Notes from Patrick Hine’s Apologetics and Evangelism lecture:
“Apologetics and Evangelism – Part 1
What is “apologetics?” It is the branch of theology that is concerned with the intellectual defense of the Christian faith. “Apologetics” comes from the Greek noun: apologia which refers to making a speech in defense of something – more specifically in a courtroom setting.
What is “evangelism?” It is preaching the gospel to non-Christians.
The Biblical mandate to defend the Christian faith intellectually: 1 Peter 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense (apologia) to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;” Notice 3 components: defense, for the hope, with meekness and fear.
The Biblical mandate to preach the gospel: Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” Acts 8:3-4 “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” Who went everywhere preaching the word?
Apologetics and Evangelism are always tied together when considered biblically.
Acts 22:1 “Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now.”
Philippians 1:7 “just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.”
Philippians 1:17 “but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.” 2 Timothy 4:16 “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged againstthem. ButtheLordstoodwithmeandstrengthenedme,sothatthemessagemightbe preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.”
1 Peter 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;”
WewilllookatbothApologeticsandEvangelism. ButunderthecategoryofApologetics,therewillbe two major sections: Method and Practice. They will be intertwined throughout. Right after doing some Method (or “theory”) there will be concrete examples of this in action.
TheKeytoEffectiveApologeticsandEvangelismis:BiblicalMethodology. Ratherthangetbogged down in a zillion particulars and details related to methods other than the one I will be teaching you, let me illustrate the key difference by way of a contrast. In the recent past, two big debates took place between a prominent Christian and a prominent atheist. The first was Christian, Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen against atheist Dr. Gordon Stein. The second was Christian Dr. William Lane Craig against atheist Frank Zindler. The approaches taken to the issue of God’s existence in each debate could not be more at odds with one another. If you listen to both debates, yes, you can tell both men are Christians, but the methods used by each of them could hardly be more different. Here’s how I would summarize their basic arguments:
1. Craig’s basic argument – The available cosmological scientific evidence, the fine tuning of the balance of life, the existence of moral absolutes humans tend to agree upon across cultures, the
uniqueness of the person of Christ in history, and the strong evidence in favor of Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead all favor the probable existence of a god. The evidence leans strongly in our favor, and therefore the reasonable man can hardly be faulted if he believes there is a god somewhere. The evidence seems to indicate that a god probably exists.
2. Bahnsen’s basic argument – In order to debate at all, we must be able to justify logic, reason, science, and morality. Atheism can justify none of these things. Only the Biblical Christian worldview is able to. And therefore, Dr. Stein, by showing up to the debate, you’ve already abandoned your own worldview and embraced mine, and therefore you’ve lost.
Apologetics – part 2
Is apologetics neutral (i.e. independent) or is it tied to theology? Historically, there is great disagreement among Christians on how to answer this question. What is the proper method of defending the faith and answering objections and questions? We will get to specific types of objections, doing worldview analysis, how to test people’s worldviews for: inconsistencies, arbitrariness, consequences, and preconditions of intelligibility… but not yet. For now, we’re going to focus on method – How do we go about defending the faith? Do we do so entirely committed at the outset to the Bible as God’s infallible Word, or do we set the Bible aside and try to argue on other grounds for the truth of the Christian faith? That is the great question Christians do not agree on among themselves. My position: We do everything related to apologetics and evangelism entirely committed to the Bible alone as the infallible, clear Word of God. Let us now consider why we must do it this way.
How extensive is Christ’s authority?
- Matthew 28:18-20 “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and
make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
- “All authority” – Greek: exousia. How extensive is Christ’s authority? All – heaven and earth. He doesn’tqualifythestatement. Thepointhereis:Christ’sLordshipandauthoritymuststillbefirmly in place as we defend the faith. And we must maintain this against all who would ask us to set the Bible and the Christian worldview aside so that we might argue on “neutral” grounds. We will cover the “pretended neutrality fallacy” later on.
The difference between believers and unbelievers: Ignorance v. knowledge.
• 1 Peter 1:14-16 “as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your
ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’” All our conduct must be holy – all our conduct – including doing apologetics.
How much of my behavior should honor Christ?
Matthew 22:35-38 “Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.”
1 Corinthians 10:31 “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
- And our “minds” – it is possible to think in an unloving way about God and neighbor and everything
else. Our thinking, the way we reason, logical deductions and their validity – all of it is either loving
or unloving to God.
- Thinking, reasoning, drawing conclusions are all things we do.
- Eve was attacked via reasoning. Satan tries to get her to believe that God has selfish motives for
withholding that fruit.
The “Brick by Brick” versus the “Entire Biblical / Christian Worldview” approach to apologetics: A. The “Brick by Brick” approach – This was William Lane Craig’s approach (and most Christians’
approach). Itmeans:tryingtobuildyourcaseforthefaithonesmallbrickatatime. Insteadof bringing the entire Christian worldview to bear upon the unbeliever, we first try to make him a
theist, then to believe the Bible is unique, then to believe that Jesus existed, then to believe that Jesus rose from the dead, etc. Piece by piece, we try to bring the unbeliever in. We will be rejecting this approach. Yes, we do need to be able to argue for all of those things, but the way we argue for themwillbedistinctlyBiblicalandcommittedtotheBibleastheauthoritativeWordofGod. The point is: It accomplishes nothing except to confirm the unbeliever in their unbelief if we set the Bible aside as we try to defend the system of belief spelled out in its pages. Example: Michael Martin and the resurrection of Christ from the dead – facts do not speak for themselves – facts are always interpreted through the individual’s particular worldview.
B. The “Entire Biblical / Christian Worldview” approach – Since God has spoken only in Scripture and the Scriptures teach that if you reject Scripture you are reduced to foolishness in your reasoning, I am going to show that everything you take for granted is destroyed by your own presuppositions. By “everything you take for granted” I mean: logic, knowledge, induction, science, reason, morality, human dignity. By rejecting the Christian God, you have destroyed your right to use anything in that list. God is to be believed on His own, self-authenticating, self-authorizing authority and on no other basis. Only God can speak for God. His Word is not subjected to probability arguments based on external evidence.
Apologetics and Evangelism – Part 3
What is a “Worldview?”
1. Definition of “worldview”: “A worldview is a network of presuppositions (which are
not verified by the procedures of natural science) regarding reality (metaphysics), knowing (epistemology), and conduct (ethics) in terms of which every element of human experience is related and interpreted.” [we’ll talk more about ‘metaphysics,’ etc. later]
2. Definition of a “presupposition”: “An elementary (or foundational) assumption in one’s reasoning or in the process by which opinions are formed. It is not just any assumption in an argument, but a personal commitment that is held at the most basic level of one’s network of beliefs. Presuppositions form a wide-ranging, foundational perspective (or starting point) in terms of which everything else is interpreted and evaluated. As such, presuppositions have the greatest authority in one’s thinking, being treated as one’s least negotiable beliefs and being granted the highest immunity to revision.”
- Example: My friend’s dogmatic statement: “God cannot talk in a book.” When I asked, “Why?” there was no response. When someone asserts something contrary to Christianity and you ask them why they believe this way and their answer is silence, you have more than likely uncovered on of the presuppositions in their worldview. Remember, a presupposition is not something that can be proven. It is, literally, pre-supposed – assumed ahead of time.
