I am perfectly aware that apologeticsÂ as an intellectual enterprise does not produce faith. I am neitherÂ Pelagian nor Semi-Pelagian. I recognize the limitations of the human mind and, more importantly, the human will to understand and accept God outside of the sovereign movements of the Holy Spirit.
Having said this, I am a firm believer in the necessity of apologetics as an intellectual defense of the faith. I agree with Os Guinness who says that we don’t have any right to the culture if we cannot intellectually defend our faith. I believe that God often uses apologetics as a means to bring someone to the faith just as he uses the words of men to proclaim the Gospel. God does not really need either, but He uses both.Â I think it wasÂ Aquinas who said, “God has not only chosen the ends, but also the means of salvation.” Therefore, you and I are to be clear when we present the Gospel and intellectually compelling when we defend it. Apologetic sloppiness and intellectual laziness is not an option for the Christian.
Pseudo=false. When we are talking about pseudo-apologetics, we are talking about false apologetics. This type of apologetics could be called pop-apologetics, tabloid apologetics, pseudo-apologetics, or what I like to call “pancake apologetics” (explained more later). Pseudo-apologetics is a false way to defend the faith based upon naive or misleading “evidences” that only serve to take focus away from true apologetics. Before I explain this further, I would like to give examples of what I mean. Here they are:
“I believe Christianity is trueÂ because IÂ read this book where someone died, went to heaven, and came back.”
“I believe Christianity is true because there are secret codes found in the Scriptures.”
“I believe Christianity is true because the lost day of Joshua has been found by NASA.”
“I believe Christianity is true because we had a special speaker come to our class and show how the Gospel was written in the stars.”
“I believe Christianity is true because I have seen pictures of Noah’s Ark.”
“I believe Christianity is true becauseÂ IÂ heard that this guy’sÂ pancake was miraculouslyÂ in the shape of Jesus.”
“I believe Christianity is true because God spoke to me and told me ______”
“I believe Christianity is true because there are no better options and I have nothing to lose.”
“I believe Christianity is true because I saw a photograph of a cloud which was shaped like Jesus.”
“I believe Christianity is true because there was a statue of Mary crying.”
“I believe Christianity is true because my friend was healed of cancer after praying.”
“I believe Christianity is true because I spoke in tongues.”
“I believe Christianity is true because my church says it is.”
“I believe Christianity is true because my right leg grewÂ two inches.”
My point here is not necessarily to discredit any of these occurrences or beliefs. You might have seen Jesus in your pancake, your friend very well might have been miraculously healed, the Gospel may be written in the stars, your church could be right, and someone might have died and gone to heaven for a short time. My point is that these are not sufficient enough for you to rest your faith on. I have seen to many “miracles” in my life that turn out to be coincidences, misunderstandings, or misinterpretations. As well, I have seen many people’s faith that was founded upon this type of pseudo-apologetic fall apart when they found out that there were better and more plausible explanations for the experiences upon which their faith was based.Â Â God is a God of experience, no doubt. I don’t want to discourage anyone from seeing God’s activity in the world today. But I think we need to be cautious about basing their beliefs upon such things. When we do and when we encourage people to believe based upon such experiences, we set ourselves and others out on sensation seeking voyages where their beliefs and theology rest solelyÂ upon personal experience or feeling. This is not safe ground. What happens when science shows that there really was brain activity in the supposedly dead body, they just did not know how to detect it before? What happens when Islam finds Allah in the stars? What happens when your leg does not grow? What happens when you don’t speak in tongues? What happens when the heavens are brass and God’s presence cannot be felt? What happens when you discover your church’s teachings are wrong? If your faith is founded upon these type of trusts and experiences, then your loss of faith will be as well. You will then move on to something else.
On the other hand, if your faith is based upon apologetics that can stand the scrutiny, then it is a different matter all-together. These other “miracles,” valid or not, become window dressings to an unshakable trust.
I believe the starting point for all apologetics, personal or evangelistic, should be the resurrection of Christ. “I believe Christianity is true because Christ rose from the grave.” If Christ rose from the grave, Christianity is true–Period. If Christ did not rise from the grave Christianity is false–Period. All the legs growing and pancake visionsÂ in the world, while nice,Â will add little to your faith.Â As well, lack of such events will beÂ unable toÂ shake your faith. The resurrection of Christ is the historic foundation of the Christian faith. Paul said as much:
1 Corinthians 15:17
“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”
We often give ourselves and others flimsy apologetics that are easily struck down either by more information or conflicting experience. When this happens, the Christian faith is made to look comical at best and, more often,Â deceptive.
Not only do these type of events lack apologetic substance, they also lack definite meaning. What does it mean that Mary cried? What does Jesus’ face in a cloud mean? What does it mean that the lost day of Joshua has been found? The resurrection means something. If the resurrection truly happened it means that God is real, holy and righteous, we are sinners in need of a substitute, God really does love you more than you can imagine, there is a future for those who have trusted in Christ, andÂ heaven is real.
If the resurrection really happened, then all these other “pancake apologetics” become “ho-hum apologetics.” I encourage you to grab a good book on the apologetics of the resurrection and spend some time establishing this event as your primary apologetic front, personal and evangelistic. I have listed some books below.