Apologetics : Have the charismatic gifts ceased? Charismatic Apologetics Christian Ministry

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The issue of the whether or not the charismatic spiritual gifts are for today has caused much debate and division in the body of Christ. The extremes are amazing. There are groups that say that if you do speak in tongues, then you are under demonic control and are not saved. On the other hand, some say that if you do not speak in tongues, then you are not saved. What’s more, both extremes use scripture to support their positions.

Fortunately for the Christian church, whether or not the spiritual gifts are for today is not a salvation issue. Therefore, we need to be gracious. Romans 14:5 says, “One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind.” As you can see, the Bible leaves room for debate and differences of opinion on non-essential doctrines. The issue of whether or not the charismatic gifts are still around is a debatable issue, and charity needs to be granted from both sides of the argument. This is not an issue to divide over as many, unfortunately, have chosen to do.1

It is my opinion that the charismatic spiritual gifts are still in effect. I do not believe they ceased with the apostles or with the completion of the Bible. If you disagree, that is fine. But let me give you my reasons here.

For simplicity’s sake, I will state a standard objection to the continuance of the spiritual gifts and then I will give what I believe is a basic but sufficient refutation for that argument. All the verses quoted are listed in full at the end of this paper.

Argument 1: Since we have the Bible we do not need spiritual gifts. 1 Cor. 13:8-13 is usually quoted as scriptural support for the position:

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Some vigorously maintain that the “perfect” is the completed Bible and, therefore, the extraordinary gifts are no longer needed. But I do not think these verses can be used to support cessationism. This is why.

Verse 12 says, “…then we shall see face to face.” The word “then” refers back to the phrase “when the perfect comes.” Since the only infallible interpreter of Scripture is Scripture, a quick examination of the way God uses the term “face to face” should help us understand this passage better.

The phrase is used throughout the Bible and always means an encounter with a person. When God uses it in reference to Himself, it means a visual, personal encounter with Him (Gen. 32:30; Ex. 33:11; Num. 12:8; Deut. 5:4; and Jer. 32:4). Likewise in the New Testament, it is also used in speaking of personal encounter (2 Cor. 10:1; 2 John 1:12; 3 John 1:14, etc.). “When the perfect comes… then we shall see face to face” seems, most logically, to refer a personal encounter; at least, that seems to be how God uses the phrase.

If the position is taken that the “perfect” is the completed Bible, how then do we encounter God in the manner as the phrase suggests: an encounter with a person? Seeing Christ face to face occurs when He returns.

Another “then” is mentioned in verse 12: “then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” The word “then” again refers back to the phrase “when the perfect comes.” Again, we need to look at how the Bible uses words. This time we’ll look at the word “know.” Scripture says that eternal life is to know God (John 17:3). Only the believer is known by Jesus (John 10:27; Gal. 4:8-9; Rom. 8:29). The unbeliever is not known by Jesus (Matt. 7:21-23). In every verse except for one, God says He only knows believers.2 This is a salvific knowing; that is, it is a kind of knowing that God does of the Christians. He knows them and they are saved. The unbelievers are not known and are, therefore, not saved.3

It would seem most consistent with scripture to say that “…as I am fully known” would refer to a salvation relationship between Jesus and the Christian. At the return of Christ, we (the ones known) shall know fully; we shall see face to face the One who is our Savior.

Also, we don’t “know” Jesus through the Scripture; we know about Him from the Scripture (John 5:39). Instead, we know Him by personal encounter (John 1:12; 1 Cor. 1:9) through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. We don’t know in a full sense right now, even though we have the Bible because we are still corrupted by our sin nature. In our fallen state, we can only see Christ through sin-clouded eyes. We see a reflection of Christ in the Word. When Jesus returns the reflection of the truth will pass to clear understanding (the way childish thoughts give way to mature ones) when we receive our resurrected bodies, no longer have to battle sinful flesh, and can see Him face to face because “we shall be like Him,” (1 John 3:2) and then, “…we shall know fully.” The context of 1 Cor. 13:8-13 seems, in my opinion, to show that the spiritual gifts will cease when Jesus returns.

Interestingly, 1 Cor. 1:7 may be consulted here as well. It says, “so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our lord Jesus Christ.” The Greek word here for “revealed” is apokalupsis. It means the apocalypse, the return of Jesus. In both this verse and 1 Cor. 13:8-13 the gifts, which aren’t differentiated as to kind, are connected to the return of Christ, not the completion of the Bible. One more thing, the word gift in the Greek is charisma. This is where we get the word ‘charismatic.’

Argument 2: Present day tongues are further revelation and must then be equal to Scripture and should be included in the Bible. But since the Bible is not to have anything added to it, the gift of tongues (and therefore, the rest of the spiritual gifts) must no longer be valid.

This is a faulty argument because the Scripture itself recognizes inspired revelation that is not to be added to the Bible: “What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church” (1 Cor. 14:26). Here, in the Corinthian church, revelations were given that were not made part of the Bible. This shows that there were, for lack of a better word, “different” kinds of revelation: one from the prophets and apostles meant for canonization and another through the Spirit to be used in the church for edification — not canonization. So, in my opinion, for someone to maintain that revelation today is a threat to the Canon does not consider 1 Cor. 14:26, and is not applying Scripture properly.

