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Why Apologetics?

25 August 2009

Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................................................... 2
APOLOGETICS FOR APOLOGETICS .................................................................................................................... 2
COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS .......................................................................................................................... 2
APOLOGETICS CANNOT SAVE PEOPLE SO WHY BOTHER TRYING?......................................................................................... 2
APOLOGETICS IS AN EVANGELISTIC TOOL. ...................................................................................................................... 2
APOLOGETICS IS A PRE-EVANGELISTIC TOOL. .................................................................................................................. 2
THE HEART OF APOLOGETICS ........................................................................................................................... 3
GOD AND HIS GLORY................................................................................................................................................. 3
MAN AND HIS SIN .................................................................................................................................................... 3
APOLOGETICS AND JESUS ................................................................................................................................ 3
CONFRONTATIONAL SITUATIONS IN MATTHEW’S GOSPEL ................................................................................................ 3
THE IMPACT OF JESUS’ ANSWERS................................................................................................................................ 4
CONCLUSION ................................................................................................................................................... 4

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Introduction
How I became interested in Apologetics.

Questions I had to answer:

1. How can a good God allow evil & suffering in the world?
2. Where does Jesus say, “I am God” in the Bible?
3. How can we trust the Bible?
4. How can you say that the Bible is inerrant when there are thousands of errors in all the
manuscript copies?
5. How do know that Jesus really rose from the dead?
6. How do you know that there’s a God?

Apologetics for Apologetics


Emergent spokesman Brian McLaren calls for the evangelical community to get over its love affair
with certainty. He writes, “Drop any affair you may have with certainty, proof, argument – and replace
it with dialogue, conversation, intrigue, and search.” (Brian D. McLaren & Tony Campolo. Adventures
in Missing the Point. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003, p. 84).

Truth in an age of Feeling.

But without proof or certainty... how can we have hope? (cf. 1 Cor 15, 1 Peter 3:15)

Common Misconceptions
Apologetics cannot save people so why bother trying?
Problems with this argument:
1. The same logic would destroy the basis for preaching and evangelism (2 Cor 4:4; Eph 2:1-2).
2. Saving people is not the primary goal of apologetics – glorifying God is: (2 Cor 10:5; 1 Peter
3:15)
3. God commands us to protect Christian truth: (Titus 1:9; Titus 1:13; Phil 1:7)
4. God commands us to proclaim Christian truth.(1 Peter 3:15-16a; Acts 17:16-17; Col 4:5-6)

Apologetics is an evangelistic tool.


Problems with this idea:
1. It’s only half of the truth – implies that apologetics only serves in evangelism, but it also
applies in rebuking and silencing (Titus 1:9-11).
2. Often fails to convince people, instead it puts them off and offends (John 15:18-21).
3. Encourages a man-centred approach to evangelism and apologetics. John Piper has
famously said, “Missions exists because worship doesn't”.

Apologetics is a pre-evangelistic tool.


Problems with this idea:
1. It implies that evangelism and preaching are separate from apologetics. Consider Peter’s
sermon in Acts 2 and how he reasons with the crowd from Scripture & the resurrection!
2. It implies that we need to prepare people’s hearts for the Holy Spirit!

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The Heart of Apologetics
Matthew 22:37-39 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with
all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it:
You shall love your neighbour as yourself.

God and his glory


Application:
1. Sometimes we need to make an apology in order to silence & rebuke the critics.
a. Jesus vs. Satan (Matthew 4:1-11)
b. Qualifications for elders: (Titus 1:9-11 “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as
taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to
rebuke those who contradict it. For there are many who are insubordinate, empty
talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be
silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what
they ought not to teach.”)

