Stone Soup for Five: Why you should study apologetics (hear me out!)

Why you should study apologetics (hear me out!)


Most people I know think studying apologetics (understanding and defending your faith) is for high level intellectuals and beyond most Christians or that studying or using apologetics makes Christians into arrogant "fight winners."

So let me tell you a story about what happened here at the Denker house last week:
We have an unbelieving friend that we've known for over 15 years now. We've shared Christ (very poorly) many times through the years.  We've walked through our kids growing up, hospital stays, disagreements, deaths, and much more.

Every once in a while our friend will text us out of the blue with a question about God or the Bible, or some Google search that "proves" what we believe is nothing but a fantasy.

Last week, he texted a video that he wanted us to watch.  So we did, and the conversation started yet again.  But it was getting late.  (Full disclosure:  Corey and I are early birds and get up early even when we don't mean to, so we're not functioning well anytime after 9pm and completely battery drained by 10pm.)  And this particular text conversation started way too late in the "not functioning well" time of day.

As the convo continued to creep into the brain dead time, it seemed to be going to all the same places it always does and it seems like spinning our wheels, but! I knew the way to end it!  It works every time: invite him over--because he never comes.  So I asked him to come over and continue the discussion, which meant that we could finally just go to bed, right?

But, he answered: "be right over."

😲

So Corey and I made some coffee and prayed for wisdom because our brains were done. 

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.
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After a few hours of back and forth over multiple things with the clock climbing closer to midnight (which is just the WRONG time to be up), I finally asked him "Okay, what are the big issues you have with the God of the Bible?  Just name a few of the big ones so maybe we can work through them one by one rather than try to tackle all the things."

And you know what?  He was able to clearly list 4-5 problems he has:

  • How do you know that the Bible is reliable and not just translated like the telephone game?  
  • Or how do you know the Bible wasn't just written by men to control men?
  • How could God always be there and not be created?
  • Why is there evil in the world? 
  • Why does a good, loving God allow bad things to happen?

I've heard many apologists say that most of people's questions all go back to a few basic ones (most of these ones!), but didn't really believe it, but here we were!  He also has a lot of emotional reasons why he doesn't believe, and those we're careful to listen to and empathize with and pray about as we pray for him.  But there were some legit questions he had too, that he really wants to know an answer to.  So of those, we asked which seemed the biggest obstacle to him.  He said the Bible.  He has a big problem with the Bible.

At this point, I was literally thinking that this is beyond me, and that he really needed to watch some good videos on YouTube that explain the Bible well.  OR better yet, he needed to talk to some of the super smart guys in our apologetics ministry.  I thought "If only he could talk to someone who knows the answerd better!"

But  

Our friend doesn't want to watch some slick video by a great apologetics ministry.  He doesn't want to talk to a super smart guy to hear what he has to say. 

He wanted to talk to us.

He knows us.  

He trusts us.  

He wants to know why and how God makes a difference in our life.

And because of that, we are responsible to have some sort of reasonable answer. To share Christ well, I need to know not only WHAT I believe, but also WHY I believe it.  It means I have some work to do, if I want to do this well.  And I do.  I really do.

Apologetics is absolutely necessary not so I can win a fight, but so that I can accurately and correctly explain the reasonableness of my faith in person-to-person relationships when the opportunity arises.  

And in this quickly changing world we're living in, we need Christians that are ready and prepared to share the reasonableness of our belief in Jesus Christ and the truth found in God's Word.  As the world grows darker, followers of Christ will stand out, and people will start to ask why.  The best time to prepare is before you are asked.  (Prepare before your friend comes over and stays till 1am!)  From my limited time reading and learning apologetics I was able to answer a couple of his questions about the Bible, but I need to brush up on facts and history.  So I'm gathering my books and starting with the biggest issue our friend has, the Bible.  

And to help you do the same, here are some excellent resources I highly encourage you to read too.  (They are organized starting with textbook style reference books descending to more readable books.)

Evidence that Demands a Verdict
A very detailed and thorough reference guide.  Includes quotes from many people (including a lot of Old Dead Dudes).  This would be excellent to dig in deep to specific questions.  Maybe not the best option to read to learn, but definitely worth keeping as a reference.

Understanding the Faith--A Survey of Christian Apologetics
This is the curriculum I taught at our high school co-op.  It is excellent for self study.  If you want to do the whole course you can buy the book and workbook and move through it on your own.  Very well done with links to teaching videos from great speakers.  Excellent and interactive if you learn best by studying, listening, and answering questions.

