Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Task of Apologetics

One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Tuesday, December 4, 2012: I John 4:1-21

1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.  I John 4:1-3 (NIV)

There have always been and always will be attacks on Christianity and Christian faith.  The theological discipline that concerns itself with the DEFENSE OF BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY is called Apologetics.  It is the defense of the faith against all attacks.  Sometimes people are confused about the term "apologetics" thinking that it means apologizing for the faith.  It is not saying "I'm sorry".  Apologetics is the reasoned defense of what we believe.

In the days of the Apostles, as Christianity moved out from its Jewish origins into a pagan world, the greatest attack came from a teaching called Gnosticism.  The task of apologetics is to meet the pressing issues of current debate, and to meet them with a solid, biblical defense of orthodoxy.  In vss. 2 and 3, John addresses the most important theological challenge of his day.  It had to do with the nature of Jesus' humanity and His divinity.  Gnosticism claimed that Jesus was divine but He was not human.  He was God but He was not man.  John gives the litmus test for teaching in His day -- the "hot" issue that divided between "the spirit of truth and the spirit of error" (vs. 6).

It behooves us to know the challenges of OUR DAY.  Few of us will ever engage in a debate about the human nature of Jesus (although that might not be a bad idea to study out for yourself).  But we are facing huge attacks on the Faith in other areas.  The task of apologetics is to have a ready defense of those things that we believe so that we can answer those who question or challenge (see I Peter 3:15).

Here is a sample of the issues facing us today:

1. Pluralism.  Is Jesus the only way?  This is perhaps the greatest challenge of our day.  Why do we believe that Jesus is "the way, the truth, and the life" and that no one come come to the Father except by Him?  Are not all faiths valid?

2.  Science vs. Faith.  Is biblical faith still viable in the light of scientific discovery?  The simple answer for many is, "Of course."  We just take it "by faith."  But, the younger generation is being bombarded by a secular, atheistic worldview that explains away the supernatural and guts the faith.  We must have a solid defense of the rationality of Christianity.

3.  Psychology and the Nature of Man.  Secular psychology has virtually done away with the biblical concept of sin and individual responsibility.  The Freudian understanding of man is that we are victims with good excuses for anything we do.  Add to this the rise of pharmaceutical manipulation and we are offered a new gospel -- the gospel of pop psychology.

4.  Politics and the Freedom of Religion.  With the rise of secularism, there is an increasing move to marginalize or eliminate faith from the public square.  Freedom of religion has now become freedom FROM religion, and it even goes further -- prohibition of religion in public debate. 

5.  Gender Issues.  This may not seem central to a defense of biblical Christianity, but I believe the implications of the entire homosexual/gay agenda have direct affect on the foundations of our Faith.  At issue is not tolerace or compassion.  At issue is the clear biblical statements about sin in relationship to homosexuality.  Therefore, the issue attached to this debate is not our social preferences, but rather BIBLICAL AUTHORITY.  Can the Bible still instruct us about how to live?

6.  Value of Human Life.  The hot issue of thirty years ago was abortion.  While that is still vitally important, the debate has gone further.  The issues facing us now deal with euthanasia, assisted suicide, infanticide, and a host of others.  Medical science continues to present us with hard questions.  These must be answered from a biblical perspective, not just a scientific one.  At stake is the value of each of our lives.

I could name many other issues and topics that we need to address.  Suffice it to say that we all need to know what we believe and why we believe it.  We need to be ready to explain to anyone who asks the reasons for our faith.  The implications are big.  There is an increasingly aggressive element in our world that wants to nullify all those who follow Jesus.  You represent the only One who can provide real answers for a hurting world.

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