Argument 3: There is such misuse of the gifts that they couldn’t possibly be real.

First of all, misuse of the gifts implies their existence. They couldn’t be misused if they did not exist. The only real position to be taken here would be that the use of the gifts really is no use, but is only fakery and self-deception.

I do not deny that the gifts are misused. I have heard manifestations of tongues, interpretations of tongues, and prophecy that, in my opinion, were not genuine. But I do not discredit the gifts based on those experiences any more than I would say that the gift of preaching is gone because I have seen it misused. Experience does not make doctrine, the Bible does.

Second, it is not a sick child that needs discipline and correction, it is the active, energetic, exploring child that needs to be guided. This was so with the Corinthian church. They were using the gifts greatly but improperly and needed to be corrected on their proper use.

1 Cor. 13 is the main place where the cessationists (those who believe the gifts have ceased) go for their position. However, upon looking at the context, I believe 1 Cor. 13 teaches that the gifts will cease when Jesus returns.

 

 

Inside the Bible

Paul Said
1 Corinthians 14:1, “Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.”

1 Corinthians 12:31, “But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.”

1 Corinthians 13:8–13, “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  

Inside CARM

Debate: Matt Slick vs Dr. Sam Waldron on the Charismatic gifts 
Let me begin by stating that there are differing views on the charismatic gifts in the Christian church today. Our differences of opinion on this issue reveal our lack of ability to perfectly understand God’s word and we should be humble before each other because of this.

What is speaking in tongues?
Speaking in tongues is the New Testament phenomena where a person speaks in a language that is unknown to him. This language is either the language of angels or other earthly languages (1 Cor. 13:1). It occurred in Acts 2 at Pentecost and also in the Corinthian church as is described in 1 Corinthians 14. This New Testament gift was given by the Holy Spirit to the Christian church and is for the purpose of the edification of the Body of Christ as well as for glorifying the Lord.
 

Dictionary

“Tongues of Fire. Phrase occurring only in Acts 2:3 describing the supernatural happenings on the Day of Pentecost. It describes the visible manifestation of the Spirit. The tongues of fire seem to be the fulfillment of John the Baptist’s proclamation that the Coming One would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire (Mt 3:11; Lk 3:16). Fire is often associated with the manifestation of God’s presence in the OT, such as at the burning bush (Ex 2). This combines with the audible manifestation of a strong wind to speak of the Spirit’s powerful presence on this historic day when the exalted Jesus poured out the Spirit on his disciples and other believers. The disciples are described as filled with the Holy Spirit—thus fulfilling the OT promise reiterated by John the Baptist and Jesus of the baptism of the Spirit.” (Elwell, Walter A., and Barry J. Beitzel. Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988.)

  • 1. In fact, the truth that we have these differences of opinion should unite us instead of dividing us. The reason is simple. When we see that we have differences of opinion, it should humble us because it should bring to light the reality of our sinfulness and limited nature as Christians to fully understand God’s word. Instead of maintaining an attitude of pride where one side condemns the other, we should be more gracious. We should acknowledge the possibility of the other side being right, even though we don’t think so. We need to admit that our sinfulness is the problem, and not the other’s lack of judgment.
  • 2. There is a single verse where Jesus says to the Jews, “I know you that you do not have the love of God in yourselves” (John 5:42). But it is referring to knowing them as being evil.
  • 3. However, this is not to say that God is not all knowing. It means that God uses the words “I know you,” “I know them,” etc. as a description of people being in a salvation relationship with God.
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What does it mean when the Bible refers to the “third heaven”? Apologetics Christian Faith

Third Heaven Apologetics

At the time of ancient Israel they did not have as complete an understanding of the universe as we do today. So they wrote in terms with which  they were familiar.  The Jews spoke of three heavens. The first heaven consisted of the the earth atmosphere where the clouds and birds were. The second heaven was where the sun, stars, and moon was. The third heaven was the dwelling place of God.  When Paul said he was caught up to the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2), he was referring to the very dwelling place of God.

As a note, the Mormons erringly teach that the three heavens consist of telestial, terrestrial, and celestial. They divide them into compartments dwelt by people after they die.

The First Heaven: Earth Atmosphere

  • Deut. 11:17–Then the LORD’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce . . .
  • Deut. 28:12–The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands.
  • Judges 5:4–“O LORD, when you went out from Seir, when you marched from the land of Edom, the earth shook, the heavens poured, the clouds poured down water.
  • Acts 14:17–“Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; . . . 

The Second Heaven: 

Outer Space

  • Psalm 19:4, 6–In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun . . . It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; . . . 
  • Jeremiah 8:2–They will be exposed to the sun and the moon and all the stars of the heavens which they have loved and served . . . 
  • Isaiah 13:10–The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light.

The Third Heaven: God’s Dwelling Place

  • 1 Kings 8:30 (phrase repeated numerous times in following verses)–then hear from heaven, your dwelling place . . . 
  • Psalm 2:4–The One enthroned in heaven laughs; The LORD scoffs at them.
  • Matthew 5:16–In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

The highest heaven, the third heaven is indicated by the reference to the Throne of God being the highest heaven:

  • 1 Kings 8:27–“But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you.
  • Deut. 10:14–To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.
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Baptism and John 3:5 Apologetics

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“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  4 Nicodemus *said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old?  He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”  5Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  7″Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’  8 “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit,” (John 3:3-8).

