question is NEVER: "Will you be an apologist?" The Question is ALWAYS, "will you be an effective ambsaddor/apologist for Christ?"



The gospel is a message the requires words. Your life is not the gospel. Speak about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and then clarify any questions as they come up. Yes, the gospel and reasoning with people are not the same, but it's post-modern to say that if someone ask you a question about Jesus (i.e. "why is he the only way?" or why did he have to die?") that you shouldn't give a reason for it.  

Also, a pitting of sharing and defending the truth vs serving others is a form of post-modernism applied to evangelism....and it KILLS effective evangelism since it literally requires that you SPEAK the truth of the gospel and defend it! 


Post-modernism always downplays objective truth claims and emphasizes the subjective feelings, interpretations or experience to persuade someone.  


When we don't know how to make these distinctions of when & how to engage, our view of the usefulness of dialoging with people we disagree with is hindered.  


I think it's a key part of the reason people have such a negative view on reasoning, apologetics, and formal debate (not talking about quarrelling).  


As a result, I keep hearing Christians making claims that they are more spiritual cause they don't reason with people and "just love people."  


However, since it's IMPOSSIBLE to live life and not reason with people (even on trivial things like: "where should we go eat?" "I think ____ for this reason____"), these same people will ironically reason in all other areas of life, except when it comes to the most important topic: reasoning with others about the gospel and a Biblical worldview. 


The most loving thing you can do with others is engage with them on the truth of God's Word and His gospel!  


Sadly, how to ENGAGE with others is EXACTLY the type of skill Christians need to be learning in our culture.  


Case in point: Every single parent and student that has been in our worldview Academy is learning this skill and they are NOT becoming "jerks for Jesus" but effective ambassadors that engage with others with knowledge, wisdom and character. 


This is another reason I love training people in formal debate. While most of our daily conversations may include light-hearted reasoning with people on (mostly) trivial matters and occasionally an informal discussion about Christ, learning formal debate can strengthen many areas of our life.  


How so?  


You are forced to prepare ahead of time for the debate and learn how to think through both sides of an issue, you are held accountable/judged by your decorum during the debate and whether or not you use logical fallacies, you are forced to limit your speaking and questioning (cross examination) time and improve your skill of speaking and articulating why you think what you do. 


So, even if you don't go on to become a regular Lincoln-Douglas debater- this skill can help you even improve your informal dialogues (the greek word that we get dialogue from even means to reason with someone). 


I take this topic VERY serious because I take my calling to train and equip other believers to be effective ambassadors for Christ very serious (Eph 4:11-12). 


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Objection #19: "Just share your testimony"

I have addressed my concern with this issue in another blog & Youtube show already. I will briefly say here that other religions and self-help group "just share their testimony" of life change as well. So, we should be communicating the truthfulness of the gospel message, not merely our own testimony.


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Objection #20: "The World will know that we are Christians by our love for one another. Not our reasoning." (John 13:35)


We should never interpret a verse in complete isolation of its context in the chapter, the book and the rest of the Bible. Everytime Jesus makes a statement it doesn't mean that it's proper to argue from silence or assume or read into what he meant. In John 13:35 Jesus is making a summary statement that his disciples will be known by their lvoe for one another.


Biblically, loving others mneans that we first love God suprmeley (Ex 20) and then we can love our neighbor as ourselves.


“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:36-40)


Natasha Crain makes an important observation about Jesus' words:


"Note that Jesus said loving God is the greatest commandment. This implies that any other commandments should be obeyed within that context. What it means to love others, therefore, depends on what it means to first love God. If we take the Bible to be His Word, we can know what it means to love God because He has revealed who He is, what He has done, and how we are to respond in relationship and obedience. To love others, therefore, means to want what God wants for them based on what He has revealed in the Bible" (Faithfully Different, Crain, pg. 94) 


Also, note that BECAUSE Paul loved people, he was provoked and then engaged with others and reasoned with them about the Truth of Jesus the resurrected Messiah! (Acts 17:3, 16) because he knows that knowing and believing the truth about Jesus is what sets people free (John 6:28-29, 8:31-32, John 17:3,John 18:37).


Lastly, it should be noted that some of the key ways believers show love for one another is to bear each others burdens (Galatians 5:2), take care of those in the household of faith (Galatians 5:10) AND speak the truth to each other in love (Ephesians 4:15).


Love and truth can never be faithfully seperated.


The person who loves you the most will tell you the most truth, yet do it with gentleness and respect. They also should be an encourager (Proverbs 12:25, 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Romans 15:4; Ephesians 4:29; Daniel 12:3) as they point you to trust in God in every circumstance (Proverbs 3:5-6).




