Trying o! Yes! Sort of! Well, just read on and decide for yourself.
The term “apologetics” creeps into Christian conversations on occasion, but many don’t really know who and what apologists and apologetics are. Apologists are everywhere, and anyone can be an apologist. Not a religion, denomination, sect, club or organization, apologetics is largely a frame of mind or attitude of an individual.
The term ‘apologetic’ comes from the Greek ‘apologia’ meaning a factual verbal defense such as the type of argument a lawyer might give a jury on behalf of a client. So, while the root is similar to that of ‘apology’, apologists are defenders and deliverers of facts, not persons making excuses… contrary to definitions found in so many modern dictionaries.
Trying to clear things up…
Apology – a document, speech, conversation, video or any communication in defense of Christianity.
Apologist – one who makes delivers an apology to intellectually defend the faith.
Apologetic (n)– a particular way of defending the faith.
Apologetics – either the practice or disciplines of defending the faith.
The classic of children's literature, The Chronicles of Narnia, with over 100 million copies sold in 47 languages was written by one of the most famous apologists, C. S. Lewis. Other noted apologists you may have heard of include: Lee Strobel, Ravi Zacharias, Norman Geisler, Josh McDowell and R.C. Sproul.
The noun and verb form of ‘apologia’ appear 17 times in the Bible. Perhaps the most appropriate passage is concerning apologetics is:
“ but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you;  yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” (1 Peter 35:15-16)
In simple terms, apologists practice the defense of the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. They do this through learning, study, thinking, discerning and questioning to find the truth… answers to questions… that arise regarding the Word of God. There are several philosophical approaches to apologetics, including: classical (logical), evidential (factual), reformed (theistic) and fideism (faith-based). However, the casual apologist may not and need not necessarily recognize such distinctions.
Few people advertise being apologists, but many people privately practice apologetics to better understand and be confident in their own faith. Some may engage in apologetics and not even realize it.
So, Christian apologists do apologize when defending their faith, but they don’t apologize for doing so.
“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” ― C.S. Lewis
Sermon for Sunday May 6, 2018
He is consistently ranked one of the most influential guitarists of all time. He is the only three-time inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was seriously considered to replace George Harrison of the Beatles in 1969 but settled for marrying Harrison’s wife. Known to many as “Slowhand”, he has also been called “God”. Many of his works contain expressions of faith, but his self-acknowledged failings have gotten the most attention. He is Eric Clapton.
The nickname, Slowhand, came from the slow clapping of audiences as Clapton fixed broken guitar strings on stage when a member of the Yardbirds in the early 1960s. The “God” moniker came from anonymous graffiti found near London’s Islington Tube Station that boldly proclaimed, “Clapton is God”.
Clapton was born in 1945 to an unwed, 16-year old English girl and a Canadian soldier who shipped off to war before his birth and who returned to Canada afterwards without seeing his son. One story suggests the young Eric believed the grandparents who raised him were his parents and his mother was an older sister.
By 1970, at the age of 25, Clapton had already been a powerful force in such well-known groups as The Yardbirds (“For Your Love”), Cream (“Sunshine of Your Love”) and Derek and the Dominos (“Layla”).
While playing with Blind Faith in 1969, Clapton composed both lyrics and tune for the song, “In the Presence of the Lord”. He also witnessed to becoming "a born-again Christian" after seeing "a blinding light" and sensing God's presence. However, his conversion wouldn’t protect him from himself.
He was good friends with the Beatles’ George Harrison but was so infatuated with Harrison’s model/photographer wife, Pattie Boyd, that he wrote “Layla” for her in 1970. Clapton and Boyd partnered up in 1974, eventually married in 1979 and divorced childless in 1988.
Clapton spent the early ‘70s nursing a heroin addiction: trading it for an alcohol addiction that lasted into the ‘80s. "Bad choices were my specialty," he said. In 1987, he claims to have finally fallen to his knees and "surrendered" to God, dedicating his sobriety to his newborn son, Conor, from his affair with Italian model Lory Del Santo. Four years later, Conor fell to his death from the window of a Park Avenue skyscraper.