- Another Example: The atheist, Dr. Atkins, whose worldview would only allow for the following two explanations as “plausible” for the disciples’ strong proclamation that they were themselves eyewitnesses of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead: 1) the disciples were liars, 2) they were hallucinating. Why isn’t “Jesus actually rose from the dead by the power of God” on Dr. Atkins’ list? His worldview does not allow for natural laws to go out of their course by the finger of God. “Naturalism” is the presupposition that the laws of nature are constant and inalterable. “Materialism” is the presupposition that the only reality that exists is matter. There is no spirit, no spiritual realm, no gods, angels, or demons. These two unprovable “presuppositions” are at the center of Dr. Atkins’ worldview.
1. Worldview analysis is potent when done well. All non-Christian worldviews will have the same types of problems – and herein lies the potent power of this method of doing apologetics. All forms of unbelief will have at their center worldviews whose presuppositions are contradictory, inconsistent, arbitrary, and if followed consistently would lead to devastating consequences. As our study progresses, we will look at examples of how to identify these kinds of internal problems with unbelieving worldviews. This is often called “doing an internal critique” – i.e. forcing the unbeliever to deal with the consequences of his own stated beliefs.
a. Example: Moral absolutes cannot be justified and are rendered completely relative and arbitrary without God speaking in the Bible. You must train yourself to never allow unbelievers to “borrow” from your worldview. If you know someone rejects the God of the Bible and rejects the Bible as the Word of God, they have forfeited their right to consistently use words like: “ought,” “right,” “wrong,” “immoral,” etc.
This happened in my dialog with my old friend from high school. After discarding the Bible as manmade and corrupt, he suddenly began speaking of the way the world “ought” to be and how all people “should” respect each other and “should” obey the “golden rule.” Of course, I agreed with all of those statements – but what I pointed out to him was this: I agree with and believe all of those things wholeheartedly, but what I do not understand is why you do. My point: Moral obligations make sense in my worldview, but they don’t make sense in yours.
Neutral Worldviews are not only Impossible, they are Immoral
Matthew 12:30, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.” There is no neutrality with Christ.
- The common appeal of the unbelieving world to Christians is: “surrender to neutrality.”
Obviously, the Bible demands otherwise. Many scholars both Christian and non- Christian attempt to take this approach. They compartmentalize life into “sacred” (worship, witnessing, prayer) and “secular” (physical world, sciences, natural order, sociology). The neutrality approach sees the Christian faith as one among many parts of life. H2O is H2O whether or not you believe the Bible, right? Getting a man to the moon and the science and technology needed to do that have nothing to do with the Bible or Christianity – right? These are the common refrains we hear today, but they couldn’t be more wrong.
- Most people think apologetics (defending the faith) and evangelizing can be done withoutbeingentirelycommittedtotheBiblewhiledoingthem. Whatunbelievers want is this: “You’ve got to start with a ‘nobody knows for sure’ attitude.” The unbeliever has tricked himself into thinking he has no biases, no commitments either way, and hence he is just a neutral observer of facts. And he wants you to pretend to be the same. And this is exactly what we cannot do. The point is this: the unbeliever is NOT neutral although he thinks he is, he’d like you to think he is, and he’d love for you to discard the Bible as your authority before you start talking to him.
WHEN IT COMES TO NEUTRALITY ABOUT GOD AND WORLDVIEWS AS IT RELATES TO UNBELIEVERS AND YOU AS YOU WITNESS, PLEASE REMEMBER THIS SAYING:
THEY AREN’T, AND YOU SHOULDN’T BE.
The devastating consequences of attempting to be neutral as you witness and defend the faith:
- Neutrality erases the Christian’s distinctiveness. We are supposed to be “set apart by the truth” – John 17:17.
- Neutrality is impossible. Matthew 12:30 – cited above.
- Neutrality is immoral. Same passage.
1. The “Lordship” issue. The Christian – the true Christian – does have Jesus as Lord of His life. All areas of our life are to submit to His sovereign Lordship. There are no pieces or parts left over to the world, the flesh, or the devil. All belongs to Christ – including our thinking and our defending of the faith. We are to be Biblical and to
behave as Biblically committed Christians in everything we do.
- Why is the “neutral” approach which sets the Bible aside as the final and ultimate
authority so wrong? Because outside the Bible there is only less reliability. We would be transferring even greater authority to some standard other than the Bible. If the Bible is the ultimate authority, and I use something else to prove the ultimate authority of the Bible – I have given greater authority to whatever that thing is.
- When I used to be asked, “How do you know the Bible is God’s Word?” my response was to throw everything I had memorized from Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict – fulfilled prophecies, the strong historical case for Christ’s bodily resurrection, the Bible’s uniqueness, coherence over time, and its life-changing power. BUT, were all those things really why I believed the Bible was God’s Word? No. They confirmed my belief, but were not the basis of it. Even when I answered them, I knew that I had accepted the Bible long before I had ever heard any of those lines of evidence.
4. There are no “Brute Facts” – i.e. facts do not speak for themselves. They are always interpreted by one’s worldview – and that worldview is never neutral. One’s worldview is either in loving submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, or it is hostile and resolutely opposed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. There is no middle or neutral ground! Joshua 24:15, “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve!”
Apologetics, Evangelism, and Worldviews in Conflict Part 02
Critical Point: When the Christian faith is defended and presented biblically and accurately, there are no comebacks or counterarguments that have any validity whatsoever.
Proverbs 21:30 There is no wisdom or understanding Or counsel against the Lord. Application: If may be the case at times that we get stumped or do not know how to answer specific arguments, but the defect is only in us never in the truth itself as it is revealed by God in Scripture.
Critical Point 2: Not everyone is persuaded by good arguments. Very often, in fact, people are persuaded by very bad arguments. This does not point to a defect in the truth, but rather a defect in people. Always remember that man suffers from spiritual blindness and incorrigible foolishness in his reasoning process.
Romans 1:2225 Professing to be wise, they became fools,  and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible manand birds and fourfooted animals and creeping things.  Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,  who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Therefore, we must differentiate between proof and persuasion: Classic Illustration: The man who thought he was dead.
The reason “evidence” for Christianity can never prove Christianity is that the unbeliever can always come up with a “rescuing device” because there are always unknowns we do not know everything.
Consider the following lines of evidence and each one of these certain confirms Biblical Christianity, but they do not prove it.
1. The existence of information Dr. Werner Gitt in his book In the Beginning Was Information (p.106) wrote, “There is no known law of nature, no known process, and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter.” Gitt points out also that all information can be traced back to an intelligent mind.
⇒ When deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was discovered, it became known that this incredible molecule found in the nucleus of every living cell contained an absolutely astounding amount of information in fact, all of the instructions needed for the building of all forms of life from ants, to trees, to human beings.
Genetic mutations do not appear to ever add information to genomes in which they occur: Dr. Lee Spetner in Not by Chance wrote, “All point mutations that have been studied on the molecular level turn out to reduce the genetic information and not to increase it.” Application: Information science and genetics confirm Biblical creation. What we observe does not confirm the evolutionary atheistic worldview.
2. Carbon14 is found in diamonds because it does not last more than one million years. If the earth were really as old as evolutionists believe, there would be absolutely no Carbon14 whatsoever it would all have decayed into nitrogen. And yet, we have diamonds with C14 in them. These diamonds are allegedly billions of years old, and yet they contain a substance
which cannot possibly be that old.
