Nature of Apologetics, Douglas Groothuis (S.S. Part 1)

This is a three-parter that is quite long, and technical. (It is the first part of a previous set [second, third].) You may also want a dictionary ready, this is a seminary level presentation. If you taken with this presentation[s] — knowledge of how we should better interact with our world and our culture comes through for those In His Service — ΙΗΣ.


Introduction


Part 1

“Men despise religion. They hate it and are afraid it may be true. The cure for this is first to show that religion is not contrary to reason, but worthy of reverence and respect. Next make it attractive, make good men wish it were true, and then show that it is. Worthy of reverence because it really understands human nature. Attractive because it promises true good.” — Blaise Pascal, Pensées, #12/187.

I. The Definition of Apologetics

A. The rational defense of the Christian worldview as objectively true and existentially or subjectively engaging. More generally, to commendation of Christianity in the face of unbelief or doubt.
B. Concerns defining Christian truth-claims that one must believe in order to be a Christian

1. Essentials of orthodoxy: Trinity, Incarnation, biblical authority, justification by faith, etc.
2. Truth-claim: propositions affirming the existence or nonexistence of certain states of affairs

a. Different than a sentence; many sentences affirm of declare the same proposition (More on this in D. Groothuis, Truth Decay, chapter four)
b. Truth-claims are different than questions, emotive utterances, commands, etc.

II. Relation of Apologetics to Theology

A. Apologetics is dependent on theology for its content (essential doctrines), which are defended as true
B. Theology’s ideal is to systematically and coherently articulate what Scripture teaches
C. We need a theology of apologetics’

~ Theological truths (such as human depravity, general revelation, divine transcendence and immanence) guide one’s understanding and application of apologetics

III. Relation of Apologetics to Philosophy

A. Comes under one category of philosophy—philosophy of religion: the rational investigation of religious truth-claims

~ But not all philosophy of religion is Christian apologetics; may be done in service of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, atheism, etc.

B. Attempts to rationally justify theological statements through philosophical means (theistic arguments, defending the coherence of doctrines, such as the Trinity or Incarnation, etc.)

~ Need not be propaganda or proselytizing, but may be

C. Resurgence of Christians in philosophy in the last two-three decades. See James Kelly Clark, ed., Philosophers Who Believe (InterVarsity Press, 1993); Thomas Morris, God and the Philosophers, ed. (Oxford, 1995). Academic journals: Faith and Philosophy; Philosophia Christi

IV. Relation of Apologetics to Evangelism

A. Apologetics used when necessary to remove obstacles to evangelism: doubts, misunderstandings (Matthew 28:18 — 20)
B. Evangelism declares Christian truth and invites unbelievers to embrace it; apologetics defends Christian truth and clarifies its meaning
C. Apologetics as pre-evangelism (Francis A. Schaeffer)


Part 2

V. Two Types of Apologetics

A. Negative apologetics (two senses)

1. Find intellectual weaknesses in non-Christian world-views—naturalism, pantheism, deism, etc.
2. Respond to anti-Christian intellectual assaults on Christian truth made by Muslims, Freudians, pagan feminists, postmodernists, pantheists, etc.

B. Positive apologetics

1. Give constructive reasons and evidences for defining Christian truth-claims

~ Arguments for objective truth and morality, the existence of God, reliability of the Bible, supremacy of Jesus, etc.

2. Give a cumulative case of various rational arguments for Christian truth

C. Whether something is deemed positive or negative apologetics may depend on the angle at which you look at it
D. A full-orbed Christian apologetic combines positive and negative apologetics

VI. Reasons or Justifications for Christian Apologetics

A. The glory of the one true God (Exodus 20:1 — 7; Matthew 22:37 — 40; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17)
B. The defense of the Christian faith in order to reach the lost for Christ

1. Give a reason for our hope in the gospel (1 Peter 3:15 — 17)
2. Contend for the once-for-all revealed truth of God (Jude 3)
3. Refute false philosophies (Colossians 2:8 — 9; 2 Corinthians 10:3 — 5; 1 John 4:1 — 4)
4. Build up believers who doubt (Matthew 11:1 — 11; Jude 22 — 23). See Douglas Groothuis “Growing Through Doubt” sermon available though Hope for Today (www.hopefortoday.com)
5. Encourage holiness in knowing and defending God’s truth (Matthews 22:37 — 40)
6. Apologetic example: Paul at Athens (Acts 17:16 — 33)

a. On this see, D. A. Carson, “Athens Revisited,” in D. A. Carson, ed. Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 384-398.
b. Douglas Groothuis, “Christianity in the Marketplace” (Acts 17:16 — 34) parts I and II, sermons available from Hope for Today: (www.hopefortoday.org)

7. Apologetic example, exemplar: Jesus (throughout the Gospels)

a. On this see Douglas Groothuis, On Jesus (Wadsworth/Thompson Learning, 2003), chapters one and three, especially
b. Douglas Groothuis, “Jesus and the Life of the Mind” sermon available from: (www.homefortoday.org)

VII. The Spirituality of the Apologist: Truthful Humility

A. Humility (see D. Groothuis, “Apologetics, Truth, and Humility” in syllabus hot link)

1. Humility by creation: total dependence (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1 — 3)

~ See Andrew Murray, Humility: The Heart of Righteousness. Devotional classic.

2. Humility by redemption: you are not your own, you were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20)
3. Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23)
4. Hold the truth firmly and humbly (1 Timothy 2:24 — 26)
5. We know in part and are in process (1 Corinthians 13:12)
6. Be courageous, but meek; don’t offend unnecessarily (Matthew 5:5; 2 Corinthians 4:7)

B. Have a spirit of committed dialogue (Paul throughout Acts)
C. Glory in the gospel, not apologetic prowess; win people to Christ, not just win arguments (Matthew 28:18 — 20)
D. Passionate, but patient, yearning for the salvation of others (Romans 9:1 — 3; 10:1)
E. Importance of moral/spiritual character in ministry: watch your life and doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16)
F. Reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth (Acts 1:4 — 5; John 16:13)G. Importance of individual and corporate prayer for apologetic integrity (Ephesians 6:10 — 18; Colossians 4:2 — 4)
H. Openness to God’s supernatural work in opening the eyes of unbelievers (Acts 26:17 — 18; Acts 13:1 — 12)

Facebook Comments

One thought on “Nature of Apologetics, Douglas Groothuis (S.S. Part 1)

Comments are closed.