While his career continued to flourish through addiction and tragedy, Clapton admitted, “… I have never failed to pray in the morning, on my knees, asking for help, and at night, to express gratitude for my life and, most of all, for my sobriety.”
“Slowhand” has 19 Grammy awards including those for “My Father’s Eyes” and “Tears in Heaven”. Both hugely popular songs reflect on personal tragedies with hints of faith. When asked about prayer and faith, Clapton said, “I choose to kneel because I feel I need to humble myself when I pray, and with my ego, this is the most I can do. If you are asking why I do all this, I will tell you … because it works, as simple as that."
One can’t help but wonder and marvel how God has revealed himself through this other “God”.
What if we are all running a trial version of life? Did Adam and Eve steal God’s software?
Hold on for a bumpy idea that God has a lot in common with Bill Gates.
There are plenty of free trial or “demo” versions of software available for download from the Internet. Many times, the downloaded trial software is actually the real, full version of the software except that certain functions have been disabled. Once you register and pay a fee, you get a “key” or a long, meaningless series of letters and numbers that can be used to enable all the features.
Genesis suggests Adam and Eve were the original users of God’s software, Life, and had access to the full version: abundant food, pleasant scenery, dominion over the plants and animals, running around carefree, etc. Moreover, God was ready to provide Life for free to all other users. There was just one requirement: everyone had to follow the license agreement…not eating the forbidden fruit.
It was awesome! That is until the hacker showed up.
Serpent, the hacker, shows Eve how to steal God’s Life software, ironically, with an apple. Eve shows Adam how to steal Life. When God realizes his Life software is being stolen [“See, the man has become like one of us…” Genesis 3:22], He disabled many parts of Life which left Adam and Eve using a trial version. He also punished the hacker for intellectual property theft.
Adam and Eve find the trial version of Life is not nearly as good as the full version. Food is no longer readily available, nakedness goes out of vogue, childbearing is a real pain, and so forth. Worst of all is that, unlike the full version, the trial version of Life expires leaving the user with nothing. Because of the hack, God only makes the trial version of Life available, but it’s free for everyone. Registration is optional.
For those who do register their trial versions with Him, however, God has an incredible deal. The deal is that all registered trial version users get free upgrades to the full version when their trial versions of Life expire.
Hopefully, the ride wasn’t too rough.
God is the supreme programmer.
Perhaps everything needed for everlasting happiness, life and love already exists within us…but the best features are disabled. You can’t buy, steal or hack the key to enable them. But, you can register with Him for the special deal, because He is the key.
It’s Easter! That means it’s time to drag out all the arguments why the Resurrection didn’t or couldn’t have happened. Here’s some of the most popular ones found on the Internet:
The Swoon Theory: Jesus didn’t die on the cross - He simply swooned
After being flogged, tortured and enduring a lengthy crucifixion, being stabbed with a spear, wrapped in heavy burial garments and tossed in a dark cave for three days, it’s unlikely that a Christ who simply swooned would appear to be very healthy at all. The sight of a battered and bloody Christ would have been powerful evidence against the Resurrection. However, eyewitnesses describe Christ walking quickly, talking freely and traveling from place-to-place.
The Stolen Body Theory (Part 1): Jesus’ friends snatched His body from the tomb
This most common of anti-Resurrection theories has at least two problems:
The Stolen Body Theory (Part 2): Jews swiped Jesus’ body from the tomb
This theory is that Jews stole the body before the Disciples could do it. However, an empty tomb furthers the Resurrection story. If they made a mistake in stealing the body, then all they had to do to refute the Resurrection was to produce the actual body of Jesus. Why didn’t they?
The Wrong Tomb Theory: Everyone’s GPS goes bad
This theory requires us to believe that all of the Roman soldiers, all of Jesus' friends and all of His enemies went to the wrong empty tomb after His burial. Surely, Joseph of Arimathea knew the location of the tomb that he built for himself. Even if true, this theory doesn’t explain the hundreds of people who saw the risen Lord.