2. Not having a reason for what why we believe is unacceptable. (1 Peter 3:15 “but in your
hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone
who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and
respect” )

Man and his sin


1. Just because people ask questions, doesn’t mean they want answers. (eg. the Rich Young
Ruler in Matthew 19)
2. Apologetics needs to appreciate the condition of a person’s heart. A good question to ask,
“What would it take for you accept the claims of Jesus in the Bible?”
3. Apologetics helps us to think clearly. The doctrine of the Trinity was a product of great
th
debate in the 4 century.

Apologetics and Jesus


Confrontational Situations in Matthew’s Gospel
1. Jesus vs. Satan. Tempted 3 times, but Jesus gives Satan reasons – why? Surely not to
evangelise Satan! Rather, it was to silence him (Matt 4:1-11).
2. Jesus vs. Pharisees. Why does Jesus associate with tax collectors & sinners? Jesus cites
Hosea 6:6 “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice” (Matt 9:9-13)
3. Jesus vs. John‟s disciples. Why doesn’t he or his disciples fast? Jesus shows them how he is
the bridegroom of Isaiah 62:5 (Matt 9:14-17)
4. Jesus vs. John & his disciples. Is Jesus the Christ? He reminds them of his works (Matt 11:1-
6)
5. Jesus vs. Pharisees. Picking grain on the Sabbath? Jesus responds with the case of David &
the bread of the Presence from 1 Samuel 21 (Matt 12:1-8)
6. Jesus vs. Pharisees. Healing on the Sabbath? Jesus responds by illustrating their hypocrisy by
comparison with their treatment of animals (Matt 12:9-14)
7. Jesus vs. Pharisees. Jesus is accused of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub.
Jesus defends himself by using the analogy of a strongman and his house (Matt 12:22-32)
8. Jesus vs. Pharisees & Scribes. Jesus is accused of not following the traditions of elders
concerning the washing of hands before eating. Jesus responds by exposing their hypocrisy by
comparing their human traditions to God’s law (Matt 15:1-9)
9. Jesus vs. Pharisees & Sadducees. Jesus is asked for a sign. He replies by using the analogy
of people who cannot interpret basic weather signs. (Matt 16:1-4)
10. Jesus vs. Pharisees. Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause, given that Moses allowed
it? Jesus shows them that it was because their hearts were hard (Matt 19:1-12).

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11. Jesus vs. Rich Young Ruler. “Teacher what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus
replies by asking the man what he understands by good, finally showing him how no good deed is
good enough for God (Matt 19:16-30).
12. Jesus vs. Chief Priests & Elders. By what authority is Jesus doing these things? Jesus
responds by asking them a question about John the Baptist’s authority (Matt 21:23-27).
13. Jesus vs. Pharisees. Should people pay taxes to Caesar? Jesus asks them for a coin and tells
them to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”
(Matt 22:15-22)
14. Jesus vs. Sadducees. Who will a man be married to in the resurrection? Jesus answers the
question behind the question and quotes to them from Exodus 3:6 (Matt 22:23-33).
15. Jesus vs. Pharisees. What is the greatest commandment? Jesus replies with Deuteronomy 6:5
(Matt 22:34-40)
16. Jesus vs. Pharisees. Jesus asks them about Psalm 110:1. They are stumped. (Matt 22:41-46)
17. Jesus vs. Caiaphas. They question Jesus but he stays silent. (Matt 26:57-68; 27:12-14).

The Impact of Jesus’ Answers


“the devil left him” (Matt 4:11)
“And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was
teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” (Matt 7:28-29)
“But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.” (Matt 12:14)
“Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they
heard this saying?”” (Matt 15:12)
“When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” (Matt
19:22)
“When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.” (Mt 22:22)
“And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.” (Mt 22:33)
“And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any
more questions.” (Matt 22:46)
“But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.”
(Matt 27:14)

Conclusion
The battle is for the mind. The mind and the heart cannot be separated. The first sin that was ever
committed in the history of mankind came about by means of deception. How would things have
changed if Eve had been prepared to think and answer the serpent when he asked her, “Did God
actually say, „You shall not eat of any tree in the garden‟?” (Genesis 3:1)

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