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Competing claims prompt need for apologetics
The Baptist Standard ^ | February 10, 2011 | George Henson

Posted on 02/11/2011 1:44:39 PM PST by wmfights

SAN ANTONIO—Christians curious about apologetics first need to understand what apologetics is not, Jim Denison, theologian-in-residence for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, told a conference.

“Apologetics isn’t apologizing. … We’re not here to teach you how to apologize for your faith. Apologetics is simply defending your faith—explaining why you believe what you believe. It’s what the Gospels were written to do,” said Denison, president of the Center for Informed Faith.

“If you sell anything, you do apologetics. If you try to convince anybody of anything, you’re doing apologetics. Christian apologetics is simply learning ways to defend our faith in Jesus.

“These days, on a new level, you’re going to be asked by skeptics why it is that you believe what you believe and whether or not a thinking person can possibly believe what it is that you claim to believe.”

The need for apologetics has increased in recent decades with the growth of other world religions and the rapidly expanding number of people who have no faith claim.

“So, we find ourselves engaged in interreligious dialogue where we have to explain what we believe and why we believe it,” he continued.

Also on the rise is postmodern thought, which challenges the notion that any truth is absolute and applicable to everyone, he said.

“It’s now conventional wisdom, if you’re under 40 years of age, that truth is personal, individual and subjective. No one has the right to force their beliefs on you. As long as I am sincere in my faith and tolerant of yours, we’ll all get along,” Denison said, explaining the postmodern mindset.

“Whether the issue is homosexuality, or it’s abortion, or it’s euthanasia, or if it’s a religious kind of defense, whatever your conversation might be, the postmodern mind says: ‘I can’t know the thing in itself. I can only know my experience of it. And my experience may not be your experience. So, there really isn’t such a thing as truth,’” he said. “This postmodern turn is killing established, institutional, traditional Christianity in Western Europe and North America. In a postmodern culture that says the Bible is irrelevant and faith is whatever you say it is, how do we respond to that?”

The postmodernist claim of no absolute truth has a foundational problem, Den-ison observed.

“To say there is no absolute truth is to make an absolute truth claim: There is no absolute truth, and I’m sure of it,” he said.

Christians should remember when defending faith that God changes lives—arguments do not, Denison said.

“Apologists, like all believers, must depend on the Holy Spirit. Human words can’t change human lives. The good news is that it’s not on you.”

Denison outlined four approaches to apologetic thought.

• Logic. The rational approach says the biblical worldview is reasonable. Following two premises that are true lead undeniably to a conclusion that can’t be disputed.

Jesus used this type of argument with the Pharisees when they confronted him about healing the man’s withered hand on the Sabbath, Denison noted. He asked if it were permissible to rescue a sheep from the ditch on the Sabbath. After their tacit affirmation, he then pointed out a man is more valuable than a sheep. Therefore, it if is permissible to help a sheep, it is permissible to help a man.

• Evidence. Jesus used this approach when he told John’s emissaries to return and tell him of what they had seen and heard. “Look at what I’ve done. Look at what’s happened. On the basis of the evidence, make your decision. … Look at what Jesus did, and you’ll know who Jesus is.”

• Experience. Jesus invited people to follow him. Once they followed, then he commanded them to be his witnesses.

“Tell your story. Somebody can certainly disagree with your logic, they can take issue with your historical data, but I can’t tell you, ‘That didn’t happen to you.’ I have no right to say, ‘No, you didn’t have that experience,’” Denison said. He pointed to the biblical example of the healed man who testified, “I was blind, but now I see.”

• Fideism. This faith-based, Spirit-led approach uses whatever method fits the current need best—the right tool for the right job.

“Let’s not decide that every application needs a hammer. Let’s use all the tools in the toolbox. I believe each method has value depending on the conversation we want to have,” Denison said.

TOPICS: Apologetics; Charismatic Christian; Evangelical Christian
KEYWORDS: apologetics; historicity; witnessing
The postmodernist claim of no absolute truth has a foundational problem, Den-ison observed.

“To say there is no absolute truth is to make an absolute truth claim: There is no absolute truth, and I’m sure of it,” he said.

1 posted on 02/11/2011 1:44:43 PM PST by wmfights
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