Objection #21: "You don't need demosntrate the Bible is true by rational arguments. Just demonstrate that it's true by sacrificial love- then people will believe Jersus is the true & follow Himn." (pragmatic vs correspondence view of truth)


This one is very similar to the "just share your testimony" objection above. This comment is really about "how do we know what we know?" This objection is emphasizing the pragmatic view of truth (truth is that which 'works' or demostrates results) vs the correspondence view of truth (that which corresponds to reality).


For a great breakdown of issues with the above objection I want to defer to an excerpt from Conrad Hilario's excellent article, "No Need for Apologertics/Postmodernism's Effect on Christain Apologetigcs." on this topic. I HIGHLY recommend that you read the entire short article for more on problems with the above objection.


"For several years, I have had the privilege of serving in high school ministry. During this time, I have noticed a growing resistance towards learning how to defend the faith. This is being replaced with a new emphasis on how God changes lives and finding ways to expose people to Christian community.


Each week, I spend time with these young men and teach them the Bible. During one of these sessions, I asked a young man I was studying with, “How would you respond to someone who told you that Christ is not the only way?” A blank expression immediately covered his face. Sheepishly, he responded, “I would tell them how Christ changed my life.” While affirming the usefulness ─even the necessity─ of sharing his personal experience, I pointed out that his response did not engage the question. Sadly, I suspect that many well-intentioned Christians, like this young man, would give a similar response to questions challenging the central beliefs of Christianity. How do we account for this?


The Starting Point: How Do We Determine Truth?

Without being simplistic, I admit that other factors contribute to this departure from apologetics. Nevertheless, in a line up of possible suspects, a shift in the way people see truth stands out as the primary culprit.1 People’s desire to learn and apply apologetics is directly tied to their view of truth. At the heart of postmodern ideology is a rejection of what some people call the correspondence theory of truth. This theory suggests that statements are true when they agree with reality. Once this theory is rejected, truth ceases to be defined by ideas and words according with an independent reality.


Swept by the powerful current of epistemic change in our culture, many have desperately clung to alternative theories of truth. Disillusioned with the correspondence theory, our culture largely embraces the pragmatic theory of truth. According to this theory, truth is determined by its ability to produce positive outcomes in someone’s life.


Even though talk of postmodernism seems passé, it is still common to hear statements like, “What is true for you is whatever works for you.” Too often, statements like this have been caricaturized to mean that any belief is morally acceptable as long as you are sincere. Of course some people see truth this way. However, the implications of their view do not materialize until it is pressed to its logical conclusion.2 To be fair, most people who make these statements do not hold to extreme relativism --the idea that truth’s value is relative to each individual’s personal belief. These statements reflect the fact that people see similar outcomes in the lives of those having radically different beliefs. For instance, when people observe a Muslim and a Christian being sacrificial, they naturally conclude that both religions are true. This is because both produce good outcomes in the lives of those who believe. This seems closer to what people really mean when they say, “What is true for you is whatever works for you.”


Traditionally, truth had been determined by its correspondence to reality. Today, it is for the most part determined by its ability to produce good outcomes in someone’s life.3 Although the pragmatic theory is appealing, when it is held as an alternative to the correspondence theory, it is subject to a number of debilitating critiques.4 To be fair, the majority of Christians have not rejected the correspondence theory. Yet, many have unwittingly buckled under the tremendous pressure exerted by postmodern thought’s influence upon our culture. Rather than rejecting the correspondence theory, many Christians have deemphasized its importance. In its place, they have shifted their emphasis towards the pragmatic theory of truth.


What Does This Have To Do With Apologetics?

Some may be scratching their heads and wondering what relevance this has to the declining interest in apologetics. We must realize that the way we view truth is the basis for the way we view Scripture. As we read the Bible, the way we view truth acts as a lens through which we peer. When we apply the pragmatic theory of truth to Scripture, then, the Bible’s truthfulness is determined by the effect it has upon our lives. When the pragmatic theory of truth guides our reading of Scripture, the Bible’s truthfulness is judged by its ability to produce positive outcomes in our life. Once we begin to see the Bible this way, we no longer feel the need to defend its truth claims. Instead, we feel Scripture’s truth claims are made clear through the many changed lives it produces. Consequently, the Bible becomes primarily a devotional tool that transforms lives.


This shift has also affected the way many believers interact with non-Christians. Many students I talk to who are committed to evangelism do not use rational arguments while witnessing to their friends. Relating their experiences, sharing their stories, and exposing individuals to the uniqueness of Christian community have eclipsed engaging misconceptions held by the people they are evangelizing. The hope is that when people see our changed lives and the love within our community, they will eventually put the pieces together and believe in Christ.

Having established a shift in people’s view of truth and the decline in apologetics, let’s look at some effects of this trend..."


Click here to read the rest of Conrad's article.


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