Trevin Wax – I Wish Christian Would Argue More

I wish Christians would argue more.

No, I’m not being sarcastic or saying this with an eye roll. I mean it.

I want Christians to argue more and fight less. To take it a step further, I’d even say that fighting less depends on our willingness to argue more and better.

Arguing in the Classic Sense

To be clear, I’m not using the word “argue” in the sense that the apostle Paul did, when he instructed the Philippian church to “do everything without grumbling and arguing” (Phil 2:15). I don’t say “argue” in the sense of being quarrelsome or irritable or “loving the fight” of aggressive words.

I use the word “argue” in its classic sense: the ability to make or counter an argument that depends on logic and reason. To meet one argument with another. To argue with someone, civilly and respectfully, toward the discovery of truth.

Arguing vs. Quarreling

In his autobiography, G. K. Chesterton remarked that the bad thing about a quarrel is that it spoils a good argument! He hated when bad feelings overshadowed the making and countering of good arguments.

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Greg Hall – Ready to Give an Answer

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Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15).

When I was a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, I attended classes with a number of Islamic students, most of whom were from the nation of Saudi Arabia. They were very good students, highly motivated, very devoted to one another, and especially zealous for their Islamic beliefs. At the graduate level, students are continually making presentations of one kind or another. It was always striking to me that along with the presentation, the Islamic students invariably talked about their religion.

For instance, if a student was giving a presentation on some kind of educational policy in his country, he would likely begin like this: “Before I speak of the educational policies of my nation, it is first important for me to talk about the tenets of Islam with you. The reason is, you cannot understand the educational policy of my country without understanding Islam. They go together.” And so the student had a captive audience, and they always, courageously and forthrightly, told us first about the basic tenets of Islamic religion.

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Michael Boling – Why Apologetics is Applicable to all of Life and a Calling for all Believers

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1 Peter 3:15 – “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”

Apologetics is a term that unfortunately seems to be equated as something someone else is responsible for doing. Many believe the bulk of the responsibility for doing apologetics rests upon the shoulders of scholars, pastors, or those called to making the debate circuit.

Is apologetics really for everyone? Are we all called to be prepared to present a defense to anyone or is that job strictly for those with academic training? Is apologetics something necessary for the average lay person? Is it valuable and needed as a parent raising children? Is it useful in the workplace? Is it applicable for a husband and wife? Or again, is apologetics just something we expect someone with seminary training to do on our behalf so we can be told what to think about what it is we are to believe? The answer lies in understanding to whom Peter is speaking in 1 Peter 3:15.

Peter begins this chapter by addressing husbands and wives. He then shifts in verse 8 to addressing “all of you” and yes all of you includes all of us. The context of “all of you” (or again in our case all of us) continues with Peter noting the reality we will suffer for the sake of righteousness. It is within that context of enduring suffering for the sake of righteousness that we are commanded to always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks for the hope that is in us, ensuring we do so with all manner of gentleness and respect.

What is noticeably missing is any indication by Peter that giving a defense was the sole duty of the leaders of the local or larger body of believers. All of you truly means just that – all of you. Every single one of us is to be prepared to give this defense of the hope within us. What is this hope? It is the hope found in the message of the gospel, namely the promise of restoration and redemption with our Creator.

This hope is applicable to all of life. Thus, apologetics is not just a tool to be used by scholars when discussing the details of some million dollar theological term. Apologetics is not only something we read about in a book or write about in a blog for those who feel the “calling” to that particular field of study. Apologetics impacts all of life. We are always to be prepared to give a defense regardless of the situation.

Think about the impact apologetics should have in our lives. Let’s start with parenting. Deuteronomy 6:7 declares parents must “teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” What parents are to teach diligently to their children is the ways of God found in Scripture. That command cannot be followed without parents being able to give a defense for the hope that is within them. Teaching diligently the ways of God is a command parents must follow at all times and at all places.

Peter notes in 1 Peter 3 that husbands are to “treat your wives with consideration as a delicate vessel, and with honor as fellow heirs of the gracious gift of life so that your prayers will not be hindered.” It is impossible for a husband to know what that looks like without an understanding of love and prayer as outlined in Scripture. This requires an apologetic for love and prayer. Wives are to submit to their husbands. What is submission in this context? The answer to that important question comes from developing a biblical apologetic on submission.

This same thought process can be applied to any area of life. We are called to be a people who are intimately familiar with the truth of Scripture. There is no opt-out clause when it comes to all believers being apologists. Certainly, there are those called to be professional apologists, people especially skilled at matters of theology. But we are all called to be apologists. To use an example, there are skilled doctors and physicians, but that does not mean as a parent, we do not address with our children the daily matters of health and the reasons why they are important.

It is high time we all answer the command to be apologists and to apply the truth of Scripture to all areas of life. This is the work of the apologist, something we are all called by God to do as believers. The time is very urgent for this calling and command to become a reality in the lives of God’s people.

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Simon Turpin – Where Does Religion Come From?

