On Apologetics—Part I

When I was in college I was challenged by an atheist about why I believed what I believed as a Christian.

As a result, I began reading everything I could find on apologetics.

I read every book Francis Schaeffer wrote. I read Josh McDowell, Clark Pinnock, C.S. Lewis, and John Warwick Montgomery.

I became familiar with the apologetics of Norman Geisler and Cornelius Van Til.

As a result, I became convinced intellectually of the soundness of the reasons for my belief.

Then, in law school, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, and for the first time I began to see manifestations of the power of God through healings, prophecy, and words of knowledge. At that point, I lost interest in apologetics because reason seemed a weaker advocate for God than His power.

The other day I began reading in I Corinthians to prepare for a sermon series our pastor will be preaching at our church. In Chapter 1, I came across this, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” I Corinthians 1:21.

The Apostle Paul is saying that God, in His Sovereignty, set things up in such a way that sinful man would not come to know God through reason alone. Why? So, that no one who came to know God would have a reason to boast, “I figured out that God existed and came to know Him because I am so smart.” I Corinthians 1:27-31.

At the same time, Paul told the Romans that the knowledge of God’s existence and his judgment against sin are self-evident in man so that man is without excuse before God. Romans 1:18-21. The problem: Man suppresses the Truth because he wants to continue in his unrighteousness. Romans 1:18. The mind justifies what the heart desires.

So, even though the existence of God and man’s guilt before Him are self-evident, man cannot reason his way to God because his heart blinds his mind to the Truth. This is the dilemma for fallen man. Those who need to be redeemed cannot be persuaded by reason because of the condition that creates their need for redemption.

Paul doesn’t stop there though. To prove his point, Paul reminds the Corinthians that he did not come to them in persuasive words but in a demonstration of the Spirit and of power so their faith would not rest on reason but on the power of God. We don’t know how God manifested His power through Paul in this instance, whether it was through healing, prophecy, or merely anointed preaching of His Word, but whatever it was, Paul thought it was a surer foundation than reason. Later Paul would take this thought a step further by reminding the Corinthians that the kingdom of God did not consist in words, but in power. I Corinthians 4:20.

 

So what is the role of apologetics? I will address that in the next post. GS