Application: This confirms biblical creationism.
3. Comets as they orbit the sun, they are continually losing mass. Sometimes comets are destroyed with just one pass by the sun. The point is comets die very quickly. If the solar system is really billions of years old, there should be no comets whatsoever none.
So, just take these three lines of evidence and go prove to everyone that the Bible is true, they are sinners, God is holy, and that they need to repent and believe in Jesus and it’ll work, right?
While each of these 3 things does confirm what we would expect to find if the Bible is true, for each of them, the unbeliever can easily come up with a “rescuing device.”
⇒ People will nearly always resist changing their worldviews they will even conjecture things for which there is no evidence whatsoever in order to protect their worldview from collapsing.
For example: an “Oort cloud.” Secular astronomers know that the existence of comets poses a major problem to their belief in billions of years. And so, instead of acknowledging that this might indicate a young universe, they instead posit the possible existence of an undetectable ring of comets at the outer rim of the solar system which occasionally throws one into the inner solar system. Their reasoning goes: “Comets do not last very long. But we know the solar system is billions of year old. Therefore, there must be a source of comets we can’t see. There is a vast sphere of potential comets we can’t see. Therefore, the universe is still billions of years old.”
Response: Is there any observational evidence of this Oort cloud?
Secularist: Well, no. But you can’t prove it is not there. Of course, it is very hard to disprove the existence of something you’ve defined as “undetectable.”
Point: But, you know what? There might actually be an Oort cloud that is the source of comets. And therefore, the existence of comets doesn’t prove that the universe is young or that the Bible is true.
Unbelievers can always invoke “rescuing devices.” And, so can we as Christians. If someone shows you an alleged contradiction in the Bible, do you say, “Oh, ok, well, I guess I won’t be a Christian any longer.”
Key Point: Believers and unbeliever all have the same facts, the same science, the same physics, the same mathematics, the same fossils, canyons, planets, and comets.
⇒ Question: So why do we come to such radically different conclusions regarding what these facts mean?
⇒ Answer: Because we have different starting points different worldviews different presuppositions.
Evidence by itself will never resolved a worldview conflict.
⇒ I can’t overemphasize this point. In fact, very often people will have theological presuppositions they are not even aware of that absolutely hold them captive as they are reading the Bible for example: Men must have freewill and have the ability in themselves to convert themselves by a decision. And very often people are not even selfaware of what their presuppositions are.
⇒ To illustration the power a person’s unknown presuppositions can have over them, think of it like this: The boat and trailer illustration the guy can hardly move the boat even with the motor turned all the way on and he just can’t seem to figure out what is wrong.
⇒ And one final point: It is not that the unbeliever doesn’t have enough evidence for God’s existence. It is that he is suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. He has presuppositions, he has a worldview in place, that is causing him to misinterpret the evidence.
Biblically speaking: Who needs evidence for the existence of God? Nobody.
Romans 1:2021 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,  because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
We all have the same facts:
1. We both look at a dinosaur skull unearthed from the ground and we say to the unbeliever: this is great evidence of the worldwide flood. And they say, “That’s not how I see it. That evidence of a slow process of fossilization that took millions of years.” And both sides accuse the other of coming up with “rescuing devices.”
2. Ok, how about canyon formation Mt. Saint Helens eruption showed that canyons and layers can form very quickly. They respond with, “Well, maybe those ones did, but not these ones over here they were slowly over millions of years.”
3. Look animals reproduce according to their kinds they don’t evolve into other kinds. And they say, “Well, given enough time they can… just give it enough time.”
4. DNA has information in it and requires a mind and information never comes about in matter through chance. And they say, “well maybe there is some unknown mechanism we’ve not yet discovered which has the ability to bring about information. Give us time, we’ll find it.”
5. There’s comets that exist and we know they cannot exist for billions of years. And they say, “there’s an Oort cloud” out there.
While it is not wrong to show people evidence that God’s Word is true and we should show how the evidence confirms the Bible and creation but evidence is never decisive and decising worldview conflicts. Why? Because your worldview determines how you interpret that evidence. And thus a philosophically astute individual will never be persuaded by evidence or facts. Reason: If she understands her own worldview, she will have a “rescuing device” or explanation that will fit her own perspective no matter what evidence you show her.
We cannot ever say that our worldview is correct because of the evidence because it is our worldview itself that tells us how to interpret the evidence indeed it is our worldview which tells us what counts as evidence in the first place.
And thus, until you have dealt with a person’s worldview and presuppositions, you have not gone deep enough to help the unbeliever see the futility of his own position.
03 Nuclear Strength Apologetics part 1
Introduction: I want to preface this section of this sermon series by pointing out that I am standing on the shoulders of giants Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen, Dr. Jason Lisle, Dr. Cornelius Van Til, Dr. Gordon Clark, Sye Ten Bruggencate, Dr. James R. White, and many others who have addressed themselves to the critical issues related to apologetic and evangelistic methodology. “Nuclear Strength Apologetics Part 1” is the title of this particular sermon, and I am borrowing heavily from the material in Dr. Jason Lisle’s book “The Ultimate Proof of Creation” which is on the rack, as well as Dr. Greg Bahnsen’s lectures with the same title: Nuclear Strength Apologetics.
What is a worldview? A worldview is a network of presuppositions, untested by natural science, and in light of which all experience is interpreted.
⇒ Notice a person’s worldview is untested by natural science because it is their worldview which tells them how to interpret the findings of natural science.
⇒ Therefore and this is absolutely critical for us to understand the validity of a person’s worldview cannot be tested scientifically. It must be tested in some other way.
Example: The Christian looks at his eye and marvels at what God created. The unbeliever looks at his eye and marvels at what random chance produced accidentally.
Neutrality: It is not only impossible it is immoral. And remember the little slogan Greg Bahsen taught us about the concept of neutrality: THEY AREN’T AND YOU SHOULDN’T BE.
The unbeliever believes he is neutral and he’d really really like you to believe that he
is. BUT, we have a whistleblower God who tells us:
Romans 1:1823 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,  because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,  because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools,  and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible manand birds and fourfooted animals and creeping things.
So, how in the world do we get anywhere? We can’t settle it with evidence. And we can’t meet on neutral ground since it doesn’t exist. So, how do we engage the world of unbelief?
Solution: Biblical presuppositions alone can lead us to knowledge.
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
⇒ Reject God and you are reduced to foolishness in your reasoning and beliefs Objection: But unbelievers do know things. Yes, they do but only because they do know God, although they work hard to suppress that knowledge. Non believers know their Creator and they do rely upon the Biblical worldview secretly when it suits them
Col. 2:3 in whom [in Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Col. 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you [of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge] through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
⇒ This is a command NEVER to abandon your commitment to Christ and His Word, the Bible. As soon as you do that, you have been “robbed.”
Application: Do not let the unbeliever ROB you of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Illustration From the youtube video: “Bertrand Russell: Taking Atheism Like a Man”
⇒ Russell admits in his little book “The Problems of Philosophy” p44:
It has been argued that we have reason to know that the future will resemble the past, because what was the future has constantly become the past, and has always been found to resemble the past, so that we really have experience of the future, namely of times which were formerly future, which we may call past futures. But such an argument really begs the very question at issue. WE have experience of past futures, but not of future futures, and the question is: Will future futures resemble past futures? This question is not to be answered by an argument which starts from past futures alone. We have therefore still to seek for some principle which shall enable us to know that the future will follow the same laws as the past.
