12 Quotes: Skepticism, Evangelism, and Christian Apologetics
There’s a fine line, though, between being someone who questions and being someone who refuses to believe any answers-a true skeptic. In fact, I don’t think many skeptics actually question anything. They may phrase their challenges as questions, but their heart is set on rejection and disproving, not asking. To truly question something is to query it and to ask about it for the sake of greater and deeper understanding. This may lead to evidence that disproves or to propositions worthy of rejecting, but the heart behind it is to learn, to know. And in this sense, we ought to question everything. And I do mean everything… — Barnabas Piper (from, The unskeptical questioner)
I have sympathy with those who have been put off by apologists whose character does not reflect Christ. They may speak convincingly, but they show little evidence of love, joy, peace, gentleness, self-control and the other dimensions of the Spirit’s fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). The deficiencies of some (and, in the final analysis, all) apologists should not, however, cause us to object to apologetics in principle any more than the deficiencies of some evangelists should cause us to reject evangelism. It may, rather, challenge us to rise to the task of engaging in Spirit-filled apologetics. We do this, as Paul did, as part of our spiritual warfare, recognising that arguments set against the knowledge of God reflect spiritual strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Apologetics is not inherently unbiblical and ungodly. We need more godly believers who will engage thoughtfully in a biblically informed way with other worldviews, who will graciously make the positive case for faith and who will be ready to share the gospel with people who need to know Christ. — Paul Coulter (from, 7 Reasons Why Apologetics Might Be Good)
When you reflect that only a minority of people who hear the gospel will accept it and that only a minority of those who accept it do so for intellectual reasons, we shouldn’t be surprised that the number of people with whom apologetics is effective is relatively small. By the very nature of the case, we should expect that most unbelievers will remain unconvinced by our apologetic arguments, just as most remain unmoved by the preaching of the cross. Well, then, why bother with that minority of a minority with whom apologetics is effective? First, because every person is precious to God, a person for whom Christ died. Like a missionary called to reach some obscure people group, the Christian apologist is burdened to reach that minority of persons who will respond to rational argument and evidence. But, second—and here the case differs significantly from the case of the obscure people group—this people group, though relatively small in numbers, is huge in influence. One of these persons, for example, was C. S. Lewis. Think of the impact that one man’s conversion continues to have! – William Lane Craig (from, Reasonable Faith (3rd Edition): Christian Truth and Apologetics)
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In both religion and science, some people are dishonest, exploitative, incompetent and exhibit other human failings. My concern here is with the bigger picture.
I have been a scientist for more than 40 years, having studied at Cambridge and Harvard. I researched and taught at Cambridge University, was a research fellow of the Royal Society, and have more than 80 publications in peer-reviewed journals. I am strongly pro-science. But I am more and more convinced that that the spirit of free inquiry is being repressed within the scientific community by fear-based conformity. Institutional science is being crippled by dogmas and taboos. Increasingly expensive research is yielding diminishing returns.
Bad religion is arrogant, self-righteous, dogmatic and intolerant. And so is bad science. But unlike religious fundamentalists, scientific fundamentalists do not realize that their opinions are based on faith. They think they know the truth. They believe that science has already solved the fundamental questions. The details still need working out, but in principle the answers are known. – Dr. Rupert Sheldrake (from the article, Why Bad Science Is Like Bad Religion)
I was a non-Christian until the age of thirty-five. I was often frustrated by the few Christians I knew on the police department because they weren’t able to respond evidentially to my skeptical (and often sarcastic) objections. I thought, “How can these folks who seem to have such high regard for evidence in their professional life, believe something about God for which they have no evidence at all?” I was similar to other atheists I knew at the time. I didn’t think there was any good evidence to support the claims of Christianity. The more I learned about the nature of evidence generally, and the more I learned about the evidence for Christianity specifically, the more convinced I became that the claims of the Gospels were true. – J Warner Wallace
Only the Holy Spirit of God can change hearts. Our apologetic attempts must be bathed in prayer that God will work with us to change the hearts of those with whom we interact. – Johnathan Beavers
The need for apologetics today is crucial. Believers must realize that we are living in a post-Christian era with a host of worldviews vying continuously for people’s commitments and, indeed, for their very lives. We must face these challenges head-on. Apologetics does not supplant faith, it supplements it. Nor does it replace the Spirit’s working. Rather, the Holy Spirit uses apologetic arguments as vehicles for clarifying the truth of God’s Word. The same verses commanding us to preach the gospel also instructs us to constantly be prepared to correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and careful instruction (2 Tim. 4:2). – Hank Hanegraaff (from, Witnessing by Defending the Faith?)
I [encourage] students to talk about Christianity in the context of reality where terms like truth, knowledge, reason, and evidence apply. Any claim about reality is either true or false (it can’t be both). If Christianity is not the kind of thing that can be true or false…the battle has already been lost and the Gospel cannot be seriously considered. We need to talk about Christianity in the same way we talk about having a prescription filled at the pharmacy or receiving instruction from a doctor.
In today’s society, religion is a fuzzy (i.e., socially constructed or psychologically projected) category that makes little difference in everyday life. But if Christianity is true, then it speaks to ALL of life. It makes a comprehensive claim on reality. Jesus didn’t intend to merely address two hours of our week. As Christians we need to have more conversations about reality and less about religion. – Jonathan Morrow (From, How To Have Better Conversations With People About Christianity)
I often encounter devoted, committed Christians who are hesitant to embrace an evidential faith. In many Christian circles, faith that requires evidential support is seen as weak and inferior. For many, blind faith (a faith that simply trusts without question) is the truest, most sincere, and most valuable form of faith that we can offer God. Yet Jesus seemed to have a high regard for evidence. In John 14:11, He told those watching Him to examine ‘the evidence of miracles’ (NIV) if they did not believe what He said about His identity. Even after the resurrection, Jesus stayed with His disciples for an additional forty days and provided them with ‘many convincing proofs’ that He was resurrected and was who He claimed to be (Acts 1:2-3 NIV). Jesus understood the role and value of evidence and the importance of developing an evidential faith. It’s time for all of us, as Christians, to develop a similarly reasonable faith. – J Warner Wallace (from Cold-Case Christianity, H/T Apologetics 315)
It is not just a provocative rumor that God has acted in history, but a fact worthy of our intellectual conviction. The miracles of Christianity are not an embarrassment tot he Christian world view. Rather they are a testimony to the compassion of God for human beings benighted by sin and circumstance. – Gary Habermas (from, The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel; H/T Rob Lundberg’s The Real Issue)
The secular worldview cannot, with any degree of reason, answer, “Why do I have the ability to think, create, design, feel, and disseminate information to the rest of the world around me? If I am an accidental, random hodgepodge of chemical conjoining, why do I want to ponder and invent and communicate—and why am I the only species who does thinks things intentionally, and not just instinctively?”
And the secularist responds, “You are flying in a fog in a helicopter.” Gee. Thanks. – Carl Gallups (from, The Magic Man in the Sky: Effectively Defending the Christian Faith)
When you hear “God is back”, that obviously doesn’t mean he actually went anywhere. Faith in God is back. Not a blind, unreasonable faith, but one that is well grounded in evidence. The grounded evidence is the basis to communicate that faith in a straightforward clear manner. If nothing else, the writings of the new atheists have succeeded in awakening millions of Christians from their dogmatic slumbers. – Dr. Rice Broocks (from, God’s Not Dead p.18)
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