Wednesday, 10 May 2017

l) Lesson 9 APOLOGETCS - The Evidences that Strengthen Christianity’s Circular Reasoning

Read pages 217 - 245.

Limitations of Apologetics
1) One focus of this book has been to clearly show that everyone must begin with faith assumptions.
Everyone must make the leap of faith before they can even begin the reasoning process.
(See page 183)  Before we even begin with Apologetics we need to be aware of its limitations.

eg.  We can know that someone like Jesus did live at the turn of the millennia.  There is enough extra
biblical evidence for that. But we do need to accept by faith that the Bible’s interpretation of that one
solitary life is the truth.

2) Discuss:  A good grasp of a strong apologetic of the Christian Faith can never prove the truth
of the gospel.  It can only show that the Jesus-truth is the best hypothesis (the best intelligent guess)
for life and all that needs explaining.  It is a better hypothesis than all the others from the various
religions (including secular atheism) that are available.

3) How do we move from the humble conviction that the Bible Story is the best hypothesis we have
to the confidence of faith that will stay true even in the face of a martyr’s death.
(See page 186  External / Internal Validation)

Witnessing to Others
4) How important is the humble confession that we too are beginning with faith assumptions when we
share with others who are struggling to understand and believe?  Can a “We know it all” posture
discourage others in their struggle to understand?

5) Why doesn’t God come right out and show himself to those struggling to belief?  Consider that
Jesus never appeared to any of the Pharisees after his resurrection? Consider too that only two
(Joshua and Caleb) entered the promised land from the whole generation that witnessed the Exodus
and all of the wilderness wandering miracles.  Consider the value that God places on faith and a love
response to him. He could overwhelm anyone if he wanted to but he doesn’t.

Apologetics and Personal Growth
6) There are two struggles in our lives: first of all the struggle to believe that Jesus is indeed the “Way,
the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6)  and secondly the struggle to live that truth in our day to day through
all the ups and down of life’s varied situations. How are these two struggles related?.  Which of these
struggles is the focus within your life at this time? (Possibly a sharing and a praying for each other time.).

7) Western culture, and much of the church with it, is focusing more and more on experiences, on feelings. 
This is a reaction to the more intellectual approach to faith of yesteryear?  (Apologetics was a strong
component of that earlier trend.)  How is this possible lack of apologetics today impacting our grasp of
and our commitment to the Christian Story? 

8) How important is it that every believer have a working knowledge of their personal 12 Stones?
How might one develop such a working knowledge?

9) Evaluate the following facts, realities.  How helpful are they for our individual struggle to believe
that Jesus is the truth,
Many highly influential contemporary people have been solid believers in Jesus.  Stone # 6
Many highly successful scientists are committed believers.  Stone # 8
It is helpful to understand the negative bias (so often unrecognized) that critics of the Christian Faith have.
Good intellectually satisfying answers have been presented by Christian apologists to all the criticisms leveled at Christianity and its book, the Bible.
The Bible has earned the right to be seriously considered when searching for answers to life’s big questions.  (Most now a days simply dismiss the Bible out of hand. Most are unaware of its long unprecedented history.)

10) Today’s critics are strongly focusing on undermining confidence in the Bible as a reliable document
from antiquity. They point to the many discrepancies among the thousands of manuscripts available.  
How can we possibly claim that God has transmitted truth in the original manuscript but has failed
to keep it accurate through the ages. Our answer claims that through the science of textual criticism
we can determine that original version.  We can be 99.9% certain that the words of our Bible today
are exactly as they were in the first document. (No critical doctrine is in the least impacted by any variations.)

How does the Bible’s perspective of our humanity help us process the above.criticism?  Consider the following.

God’s goal is to redeem humanity and partner with him for all that pertains to our salvation and our planet.  
God partner’s with us in our struggle to believe (our searching and his Spirit confirming). He partners
with us in our growth in holiness (our obedience and his Spirit’s cleansing).  This same partnering can be
seen in evangelism, in the building of loving church communities, in world missions. This same partnership
can also be seen in the authorship and the preservation of the Bible. (evidence of human brokenness
throughout as well as evidence of purpose driven divine influence)  We could even say that the incarnation
itself is a partnership between the human family and the divine, however unique in every way.

Wrap Up
Romans 1: 18-20  This passage claims that their is plenty of evidence for Biblical truth.  Where is all this
evidence? What has happened to it? Consider the fact that most science facts need to be interpreted.
Psalm 19  Possibly a simple meditative read-through as a closing.  God-evidence in creation,
in his word, and in experience.

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