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Encountering World Religions: Acts 17:16–34

If we want to share the gospel with those of other religions, it is important to know what the Bible says about this. Paul’s speech to the Areopagus in Acts 17:16–34 is the classic text for sharing the gospel with those from different religious backgrounds. In order to engage with his audience in Acts 17, Paul uses the biblical meta-narrative of the Creation-Fall, redemption, and consummation.

Where Does Religion Come From?

Before looking at Acts 17, it is important to understand the origin of religion; in order to know the meaning of anything, we have to understand its origin. The origin of religion began in the Garden of Eden when God clearly revealed himself to Adam. However, Adam and Eve rejected that revelation and chose to believe a falsehood about Him. In this act of disobedience, they chose to follow Satan’s worldview over God’s worldview (Genesis 3:4–5). They created the first human religion, rejecting God’s perfect and true religion.

Adam’s disobedience had consequences for the rest of his descendants since it affected how they viewed God and creation.3 This can be seen at the event of the Tower of Babel, which was the beginning of the religious diversity we see in the world today (see Deuteronomy 32:8, 16–17, 21).4 At the Tower of Babel, monotheism devolved into polytheism, pantheism, and the worship of anything other than the one true, living God. When the people were dispersed at Babel, they would have taken with them a hybrid truth of the living God mixed with the twisting and distorting of the truth of that revelation about Him (Romans 1:18–32). Religion then is first of all a response to God’s revelation — it is either in faith or rebellion. It is either based on God’s Word or man’s word.

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Casey Lewis – Apologetics: A Reasonable Defense

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Ask most church goers what it means to do apologetics and you will most likely be met with blank stares, an explanation about how we are to apologize to others, or tales of boredom as they tried sitting through a lecture or trudging through a book full of philosophical arguments. While the study of apologetics can take you off into heady arguments, that’s not all apologetics is.

Be Ready Always

Apologetics simple means to offer a reasonable defense. At a minimum, that requires us to tell others what we believe and why we believe it.

As Christians we are called to do just that – offer a reasonable defense for our faith. Peter makes this clear when he says, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” (1 Pet. 3:15–16).

The context in which Peter gave his command wasn’t peaceful. Christians were living in exile, experiencing ostracism for their faith and suffering persecution. Yet Peter tells them not to fear or cower, but to be ready to offer a reasonable defense for the hope within. Christians, then, in all walks of life, locales, and cultural climates must be ready to offer a defense of their faith.

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Mitch Stokes – 10 Things You Should Know about Apologetics

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1. Apologetics is as much for believers as it is for unbelievers.

Let’s roughly define apologetics as the use of arguments to remove doubt or unbelief (I’ll qualify this in the next point). The point here is that unbelief often comes from our own hearts and minds, despite the fact that we’re Christians. For my own part, apologetics has always been something I do as much for me as for others.

2. Apologetics can be used preemptively.

Here’s the qualifier I mentioned above: although we often use apologetic arguments to remove doubts, we can also use them to prevent doubts. Teaching apologetics to young believers can be a preemptive strike on unbelief.

This won’t prevent all doubting, but it can certainly mitigate it. This point is particularly important for parents. Notice that points (1) and (2) imply that apologetics is for absolutely everyone—Christians and non-Christians, doubters and non-doubters (i.e., not-currently-doubters).

3. There is a difference between knowing that Christianity is true and showing that it’s true.

Ultimately, we know that Christianity is true because the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to its truth (which should remind us to steep our apologetics in prayer).

That’s not to say that arguments can’t confirm or further support our Spirit-induced belief — or that arguments are never part of coming to faith—but the arguments we use on ourselves are sometimes different from the arguments we use to try to show someone else that Christianity is true.

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John Piper – 1 Peter 3:15–16: Should We Want to Shame Unbelievers?

When the world mocks and despises us for our faith, we often want to lash back. God has a better way of shaming those who abuse his followers. In this lab, John Piper discusses whether the Christian has a role to play in shaming the unbeliever.

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Nathan Busenitz – Speaking the Truth in Love

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We live in a world where people love to talk. Studies suggest that the average American adult speaks approximately 16,000 words per day. Multiply that by a lifespan of 70 years, for a total of nearly 409 million words, and suddenly Christ’s warning in Matthew 12:36 takes on new significance: “I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.”

Of course, actual vocalization is only part of how people communicate. The Internet, in particular, has given rise to many other ways in which to speak. A study in 2010 estimated that, worldwide, some 294 billion emails are sent every day. The birth of social media has added to that constant stream of communication. Consider that Facebook averages 55 million status updates daily, along with Twitter’s 340 million tweets, and you can begin to appreciate the magnitude of unending chatter that characterizes modern society.

The Internet did not exist when the Bible was written. But the biblical principles for Christian communication apply to online interactions just as they govern real-life interpersonal relationships and face-to-face conversations. Whether we are speaking in person, on the phone, in a letter, or online, Scripture provides us with God-honoring parameters for how we are to communicate with others.