And atheist bit and responded:
……and therefore……..goddidit? You ask why do we do science if we can’t expect everything to remain the same? We do it so you can make your videos. Do you understand? Continuing to do something, as long as it works, makes sense. When it no longer works, then we’ll figure out why and figure out how to make it work again. Could you show how one way that god reveals himself? Please, do not use the bible. …
I responded to him:
Hi 74hodag, thank you kindly for responding. The reason we are able to do science is God upholds the universe’s lawlike character by his power and providence. God promised this to us: Genesis 8:22 “while the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night shall not cease.” Every fact you know is proof that God exists because you couldn’t know it without Him. Once again, Russell admitted that in the final analysis knowledge is not possible. Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The beginning of the justification of knowledge is the fear of the Lord. You forbid me from using the Bible? You won’t relinquish your worldview to discuss something with me so why should I relinquish my worldview to discuss anything with you. Without the Biblical worldview and the existence of the Christian God science cannot be justified, reason cannot be justified, laws of logic are reduced to mere human conventions, human dignity is meaningless, and right and wrong are utterly arbitrary. That’s what your worldview gets you.
Notice, I did what the Bible tells me to do here. I refused to allow this guy to take the Bible from me and he explicitly asked me to leave it out. We must not ever do that. Without the Bible, we have nothing we’ve conceded defeat before we even begin to talk. I stayed committed to Christ in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge and then tried to force him to be consistent with his own atheistic worldview I pointed out the consequences of his own presuppositions.
That is the key to apologetic engagement. When people want to attack the faith, we know at the outset of our conversations with them that they cannot justify any knowledge claims. And yet, they will stand there and make them over and over again. All we need to do is stay committed to the Bible and then point out that their own worldview destroys the very foundation of the claims they are making.
Greg Bahnsen often put it this way: The proof of Christianity is that without it you can’t prove
For human beings to know anything, there are certain things which must be true. There are preconditions of intelligibility. What I mean by that is, for our experience as human beings to be understandable and meaningful so that we can function and move about in this world, there are certain things which must be true and which must be taken for granted as true.
For example: Think about the innumerable things which must be true in order for each of us to leave this building, get in our cars, start them, drive home, brush our teeth, read Scripture to our children, pray, and teach them the doctrines of the Bible. There must be uniformity to nature and natural laws, laws of logic, and absolute morality.
Three vitally important things which no unbelieving worldview can account for:
1. Laws of logic the correct way of thinking in order to make sense out of the universe.
2. The Uniformity of Nature the consistent lawlike fashion in which the world around us behaves. Laws of nature do not arbitrarily change.
3. Absolute Morality there are things that are always right and always wrong in all places for everyone.
Unbelievers believe in all three of these things even though all three of them make no sense given their own worldview.
Illustration: Dr. Lisle used a helpful illustration he described the biblical worldview and the secular worldview like two very nicelooking sportscars. On the outside they both look
awesome they’ve both got fire detailed onto them, spoilers, chrome tires, the whole nineyards… but you open the hood to see the engine of the biblical worldview and there is a perfectly tuned, 12 cylinder engine just purring away ready to peel rubber. You open the hood on the secular worldview and its filled with rotten banana peels, candy wrappers, chewed gum, and cobwebs. What does the illustration show? That those who reject the Biblical God and His revelation in Scripture can never really get anywhere. And if they want to get anywhere, they have to get into the biblical worldview sportscar and borrow our presuppositions for awhile. Example: When Gordon Stein asked Greg Bahnsen about the problem of evil, Bahnsen’s response was short and to the point. He said: “My answer to the problem of evil, Dr. Stein, is that in your worldview there is no problem of evil because there is no standard that exists by which to call anything evil.” And at the end of that debate in his closing statement, Dr. Bahnsen said: “If there are no laws that are absolute, then I can just pull out a gun and say, ‘Ok, Dr. Stein, make my day, is there a God or not?’ And if he says, ‘Oh no, you can’t murder me because there are laws,’ well then he’s made my day because he’s shown that the atheist worldview is
not correct. But if he says, ‘Oh, well, morality is all by convention and personal stipulation,’ then I’ll just pull the trigger, it’s all over, and I win the debate anyway. You all would not expect me to win the debate in that fashion would you? No, absolutely not. You came here expecting rational interchange. I don’t think we’ve heard much from Dr. Stein.”
Point: Unbelievers have nothing. They have to borrow from our worldview, get into our sportscar to even get an argument against the existence of our sportscar off the ground! As Van Til said, “Antitheism presupposes theism.”
Sometimes people are “relativists” have you ever heard the statement: That’s your truth, but not my truth. Or, “that’s true for you and not for me.” Such claims can easily be shut down by simply asking: “Are you absolutely certain?”
Illustration: working on the big computer programming project in the final phases, getting all
the bugs out. My coworkers and I would talk a lot during lunch and after hours about spiritual things. They knew I was a seminary student doing distance work and so they’d pound me with questions. These were typically good conversations, but all my coworkers were relativists. And one time, prior to a conference call, at lunch a couple of them kept using that line: “you have the Bible and Jesus and that’s what you believe and that’s true for you, but not for us.” And I was trying to point out to them that truth doesn’t work like that. What’s true is true for everyone, etc. But they just kept hammering at it.
⇒ So, we get on this conference call and there were a lot of people on this conference call. They were telling us all of the bugs and problems that were still outstanding and needed to be fixed… so, we were busily writing all of it down and trying to figure out solutions.
⇒ When that call ended…. an epiphany, I said to my boss and fellow programmers: “We should have just told them: “Hey, the system works and that’s true for us but not for you!” And they all laughed.
Empiricism the idea that all truth is known via the senses. Philosophers have pointed out for centuries that this is selfrefuting. The statement: “all truth claims are proved by observation” cannot be proved by observation, and therefore the statement is selfrefuting. In the same way, the person who says: “I only believe in science” cannot prove the validity of that statement scientifically. And thus, it too is selfrefuting. And this is what unbelievers are great at creating worlds that no one can live in consistently and sawing off the proverbial branch they are sitting on.
Secular worldviews always blow themselves up.
The Biblical worldview is the only worldview that doesn’t do that. It is selfconsistent with itself it does not destroy itself. All forms of unbelief destroy themselves.
Are all nonChristian worldviews irrational at their foundation? Yes. Ultimately, they cannot justify knowledge. And here is another key point: Because the unbeliever has no foundation to stand on to support himself trying to live in his world of unbelief, he will borrow Christian presuppositions when its suits him. And this is what we must point out to them! Van Til said: Atheists count, but they cannot account for counting.
* Atheists use and live by laws of logic, but their worldview destroys their validity.
* Atheists use absolute laws of morality, but their worldview destroys their validity.
* Atheists proceed on the expectation that the future will resemble the past and that nature is generally uniform and consistent, but their worldview cannot explain why.
Greg Bahnsen said that a debate over the existence of God is as absurd as a debate over the existence of air. Just imagine it, profound and articulate reasoning, cross examination on the part of the debater denying the existence of air. And yet, to make his argument against the existence of air, air must exist. For the debate itself to even take place, both participants must be huffing and puffing air in and out of their lungs. And thus, for the opponent of air’s existence, his arguments can only be valid if they are wrong. Thus, they are wrong.
