Monday, December 16, 2013

Biblical Apologetics

The Lord impressed my heart to preach these two sermons, at my church Free Grace Baptist Church of Yuba City. Here is the order I preached them, with my handout below: 
1. Biblical Apologetics: Principles and Practice here 
2. Biblical Apologetics: The Existence of the Biblical God here





Biblical Apologetics: Principles and Practice


A. The Definition of Apologetics  (1 Peter 3:15-16)


Biblical apologetics can be defined as a rational defense of the Christian faith. 

B. The Purpose of Apologetics

The purpose of apologetics is to glorify God (1 Cor 10:31, Romans 11:36).  

   Why should Christians engage in apologetics?
1.   God commands us to engage in apologetics.
2.   It can strengthen our faith.
3.   It can make evangelism more effective.
4.   It can promote zeal for Theology and Evangelism.
5.   It can put the unbeliever to shame.

 C. The Method of Apologetics

The Apostle Paul our Example  (Acts 17:16-36)

Presupposition: an ultimate belief or conviction that is the standard for judging, evaluating, and interpreting knowledge, reality and morals. 
Worldview: a set of presuppositions (i.e. ultimate beliefs or convictions that are the standards for judging, evaluating, and interpreting knowledge, reality and morals).

Paul’s example shows us the Biblical method of apologetics is presuppositional.

D. The Practice of Apologetics 

We are to transparently presuppose, proclaim, and argue from the necessity and authority of God’s revelation in Scripture and nature. 

James Anderson explains,
"The core of presuppositionalism can be encapsulated in two foundational principles: the No-Neutrality Principle and the No-Autonomy Principle.42
According to the No-Neutrality Principle, no one can approach any intellectual endeavor from a position of strict religious neutrality. Whenever we apply our minds to a particular subject matter, we inevitably bring with us a host of presuppositions...
The second principle states that there are ultimately only two kinds of philosophical precommitments—those that are for God and those that are against God—and that only the former are acceptable. In short, either we are committed to the idea that God and his Word are our ultimate authority and standard in every area of life, including our intellectual endeavors, or we are committed (at least implicitly) to some other ultimate authority and standard—which amounts to a rejection of God and his Word. Either we acknowledge that we are creatures whose thoughts should be conformed to the mind of our Creator or we don’t. And those who locate their ultimate authority and standard elsewhere than in the mind of God invariably try to locate it in the mind of man. (What other relevant mind is there?) Consequently, what is reasonable, plausible, possible, and so on turns out to be what conforms to our own “natural” patterns of thought. As noted earlier, the word autonomy literally means “self-law.” An autonomous thinker is one whose mind has become a law unto itself: not subject to any higher authority or corrective standard. According to the No-Autonomy Principle, this understanding of human reason must be firmly rejected.
Taken together, these two presuppositionalist principles assert that everyone thinks with some kind of religious bias, and that the only acceptable religious bias is one submissive to the ultimate authority of God and his Word.”[1]
As Christians we are to practice apologetics from these two principles. Ideally, every argument we make to defend the faith in some way should conform to these principles.

John Frame’s Apologetics Method Outline
I. Normative
A. Always presuppose the truth of God’s Word.
B. Identify the non-Christian’s presuppositions, vs. his claim to neutrality.
C. Show his rationalism (belief the human mind is the ultimate criterion of truth) and irrationalism (the belief there is no ultimate criterion of truth.).
D. Show that he cannot justify or account for meaning and truth. 

II. Situational
A. Present facts that confirm the Christian claims, always presupposing the Word of God. 
B. Present facts that call in question non-Christian views. 

III. Existential
A. Present your arguments with clarity and appropriate passion. 
B. Show that the Christian faith alone is ultimately satisfying. 
C. Speak the truth in love. 
D. Testify to God’s grace in your own life. 
E. Pray that the Spirit will bring the inquirer to faith.
 

Tips for Apologetics

1.   Study: Study and memorize the Bible, Systematic Theology, Evangelism and Apologetics to know what you believe, so you can Biblically preach and defend it. Apologetics presupposes Theology, and Evangelism. One cannot properly engage in Biblical Apologetics without engaging in Biblical Theology with the goal of Evangelism.

