How to Defend the Christian Faith: Four Principles to Get Started
by Joel Settecase
“But there just isn’t any evidence!”
These were the words of Chris, my self-proclaimed atheist friend, as we sat together at an establishment on the North Side of Chicago. Chris and I had been meeting for several months to discuss the intellectual viability of the Christian faith.
His statement about missing evidence was frustrating. For the last hour or so, not to mention for the hours spent in discussion online and in person, I had presented him with exactly what he had been asking for: evidence from history, science, cosmology, and philosophy. I have been studying this exact question of evidence for years, and I had what I thought were irrefutable arguments, certain to destroy every possible objection and answer nearly every question about the Christian faith. I brought all these to bear in my conversation with Chris only to be told that I had not presented any evidence at all.
Simply winning the argument was never my goal; more than anything, I wanted my friend to know the hope I have in Christ. I wanted him to become a follower of Jesus and experience God’s forgiveness and new life. Yet for all my finely-crafted argumentation, he wouldn’t budge. What was going on?
That day, I learned first-hand that it takes more than evidence and facts to make someone a follower of Jesus. It takes total life transformation. And that transformation can only come from God – never through mere human effort or reasoning. Unbelief is just as much a matter of the heart as it is a matter of the head, and all the evidence in the world by itself can’t do a thing to change a heart.
If you are a follower of Jesus, then you have experienced heart and life transformation from God. The Bible calls every transformed Christian to, “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Part of that growth is learning to share the Christian message and the reason for our hope (1 Peter 3:15).
When we share the Christian message with the intent to persuade, we are evangelizing.
Often when we evangelize, our discussion partners will respond with questions and objections that challenge the Christian message. The discipline of answering those questions and objections — defending the truth of the Christian message — is called apologetics.
A person could spend a lifetime studying evidence and arguments in support of Christian truth. With the arrival of social media and video sharing platforms, Christians, skeptics and seekers have more access to new ideas than ever before. As a result, Christian apologetics has seen a recent surge in popularity over the last few decades, and there have been many excellent books written on the subject, which is wonderful.
But for the follower of Jesus with lots of desire but limited time, I want to recommend four basic principles that will help immensely without you needing to devote hours to becoming an expert in theology and philosophy…
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