And when secularists tell us: I don’t need the Bible or the Christian God in order to use laws of logic, to believe in the uniformity of nature, and to have morals. It is identical to a man breathing air in and out of his lungs saying, “I don’t even believe in air and I can breathe just fine.”
What we all take for granted:
1. Absolute Morality God makes the rules of what is right and wrong. If we are nothing but
evolved pondsludge, we can make our own rules.
⇒ Ask the secularist: How do you decide right from wrong? Potential responses:
⇒ Morality is what brings the most happiness to the most people. But in an evolutionary worldview, why do we have an obligation to promote happiness. Why isn’t that which is good that which brings the most pain? How is happiness even quantifiable? Do we have happiness meters on our foreheads? Point: This is completely arbitrary. It would also lead to us having to condone the moral correctness of anything perpetrated by larger numbers of people against fewer as long as more people are made happy by it.
⇒ Morality is just electrical impulses in the brain. Question: Why should anyone follow it then. We all have different electrical impulses in our brains.
⇒ Laws of morality are conventions adopted for the benefit of society. “But without these laws we’d have disorder. And without these laws we’d all act like…. “ “Animals? But that’s what your worldview says we are anyway, right?”
⇒ Illustration: Consider a secularist who expresses outrage at a violent crime he sees a
story about on the news. And he says, “I can’t believe someone could do that to a little child. That person should be put in jail.” You can easily just point out: “What are you complaining about? In your worldview, that’s just natural selection. The strong kill the weak and that’s how the strong survive survival of the fittest.”
Another application of this illustration about murder: Why aren’t people outraged when a hawk kills a mouse, or a snake kills a chipmunk, etc but they do get outraged when a big man kills a little child? If humans are just animals, then murder is just animals killing animals. And if we ought to go to jail for doing that, why not throw hawks and and snakes in jail too? They are just animals killing animals too.
One last point: Why did the secularist react with outrage over the murder of a little child? Because he is created in the image of God and he knows that the murder of a little child is absolutely wrong. And yet, his worldview, when taken consistently, cannot explain why.
New Benediction: Hebrews 13:2021 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,  make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
04 Nuclear Strength Apologetics Part 2
Introduction: What is a worldview? A worldview is a network of presuppositions, untested by natural science, and in light of which all experience is interpreted.
Key point: Always remember the primacy of worldviews. Worldviews determine how all facts are interpreted. Scientific data and observational evidence will not resolve worldview conflicts. Worldviews must be tested by other means not by science because your worldview determines what scientific facts are allowed to mean and also what counts as scientific facts, and further what is and is not seen as a “plausible explanation” of the facts.
Illustration: Years ago I had a debate with a fellow in my Sunday school class about the age of the earth. This fellow was a wellspoken, well educated chemical engineer and he kept saying that scientists look at the facts and many of them believe that billions of years is a “plausible” explanation of those facts. Application: I tried (in vain I think) to demonstrate that what you take to be “plausible” or “likely” as an explanation of anything is determined solely by the worldview you bring to that thing, or to those observations, etc.
The problem: Question: How in the world can we get anywhere then? No matter what evidence we throw at the unbeliever, they will misinterpret it according to their unbelieving worldview. We can meet on “neutral” ground since none exists and doing so is, in the eyes of Jesus, immoral and sinful anyway (recall: “He who is not against us is on our side.”).
Conclusion: Only biblical presuppositions only the biblical worldview makes knowledge possible. Now, if someone is willing to admit that they know nothing, well, then there can be no debate with them. But everyone knows that knowledge is possible living in this world would be impossible if it were not. Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
⇒ We can demonstrate clearly and easily that all unbelieving worldviews result in foolishness.
⇒ Why do nonChristians know things? Because they do know God although they refuse to acknowledge Him because of their moral depravity and rebellion against His lordship over them.
Romans 1:1819 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,  because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
⇒ knowing this about unbelievers is our great advantage that we bring to all conversations and evangelistic engagements.
Sye Ten Bruggencate used this great illustration: If someone came to us and told us they didn’t believe in words. 1) we would not believe them, 2) we wouldn’t go get a dictionary and try to start convincing them that words exist. We’d think they were a fool, and rightly so. For some strange reason, people tell us they don’t believe in God and we believe them and then start trying to give them evidence that He exists! Men are not the judges of their Creator’s existence! All men already know God, but are actively engaged in suppressing that knowledge and all we have to do is demonstrate that their own unbelieving perspective is utterly foolish!
Only the Bible provides the preconditions of intelligibility: laws of logic, uniformity of nature, and absolute morality.
⇒ Key: Every human being on earth (unless they are insane) believes in the validity of all three of those things just mentioned. But only the Biblical worldview can give a rational justification for them.
Non believers will cry foul and always say the same thing: I don’t believe the Bible and I believe in and use logic. So did Aristotle, Plato, and many other intelligent people long before there ever was a completed Bible.
To which we respond: Yes, all of them did because they were created in the image of God and lived in
God’s world and were given those gifts. They believed in them, but could never justify them by their own worldviews just as you cannot.
Remember the illustration: When the nonChristian says things like this, it is identical to the person
who does not believe in the existence of air saying to us: “Well, I don’t even believe in air and I can breathe just fine. I don’t need air to be able to breathe! See, I don’t believe in air and I can breathe just fine!” Remember, we are not saying that you need to profess a belief in air in order to be able to breathe. But you do need air to breathe.
⇒ That is the kind of irrational foolishness (and that is what the Bible calls it) people are forced to say when they reject God and His revelation in Scripture. They are reduced to foolishness and the Bible calls them “fools” i.e. not namecalling, but describing someone who just doesn’t get what is so painfully obvious to everyone.
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
1. Laws of Logic
2. Uniformity in Nature
3. Don’t Answer, Answer Strategy
Laws of Logic stem from God’s nature. Why can’t two contradictory statements be true in the same sense?
2 Tim. 2:13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. Col. 2:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
For example Allah, the god of Islam, cannot exist. Why? Because the Koran endorses the gospel of Jesus Christ but then contradicts the gospel of Jesus Christ by denying that Jesus was ever even crucified.
What are laws of logic? Can you touch one? Can you chew on up? No, they are immaterial, universal, invariant, abstract entities which govern all possible conceptual relationships.
Laws of Logic are contingent upon the biblical God.
Other worldviews cannot account for laws of logic. They attempt to use logic and reason to support their position, but the problem is: Logic is not part of nature. Thus, the naturalist is wanting to use what his own worldview, if true, would destroy. The very fact that he uses logic to make his argument demonstrates he is wrong. Their response: “Hey, wait, I don’t believe in God or the Bible, and I don’t believe in Jesus as my savior and I use logic all the time, therefore logic can’t depend upon the biblical God.” Problem: Remember, this is just like the critic of the existence of air saying, “Hey, I don’t even believe in air and I can breathe just fine!”
Application: We are not saying you have to profess a belief in air to breathe. But you do need air in order to breathe. In the same way, we are not saying you personally have to profess to believe in God in order to use logic. But to justify logic and use it consistently, the biblical God must exist and His Word must be true.
Response: “Laws of logic are material they are chemical reactions in the brain.” But then they wouldn’t be laws at all. They would simply be what happens in someone’s brain. And what happens in one person’s brain might be different than what happens in my brain or your brain.