2.   Prayer: In apologetics one’s defense is only as good as one’s offense. So both study and prayer must be properly indulged in first before engaging in apologetics with the unregenerate. Remember all men have a sufficient knowledge of God but suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Only God can open the unregenerate eyes so we ought to pray God would do so in our apologetic encounters. Apologetics can only show the foolishness of rejecting the gospel. But God can make the gospel and our defense effective.

3.   Respect: Respect the unregenerate as made in the image of God. Don’t assume you know what the unregenerate believes even if he associates himself with a particular religion. Let the unbeliever articulate his views and arguments. When refuting the unbeliever always refute and articulate the unbeliever’s position accurately. Further, always refute the strongest argument the unbeliever can make in favor of his position.

4.   Wisdom: When dealing with the unbeliever’s arguments against or from the Bible always read the scriptures in context and look up the original Hebrew or Greek meaning. Since often times the unbeliever takes scriptures out of context or twists the original meaning of any given passage.  Moreover, we should anticipate the unbeliever’s objections and arguments.

5.   Fellowship: Talk among believers about theology, evangelism, and apologetics. Fellow Christians can learn and encourage one another. Moreover, Christians possess spiritual resources, skills, and experiences that can be shared to proclaim and defend the faith.     

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 Biblical Apologetics: The Existence of the Biblical God


I.   Cultural Climate: Unbelief

II.  Knowing God Exists
     1. General and Special Revelation (Romans 1:16-25; 2:14-15)
     2. The Holy Spirit’s Testimony (Romans 8:16)

III. Showing God Exists
     A. Proper Motives     
     B. Presuppositions, Proof, and Persuasion 
     C. Arguments for God’s Existence


1. Cosmological Argument (Col 1:16-17) 


 1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause
 2. The universe began to exist,
 3. Therefore the universe has a cause.[2]

Unbelievers claim the universe is eternal.
Problems
1. Such a claim is arbitrary.
2. It is inconsistent with the unbeliever’s faith in philosophy and science. Since both support the beginning of the universe. 

Philosopher Peter Kreeft gives a helpful analogy:
“Suppose I tell you there is a book that explains everything you want explained. You want that book very much. You ask me whether I have it. I say no, I have to get it from my wife. Does she have it? No, she has to get it from a neighbor. Does he have it? No, he has to get it from his teacher, who has to get it. . . et cetera, etcetera, ad infinitum. No one actually has the book. In that case, you will never get it. However long or short the chain of book borrowers may be, you will get the book only if someone actually has it and does not have to borrow it. Well, existence is like that book. Existence is handed down the chain of causes, from cause to effect. If there is no first cause, no being who is eternal and self-sufficient, no being who has existence by his own nature and does not have to borrow it from someone else, then the gift of existence can never be passed down the chain to others, and no one will ever get it. But we did get it. We exist. We got the gift of existence from our causes, down the chain, and so did every actual being in the universe, from atoms to archangels. Therefore there must be a first cause of existence, God.” [3]
Christianity makes sense of the origin of the universe.

2. Teleological Argument (Col 1:16-17)
          
Unbelievers appeal to evolution to dodge design. However, if God didn’t design everything, we cannot trust our minds to tell us any truths.

Unbelievers appeal to chance and evolution.
Problems
1. If evolution is true we cannot trust our minds.
2. If the universe is a byproduct of random chance then anything can happen in the universe (e.g. Donkeys popping into existence from nothing).
3. We cannot make sense of chance without the presupposition of order.

Christianity accounts for the exquisite: fine-tuning, order, purpose and design in the universe.

 3. Moral Argument (Romans 2:14-15)

1. If God does not exist then objective moral values and duties do not exist,
2. Objective moral values and duties do exist,
3. Therefore, God exists.

Unbelievers claim there are no objective moral values.
Problems
1.Their actions betray their beliefs.
2.There would be no distinction between right and wrong.

Christianity makes sense of objective moral values and duties.

4. Ontological Argument (Acts 17:25)

1. God has all perfections.
2. Necessary existence is perfection.
3.Therefore, God exists.[4]

Christianity makes sense of logical (e.g. If p, then q, p therefore q), conceptual, (e.g. “necessity” 2+2=4) and causal (every effect has a cause) necessity.