There are five basic interpretations to this section of scripture in reference to water.

  1. The water refers to the natural birth.
  2. The water refers to the Word of God.
  3. The water refers to the Holy Spirit.
  4. The water refers to the ministry of John the Baptist.
  5. The water refers to the water of baptism as a requirement for salvation.

The first option looks to the context of Jesus’ words dealing with being born “again” (3:3).  Nicodemus responds by mentioning the experience of being born from the womb (v. 4).  Jesus then speaks of water and the Spirit and then says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (3:6).  The implication is that the first birth is the natural birth, and the second birth is the spiritual birth.  In other words, the water refers to the water of the womb–the first birth.  This seems to have support in the understanding of Nicodemus about entering into the womb to be born a second time.  However, this view is not the most commonly held view.

The second option holds that the water is referring to the Word of God.  Eph. 5:26 says, “that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” Some believe that the washing of water is done by means of the Word of God.

The third view says that the water refers to the Holy Spirit.  Perhaps Nicodemus was reminded of Ezek. 36:25-27, “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.  26″Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  27″And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” Certainly, Jesus’ own words are applicable here when He says in John 7:37-39, “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38″He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'”  39But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

The fourth view holds that the water is in reference to the water baptism of repentance taught by John the Baptist.  Matt. 3:1-6 describes John’s ministry in the desert, his teaching about repentance, and baptizing people into that repentance. Contextually, the first chapter of John mentions John the Baptist in verses 6-8 and 19-36.  Certainly, John and his ministry is in view here.  If this is the case, then Jesus would have been speaking of the “baptism” (the initiatory ordinance) of repentance preached by John the Baptist.

The fifth view is the one held by the International Church of Christ and other churches that require baptism in order to be saved.  They state that the water is referring to baptism and that it is essential to salvation.

Does John 3:5 teach that baptism is essential to salvation?

As you can see, there are different interpretations to John 3:5.  But, to say simply that John 3:5 does not teach the necessity of baptism isn’t enough.  Some sort of proof must be offered.  The proof is found in God’s word–the word that has no contradictions.  Clearly, salvation is by faith. For example, Rom. 5:1 states that we are justified (declared righteous) by faith.  It does not say faith and baptism.  If baptism were part of salvation, then it would say we were justified by faith and baptism.  But it does not.  If justification is by faith, then it is by faith.  Baptism is not faith. It is a ceremony.  It is something we do as a ritual.  Furthermore, please consider the following verses which declare how we are saved.

  1. Rom. 3:22, “even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction.”
  2. Rom. 3:26, “for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
  3. Rom. 3:28, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.”
  4. Rom. 4:5, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.”
  5. Rom. 5:1, “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
  6. Gal. 3:8, “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham.”
  7. Gal. 3:24, “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.”
  8. Eph. 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

Additionally, Paul tells us that the gospel is what saves us and that the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Baptism is not included in the description of the gospel.  This explains why he said he came to preach the gospel–not to baptize: “I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name.  (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.)  For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel . . . “ (1 Cor. 1:14-17).  If baptism is necessary for salvation, then why did Paul downplay it and even exclude it from the description of what is required for salvation?  It is because baptism isn’t necessary for salvation.  Therefore, John 3:5 must be interpreted in a manner consistent with the rest of scripture.

Another way of making this clear is to use an illustration.  Let’s suppose that a person, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8), believed in Jesus as his savior (Rom. 10:9-10; Titus 2:13) and has received Christ (John 1:12) as Savior.  Is that person saved?  Of course he is.  Let’s further suppose that this person who confesses his sinfulness, cries out in repentance to the Lord, and receives Jesus as Savior and then walks across the street to get baptized at a local church.  In the middle of the road, he gets hit by a car and is killed.  Does he go to heaven or hell?  If he goes to heaven, then baptism isn’t necessary for salvation.  If He goes to hell, then trusting in Jesus, by faith, isn’t enough for salvation.  Doesn’t that go against the Scriptures that say that salvation is a free gift (Rom. 6:23) received by faith (Eph. 2:8-9)?  Yes, it does.  Baptism is not necessary for salvation, and John 3:5 cannot teach that it is.

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What must I do to obtain eternal life? Prayer of Salvation

Prayer in Apologetics2 Prayer of Salvation

Matthew 19:16-22, What must I do to obtain eternal life?

by Matt Slick

Matt. 19:16-22, “And behold, one came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” 17 And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19 Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property.”  (The parallel passage is found in Mark 10:17-22 and Luke 18:18-23, listed at end of article).

This section of Scripture is important because Roman Catholics often use it to support their view that keeping the law of God is a necessary part of maintaining their right standing with God so they can be saved on the Day of Judgment.  Unfortunately, they will use verses like this and ignore others that teach we are justified by faith apart from the works of the law (Romans 3:28).  Let’s take a look.

