Apologetics: Two Reasons Not to Use When Sharing Your Faith
by Timothy Paul Jones
In my years as a pastor and professor, I’ve spoken with thousands of people—most of them firm believers in the biblical perspective on Jesus—about Christian apologetics and the historical foundations of their faith. In the process, I’ve heard multitudes of well-meaning Christians provide two particular reasons for their faith.
The first reason runs something like this: “I just know Jesus is alive because I’ve felt his presence—that’s the only proof I need!” The other one is usually stated in these terms: “The Bible is God’s Word; so, if the Bible says it, I believe it and that settles it.”
If the Christian faith happened to be a faith that we keep to ourselves, these foundations for faith might be acceptable. In fact, as Alvin Plantinga has argued, an individual’s faith is warranted based on experience as long as his or her cognitive faculties are working properly, the beliefs have been formed in an environment that’s appropriate for cognitive faculties to work correctly, and the beliefs themselves have been formed as part of a design plan that was aimed at seeking and finding truth.
But Christian faith isn’t merely a belief system that’s known and then kept to ourselves.
Christian faith is, by its very nature, a way of believing and living that’s intended to be shown to others. What’s more, the point of this showing is so that others end up knowing what we know already. Of course, we can’t cause anyone to embrace the truth of Jesus Christ–that’s a work of the Holy Spirit that we can’t control. At the same time, we are called to provide reasonable foundations for the hope that we proclaim (1 Peter 3:15). When it comes to providing reasons for our faith, our experiences of the living Jesus and the internal claims of Scripture may be true and meaningful–but neither one of these provides a sufficient foundation for defending our faith. These two reasons are fine foundations for knowing our faith but not necessarily for showing our faith.
Let’s examine each of these foundations for faith and look for some better ways not merely to know our faith but to show our faith…
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