Response: “Laws of logic are descriptions of how the brain thinks.” But then why do we needs laws of logic to correct how the brain thinks. They obviously are not a description of how brains think because very often our use of logic is in error. The laws of logic exist outside of our brains and correct the
mistakes that we make in our use of logic.
Response: “Laws of logic are conventions.” If so, then they are not lawlike at all. Different places and people could have a different convention regarding logic.
Response: “They are a property of the universe.” Again, this would result in their being non lawlike. Response: “We use them because they work.” This really avoids the question before us. Yes, they work, but why? That is what we are really asking.
2. Uniformity of nature
Operational science requires this presupposition testable repeatable science cannot be done without uniformity of nature. Science studies predictability.
⇒ experiments done today with the same circumstances should have the same result 3 days from now.
⇒ In general, physical laws remain the same over time and space. In other words, I doubt seriously if anyone in this room is going to very slowly step out of the church building tonight because it just might be possible that gravity will suddenly send you hurdling off the parking lot into the sky and out of our atmosphere.
⇒ The future “reflects” the past and everyone knows this!
⇒ Dr. Bahnsen uses a couple of illustrations. When a child first sees a lit candle. After he burns himself once, he does not reach the conclusion that this one particular instance of flame burned me. What he will conclude is that fire in general is not something to be touched. BUT, it is only because the Biblical God exists and has a governing providence over the universe that the child reaches that conclusion.
WSC 11 What are the works of providence? A. God’s works of providence are his most holy,1 wise,2 and powerful preserving3 and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.4
⇒ Another illustration stubbing your toe. I’ve done this one. Stubbing toe = bad.
All technology is dependent upon this as well all of the machines we rely upon assume that the natural and physical laws governing the present and past will remain the same into the future. Dr. Lisle asked, “Can you imagine how weird it would be if you went to start your car and all of a sudden poof it turned into a mushroom?”
Genesis 8:22 “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”
Apart from the Biblical God, we’d have no grounds to believe in the uniformity of nature. Application: The unbeliever has no basis to believe in it, but he must assume it to be able to function in the world. Remember Bertrand Russell the atheist philosopher?
WE have experience of past futures, but not of future futures, and the question is: Will future futures resemble past futures? This question is not to be answered by an argument which starts from past futures alone. We have therefore still to seek for some principle which shall enable us to know that the future will follow the same laws as the past.
Application: And yet, without question, this man lived every single second of his entire life believing what he admits he had no reason to believe.
Why do we know that the future will be like the past? Because God told us. That is the only reason. Russell said he had no reason. But we do. God exists and He has revealed some of His thoughts to us everything we need to know in order to justify knowledge, to be saved, and to
live in this world as rational creatures who love and worship Him.
1. “Everyone knows that.” This is, of course, not an answer. When I’ve used this method of defending
the faith with friends, this is often where they will go. Well, everyone knows you are supposed to be kind to people. Everyone knows the future will be like the past. And our response is: Yes, as a Christian I not only know that, but I have a reason why. You know it because you are created in the image of God, but you can’t give me a reason why you know it.
2. “The inherent character of matter behaves in this way.” This is not an answer either. All we know is what our experiences of matter have been in the past. And they may not be that way in the future.
3. “Well, it always has.” Again, this is irrelevant to the future. Bertrand Russell identified this as “begging the question” i.e. assuming what you are supposed to be proving. What is “begging the question?” It is putting your conclusion into the premise of the argument. Best example: “I think, therefore I exist.”
⇒ I could argue: “I am immortal.” The unbeliever might say: “How do you know that?” And we could say, “Well, I’ve never died before.” Some things change with time. Why would an unbeliever assume that physical and natural laws would not change over time just because they’ve never changed in the past? Conclusion: We can’t know anything with certainty apart from “the fear of YHWH.” And if unbelievers want to argue with us, they have to assume what only our worldview can account for in order to do so!
3. Don’t Answer, Answer Strategy
Proverbs 26:45 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him.  Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.
Strategy: Present the Christian worldview. Do an internal critique of their worldview, demonstrating that it is absurd on its own terms.
Don’t be nervous this may seem like a lot to take in. But the main thing you need to remember is: how to present the gospel of Christ clearly (and we will do at least one whole message on how to do that) and then just sit back and listen. Let them talk and listen carefully to them and you will hear the folly of unbelief. And all you have to do is ask a few key questions and watch their worldview blow itself up. It’s really quite easy to do once you’ve learned to think like a Christian. And do so with gentleness and meekness and humility.
2 Tim. 2:25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,
1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
A person’s conversion requires the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. We can’t convert anyone or reason anyone into heaven.
⇒ “Don’t Answer” a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him. Classic example: “Let’s leave the Bible out of the discussion.” If you allow this, then you are a fool too. And you will be just as much of a fool as your opponent is.
⇒ “Answer” a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. Show the fool what his presuppositions, what his worldview will lead to. Reflect back to him the absurdity of his own unbelieving philosophy. In other words, you temporarily adopt his presuppositions to show him his folly. Think of it like this: You are going to hold up a mirror to the nonChristian and show him what his beliefs result in when they are consistently held.
Dr. Lisle and Dr. Bahnsen when doing an internal critique: 1. Arbitrariness
3. Preconditions of intelligibility
1. Arbitrariness we can’t just claim something without giving reasons. Children often do this. The little
child claims there is a monster in the closet and they act on it by pulling the covers over their head, etc. But that is an entirely empty claim. Adults are not supposed to be arbitrary. Schools were originally formed to help adults be rational.
2. Inconsistency a worldview cannot have contradictions. From one contradiction you can prove anything no matter how absurd. Unbelieving worldviews always do.
3. Preconditions of intelligibility laws of logic, uniformity of nature, and moral absolutes
So, we stand in the Biblical worldview and call people to repent and believe in Jesus.
Then, we demonstrate that the unbeliever’s worldview is arbitrary, inconsistent, and fails to provide the preconditions of intelligibility.
Dr. Lisle’s emails to Answers in Genesis:
1. “When are you going to accept science and stop trying to create a new dark age for humanity? Your position is so stiff that if everyone were like you, we’d still be without cars, computers, mathematics, chemistry, geology, archaeology, and any other science. … Hope you rethink your position and some day humanity can walk together towards progress and prosperity and knowledge.”
2. “Your denial of basic science will in the long run discredit you and your cause. The empirical evidence is available for all to consider. Your message is askin to asking us to believe the world is flat or that the sun revolved about the earth despite overwhelming empirical evidence to the contrary.”
3. “How can you honestly deny science and be so ignorant to the obvious truth about our beginnings?
[This, of course, is an arbitrary claim which is easily reversible. You could just as easily say, “funny, I was just thinking the same thing about you!”] I pray [I’d have to ask, “pray to whom?] that you’ll have an epiphany and stop misleading people to believe in nonsense and lies. [moral absolutes?] You’re ultimately going to turn people off to God. If anyone has half a brain they’re going to look to science for truth, not 4000 year old stories written by goat herders.” [of course, science cannot yield “truth,” only probabilities.]
4. “Get over your selfpacifying beliefs and just realize that the world is senseless! If perchance there is a god and a reason behind this madness, they certainly will not be found in a book as flawed and disgusting as the bible (unless you promote slavery, misogyny and the condemnation of billions of people to eternal torment).”