The person was asking what good works he must do to inherit eternal life (v. 16).  He believed that his salvation was dependent upon his faith in God and his works of the Law.  Jesus answered him according to his beliefs and quoted the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) and Lev. 19:18 (Love your neighbor as yourself).  Notice that Jesus called Lev. 19:18 a commandment equal to the Ten Commandments.  The man boasted that he was keeping all these laws.  Was he?  As is typical with us all, we like to think we are doing well before God when in reality we aren’t.  Jesus showed the man (and us) that he was failing to keep the Law (don’t judge by your own standard, judge by God’s).  Jesus told the man to sell his possessions and give it to the poor (i.e., love your neighbor as yourself) and then follow Him.  The man failed to do this (v. 22).  Jesus knew he wasn’t keeping the Law and showed the man his failure.  His faith and works of the Law could not save him because he could not keep it.  Don’t be like the boastful man who is good in his own eyes and estimation of keeping the Law.

So, for all who want to do good works to obtain eternal life, they are obligated to keep the Law.  But no one can, and that is the point.  No one can.  This is why James teaches in James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”  Paul says in Gal. 3:10, “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.’”  This further explains why we have Paul teaching us in Romans 3:28 that we are “justified by faith apart from the works of the Law” (including works done in love) because no one is able to keep the law perfectly as James 2:10 and Gal. 3:10 require.  Therefore, Matt. 19:16-22 isn’t teaching that faith and good works save us.  Instead, it is teaching that if you want to be justified by faith and works (even works of love), you must keep the Law perfectly.  You can’t.  Therefore, the Law condemns you.

What is the solution? 

The solution to the problem of the law is to trust in Jesus by faith alone–not by faith in your works.  The gospel message is that Jesus Christ, who is God in flesh (John 1:1, 14; Colossians 2:9), fulfilled the law perfectly and never sinned (1 Peter 2:22).  He fulfilled the Old Testament requirements of being a proper sacrifice for our sins (Lev. 17:11; Deut. 17:1; John 19:36).  Jesus did everything that is necessary when he fulfilled the Law. Therefore, we are justified without the works of the law (Rom. 3:28) and must put our faith and trust in what Christ did (Rom. 4:5; 5:1).   

Parallel Verses

  • Mark 10:17-22, “And as He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and began asking Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 “You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 And looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words his face fell, and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property.”
  • Luke 18:18-23, “And a certain ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 “You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” 21 And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” 22 And when Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess, and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 23 But when he had heard these things, he became very sad; for he was extremely rich.”

Personal Prayer of Salvation



Almighty God,

I come before You in the name of Jesus Christ.

Jesus I believe You are the Son of God and the only way to God. That You died on the Cross for my Sins and rose again from the dead. I confess that my life has been sinful separated from You ( Rom 3:23 ). Forgive my sins. Jesus I believe You shed Your precious Blood on the Cross for my justification. I thank You for Loving me.

Jesus I turn to You. Heal my body and soul. Heal my body, …heal my life. Come into my heart. Fill my soul. Change me. Mold me. Use me. Heal me. Deliver me. Transform my life and never let me be the same again. Cleanse me with your Holy blood and make me Whole.

Jesus – in You I have the Eternal life. And this is Eternal Life, that I may know You, the only True God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent ( John 17:1-5 ). Let me know You deeply through Holy Spirit Father. Reveal Your Will to me according to my calling.

Heavenly Father fill me with the Holy Spirit and Baptize me with the Holy Ghost and Fire. That I may have part of the First Resurrection ( Rev 20:5-6). I receive Your Spirit and the Spiritual Gifts as Holy Spirit gives me according to His Will. I desire for Spiritual Gifts.

Jesus. Give me a new mind and new heart and a new spirit. Transform my life as I surrender to Your Divine Calling. I surrender to Your will. I surrender to receive the Power!

Jesus is Alive and hears my prayer right now!

I give myself fully to You Jesus. I give myself fully to You Holy Spirit.
I receive Your Power!
I receive Your Anointing!
I receive the Anointing of the Holy Ghost right now!

The presence of God is over my life!

And now I proclaim : “God Almighty is my Father. Jesus Christ is my Saviour. Holy Spirit is my Comforter ( John 16:7-15 ). I am Born Again of the water and of the Spirit ( John 3:5-6 ). I have inherited an Eternal Life. I am now part of the Body of Christ ( Rom 12:5 ).”

In Jesus Mighty and Holy name and in the Blood of Everlasting Covenant (Hebrews 13:20-21),

I Pray and give You the Glory,
Amen

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Prayer in Apologetics

Prayer in Apologetics

Prayer in Apologetics

One of the dangers of the apologist is falling into the trap of relying on his own intellectual abilities to try to wrestle someone into the kingdom of God.  I am sad to say that I have been guilty of this.

Pride hides itself in the heart, so it cannot be seen.  When we find ourselves relying on our knowledge instead of God’s word mercy and grace, then we have fallen into that trap.  It is not reason that converts but God’s Spirit.  It is not logic that draws us to God but Jesus (John 12:32).  It is not evidence that convicts a person of his sins but the Holy Spirit (John 16:8).  That is why we need to rely on God and trust that He will use our defense of the truth for His glory and their benefit.

To ignore prayer in apologetics is to be prideful.  It is the same as saying we don’t need God.  But we do.  We need to pray for those who are lost, pray for their minds to be opened, pray that God’s word will ring true to them, pray that our witness will be strong, and pray that the evil one will not have a foot-hold with them or with us.  We are fighting a spiritual battle and need spiritual tools.  Prayer is perhaps the most important of them all.

