APOLOGETICS (defense of the faith) AT FOOTHILLS CHRISTIAN CHURCH
At FCC the mission of the apologetics ministry is “pursuing, promoting, and protecting the Christian worldview.” It is our ongoing desire to know what we believe, why we believe it, and to learn effective ways to persuasively and lovingly communicate the message of reconciliation to a desperate world of men, women, and children. (1 Peter 3:15-16; 2 Corinthians 5:11-21)
Jesus gave us our mission: (1) Present the Good News so that people of all nations become His followers; (2) teach them to practice everything He taught His first disciples. (Mark 16; Matthew 28) The apostle Paul said that, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:22-23)
In our pluralistic, politically correct, nearly pagan culture, many objections are being raised against the truth claims of the Christian faith. Sometimes, becoming all things to all people includes addressing those objections and building bridges over those barriers to belief. That’s why we study biblical Christian apologetics.
WHAT IS APOLOGETICS?
According to Dr. William Lane Craig, “Apologetics…is that branch of Christian theology which seeks to provide a rational justification for the truth claims of the Christian faith.” (Reasonable Faith, 3rd Ed., p 15)
Apologetics is from the Greek word apologia: a defense. It is a combination of two words, apo = away; and logos = word, reason. So it could be said that it is a purposeful strategy “to reason away” the objections to the truth claims of biblical Christianity. In addition to this defensive posture apologetics can be used to present a positive case for what we believe as well. You can fight both ways in this battle for the souls of lost worldlings.
And it could also be said that apologetics is a way of loving God. Remember that Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to “love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) The second greatest commandment is “like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) So if we truly love God and our neighbors, we will use our minds to prepare ourselves to defend God’s existence and truth.
THE VISION OF THE FOOTHILLS APOLOGETICS MINISTRY TEAM IS TO SUPPORT THE MISSION BY:
(1) reclaiming the culture by boldly declaring the truth claims of our Christian faith.
(2) strengthening the faith of believers by showing the reasonableness of what we believe
(3) helping to prepare us to do what Jesus commanded us to do in Matthew 28:16-20
(4) equipping moms, dads, and grandparents to help prepare our young people for the intellectual battles they will face in school, university, and the workplace when they leave home and church.
(5) acknowledging our ultimate dependence on the Person and work of the Holy Spirit and His inner witness for full faith and assurance of our relationship with the Father through the Son, Jesus Christ; and that we understand that our faith is both “head” and “heart”; it is both mind and spirit; it is both obedience to the written Word and relying on the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.
(6) creating a team of apologists-in-training to be available to the community of faith in the greater East County area.
(7) promoting with authority and power the kingdom and glory of God and His purposes for His universe!
WHAT BIBLICAL AUTHORITY DO WE HAVE FOR APOLOGETICS?
DEUTERONOMY 6:5 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” That is, with every faculty of your being, which includes the mind.
MATTHEW 22:36-38 Jesus restated this commandment as, “’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 foremost commandment.’”
ISAIAH 1:18 In the context of dealing with individual and national sin, God says to them, “Come now, and let us reason together.” God communicates with us in rational and reasonable ways.
JOHN 20:31 “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” John offered evidence for his claims about Christ.
ACTS 17:16ff Paul in Athens reasoned with God-fearers and debated philosophers. He was prepared to give reasons for his hope in Christ.
ROMANS 12:1-2 Paul urges us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we may prove what the will of God is.
2 CORINTHIANS 5:20 – “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”
Here Paul reminds us of who we are in this life — representatives of Jesus Christ. As Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason says, an ambassador should be known for knowledge, wisdom, and character. Knowledge is the correct information, wisdom is the correct application of the knowledge, and character is the inner self that is attractive to others. A good understanding of apologetics goes a long way in helping us develop knowledge and wisdom.
2 CORINTHIANS 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
COLOSSIANS 2:8 – “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”
Here in Colossians, Paul warns us that there are bad ideas floating around which can take us captive. Instead of being overcome by these harmful ideas, we can use good, logical, Spirit-empowered apologetics as a protection to keep this from happening.
1 PETER 3:15 – “But in your hearts set apart 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.”
Here Peter says that we must first be fully committed to the Person and ministry of Jesus Christ as the One who is Lord; i.e., who is to be completely in charge of every area of our being. Then you and I must do the work of preparing to be able to give an answer to every honest seeker who wants to know why we have hope in this cruel, confusing, and challenge-filled world. That is, we must know what we believe and why we believe it, and how to effectively communicate it. And, in keeping with Jesus’ command to “love our neighbors as we love ourselves,” we must answer with “gentleness and respect.”
JUDE 3 “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.”
The Greek word for “contend” here is epagonizesthai – to earnestly, seriously contend. (Do you see the word agonize in the middle?) A good modern example of those who contend in this way physically would be MMA fighters.