Systematic Theology
This is an excellent book to both read and keep as reference.  I think Wayne Grudem did an excellent job at making a lot of tough subjects understandable.  Part 1 in the book is all about the Word of God: the canon of scripture, its inerrancy, clarity, authority, necessity, and sufficiency.  I also found a series of podcasts (which also has links to handouts you can print) where Wayne Grudem was recorded teaching a class at Scottsdale Bible Church.  It is well worth listening to!

Cold-Case Christianity
Accessible and very readable.  Focused more on how to think with a biblical worldview than how to answer specific questions.  Very interesting and well done book and includes historical tidbits and logical fallacies.

Answers to Tough Questions
Older book but very readable.  It gives a quick overview of tough questions and answers them in a readable way.  Section one is all about the Bible and each section asks and answers ten common tough questions.

More Than a Carpenter
This is a classic book by Josh McDowell, and a super brief overview of Jesus and the Messiah. Very quick read.

If you know of other great references or books, please include them in the comments below.  I learn so much from you guys!

Let's be watchmen on the walls and start preparing for what is coming in the months and years ahead by knowing what and why we believe and why the Gospel is the good news for everyone!



18 comments:

  1. Wow, this is great! I'm looking forward to diving into quite a few of these. I'd really love an opportunity to talk about these things with someone who has questions like your friends. Unfortunately, I seem to interact with too many people who want to have discussions about disagreements over our denomination, which is not something I really care about. I want to talk to them about God, Jesus, the Bible...not whether we have have instruments in our service or how often we take communion. I guess it's a side effect of living in the "Bible belt", but I'll be praying about it. I know God has His reasons!

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    1. That's interesting Emily! It's definitely not like that here on the outskirts of Portland. I guess each area has its unique challenges. I pray you'll have great conversations about the essential things!

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  2. I loved this preaching series on The Surest Thing On Earth where he goes over how we can know the Bible is true. And what he is preaching on now is just as good! I need to watch it again and take notes!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUn9HXTiecY

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  3. God Breathed by Josh McDowell is an excellent book on the authenticity and inerrancy of scripture. My Tuesday night bible study went through this book together a couple years ago. I highly recommend it.

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    1. Thank you! I haven't heard of that one before!

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  4. This is fabulous! I would add I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.

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  5. Great Books to Read that might help

    The Story of Reality By Gregory Kokul.. I have read this book 3 times and listened to it at least that many times and learn something new every time. He has other books that help in answering questions and also how to deal with different situations that arise.. check out Tactics.



    The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask By Mark Mittleberg. I am still reading this one and it has all the questions asked about the Bible, Evil and just about everything that you can think with life questions.

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  6. Thanks for the resource list, and to the commenters who added some. How to articulate answers to the questions is a challenge. A couple on the list are ones I think I could offer an answer to, but some others will need further study. Well done on your late night obedience!

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    1. You are welcome! And yes, I'm loving the comments/suggestions too!

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  7. What are your thoughts on an apologetics study Bible? I bought one for my kids years ago but it never got used much. I haven’t studied it much myself, but just studying God’s word has helped. My answers to tough questions have come easier but aren’t perfect!

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    1. I think that Bible sounds great, but yes, the Word of God is always first and foremost! Great job!

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  8. Are you familiar with Ray Comfort livingwaters.com.? He is an amazing "witnesser". His Evidence study Bible is full of apologetics, witnessing tools, etc. I found his books to be life changing. (Josh McDowell and Ken Ham recommend the Evidence study Bible).

    I can't seem to comment under my name. Not sure what I am doing wrong! Beth

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  9. This is so, so, so true! I find myself so frustrated with women who *need* a bible study book to help them study the bible. They can't just read the Bible. And people who won't think or just go with whatever their pastor said. Yeah, I'm a good protestant. I'm glad you are pulling out the apologetic books, and yes, getting to talk with someone you know and trust is far better than a podcast or video. "What's in the Bible with Buck Denver" by Phil Viser is really good and has some church history in it. The Big Picture Story Bible and The Jesus Storybook Bible are both "children's Bible Story books" but they give a wonderful big picture view of what the Bible is about. The Action Bible is graphic novel style, but will give someone a super strong foundation of the stories (less of the theology/doctrine). Knowing your history helps explain why somethings are the way they are. Good luck!

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    1. Excellent! I recently bought systematic theology. It's a BIG book. I'll start that one. Soon. I will.😯

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  10. A wonderful, systematic study with podcast is at alifewithgod.org. The book it uses is downloadable PDFs. I would also recommend --as a side thought--that many get bogged down and disillusioned with religion, but they love Jesus when they finally meet Him. :) I like the movie "Case for Christ." ~Becky

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