It is the Lord who opens the heart and mind – not you (Acts 16:14). Ask God for guidance (John 14:14). Ask for blessing in your understanding (James 1:5) and your speech (Col. 4:6). Ask the Lord to also open their understanding to God’s word (Luke 24:45).  This is what He does.

Prayer brings humility to the one praying.  It admits dependence on God.  If we are humble and depend on God, we are more likely to hear His voice.  Prayer means that you are seeking divine intervention.  It works power to your words.  It changes your heart.  It moves you closer to God.

Being a great apologist is not a badge of honor to be worn by the Christian as a demonstration of his intellectual abilities.  Rather, it is a response to the calling of God upon all Christians (1 Pet. 3:15) that is to be undertaken with love and humility: love of people and humility before God.

Never let your study and practice of apologetics replace the power – received by faith – in prayer before the Holy Creator.  Ask God to empower your words and open the hearts of those with whom you speak . . . and then study and witness to the best of your abilities.

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Apologetics – Integrative Approaches to Defending the Christian Faith

Apologetics IPrayPrayer.com Christian Faith Defending Christian Faith

Integrative Approaches to Defending the Christian Faith

Preface

How to relate the Christian worldview to a non-Christian world has been the dilemma of Christian spokespersons since the apostle Paul addressed the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers in Athens. Twenty centuries of experience have not simplified this task, as new challenges have arisen in every century and new methods and approaches to defending the Christian faith have been formulated in response.

In this introductory textbook on Christian apologetics—the study of the defense of the faith—you will be inducted into this two-millennia-long discussion. You will overhear the greatest apologists of all time responding to the intellectual attacks on the Bible in their day. You will take a guided tour of the four major approaches to apologetics that have emerged in the past couple of centuries. Along the way you will pick up insightful answers to such questions as:

  • Why is belief in God rational despite the prevalence of evil in the world?
  • What facts support the church’s testimony that Jesus rose from the dead?
  • Can we be certain Christianity is true?
  • How can our faith in Christ be based on something more secure than our own understanding without descending into an irrational emotionalism?

At least formal differences in theory and method have sharply distinguished leading Christian apologists. At the same time, many apologists draw on a variety of methods and do not fit neatly into a single ‘cookie-cutter’ theory of how to defend the Christian faith. In this book, we will identify four ‘approaches’ or idealized types of Christian apologetic methodologies. We will look at the actual apologetic arguments of leading apologists and see how their methods compare to those idealized approaches. We will then consider the work of apologists who have advocated directly integrating two or more of these four basic approaches. Our goal is to contribute toward an understanding of these different apologetic methods that will enrich all Christians in their defense of the faith and enable them to speak with clearer and more relevant voices to our present day and beyond.

Sarah and Murali

While apologetics as an intellectual discipline seeks to develop answers to questions that at times may seem abstract, ultimately its purpose is to facilitate bringing real people into a relationship with the living and true God. In this book we will illustrate how the various apologetic methods would be applied in conversations with two very different hypothetical individuals: Sarah and Murali.

Sarah is a college sophomore pursuing a degree in psychology at a state university. Raised in a conservative Protestant home, she began to question the faith of her childhood in high school, as Christianity increasingly seemed a harsh and uncaring religion to her. In her first year at the university she took introductory courses in philosophy, psychology, and English literature that cast doubt on Christian beliefs and values. Her philosophy professor especially had gone out of his way to ridicule “fundamentalism” and had attacked the Christian worldview at its root. Sarah found the “problem of evil”—the question of why a good, all-powerful God would allow so much evil in his world—to be an especially strong argument against Christianity. She was also exposed to theories of biblical criticism that denied the historical accuracy of the Bible and reinterpreted the biblical miracles as myths. When she went home for the summer after her first year at State, Sarah was a self-confessed skeptic.

Murali came to the United States from India to attend medical school and ended up staying and establishing a practice there. Although he was raised as a Hindu and still respects his family’s religion, Murali is not particularly devout. Troubled by the centuries of conflict in the Indian subcontinent between Hindus and Muslims, he has concluded that all religions are basically good and none should be regarded as superior to another. Absolute claims in religion strike him as both unprovable and intolerant, and he resents efforts by both Muslims and Christians to convert him or his family to their beliefs. Although religions speak about God and adherents experience the transcendent in different ways, he believes it is all really the same thing. When Muslims or Christians attempt to convince him that their religion is the truth, Murali asks why God has allowed so many different religions to flourish if only one of them is acceptable to God.

Throughout this book we will periodically ask how a skilled and astute advocate of a particular approach to apologetics would respond to Sarah and Murali. In this way we will see how the various apologetic methods can be applied in concrete situations. We will see their weaknesses as well as their strengths. This will help us think through how the different apologetic methods may be integrated to greater effectiveness in defending the faith.

