Apologetic Evangelism 101: Directing Our Apologetic Focus

by Fred Butler

Evangelism is a commanded discipline that many Christians tend to ignore and they provide a variety of excuses as to why they shy away from any form of evangelism.

Some Christians may think they do not have the personality to engage a stranger in a discussion on the topic of religious faith. Others believe they aren’t smart enough to answer difficult questions and objections. While still others sadly don’t care to bother anyone at all with the Gospel message because they think religious belief is too personal and it is none of the Christian’s business to tell a person he is wrong about his convictions. Thus, my goal with these articles on the subject of apologetic evangelism is two-fold:

a) to stir up a desire in Christian folks that proclaiming the Gospel is not an option, and

b) challenge them to craft their skills in presenting the gospel message to non-Christians with a solidly biblical apologetic method.

Just to review a moment.

The popular approach to apologetics and evangelism that most Christians are familiar involves meeting the non-Christian on what is considered neutral, unbiased ground. This is done by presenting to him a series of philosophical, logic-chopping arguments and lines of tangible, empirical evidence that are believed can clearly argue for the truth claims of Christianity. The evidence is laid out so both the Christian and non-Christian can evaluate it together to determine if the evidence genuinely affirms what the Christian faith proclaims. The Christian then appeals to the non-Christian’s reason so as to get him to conclude with the Christian that the particular evidences under consideration are undeniable and self-evident and thus affirming the validity and reliability of the Christian faith.Even though that may be the popular approach in evangelistic apologetics, I believe it has some serious problems. I believe there is an approach that is not only more biblical, but even more effective when challenging the non-Christian. I will call this the worldview approach.

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Rather than focusing our apologetic defense of Christianity upon the presentation of specific lines of evidence and philosophical arguments that appeal to an unbeliever’s reason, with the worldview approach, an evangelist begins by building his apologetics around some specific insights revealed in Scripture concerning human nature.

Let me briefly summarize those insights:

1) All mankind bears the image of God. Genesis 1:26,27 tells us that when God created man, He created him to be His image bearer. Simply put, men were created to think rationally, ethically, and have their thoughts reflect God’s thoughts as they live in the world He created.

2) Sin has separated mankind from God. That is manifested in many ways through the attitude and behavior of men:

– They have no desire to love God. (Romans 3:10-18)

– Their minds are darkened to the point they often think irrationally about the world in which they live. (Ephesians 4:17-19)

– Their hearts are rebellious against God so that they wish to have nothing to do with Him and in point of fact fight against His sovereignty. (Romans 1:18-32; Psalm 2:1-4)

– Sin causes men to be oriented toward the world, away from God, so that they pursue their own lustful imaginations and the sinful desires found in their hearts. (1 Corinthians 2:14).

One important note to consider: though men are sinners with darkened minds, that doesn’t mean they are stupid and unable to function in life. Men can solve problems, invent new things, promote commerce, and build societies, so their sin nature does not make them a non-functioning invalid. The image of God stamped on a person does remain intact. However, sin creates a disconnect, disrupting how men relate to their creator…

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