One important passage in this regard is Ephesians 4:14–15, where the Apostle Paul tells his readers: “We are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” Rather than succumbing to the sin-saturated thinking of the world around them, Paul’s readers are to reject falsehood and instead speak the truth to one another in love.

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Calvin Smith – Fishing with Compromised Nets

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While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-22)

Jesus’ promise to make His disciples ‘fishers of men’ is understood quite plainly. Christians are commanded to cast out the Gospel net and proclaim Jesus as the Saviour of the world so that God may draw people into His Kingdom.

Sharing the Gospel/Casting the nets

Ideally, sharing the Gospel of Jesus with someone involves communicating two primary components; sin and grace. The first is to explain Christ’s moral standard for all people so that people can compare themselves to it, revealing their sinful state and their need of salvation from God’s judgement (eternity in hell). The second is to show God’s grace in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us so that those who put their faith in Him can be saved (the ‘Good News’!). Christ paid the penalty that we deserve to pay, He is the way of salvation. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus.

Repairing the nets/Apologetics

The aforementioned verse in Matthew describes two activities, casting for fish and repairing the nets. Obviously, uncast nets will not catch anything. But nets with holes in them are of little use as well. Small catches might still be possible, but large hauls will be harder to land no matter how much effort is put into casting. A net riddled with holes is compromised and allows many fish to wriggle out through the gaps. Similarly, a Gospel net that is severely compromised may function the same way.

Apologetics is giving a reasoned defence (1 Peter 3:15) of God’s word with the purpose of refuting arguments (2 Corinthians 10:5) that conflict with God’s word. The purpose of biblical apologetics is twofold. One is for believers, to build up their faith by using reason to show the entire Bible (the back story of the Gospel) can be intelligently defended. The second is for the non-believer, to remove objections (stumbling blocks) and to show that all other worldviews are deficient when examined logically. Apologetic arguments reinforce to the unbeliever that they will have no defence (Romans 1:20) when they face their Creator and to (hopefully) allow us to share the Gospel with them again.

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Michael Boling – Is It Wrong to Have an Opinion?

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“I have my own opinions about things in the Bible.”

This was a statement my daughter noted to me in a recent chat. At first this took me a bit by surprise. What did she mean by having her own opinion? Doesn’t she believe what the Bible says is true? Or is she perhaps merely stating that she is delving into the study of Scripture and forming an opinion based on her studies? At this stage in her life, I believe the answer is a bit of both as she is contemplating, as many of us have at one point in our life, the ramifications to all of life regarding the full and absolute acceptance of God’s Word as the source of truth.

The statement of having my own opinion about the Bible led me to ponder if having an opinion is necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps it is vital to first provide the definition of the word opinion. Webster’s defines an opinion as “a belief, judgment, or way of thinking about something; what someone thinks about a particular thing.” Thus, by its very definition, if we have an opinion, it is based on a set of beliefs. This means that an opinion cannot be just a passing fancy or a fleeting thought. Opinions are rooted in a belief system.

If someone declares they have an opinion about something, in particular matters of theology, the first point of discussion is defining the belief system upon which that opinion is founded. Each and every person has a belief system regardless of how well defined and developed it may be at the time a particular opinion or set of opinions has been formed. The belief system then informs the opinions that are made.

Is it wrong to have an opinion? Absolutely not. In my conversation with my daughter, I informed her I was quite pleased to see she was developing an opinion about Scripture. If anything, it demonstrated she is actively thinking through some important topics. As her father, it is of course an important duty of mine to help her understand the importance of constantly testing her opinions or the opinions of those she comes in contact with such as friends, family, and yes even the youth pastor and youth leaders against the rock solid foundation of truth found in Scripture.

If we stop having opinions about issues, in my humble opinion, we have moved into a lazy and somewhat dangerous place in our life. To some degree, if we stop forming opinions, we in essence have stopped caring with the result, in particular when it comes to matters of theology, we have ceased to grow in the faith as we have achieved a place of stagnation. With that said, opinions are like rear ends as they say meaning everyone has one. Opinions must be tested against the truth of Scripture. Those opinions that stand that test can be held onto while those that do not pass muster should be jettisoned or reformed based on what Scripture demands.

I think it is a great thing my daughter is forming some opinions and as a parent, I do not want to squash this important point in her life as she explores, assesses, and processes the facts of life as she begins to move into her teenage years. This is a formative time in her life. I want her to think logically, clearly, and fully about everything she hears, reads, or sees. The important issue as I have noted is to ensure as a parent, I am helping her understand where to look for the ultimate source of truth. Man has plenty of opinions about absolutely everything. God is the source of truth and it is the facts He provides in His Word that ultimately matter.

Do not stop forming opinions. There is nothing wrong with having a belief about something. Having an opinion ventures into shaky territory when we allow man’s finite opinions to trump the truth of Scripture. Always root your opinions and beliefs in the firm foundation of Scripture making sure to avoid the shifting sands of man’s opinions.

Opinions – we all have them and we should have them. It is what we do with them and the belief system they are founded upon which is of the utmost importance.

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