Fundamental to apologetics is answering questions commonly raised by non-Christians about the truth of Christianity. While many such questions are broached in this book, we will concentrate on those that are basic and crucial to the validity of the Christian faith. These questions are part of the unbelieving stance typified by our model non-Christians, Sarah and Murali. Those questions are the following:

1. Why should we believe in the Bible?

2. Don’t all religions lead to God?

3. How do we know that God exists?

4. If God does exist, why does he permit evil?

5. Aren’t the miracles of the Bible spiritual myths or legends and not literal fact?

6. Why should I believe what Christians claim about Jesus?

Tom, Joe, Cal, and Martina

In this book we will be analyzing four basic approaches to apologetics. Again, these are idealized types; when we consider the apologetic work of actual Christian apologists we find that there are actually many more than four approaches. However, most of the methods that Christians use in apologetics are closely related to one of these four basic approaches. We might think of them as ‘families’ of apologetic approaches, with those classified in the same type as sharing certain ‘family resemblances’ with one another. Membership in one family does not preclude some resemblances to another family. Our analysis of apologetic approaches into these four types closely parallels that found in other surveys of major types of apologetics, though with some minor differences (see the Appendix.)

What distinguishes these four basic approaches to apologetics? To put the matter as simply as possible, each places a distinctive priority on reason, fact, revelation, and faith respectively. In our illustrations with Sarah and Murali, we will also present four Christians utilizing the four approaches in an astute, representative manner. For reasons that will become clear by the end of Part One, we call these four apologists Tom (after Thomas Aquinas, a thirteenth-century theologian), Joe (after Joseph Butler, an eighteenth-century Anglican bishop), Cal (after John Calvin, the sixteenth-century French Reformer), and Martina (after Martin Luther, the sixteenth-century German Reformer). Tom’s apologetic approach places a strong emphasis on logic, and is called classical apologetics. Joe’s approach emphasizes facts or evidences, and is called evidentialism. Cal’s approach emphasizes the authority of God’s revelation in Scripture; because of its close identification with Calvinist or Reformed theology, this approach is here called Reformed apologetics. Finally, Martina’s approach emphasizes the need for personal faith and is referred to here as fideism (from the Latin fide, “faith”). These are differences in emphasis or priority, since apologists favoring one approach over another generally allow some role for reason, facts, revelation, and faith. (Even fideism, which is typically suspicious of apologetic argument, offers a kind of apologetics that uses reason and fact.)

The four approaches diverge on apologetic method or theory regarding the following six questions, all of which will be discussed in this book in relation to each of the four views:

1. 1. On what basis do we claim that Christianity is the truth?

2. 2. What is the relationship between apologetics and theology?

3. 3. Should apologetics engage in a philosophical defense of the Christian faith?

4. 4. Can science be used to defend the Christian faith?

5. 5. Can the Christian faith be supported by historical inquiry?

6. 6. How is our knowledge of Christian truth related to our experience?

Although each approach answers these questions in different ways, those answers are not necessarily mutually exclusive. In practice, many apologists do not fit neatly into one of the four categories because they draw somewhat from two or even more approaches to answer these questions about apologetics. We see this as a healthy tendency. In fact, we will argue that all four approaches have value and should be integrated together as much as possible.

What is Apologetics?

 

Defining Apologetics

Apologetics may be simply defined as the defense of the Christian faith. The simplicity of this definition, however, masks the complexity of the problem of defining apologetics. It turns out that a diversity of approaches has been taken to defining the meaning, scope, and purpose of apologetics.

From Apologia to Apologetics

The word “apologetics” derives from the Greek word apologia, which was originally used of a speech of defense or an answer given in reply. In ancient Athens it referred to a defense made in the courtroom as part of the normal judicial procedure. After the accusation, the defendant was allowed to refute the charges with a defense or reply (apologia). The accused would attempt to “speak away” (apo—away, logia—speech) the accusation.1 The classic example of such an apologia was Socrates’ defense against the charge of preaching strange gods, a defense retold by his most famous pupil, Plato, in a dialogue called The Apology (in Greek, hē apologia).

The word appears 17 times in noun or verb form in the New Testament, and both the noun (apologia) and verb form (apologeomai) can be translated “defense” or “vindication” in every case.2 Usually the word is used to refer to a speech made in one’s own defense. For example, in one passage Luke says that a Jew named Alexander tried to “make a defense” before an angry crowd in Ephesus that was incited by idol-makers whose business was threatened by Paul’s preaching (Acts 19:33). Elsewhere Luke always uses the word in reference to situations in which Christians, and in particular the apostle Paul, are put on trial for proclaiming their faith in Christ and have to defend their message against the charge of being unlawful (Luke 12:11; 21:14; Acts 22:1; 24:10; 25:8, 16; 26:2, 24).

Paul himself used the word in a variety of contexts in his epistles. To the Corinthians, he found it necessary to “defend” himself against criticisms of his claim to be an apostle (1 Cor. 9:3; 2 Cor. 12:19). At one point he describes the repentance exhibited by the Corinthians as a “vindication” (2 Cor. 7:11 nasb), that is, as an “eagerness to clear yourselves” (niv, nrsv). To the Romans, Paul described Gentiles who did not have the written Law as being aware enough of God’s Law that, depending on their behavior, their own thoughts will either prosecute or “defend” them on Judgment Day (Rom. 2:15). Toward the end of his life, Paul told Timothy, “At my first defense no one supported me” (2 Tim. 4:16), referring to the first time he stood trial. Paul’s usage here is similar to what we find in Luke’s writings. Earlier, he had expressed appreciation to the Philippians for supporting him “both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel” (Phil. 1:7). Here again the context is Paul’s conflict with the government and his imprisonment. However, the focus of the “defense” is not Paul but “the gospel”: Paul’s ministry includes defending the gospel against its detractors, especially those who claim that it is subversive or in any way unlawful. So Paul says later in the same chapter, “I am appointed for the defense of the gospel” (Phil. 1:16).