5. The Resurrection of Christ (1 Cor 15:3-11)
1. Jesus died by crucifixion
2. Jesus’ tomb was found empty.
3. The origin of the Christian faith: Jesus’ disciples were transformed and sincerely believed that He rose from the dead and appeared to them.
4. Paul, the church persecutor, was converted to Christianity and willing to die for his faith.
5. James, the skeptic, was converted to Christianity and willing to die for his faith.

Unbelievers respond by the swoon, hallucination, conspiracy, and twin brother explanations. Yet all of these alternative explanations are historically discredited.  

Christianity makes sense of the resurrection of Christ.

6.Transcendental Argument (1 Cor 1:20)

Unless Christianity is true, we cannot prove or know anything.
Unbelievers charge this argument as fallacious. They say given enough time they will be able to provide a foundation for human thought and experience without Christianity. However centuries have passed and unbelievers are still without a foundation for human thought and experience. To resist Christianity with hope to find an alternative foundation is blind faith. Consequently, by admitting Christianity provides the foundation for human thought and experience unbelievers acknowledge defeat.  
Christianity makes sense of human thought and experience.              

7. Personal Experience (John 14:21)

Christianity makes sense of Christians’ personal experiences.




James N. Anderson, “Presuppositionalism and Frame’s Epistemology,” in John J. Hughes, ed., Speaking the Truth in Love: The Theology of John M. Frame (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2009)pp.447-448.

[2] William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith; Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books. 1994 p.92.
[3] http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics/first-cause.htm
[4] John Frame. Apologetics to the Glory of God (P&R, Philipsburg 1994) p.115.




















Hope they edify!

7 comments:

wakawakwaka said...

"Unbelievers charge this argument as fallacious. They say given enough time they will be able to provide a foundation for human thought and experience without Christianity. However centuries have passed and unbelievers are still without a foundation for human thought and experience. To resist Christianity with hope to find an alternative foundation is blind faith. Consequently, by admitting Christianity provides the foundation for human thought and experience unbelievers acknowledge defeat"

i will take this as an admission that you cannot disprove all worldviews with TAG, it is not blind faith even if what you said was true about non Christians because TAG argues that only Christianity can provide us with reasoning and logic, so it is NOT illogical to wait until you disprove all worldviews..oh thats right YOU CANT because your not omniscient, so even if god did reveal to you all other worldviews are wrong you will never make good on that claim because YOU cannot disprove all worldviews to show the non-christian that your god must have a 100% chance of existing. Besides Christianity cannot provide us with intelligible experiance because it lacks concept theory

R.C. Dozier said...

I think you are reconstructing my argument as follows:

(1) Human experience presupposes logic.
(2)Logic presupposes the Christian worldview.
(3) Therefore human experience presupposes the Christian worldview.

P->Q
Q->R
P->R

You deny premise (2) on the grounds that all other world views have not been examined that "might" also satisfy the sufficient conditions to make sense of logic and human experience. You say all other world views must be refuted before premise (2) can be established. But the problem with such criticisms is that they are not attacking my argument. My argument is not merely a deductive syllogism it is a disjunctive syllogism. Certainly there are different formulations of TAG but mine is the one in question here. I am saying:

Either Christianity or (a type of token that is) Non Christianity
Not-Not Christianity
Therefore Christianity.

P v -P
--P
P

So I think you have set up a straw man in the place of my argument.

Moreover, if God is all knowing and reveals the Bible is true and is the only foundation for logic and human experience that is undeniable proof of His existence. It is the same type of proof as logic. You cannot deny logic without affirming it. The same goes for God. You say Christianity cannot make sense of concepts? Sure it can. Let's take the concept of equality. 2 is equal to 1 plus 1. This equality would exist even logically prior to the beginning of the universe. Unless you deny this and affirm concepts can only exist in a human mind or concrete referent. If so empiricism is latent in your theory of concepts. But empiricism is self-refuting. So were do you turn to make sense of concepts? I make sense of them simply because God made all man in His image with innate knowledge of these concepts.

I'd encourage you to read up on these articles:

http://www.proginosko.com/docs/The_Lord_of_Non-Contradiction.pdf

http://www.proginosko.com/docs/No_Dilemma_for_TAG.pdf


R.C. Dozier said...

wakawakwaka,

Btw thank you for engaging me! It once again allows me to be more clearer in my arguments.

wakawakwaka said...

