Great Stuff — Confessional Bytes on Why Apologetics?

Found on Jim Pierce’s Confessional Bytes blog:


If you are a regular reader of Confessional’s Bytes, then by now you have read ad nauseum that I was an atheist for 18 years prior to being a Christian and Confessional Lutheran. Every chance I get, whether it is speaking to others, or writing comments on message boards, I like to talk about what Christ has done for me and continues to do for me: He has forgiven me of all my sins and this not because of any works I have done or did (after all I was a blasphemous atheist), but He has forgiven me out of His unmerited favor upon me.

I also like to use my story in making the point that God’s Holy Word is powerful. I know that the Holy Spirit does work through His Holy Word in creating faith (Romans 10:17)! When I was a atheist there was no amount of reasoning that would have convinced me that God really does exist and that Jesus is God the Son who died on a cross for my sins. Indeed, I spent years studying the arguments of Christian apologists such as John Warwick Montgomery, Richard Swinburne, Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig, and many others and to no avail. The more I studied, the more entrenched I became in my own atheism. Indeed, I became evangelical about my atheism and joined the ranks of men like Richard Dawkins in promulgating militant atheism. There was not a single logical argument or bit of empirical evidence that would convince me that God exists and that Christ died for my sins.

Unfortunately, my insistence on this truth over the bondage of my will to sin when I was an atheist is mistaken by some as a treatise against the work of apologetics. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a Lutheran layman I firmly believe that we should be able to give a reason for the hope that is within us when called upon to do so.

In my opinion, apologetics is a useful tool through which the good news about Jesus can be spoken to others. In fact, I often engage in apologetics, that is arguing in favor of what Christ has not only done for me, but for the whole world (John 3:16). For me apologetics is something quite personal, since it involves the confession of my faith in Jesus Christ. God does not need my defense nor my confession, but the Scriptures are very clear that those who confess Christ before men, He will confess them before His Father (see Matthew 10:32-33). As Christians we confess Christ.

I am certainly a supporter of apologetics, in the sense that I point at above, but there is another view of apologetics that I am wholeheartedly against. It is the view that I, or anyone else for that matter, am capable of proving the truth of Christianity to the satisfaction of the skeptic. The reality of the situation is that apologetics is actually for those who already solely trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. Evidential arguments in support of the resurrection of Jesus, for example, will not at all bring the skeptic to his knees in repentance. One will be lucky to get any agreement out of the skeptic regarding the miraculous, period. However, sound arguments and solid evidence in support of the resurrection of Jesus most certainly will embolden us Christians to speak out against those attacking the truth and will provide us tools through which we can speak God’s Word that He has given to us to tell to others who don’t know Him.

I am not against apologetics. If we are too busy arguing ontological arguments for the existence of God and pointing out archaeological evidence for the historicity of Christ and the reliability of Scriptures, we may miss the reason why we are talking to someone about Jesus. I believe we have to keep in perspective why we confess our faith to others and that isn’t so we can trot out “Evidence that Demands a Verdict,” but rather that we may tell others about the mercy Christ has had on us poor miserable sinners. The bottom line is not to convince a skeptic we are right, but to tell them that they are in trouble with God and the good news is their sins are forgiven in Christ.

Jim Pierce

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