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                         "CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS"

                  Introduction To Christian Apologetics

INTRODUCTION

1. In 1 Pe 3:15, all Christians are commanded to be ready to make a
   "defense" for the reason of their hope in Christ...
   a. The word "defense" is from apologia, which means "a speech in
      defense of what one has done, or of truth which one believes"
   b. The formal use of this word is used by Paul in Ac 22:1; 1 Co 9:3

2. Peter, however, uses the word in the context of an informal inquiry
   by a friend or neighbor...
   a. E.g., someone asking "Why are you a Christian?"
   b. To such Peter says that we should be ready to give reasons why we
      believe

3. In this series of lessons on "CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS", we shall
   examine some of the evidence that exists for placing one's faith in
   Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God

4. In doing so, I hope to accomplish two objectives:
   a. To STRENGTHEN OUR FAITH in Jesus Christ
   b. To HELP PREPARE OURSELVES to be able to do the very thing enjoined
      by Peter in 1 Pe 3:15

[In this lesson, I wish to establish some "BASICS" for Christian
apologetics that are important for all to realize...]

I. THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS "AN INTELLIGENT, RATIONAL FAITH"

   A. IT APPEALS TO THE "MIND" AS WELL AS TO THE "HEART"
      1. God expects us to use our minds - Mt 22:36-38; Jn 8:32
         a. I.e., we do not have to commit "INTELLECTUAL SUICIDE" in
            order to have faith!
         b. This is important, for as one person said, "My heart cannot
            rejoice in what my mind rejects!"
            1) A "WEAK FAITH" may be the result of the heart trying to
               believe in something the mind cannot accept
            2) But the "STRONG FAITH" God requires involves both the
               mind and the heart
      2. So it is important that we present reasons why we believe in
         an INTELLIGENT and RATIONAL manner
         a. "We cannot pander to a man's intellectual arrogance, but we
            must cater to his intellectual integrity." - PAUL LITTLE

   B. DOES THIS MEAN WE CAN OFFER 100% PROOF?
      1. No, but there is virtually nothing of which we can be 100% sure
         (e.g., who our parents are)
      2. Yet, we often make 100% commitments with less than 100% proof;
         e.g., flying on an airplane...
         a. We cannot be 100% certain that we will have a safe journey
         b. But the statistical evidence is strong enough to convince us
            that we will
         c. So though we may not have 100% certainty of arriving safely,
            when we step on the plane we make a 100% commitment!
      3. So the question becomes:  IS THERE ENOUGH EVIDENCE OR PROOF TO
         WARRANT MAKING A 100% COMMITMENT TO CHRIST?
         a. I believe that there is
         b. Certainly enough evidence to commit myself 100% FOR HIM,
            rather than be 100% AGAINST HIM!
            a. There is no other alternative - Mt 12:30
            b. Jesus is like an airplane; either we get on board 
               totally, or we get left behind!

[So the Christian faith is to be an INTELLIGENT, RATIONAL FAITH. As an
example, consider the next "BASIC"...]

II. THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS "A HISTORICAL, FACTUAL FAITH"

   A. CHRISTIANITY APPEALS TO HISTORY, AND THE FACTS OF HISTORY
      1. "The facts backing the Christian claim are not a special kind
         of 'religious' fact.  They are the cognitive, informational
         facts upon which all historical, legal, and ordinary decisions
         are based." - CHARLES PINNOCK
      2. It will be my purpose in future lessons...
         a. To present these HISTORICAL FACTS
         b. Then demonstrate that the CHRISTIAN INTERPRETATION is more
            logical than any other

   B. BUT TO BRIEFLY ILLUSTRATE THAT CHRISTIANITY IS BASED UPON
      HISTORICAL FACTS...
      1. Consider Lk 2:1-5; 3:1-2
      2. Notice the appeal to time, places, people and events that
         actually existed in history

   C. THE CHRISTIAN FAITH, THEREFORE, IS A HISTORICAL FAITH THAT 
      APPEALS TO CERTAIN FACTS OF HISTORICAL OCCURENCE
      1. Not a PHILOSOPHICAL faith appealing to philosophies of men
      2. Not a faith based upon MYTHS and LEGENDS

[As we consider the evidences for the Christian faith, it is also 
important to bear in mind that...]

III. THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS "AN OBJECTIVE FAITH"

   A. IT IS A FAITH IN AN "OBJECT":  JESUS OF NAZARETH!
      1. Faith in WHO He was:  The Christ, the Son of God
      2. Faith in WHAT He did:  He rose from the dead on the third day

   B. IT "DOES" MAKE A DIFFERENCE "WHAT" WE BELIEVE!
      1. The old cliche "It doesn't matter what you believe, as long as
         you believe in something" is inconsistent with the Christian
         faith
      2. Consider Jn 8:24; Ro 10:9
         a. Note that it is not faith IN OF ITSELF that is important
         b. But IN WHOM (the object) our faith is based!

[And then consider that...]

IV. THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS "BASED ON PRINCIPLES OF TRUTH"

   A. SUCH AS "TRUTH IS ALWAYS OPEN TO EXAMINATION"
      1. So is the Christian faith
         a. Cf. Ac 2:22 - Peter appealed to the crowd to examine what
            they themselves knew
         b. Cf. Ac 26:24-26 - Paul invited Agrippa to examine the 
            evidence
      2. Unlike some religions (esp. "Jehovah's Witnesses" and the
         "Mormons"), the CHRISTIAN FAITH is open to honest examination

   B. SUCH AS "TRUTH IS ALWAYS OPEN TO NON-TRUTH (FALSIFICATION)"
      1. That is, it is open to be proven wrong
      2. To illustrate, if you don't believe Jesus was raised from the
         dead...
         a. Use the evidence that is available, and...
         b. Attempt to prove by it that He wasn't!
         c. Do this and then we shall see which interpretation of the
            facts is more logical (intelligent and rational)

[Before I close this lesson, I wish to address one last question:  "If 
the Christian faith is such an intelligent, rational, historical and 
factual faith, then why do many people reject it?"]

V. WHY PEOPLE REJECT CHRIST

   A. AS IN THE DAYS OF CHRIST, IT IS USUALLY DUE TO ONE OF THREE
      REASONS...
      1. IGNORANCE - Jn 7:40-43
         a. Some rejected Jesus as the Christ because they were ignorant
            of the historical facts concerning His birth
         b. So many do today for a similar reason:  LACK OF ACCURATE
            INFORMATION!
      2. PRIDE - Jn 12:42-43
         a. Pride in wanting to be approved by men kept them from
            confessing Jesus as the Christ
         b. Today, many do not want the RIDICULE or REJECTION one might
            face for following Christ
      3. MORAL PROBLEM - Jn 3:19-20
         a. Some people reject the evidence because it would mean having
            to change their LIFESTYLE
         b. Today, many people in efforts to justify their immorality...
            1) Accept only that evidence which supports theories which
               allows them to continue their lifestyle
            2) Reject any evidence which may support a doctrine which
               would condemn their behavior and require a change

   B. WHAT IT OFTEN BOILS DOWN TO IS THIS...
      1. The rejection of Christ...
         a. Is not so much a problem of the "MIND" but of the "WILL"!
         b. Is not so much "I CAN'T" but "I WON'T"!
      2. There is enough evidence to convince the honest and sincere
         seeker
      3. But there is not enough evidence to force a man against his
         will when he is determined to reject it!

CONCLUSION

1. It is with these "BASICS" in mind that I shall endeavor to give
   evidence that warrants faith in Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ, the
   Son of God

2. I shall not attempt to prove anything "beyond a shadow of a doubt,"
   for that is not possible

3. But I shall try to show that it is more logical to believe in Jesus,
   than for one not to!

And we shall begin by examining the evidence that demonstrates Jesus to
be a true, historical figure, a person who actually lived!
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The "Executable Outlines" Series, Copyright Mark A. Copeland, 1999. You may freely use, copy, or distribute this material, provided it is done at no cost to others. "Freely you have received, freely give." (Matthew 10:8)

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