Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Unapologetic Apologetics

Apologetics is the discipline of giving a reasonable defense for our faith. Christianity is a reasonable faith. Explaining the what of the Gospel is absolutely vital, but there is also a place to explain why. In fact, we are instructed in 1 Peter 3:15 to be ready to give a reason for the hope that is within us.

I remember seeing a bumper sticker that read, "If Jesus is the answer then what are the questions?"It's dangerous to assume that people's resistance to the Gospel is always a lack of knowledge about what the Gospel is. There are many who have heard the Gospel, but who still have very real questions about the why of Christianity. Why is  it plausible, reliable, exclusive, relevant? Why should I believe it versus other faiths? A church should be a place where people have permission to doubt. To explore faith. To slam the doors and kick the tires of Christianity before they jump on board.

Perhaps seekers and skeptics have never had anyone give them a real reason to doubts their doubts? Preachers all too often preach to the heart, when often people are struggling in their heads too. The only way that we will know the questions people have is for us to be engaging them humbly and attentively. There are so many great men and women who have given their lives to providing solid biblical, historical and logical answers to questions. It it would be a shame not to make use if their work.

That said, it is arrogant to believe that we can prove Christianity to everyone beyond all shadow of doubt. That would be to remove reliance on the Sovereignty of God to awaken hearts to repentance and faith.  However, in the book of Acts, we do see both Peter, Paul and Apollos giving compelling arguments for faith in Jesus. This is the heart of our  Why not Jesus? series at Southlands. We've engaged people by asking what questions they have about Christianity, and have sought to answer those troubles thoughtfully, humbly and boldly.

Apologetics does not need to be overly apologetic though. There is also a place to slam the doors and kick the tires of other faiths and philosophies to test their plausibility too. We can defend our faith without being overly defensive. Paul talked to the philosophers on Mars Hill with respect and knowledge, pointing out that while they searched of an unknown God there was a God who could be known who was not far away. He pointed out the hollowness of Agnosticism.

We have a humble confidence in the unique power of the Gospel to reach people wherever they are. We are not seeking to win arguments, as much as we are seeking to present the why of the Gospel, connect God's story to people's stories, and trust God to do His saving work.

So the aim of this series is not simply to strengthen the faith of Christians.  It is to help people who are not yet Christians towards faith. This makes this series highly invitational. In fact, we will fail if we are not invitational. I want to encourage everybody to be thinking of those we know who are troubled with questions about Christianity. This Sunday we will seek to answer the question, "Is jesus really the only way?"

 Let's engage people lovingly and boldly,  inviting them to the relevant topics which will be announced each week. Let's do what we can do, and trust Jesus to do what only He can do!

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