The Hallucination Theory: Everyone was seeing things
This theory suggests those who saw, heard and touched the risen Jesus were hallucinating. However, most of those who encountered the risen Christ were highly skeptical, at first. Mary’s first reaction on seeing the empty tomb was terror and confusion rather than belief. When Mary told of seeing the resurrected Jesus, she wasn’t believed. The Disciples were slow to recognize Jesus and then there’s the story about the doubting Thomas. It seems mass hallucination requires a lot of convincing.
The theories postulated to refute the Resurrection have been around for centuries and offer interesting food for thought. However, none have withstood the test of time as has the story of the Resurrection.
I passed on to you what I received, which is of the greatest importance: that Christ died for our sins, as written in the Scriptures; that he was buried and that he was raised to life three days later, as written in the Scriptures; that he appeared to Peter and then to all twelve apostles. Then he appeared to more than five hundred of his followers at once, most of whom are still alive, although some have died. Then he appeared to James, and afterward to all the apostles. [1 Corinthians 15:3-7 Good News Translation]
God has many favorite numbers that appear repeatedly in the Bible. For example:
Three (3) - Of course, this represents the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Jesus rose the third day and was tempted three times by Satan. Peter also denied Jesus three times.
Ten (10) – God gave Moses the 10 Commandments and gave Egypt the 10 plaques. Jesus uses parables about 10 servants, 10 pounds, 10 virgins and 10 coins.
Forty (40) – Moses lived for 40 years in both Egypt and the Wilderness. He also spent 40 days and nights on Mount Sinai two different times. Jesus spent forty days with the Disciples between His Resurrection and Ascension.
There are also values that God didn’t specifically mention in the Bible. However, trying to understand the magnitude of God’s work, we’ll take a swing at trying to quantify some of these values as best the Laws of Nature and Physics permit.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1
God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "oceans." Genesis 10
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 27
But not a hair of your head will perish. Luke 21: 18
These incredibly large numbers should put all of us in awe of God. Every time you get sand in your bathing suit or gripe about too many voicemails, be thankful you need only remember one number - Him.
Critics frequently point to the 1633 trial of Galileo Galilei as an example of Christians being anti-science. Unfortunately for the critics, the facts show just the opposite. However, the facts also reveal the Galileo issue was still being debated more than thirty years after man landed on the moon.
The Galileo affair was all about the question of whether the Sun and planets revolved around the Earth (geocentric model) or whether the Earth and planets revolved around the Sun (heliocentric or Copernican model). Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 - 1543) explained his heliocentric model in On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres. Galileo simply helped validate the heliocentric model with observations made through his new telescope.
Rather than denying it, the Church embraced Copernican theories to such as extent that in 1582 it replaced the Julian calendar with the improved Gregorian calendar, the one we use today. While the Church saw Copernican theories as valid, they hesitated acknowledging them because they seemingly refuted portions of the Bible such as:
So, the real problem was alignment of some Biblical interpretations with clearly visible physical reality.
Shortening the story… Galileo embarrassed Church leaders by telling them how to rationalize Copernican theories and the Bible. In 1633, he was ultimately found "vehemently suspect of heresy", sentenced to house arrest and had his writings banned. The Catholic Church eventually dropped the general prohibition on books advocating Copernican theories in 1758 but did not rescind the 1633 decisions against Galileo or his writings until 1820.
If you assume this ends the story…think again.
It wasn’t until 1992, that the Church recognized Galileo as “a brilliant physicist”. Then, in 2000, Pope John Paul II issued a formal apology for the mistakes committed in the Church’s 2,000-year history, including the trial of Galileo. A statue of Galileo was erected inside the Vatican walls in 2008…more than 400 years after the fact.
Galileo’s situation demonstrates the church is made up of humans who can be slow to react, but it is definitely not anti-science. In fact, there are scores of examples showing that the science that underlies modernity is a direct result of Christianity: medicine, hospitals, education & higher education, reading & writing for the masses, logical reasoning, experimentation and scientific investigation, empirical science and much more.
Can God create a stone so heavy even He cannot lift it?
