Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Apologetics: Introductory Issues

* An outline for an introductory lesson on apologetics.

Apologetics: Introductory Issues

Some Questions:

1.     What are some intellectual challenges to the Christian faith you have experienced?

2.     What are some of the difficult questions you have been faced with (from others or your own questions)?

3.     How confident are you in your ability to provide reasons for what you believe? (Scale of 1-10)

4.     What are some of the issues you would like training on in terms of strengthening your faith and your ability to share the faith with confidence?


1.     Scriptural basis

a.     1 Peter 3.15
b.     2 Corinthians 10.3-6 à need apologetics in the midst of the church too!
c.      Acts 17.1-4, 16-18
d.     Acts 18.1-4, 24-28
e.     Acts 19.8
f.      Philippians 1.16 à “defense of the gospel”

2.     What is apologetics?

·      “Apologetics is the vindication of the Christian philosophy of life against the various forms of the non-Christian philosophy of life.”[1]

o   “Philosophy of life”: Worldview

3.     Worldview: Definition and Questions

a.     “A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true, or entirely false) that we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.”[2]

b.     James Sire’s Worldview Questions[3]

                                               i.     What is prime reality—the really real?

                                              ii.     What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us?

                                            iii.     What is a human being?

                                            iv.     What happens to a person at death?

                                              v.     Why is it possible to know anything at all?

                                            vi.     How do we know what is right and wrong?

                                           vii.     What is the meaning of human history?

                                         viii.     What personal, life-orienting core commitments are consistent with this worldview?

c.      “The fact is that we cannot avoid assuming some answers to such questions.  We will adopt either one stance or another.  Refusing to adopt an explicit worldview will turn out to be itself a worldview, or at least a philosophic position.  In short, we are caught.  So long as we live, we will live either the examined or the unexamined life.  It is the assumption of this book that the examined life is better.”[4]

·      Note: Not everyone will acknowledge being “religious” but everyone ought to recognize they have a worldview!

4.     Worldview: Philosophical Components

a.     Metaphysics

b.     Epistemology

c.      Ethics

5.     Christianity as a Worldview

6.     Worldviews in Conflict and Conversation

7.     Three Aspects of Analysis

a.     Proof: Seeking to provide positive reasons and evidence in support of one’s worldview

b.     Defense: Answering and rebutting objections offered to one’s worldview

c.      Offense: Critically questioning and analyzing another’s worldview

8.     Tests for Truth

a.     Consistency

b.     Coherence

c.      Explanation

d.     Evidence

                                               i.     “No one interprets evidence in isolation from their worldview.  Since our worldviews include our ultimate presuppositions about what’s real, what’s reasonable, what’s possible, and so on, our worldviews influence how we interpret any evidence that is presented to us.  So we can’t just point to ‘the evidence’ or ‘the facts’ to prove or disprove a worldview.”[5]

e.     Existential

                                               i.     Can we consistently live out our worldview?

                                              ii.     Does our worldview comport well with human flourishing?

                                            iii.     There are propositions “that we all presuppose in our ordinary activity” and we “presuppose them in practice, even if we accept a theory which denies them.”[6]

9.     Christian vs. Non-Christian Worldviews

a.     Christian worldview: meet the tests of truth

b.     Non-Christian worldviews: will be found to fail these tests of truth

                                               i.     Internally inconsistent

                                              ii.     Arbitrary

10. Example: Christianity

a.     Proof

                                               i.     Arguments for God’s existence[7]

                                              ii.     Historical evidence for resurrection of Jesus[8]

b.     Defense

                                               i.     Problem of evil[9]

                                              ii.     Claims against miracles

c.      Offense: against materialistic naturalism

                                               i.     Cannot account for laws of science[10]

                                              ii.     Cannot account for laws of morality[11]

NOTE: This template can work with varying levels of sophistication.

11. Example: the problem of evil


Evil presupposes objective values and objective values presuppose God.[12]

1)   Greater good à God’s glory revealed in Christ
2)   Skeptical theism
3)   The Moore Switch


Q: How to explain the concept of evil on a non-theistic basis?[13]

     [1] Cornelius Van Til, Christian Apologetics (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1976), 1.
     [2] James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog—5th ed. (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press, 2009), 20.
     [3] James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog—5th ed. (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press, 2009), 22-23.
     [4] James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog—5th ed. (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press, 2009), 24.
     [5] James Anderson, Why Should I Believe Christianity? (Scotland: Christian Focus, 2016), 46.
     [6] Elliot Crozat, “Reasoning About Gender” Evangelical Philosophical Society (2016)—online: http://www.epsociety.org/userfiles/art-Crozat%20(Reasoning%20about%20Gender-final).pdf.
     [7] James Anderson, “The Inescapability of God” Christian Research Journal (40:5, 2017)—online: https://www.proginosko.com/docs/The_Inescapability_of_God.pdf.
     [8] William Lane Craig, “The Resurrection of Jesus” Reasonable Faith—online: https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/jesus-of-nazareth/the-resurrection-of-jesus/.
     [9] See my essay, “The Problem of Evil: Some Perspectives” White Rose Review (October 23, 2017)—online: https://whiterosereview.blogspot.com/2017/10/the-problem-of-evil-some-perspectives.html.
     [10] See my presentation, “Disenchantment’s Dead End: Why Secularism Fails” White Rose Review (October 23, 2018)—online: http://whiterosereview.blogspot.com/2018/10/disenchantments-dead-end-why-secularism.html.
     [11] See my presentation, “’What’s Your Problem?”: How Euthyphro Challenges Us All” White Rose Review (October 28, 2017)—online: http://whiterosereview.blogspot.com/2017/10/whats-your-problem-how-euthyphro.html.
     [12] “The nonexistence of God may imply the nonexistence of evil.  At the very least anyone who would use the term ‘evil’ while denying God must give this term an intelligible sense.”  David H. Freeman, “On God and Evil” in God and the Good, editors Clifton J. Orlebeke and Lewis B. Smedes (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1975), 174.  William Lane Craig goes further and states: “I would want to say, evil actually proves that God exists because if God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist!  If evil exists, it follows that moral values and duties do exist, namely, some things are evil.  So evil actually proves the existence of God, since in the absence of God, good and evil as such would not exist.  So you cannot press both the problem of evil and agree with my contention that if God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist because evil will actually be an argument for the existence of God.”  William Lane Craig, “Second Rebuttal” in “Is the Foundation of Morality Natural or Supernatural?—A Debate Between William Lane Craig and Sam Harris.”  Transcript available online: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/is-the-foundation-of-morality-natural-or-supernatural-the-craig-harris.
     [13] “At a minimum, we have shown that the skeptic cannot take the existence of evil for granted.  Evil does not have an inalienable, self-contained ontological status.  So for the skeptic to [be] able to advance the problem of evil effectively against the theist on God-independent grounds, she not only must specify how evil, as suitably defined, stands against the existence of God, but also how it can be accounted for independently of the existence of God.  This is a difficult (if not insurmountable) task for the skeptic to undertake.  Thus, advancing the problem of evil using a God-independent definition of evil is unlikely to succeed.”  Paul A. MacDonald Jr. and Joel Brown, “The Problem with Evil” Philosophia Christi 19 (2017), 76.  Also see my presentation “’What’s Your Problem?’: How Euthyphro Challenges Us All” (October 24, 2017) in which I examine a number of attempts to ground objective ethics on a naturalistic basis—available online: https://www.academia.edu/34986151/_Whats_Your_Problem_How_Euthyphro_Challenges_Us_All.