Finally, in 1 Peter 3:15 believers are told always to be prepared “to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you.” The context here is similar to Paul’s later epistles and to Luke’s writings: non-Christians are slandering the behavior of Christians and threatening them with persecution (1 Pet. 3:13-17; 4:12-19). When challenged or even threatened, Christians are to behave lawfully, maintain a good conscience, and give a reasoned defense of what they believe to anyone who asks. (We will discuss this text further in chapter 2.)

The New Testament, then, does not use the words apologia and apologeomai in the technical sense of the modern word apologetics. The idea of offering a reasoned defense of the faith is evident in three of these texts (Philippians 1:7, 16; and especially 1 Peter 3:15), but even here no science or formal academic discipline of apologetics is contemplated. Indeed, no specific system or theory of apologetics is outlined in the New Testament.

In the second century this general word for “defense” began taking on a narrower sense to refer to a group of writers who defended the beliefs and practices of Christianity against various attacks. These men were known as the apologists because of the titles of some of their treatises, and included most notably Justin Martyr (First Apology, Dialogue with Trypho, Second Apology) and Tertullian (Apologeticum). The use of the title Apology by these authors harks back to Plato’s Apology and to the word’s usual sense in the New Testament, and is consistent with the fact that the emphasis of these second-century apologies was on defending Christians against charges of illegal activities.

It was apparently not until 1794 that apologetics was used to designate a specific theological discipline,3 and there has been debate about the place of this discipline in Christian thought almost from that time forward. In 1908 B. B. Warfield cataloged some of these alternate perceptions before offering his own conclusion that apologetics should be given the broad task of authenticating the facts of God (philosophical apologetics), religious consciousness (psychological apologetics), revelation (revelational apologetics), Christianity (historical apologetics), and the Bible (bibliological apologetics, Warfield’s specialty).4 Greg L. Bahnsen summarizes Warfield’s catalog:

Some attempted to distinguish apologetics from apology, but they differed among themselves respecting the principle of distinction (Dusterdieck, Kubel). Apologetics was variously classified as an exegetical discipline (Planck), historical theology (Tzschirner), theory of religion (Rabiger), philosophical theology (Schleiermacher), something distinct from polemics (Kuyper), something belonging to several departments (Tholuck, Cave), or something which had no right to exist (Nosselt). H. B. Smith viewed apologetics as historico-philosophical dogmatics which deals with detail questions, but Kubel claimed that it properly deals only with the essence of Christianity. Schultz went further and said that apologetics is concerned simply to defend a generally religious view of the world, but others taught that apologetics should aim to establish Christianity as the final religion (Sack, Ebrard, Lechler, Lemme).5

This debate has continued throughout the twentieth century. In this chapter we will offer definitions of the apologetics word group and consider just how best to conceive of the discipline of apologetics.

Apologetics and Related Terms

It has become customary to use the term apology to refer to a specific effort or work in defense of the faith.6 An apology might be a written document, a speech, or even a film; any medium of communication might conceivably be used.

An apologist is someone who presents an apology or makes a practice of defending the faith. Apologists might (and do) develop their apologies within various intellectual contexts. That is, they may offer defenses of the Christian faith in relation to scientific, historical, philosophical, ethical, religious, theological, or cultural issues.

The terms apologetic and apologetics are closely related, and can be used synonymously. Here, for clarity’s sake, we will suggest one way of usefully distinguishing these terms that corresponds to the way they are often actually used. An apologetic (using the word as a noun) will be here defined as a particular approach to the defense of the faith. Thus, one may hear about Francis Schaeffer’s apologetic or about the Thomistic apologetic. Of course, we often use apologetic as an adjective, as when we speak about apologetic issues or William Paley’s apologetic thought.

Apologetics, on the other hand, has been used in at least three ways. Perhaps most commonly it refers to the discipline concerned with the defense of the faith. Second, it can refer to a general grouping of approaches or systems developed for defending the faith, as when we speak about evidentialist apologetics or Reformed apologetics. Third, it is sometimes used to refer to the practice of defending the faith—as the activity of presenting an apology or apologies in defense of the faith. These three usages are easily distinguished by context, so we will employ all three in this book.

Finally, metapologetics refers to the study of the nature and methods of apologetics. This term has come into usage only recently and is still rarely used.7 Mark Hanna defined it as “the field of inquiry that examines the methods, concepts, and foundations of apologetic systems and perspectives.”8 While apologetics studies the defense of the faith, metapologetics studies the theoretical issues underlying the defense of the faith. It is evident, then, that metapologetics is a branch of apologetics; it focuses on the principial, fundamental questions that must be answered properly if the practice of apologetics is to be securely grounded in truth. A metapologetic may then be defined as a particular theory of metapologetics, such as Cornelius Van Til’s Reformed metapologetic or Norman Geisler’s neo-Thomistic metapologetic.