People have lost sleep over this question for millennia. But, what’s the answer?
The question challenges God’s “omnipotence” (the unlimited power we ascribe to God). Actually it’s a dual challenge:
What seems like a quandary is actually faulty logic...the question is defective.
A basic principle of logic says one “thing” cannot be different “thing” at the same time. A square can’t be a circle. A blue circle can’t be a red circle. A circle can have blue areas and red areas but those areas can’t be both red and blue at the same time (and don’t get tricky by saying “purple”).
The stone question can be restated like this:
“If God has unlimited powers (to create a stone) can He also have something beyond unlimited powers?”
And, that’s the problem with the question. It presumes there can be something greater than “unlimited” such as unlimited + 1, super-mega-unlimited or whatever it might be called. Either something is unlimited, or it isn’t.
Isaac Asimov, a famous American writer and confirmed atheist, addressed a similar paradox:
“What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?”
Asimov concluded that in order to be "immovable" or "irresistible", either the force or the object must possess the majority of the energy in the universe. But, it’s impossible to have two majorities. The answer to the question, therefore, is that nothing happens because the irresistible force and the immovable object will never meet as they can’t exist at the same time. Another intriguing question ends up without an answer because of a faulty premise.
Intellectual exercises such as the “stone” question are fun and good for the brain. We should all be on guard for the illogical and impossible dressed up in pretty words that argue against God’s existence and omnipotence.
He continues to make stones as big as He pleases, when it suites His purpose. Sweet dreams!
This is a story about an ardent atheist (one not believing in deities) who is also strongly believed in some type of Intelligent Design (ID).
The theory of Intelligent Design suggests that Creation is not a random act of nature but required intelligent intervention to develop in so many otherwise inexplicable ways.
The late Sir Fred Hoyle was a renowned English astronomer who discovered how carbon (the basis of organic life) is created in the Universe. Sir Fred said of his discovery:
“Would you not say to yourself, "Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature [random events] would be utterly minuscule. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question."
In 1949, Hoyle coined the term “Big Bang” theory although he had a different theory for the origin of the Universe. He rejected evolutionary biologists’ theories that life originated on Earth and vehemently opposed the notion that life happened as result of random events. It may be his unusual flair for entertaining analogies to describe the improbability of random events that he is best remembered for:
“A junkyard contains all the bits and pieces of a Boeing 747, dismembered and in disarray. A whirlwind happens to blow through the yard. What is the chance that after its passage a fully assembled 747, ready to fly, will be found standing there? So small as to be negligible, even if a tornado were to blow through enough junkyards to fill the whole Universe.”
"At all events, anyone with even a nodding acquaintance with the Rubik cube will concede the near-impossibility of a solution being obtained by a blind person moving the cubic faces at random. Now imagine 1,050 blind persons each with a scrambled Rubik cube, and try to conceive of the chance of them all simultaneously arriving at the solved form”.
You gotta love this kind of stuff!
While Hoyle dismissed traditional notions of faith, he was pointedly adamant that life was not an accident:
“Once we see, however, that the probability of life originating at random is so utterly miniscule as to make it absurd, it becomes sensible to think that the favorable properties of physics on which life depends are in every respect deliberate .... It is therefore almost inevitable that our own measure of intelligence must reflect ... higher intelligences ... even to the limit of God ... such a theory is so obvious that one wonders why it is not widely accepted as being self-evident. The reasons are psychological rather than scientific.”
For Hoyle, Christianity did not offer enough specific answers about life and death, but he explained his own hopes for an afterlife: “What I would choose would be an evolution of life whereby the essence of each of us becomes welded together into some vastly larger and more potent structure. I think such a dynamic evolution would be more in keeping with the grandeur of the physical Universe than the static picture offered by formal religion.”
In many ways, it seems as though “Sir Fred”, as he was sometimes known, was much less an atheist than a questioning scientist. Accepting nothing on faith or open to chance, he clearly sought answers to the questions we all have…the source of the Design and purpose of the Designer. Hopefully, he has found those answers beyond what he imagined.