"Moreover, if God is all knowing and reveals the Bible is true and is the only foundation for logic and human experience that is undeniable proof of His existence"

this begs the question you havent even PROVEN beyond a reasoniable let alone a shadow of a doubt this god even exists! Anyone one can claim anything this is just a baseless assertion

R.C. Dozier said...

You fail to understand the logical entailment of the argument I offered. It shows that all other worldviews, that are not identical with the Christian worldview, are baseless. You object to my view because you claim it begs the question and is baseless. However you cannot object to my worldview unless you can make sense of logic and truth in your own worldview to use against mine. But as I have been arguing, you cannot do this without borrowing from my worldview. By logically arguing against my worldview, you prove my worldview since logic presupposes God. If you disagree, please logically demonstrate why I am wrong.

"if God is all knowing and reveals the Bible is true and is the only foundation for logic and human experience that is undeniable proof of His existence"

My comment above is not the argument per se, it is merely a point I wished to make on the logical extent of the argument.

wakawakwaka said...

"It shows that all other worldviews, that are not identical with the Christian worldview, are baseless."
no it doesnt its just a baseless assertion

"But as I have been arguing, you cannot do this without borrowing from my worldview. By logically arguing against my worldview, you prove my worldview since logic presupposes God."
you have not proven this at all only more baseless assertions that logic presupposes your god and only your god

"However you cannot object to my worldview unless you can make sense of logic and truth in your own worldview to use against mine"
special pleding

R.C. Dozier said...

"no it doesnt its just a baseless assertion"

Really? Why? I think Michael Butler captures your complaint, quite well, and argues what you must prove to demonstrate my argument as merely arbitrary. He writes,

"TAG argues for the impossibility of the contrary (the non-Christian worldview) and not the impossibility of an infinite number of possible worldviews. TAG does not establish the necessity of Christianity by inductively refuting each and every possible non-Christian worldview (as finite proponents of TAG, this is an impossible task), but rather contends that the contrary of Christianity (any view that denies the Christian view of God) is shown to be impossible. And if the negation of Christianity is false, Christianity is proved true. In other words, the structure of the argument is a disjunctive syllogism. Either A or -A, -- A, therefore, A.

At this point the clever opponent will simply deny the first premise. He will contend that it should not be construed as a disjunction of a contradiction, but a simple disjunction. The argument should thus be restated along the following lines: A or B, -B, therefore, A. And once this move is made he will then contend that while the argument is valid, the first premise involves a false dilemma. That is, he will grant that given A or B and the negation of B, A does indeed follow, but nevertheless maintain that the argument is unsound because the first premise (A or B) is not true. The reason being that there are more possibilities than just A and B. Given a true first premise, A or B or C or D ... n, the negation of B merely entails that A along with the disjunction of other propositions besides B (C, D,...n) follows.
In order for this to be successful, it is incumbent upon the opponent of TAG to defend two claims. First, he must defend the contention that the original first premise is not the disjunction of a contradiction and, second, he must show that there are other possible disjuncts besides B (what we can call the view that is opposed to the Christian worldview)."[1]

"you have not proven this at all only more baseless assertions that logic presupposes your god and only your god."

Really? Why? I offered an argument and I have not seen one premise refuted. I have merely seen you claim my argument is arbitrary. Please demonstrate which premise is false. I have argued elsewhere, the laws of logic possesses the properties of incorporeality, normativity, necessity, immutability, and conceptuality. All these properties make sense in the Christian worldview. God is logical and created man in His image to be logical. Thus all these properties come from the logical God who created us to mirror His rationality. If you deny the Christian worldview, the alternative position to make sense of the laws of logic is, what? Please offer a worldview that can make sense of the laws of logic. Skepticism or Nihlism are the only alternatives I have encountered, but neither have been shown to account for logic.

"special pleding"

Thank you for proving my point.



-----------------------------
Butler, Michael. The Standard Bearer: A Festschrift for Greg L. Bahnsen (Covenant Media Press: Nacogdoches, 2002) p.85. www.butler-harris.org/tag/