The Functions of Apologetics

Historically, apologetics has been understood to involve at least three functions or goals. Some apologists have emphasized only one function while others have denied that one or more of these are valid functions of apologetics, but in general they have been widely recognized as defining the task of apologetics. Francis Beattie, for example, delineated them as a defense of Christianity as a system, a vindication of the Christian worldview against its assailants, and a refutation of opposing systems and theories.9

Bernard Ramm also lists three functions of apologetics. The first is “to show how the Christian faith is related to truth claims.” The truth claims of a religion must be examined so that its relation to reality can be discerned and tested. This function corresponds to what Beattie calls defense. The second function is “to show Christianity’s power of interpretation” relative to a variety of subjects—which is essentially the same as what Beattie calls vindication. Ramm’s third function, the refutation of false or spurious attacks, is identical to Beattie’s.10

John Frame likewise has outlined “three aspects of apologetics,” which he calls proof, defense, and offense. Proof involves “presenting a rational basis for faith”; defense involves “answering the objections of unbelief”; and offense means “attacking the foolishness (Ps. 14:1; 1 Cor. 1:18-2:16) of unbelieving thought.”11 Frame’s book then follows this outline: proof (chapters 3–5), defense (6–7), and offense (8).

The first three parts of Robert Reymond’s fourfold analysis of the task of Christian apologetics follow the same pattern. (1) Apologetics answers particular objections—obstacles like alleged contradictions between scriptural statements and misconceptions about Christianity need to be removed (defense). (2) It gives an account of the foundations of the Christian faith by delving into philosophical theology, and especially epistemology (vindication). (3) It challenges non-Christian systems, particularly in the area of epistemological justification (refutation). To these Reymond adds a fourth point: (4) Apologetics seeks to persuade people of the truth of the Christian position.12 In a sense, this last point could be viewed simply as indicating the overall purpose of apologetics, with the first three points addressing the specific functions by which that purpose is accomplished. On the other hand, treating persuasion as a separate function is helpful, since it involves elements that go beyond offering an intellectual response (the focus of the first three points). Persuasion must also consider the life experience of the unbeliever, the proper tone to take with a person, and other matters beyond simply imparting information.

We may distinguish, then, four functions, goals, modes, or aspects of apologetics. The first may be called vindication (Beattie) or proof (Frame) and involves marshaling philosophical arguments as well as scientific and historical evidences for the Christian faith. The goal of apologetics here is to develop a positive case for Christianity as a belief system that should be accepted. Philosophically, this means drawing out the logical implications of the Christian worldview so that they can be clearly seen and contrasted with alternate worldviews. Such a contrast necessarily raises the issue of criteria of verification if these competing truth claims are to be assessed. The question of the criteria by which Christianity is proved is a fundamental point of contention among proponents of the various kinds of Christian apologetic systems.

The second function is defense. This function is closest to the New Testament and early Christian use of the word apologia: defending Christianity against the plethora of attacks made against it in every generation by critics of varying belief systems. This function involves clarifying the Christian position in light of misunderstandings and misrepresentations; answering objections, criticisms, or questions from non-Christians; and in general clearing away any intellectual difficulties that nonbelievers claim stand in the way of their coming to faith. More generally, the purpose of apologetics as defense is not so much to show that Christianity is true as to show that it is credible.

The third function is refutation of opposing beliefs (what Frame calls “offense”). This function focuses on answering, not specific objections to Christianity, but the arguments non-Christians give in support of their own beliefs. Most apologists agree that refutation cannot stand alone, since proving a non-Christian religion or philosophy to be false does not prove that Christianity is true. Nevertheless, it is an essential function of apologetics.

The fourth function is persuasion. By this we do not mean merely convincing people that Christianity is true, but persuading them to apply its truth to their life. This function focuses on bringing non-Christians to the point of commitment. The apologist’s intent is not merely to win an intellectual argument, but to persuade people to commit their lives and eternal futures into the trust of the Son of God who died for them. We might also speak of this function as evangelism or witness.

These four aspects or functions of apologetics have differing and complementary goals or intentions with respect to reason. Apologetics as proof shows that Christianity is reasonable; its purpose is to give the non-Christian good reasons to embrace the Christian faith. Apologetics as defense shows that Christianity is not unreasonable; its purpose is to show that the non-Christian will not be acting irrationally by trusting in Christ or by accepting the Bible as God’s word. Third, apologetics as refutation shows that non-Christian thought is unreasonable. The purpose of refuting non-Christian belief systems is to confront non-Christians with the irrationality of their position. And fourth, apologetics as persuasion takes into consideration the fact that Christianity is not known by reason alone. The apologist seeks to persuade non-Christians to trust Christ, not merely to accept truth claims about Christ, and this purpose necessitates realizing the personal dimension in apologetic encounters and in every conversion to faith in Christ.

Not everyone agrees that apologetics involves all four of these functions. For example, some apologists and theologians have claimed that proof is not a valid function of apologetics—that we should be content to show that Christianity is not unreasonable. Or again, some Christian philosophers have urged against trying to argue that the non-Christian is being irrational to reject Christianity. Many apologists have even abandoned the idea that apologetics might be useful to persuade people to believe in Christ. Such opinions notwithstanding, all four functions have historically been important in apologetics, and each has been championed by great Christian apologists throughout church history.13 It is to the efforts of those apologists, then, that we turn in the next chapter.

For Further Study

Howe, Frederic R. Challenge and Response: A Handbook for Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982. The first two chapters discuss the definition of apologetics (13-24) and the relationship between evangelism and apologetics (25-33), with Howe arguing for a sharp distinction between the two.

 

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