In closing, Dr. Lisle uses the very funny illustration: Richard Dawkins has made it the very purpose of his existence to write books and travel around the entire world trying to convince people that life has no purpose.
You see, we just can’t escape from what we are. Every time the unbeliever opens his mouth, he demonstrates clearly that in his heart of hearts, he does know God, but suppresses the truth about Him.
[NSA, d1, 31:50]
New Benediction: Hebrews 13:2021 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,  make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
05 Nuclear Strength Apologetics – Part 3 – intellectual sins
One of the great keys to confident evangelism and confident apologetic dialog is learning the right method. I have criticized the “evidential” approach to defending the Christian faith. I am in favor of using evidence, but in the right way. We can and should use evidence to demonstrate that such evidence confirms Biblical Christianity is true. Recall at the beginning of this series on evangelism and apologetics that I pointed out that the existence of information, the existence of C-14 in diamonds, and the
existence of comets are very powerful indicators that the universe is young and that there is a God who
is the source of the unfathomable amount of information contained in DNA molecules. These evidences confirm but do not prove the Bible is true. The Bible’s truth is demonstrated by the fact that without it, you could not prove or know anything in the sense of actually justifying knowledge. Recall that I’ve pointed out to you that unbelievers do know things and that they do not need to profess with their mouths a belief in God in order to know things. But they are entirely unable to account for how they know what they know without God.
What is our method? The “Don’t Answer, Answer” strategy. It’s really easy. Here is a real simple way
of what to remember anytime you talk to any unbeliever in your life:
- When it comes to neutrality: They aren’t, and you shouldn’t be. You are a Christian – and that
means you love, submit to, and believe the Word of God – the Bible.
- Share the gospel – call people to repent and believe it. We will do several sermons on a very easy,
simple, and effective way to share the gospel.
- If they object or reject your message, find out what they do believe and then use the very simple
directive from the Word of God (the “Don’t Answer, Answer” strategy):
Proverbs 26:4-5 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him.  Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.
Tonight – Intellectual sins. Learn the method – how to listen for: inconsistencies and arbitrariness. We will discuss both in detail. Once you learn how to detect these things, you will be able to successfully deal with anything people might say.
Illustration: The difference between bullet dodging and disarming your opponent. Some methods of apologetics say: You have to become an expert on everything. You need to learn the fine details about every school of philosophy, every world religion, every cult, every –ism out there. These are bullet-dodgers. What I’m trying to do is teach you how to disarm the guy so he has nothing to shot with. This is NOT to say it isn’t good to know the facts, to know details, etc about other perspectives. It
is very helpful to know some philosophy, to know the details and faults of man’s religions etc, BUT, it is much more important for you to know the method by which you can show people that their worldviews are, in fact, false. Rather than learning how to dodge every single bullet, just walk over and take the person’s gun out of their hand and show them they have nothing to shoot with.
4 things – the key intellectual sins all men commit – even Christians, sadly. These 4 things apply not just to religious discourse, but to every single department of human inquiry.
- Arbitrary (4 sub categories). Is this argument arbitrary?
- Consequences – judging a tree by its fruit. What would this belief on the part of this non-Christian lead to if followed consistently.
- Pre-conditions of intelligibility.
Learn to point out these, and you can talk confidently to anyone about anything related to the Christian faith.
1. Arbitrary – 4 categories. What is the definition of “arbitrary?” Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines it as: “Depending on will or discretion; not governed by any fixed rules; as, an arbitrary decision; an arbitrary punishment. Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.”
Illustration: Remember – the segment of our population that is by far the most arbitrary is small children. Education is supposed to cure this in us, but unfortunately since there has been such a colossal collapse in education, adults, professors, and professional scientists are arbitrary, like small children, all the time.
A. Mere Opinion – “My opinion is the following…” “You believe one way, but my opinion is…” people say to us: “Well, you believe that, but I don’t.”
- ⇨ This is the key intellectual sin committed by unbelievers – they are arbitrary.
- ⇨ People are supposed to have reasons, facts, etc. to support their assertions. In a very
gentle way, we need to learn to help people understand that opinions are, in the final analysis, worthless. If you are in a debate with someone and they say, ‘but my opinion is this.’ You have won the argument if people say that.
- ⇨ Consider a concrete example of arbitrariness – Have you ever heard someone says,
“Well, my God would not predestine people to heaven and let the rest go to hell.” You wouldn’t want to put it like this to them, but the reality is: Big deal… what you do or do not like is not in any way relevant to what is true or real.
- ⇨ Illustration: Bahnsen v Tabash on the existence of God. Tabash’s argument was basically:
I do not think the idea of hell is a punishment proportionate to the crime, this is not the
kind of God we would want to worship, therefore God does not exist. Bahnsen tried to be
as gentle as possible, but he basically said to Mr. Tabash, “your argument is as silly as the child who pulls the covers over his head because he is angry that his dad is making him go to bed on time and says, ‘well, you don’t exist because I don’t like you.’”
B. Relativism – The relativist simply says, “That’s true for you, but not for me. You probably have really good reasons to believe what you do and I’m glad it works for you.”
- ⇨ If we all create our own reality, then the most wicked people in history can create their
own reality too – including Hitler, Stalin, Ho Chi Min, etc.
- ⇨ When someone tells you that you create your own reality and your own truth, and that everybody is right, we simply respond by saying: If everybody is right in your perspective, then clearly nobody is wrong either – including tyrants, murderers, child abusers, thieves, and etc.
- ⇨ Relativism is its own worst enemy. Reality is not a smorgasbord – reality is not like that – God is not like that. When people tell us what they want God to be like without any argumentation, facts, etc to support their ideas. The fact is: if God is whatever we want Him to be, then He is not God! (or she, or it, or whatever). God is what He reveals Himself to be in His Word.
- ⇨ Application: Is it not amazing that people believe they can make God into whatever they want? There are churches doing that all over the place – church who reject God’s Word and create a God who will affirm their form of sexual perversion, their selfish lifestyle, etc.
- ⇨ “True for you, but not for me” is an absurd statement.
- ⇨ “No one can know anything for sure.” Do you know what’s wrong with that statement? If
it is true, then it is false – therefore it is false.
- ⇨ When you get into conversations with folks, even if you are able to stand your ground
and defeat your opponent’s worldview you’ll still be told that there are “other
perspectives, other universes, and other ideas you need to explore, etc.” That is relativism.
- ⇨ Thus, relativism is another form of arbitrariness. Educated people (and I’m not saying
that to sound snobbish at all) know that it is invalid to be arbitrary. But I will tell you that in the secular university I went to, this was the mindset of the majority of professors I had – at Ohio University. They were relativists. People, long ago, used to be committed to various schools of philosophical thought and that was their foundation. Today, people are just arbitrary – strange times…
⇨ People can get a piece of paper from a college – and no know how to think, not know
how to research, not know how to put together a single decent paragraph of an argument. The reason people don’t think much anymore is they have gotten used to being arbitrary – offering mere opinion in the place of well thought out argumentation. And when the mere opinions conflict, instead of investigating who can and cannot make a case and defend their view, they default to relativism. And that is why public discourse in general is not worth listening to. If you’re a relativist, you can go to cocktail parties and be welcome. As long as you don’t say, Jesus is the only truth – you are welcomed and respected.
