An Apologetic for Apologetics-interview with Tim Barnett

I am a daily visitor to the Stand to Reason website. I highly recommend this site to anyone who is committed to evangelism as defined by Norman & David Geisler:

“Evangelism is every day, and in every way, helping your nonbelieving friends to take one step closer to Jesus Christ. This means in practice that every day we need to ask ourselves, “What do I need to do today to help my nonbelieving friends take one step closer to Jesus?”

Recently an article was posted by Tim Barnett of Stand to Reason which includes his interview with Alisa Childers. I found Tim’s comments to be both illuminating and a challenge to the church in North America to embrace the cultivating of the mind as commanded by Jesus (Matt.22:37) through apologetics (1 Peter 3:15; Col. 4:5-6). His message is particularly pertinent for Christians today in carrying out the Great Commission that our Lord and Savior gave to His followers before His ascension (Acts 1:8).

Tim highlights the scriptural requirement and/or command for the Christian to cultivate their mind via apologetics. These four points are taught as the foundation for the scriptural basis for apologetics by Norman Giesler:

1) The Bible commands it–(1 Peter 3:15; Col. 4:5-6)
2) The culture demands it
3) The Church needs it
4) The results confirms it

(Tim unpacks these four points in his interview)

In order to lessen the trepidation towards apologetics, I would like to offer the following definitions to clarify exactly what we mean when we say the word, ‘apologetics.’

“Apologetics lays the ground for the invitation, evangelism extends it.”–Alister McGrath

“Christian apologetics may be defined as that branch of Christian theology which seeks to provide rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims.”–William Lane Craig

“To be ignorant and simple now–not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground–would be to throw down our weapons and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.”–-C. S. Lewis

“If we are going to be wise, spiritual people prepared to meet the crises of our age, we must be a studying, learning community that values the life of the mind.”–J. P. Moreland

“Christianity is…rarely understood by those outside its bounds. In fact, this is probably one of the greatest tasks confronting the apologist–to rescue Christianity from misunderstandings.”
–-Alister E. McGrath

“It is for that reason that Christians who depreciate the value of apologetics because ‘no one comes to Christ through intellectual arguments’ are so short-sighted. For the value of apologetics extends far beyond one’s immediate evangelistic contact. It is the broader task of Christian apologetics to help create and sustain a cultural milieu in which the Gospel can be heard as an intellectually viable option for thinking men and women. In his article “Christianity and Culture” the great Princeton theologian J. Gresham Machen rightly declared,
“False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation to be controlled by ideas which prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion.”
Unfortunately, Machen’s warning went unheeded, and biblical Christianity retreated into the intellectual closets of cultural isolationism, from which we have only recently begun to re-emerge.”-William Lane Craig

Tim Barnett boldly states, “You can’t do evangelism today without apologetics.” From my own personal experience of engaging people of diverse religious persuasions (Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc.) on a daily basis, I wholeheartedly agree with Tim’s statement. Everyone I engage in a spiritual conversation has questions as well as misunderstandings about the Christian faith. Some people have asked me why I am a Christian, my response is always–because it is true. Which is usually followed by, “Well, that’s a bold (or arrogant) position. How can you be so sure it is true?” If I had not taken the time to study (aka “love God with my mind”) so that I could present a defense and reason (1 Pet. 3:15) for why I believe what I believe’ I would have left the person thinking, “true for him, not for me,” and I would have failed that person who God had placed in my path to reach with “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” (John 14:6)

All I ask is that you give Tim a hearing–I know it will be worth your time.

An Apologetic for Apologetics-with Tim Barnett-a Alisa Childers podcast

Alisa Childers-Apologetics, Theology, Culture & Worship, website, here
Apologetics and Evangelism-oil & water, or peaches & cream?-by Lane, here
The Intellectual ‘ostrich’-Pt. 1-‘apologetics isn’t for me’-Really? It’s time to open your Bible-by Lane, here
The Intellectual ‘ostrich’-Pt. 2-Survival to influence…the embarrassment of riches-by Lane, here
Forensic Faith-How to empower and keep our youth-by Lane

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