Most people I know think studying apologetics (understanding and defending your faith) is for high level intellectuals and beyond most Christians or that studying or using apologetics makes Christians into arrogant “fight winners.”
So let me tell you a story about what happened here at the Denker house last week:
We have an unbelieving friend that we’ve known for over 15 years now. We’ve shared Christ (very poorly) many times through the years. We’ve walked through our kids growing up, hospital stays, disagreements, deaths, and much more.
Every once in a while our friend will text us out of the blue with a question about God or the Bible, or some Google search that “proves” what we believe is nothing but a fantasy.
Last week, he texted a video that he wanted us to watch. So we did, and the conversation started yet again. But it was getting late. (Full disclosure: Corey and I are early birds and get up early even when we don’t mean to, so we’re not functioning well anytime after 9pm and completely battery drained by 10pm.) And this particular text conversation started way too late in the “not functioning well” time of day.
As the conversation continued to creep into the brain dead time, it seemed to be going to all the same places it always does and it seems like spinning our wheels, but! I knew the way to end it! It works every time: invite him over–because he never comes. So I asked him to come over and continue the discussion, which meant that we could finally just go to bed, right?
But, he answered: “be right over.” 😲 So Corey and I made some coffee and prayed for wisdom because our brains were done.
After a few hours of back and forth over multiple things with the clock climbing closer to midnight (which is just the WRONG time to be up), I finally asked him “Okay, what are the big issues you have with the God of the Bible? Just name a few of the big ones so maybe we can work through them one by one rather than try to tackle all the things.”
And you know what? He was able to clearly list 4-5 problems he has:
- How do you know that the Bible is reliable and not just translated like the telephone game?
- Or how do you know the Bible wasn’t just written by men to control men?
- How could God always be there and not be created?
- Why is there evil in the world?
- Why does a good, loving God allow bad things to happen?
I’ve heard many apologists say that most of people’s questions all go back to a few basic ones (most of these ones!), but didn’t really believe it, but here we were! He also has a lot of emotional reasons why he doesn’t believe, and those we’re careful to listen to and empathize with and pray about as we pray for him. But there were some legit questions he had too, that he really wants to know an answer to. So of those, we asked which seemed the biggest obstacle to him. He said the Bible. He has a big problem with the Bible.
At this point, I was literally thinking that this is beyond me, and that he really needed to watch some good videos on YouTube that explain the Bible well. OR better yet, he needed to talk to some of the super smart guys in our apologetics ministry. I thought “If only he could talk to someone who knows the answered better!”
Our friend doesn’t want to watch some slick video by a great apologetics ministry. He doesn’t want to talk to a super smart guy to hear what he has to say.
He wanted to talk to us.
He knows us.
He trusts us.
He wants to know why and how God makes a difference in our life.
And because of that, we are responsible to have some sort of reasonable answer. To share Christ well, I need to know not only WHAT I believe, but also WHY I believe it. It means I have some work to do, if I want to do this well. And I do. I really do.
Apologetics is absolutely necessary not so I can win a fight, but so that I can accurately and correctly explain the reasonableness of my faith in person-to-person relationships when the opportunity arises.
And in this quickly changing world we’re living in, we need Christians that are ready and prepared to share the reasonableness of our belief in Jesus Christ and the truth found in God’s Word. As the world grows darker, followers of Christ will stand out, and people will start to ask why. The best time to prepare is before you are asked. (Prepare before your friend comes over and stays till 1am!) From my limited time reading and learning apologetics I was able to answer a couple of his questions about the Bible, but I need to brush up on facts and history. So I’m gathering my books and starting with the biggest issue our friend has, the Bible.
And to help you do the same, here are some excellent resources I highly encourage you to read too. (They are organized starting with textbook style reference books descending to more readable books.)
Evidence that Demands a Verdict
A very detailed and thorough reference guide. Includes quotes from many people (including a lot of Old Dead Dudes). This would be excellent to dig in deep to specific questions. Maybe not the best option to read to learn, but definitely worth keeping as a reference.
Understanding the Faith–A Survey of Christian Apologetics
This is the curriculum I taught at our high school co-op. It is excellent for self study. If you want to do the whole course you can buy the book and workbook and move through it on your own. Very well done with links to teaching videos from great speakers. Excellent and interactive if you learn best by studying, listening, and answering questions.
This is an excellent book to both read and keep as reference. I think Wayne Grudem did an excellent job at making a lot of tough subjects understandable. Part 1 in the book is all about the Word of God: the canon of scripture, its inerrancy, clarity, authority, necessity, and sufficiency. I also found a series of podcasts (which also has links to handouts you can print) where Wayne Grudem was recorded teaching a class at Scottsdale Bible Church. It is well worth listening to!
Accessible and very readable. Focused more on how to think with a biblical worldview than how to answer specific questions. Very interesting and well done book and includes historical tidbits and logical fallacies.
Answers to Tough Questions
Older book but very readable. It gives a quick overview of tough questions and answers them in a readable way. Section one is all about the Bible and each section asks and answers ten common tough questions.
If you know of other great references or books, please include them in the comments below. I learn so much from you guys!
Let’s be watchmen on the walls and start preparing for what is coming in the months and years ahead by knowing what and why we believe and why the Gospel is the good news for everyone!