Application: Let us remember the world into which the apostles of Jesus Christ were first sent. The Roman empire, sort of like we talked about this morning, had established itself as a global power by brutal subjugation of the Italian peninsula followed by a 125-year long blood-soaked, 3 wars long campaign against their bitter rivals the Carthaginians. The Roman policy toward the victims they conquered was not re-education in the philosophies and religions of Rome but rather assimilation.
Rome did not care what its subjects believed as long as they were relativists about it. The incarnate truth of God, Jesus Christ, then steps into this with an absolutely uncompromising truth claim that offended to their core this relativistic society – at every level. To the early followers of Jesus Christ, His teachings regarding allegiance to Him and His teachings had special relevance.
Luke 14:26-27 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.  And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
When Peter stood up at Pentecost, his courage was bold and inspiring:
Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
The Lord Jesus was absolute and clear:
John 8:24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
Application: We are not relativists. As much as everyone around us would like us to be. And this
means, if we are faithful, there will be times that are very uncomfortable for us. But we must learn to recognize relativism for what it is – a form of arbitrariness.
There is always the temptation to be “secret agents” for Christ – but that is NOT what God’s Word
calls us to be. And let us always remember that no one, in their heart of hearts, can really be a relativist. If you’d like proof of that, take a strong stance for your Christian faith, be a faithful witness for the
gospel of Jesus Christ, and you will soon find that those who claim to be the most tolerant are, in fact, the most intolerant. And once again, this simply shows that we can’t escape ourselves. The human mind was not created by God to stay open. It was created to close on something – to close on the truth and then
to stay closed. People who contradict each other cannot both be right. They might both be wrong, but they cannot both be right – and everyone knows that.
Frankly, this is the primary thing you will deal with in trying to witness to people – mere opinion
and relativism. Opinions are academically worthless. And relativism and self-refuting.
C. Ignorantconjecture–Peopleoftenputforthelaborate,interestingclaims…buttheyhaveno facts to back them up. For example: “The Bible was written so long ago, has been copied and recopied so many times, etc. that it has probably been changed many, many times and who knows what the original documents said. Surely scribes have altered, changed, added, deleted
things… and who knows who really wrote the originals or what they said. And for all we know, some monk living in Siberia on top of a mountain made the whole thing up!”
- ⇨ Bill Nye said in his debate with Ken Ham: “Anyone here ever played the phone game?” I
thought, “You have got to be kidding me, Bill.” Any atheists watching who have any knowledge of the Bible and the history of its transmission, etc. had to be just utterly embarrassed by such nonsensical statements. That was a grand example of “ignorant conjecture.”
- ⇨ It may seem likely that such would be the case after all these years. Here are the prejudices:
o The Biblical text is no different from any other document in our possession. People tell us that we can’t just assume the Bible is supernatural. But one of our presuppositions as Christians is that the Bible is indeed an extraordinary book. And the unbeliever will tell us: “you’re just arguing in circles because you believe it is an extraordinary book and I’m trying to convince you that it is not.” And we then say, “yes, that’s the nature of the debate before us.” People assume – if it happens when you play “telephone,” then it follows that it would happen with the Bible. Our response is that if the Bible is what it claims then we have God’s promise that
His Words will not pass away.
o There is no concrete evidence that the text of the Bible has been tampered with –
and they can’t show you any.
o Facts we know about the Bible’s transmission: OT text, copies were verified
down to the individual letter before old copies burned. NT text because of the great commission went out into multiple, independent lines of transmission all over the place. And yet, 85% of the text of the NT shows no variation at all. 97% of the remaining 15% of the text, we know exactly why those textual variants are there – most are spelling differences, movable nus, or word order differences. The handful of places where there are difficult variants, they have no bearing on anything we believe as Christians.
o More facts we know about the Bible’s transmission: Plato’s works – we only
have copies of his works – our earliest copy of a work by Plato dates just prior to AD 900. Plato lived 350 years before Christ. That means, the earliest copy of Plato available to us was copied 1,250 years after the time of its original writing. What’s ironic is that philosophy professors hardly blink an eye about the reliability of that text. And these very same people will question the reliability of the text of the NT – and we have pieces of the NT that date to within 50 years of their original writing.
o FACT: To question the reliability of the text of the NT is to say that we know absolutely nothing about the ancient world. Sir Fredrick Kenyon, a
British paleographer and biblical and classical scholar who occupied from 1889 to 1931
a series of posts at the British Museum said, “The Christian can take the whole Bible
in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds in it the true word of God, handed down without essential loss from generation to generation throughout the centuries.” No one who has spent any time studying the history of the transmission of the text of the Bible would ever make these kinds of ignorant conjectures…. Like Bill Nye just did in front of millions of people listening to him on-line.
o Application to your evangelistic and apologetic conversations – learn to ask this simple question when you hear things like this: “Is that conjecture or is there evidence that would show such a thing?”
⇨ People will say, ‘We don’t even know if Jesus existed!’ People will actually say, there is
no literary evidence that Jesus was ever a real person. When people say this, you need to learn to hold up your Bible and say, “there’s quite a bit in here.” And they’ll say, “that doesn’t count because the people who wrote it liked Jesus and favored his cause.” To which you will then respond: “There are biographies of Martin Luther King written by people who like him and favored his cause too. I guess he didn’t exist either.”
Remember the: AICP test: Arbitrariness, Inconsistency, Consequences, and Preconditions of Intelligibility. And we’ll press forward with more on these things in the coming Sunday nights.
Comments on the Nye Ham debate: One thing was crystal clear to me – Ken Ham owned his worldview, was aware of his worldview, and put it right on the table while Bill Nye owned his worldview and put it right on the table was comprehensively unaware that he had it. Remember “the pretended neutrality fallacy.” If you watched the debate, there was a part where Nye actually stood there with cameras rolling and said, “If you discover something that challenges accepted scientific theories and laws, you are embraced by the scientific community!” Uh, yeah right. Anyone here see the movie “Expelled”? What happens to qualified scientists and professors who dare to even suggest they think there might be something to the idea of “intelligent design” in the origin of life question? They are fired and blacklisted. Nye seems to be unaware of his own worldview – he really does believe he is neutral. And remember, Ham, being a good biblical Christian recognizes that when it comes to neutrality: “They aren’t, and you shouldn’t be.” Nye thinks he is neutral. Is he? Remember what he said about what would convince him that there might have been a global flood? “Something fossilized swimming up through the layers.” We have to be sharp enough to recognize that such statements are simply throwing up dust and mirrors. There is nothing that would cause Bill Nye to interpret what he sees in the natural world in a different way except having his worldview changed. But clearly, he could not see that.
Always remember, that debate was not about ice-core layers, fossils, or radiometric dating. It was
about starting point, foundational commitments about reality, and worldviews. And when Ken Ham challenged Nye to justify his use of science by giving an account of the uniformity of nature, laws of logic, and more absolutes, Nye ran for the hills. There never has been an answer forthcoming from the atheistic worldview on those issues and the fact is, there never will be.
- When it comes to neutrality: They aren’t, and you shouldn’t be. You are a Christian – and that means you love, submit to, and believe the Word of God – the Bible.
- Share the gospel – call people to repent and believe it. We will do several sermons on a very easy, simple, and effective way to share the gospel.
- If they object or reject your message, find out what they do believe and then use the very simple directive from the Word of God (the “Don’t Answer, Answer” strategy):
Jude 1:24-25 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,  To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.”