Lesson 7: The Problem of Evil, Part 1

Lesson 7: The Problem of Evil, Part 1

Weak “Solutions” to the Problem

We’ve already seen that many of the most common criticisms of the Bible and Christianity don’t stand up under close examination. However, there are a few criticisms that are a bit more substantial and thorny. We’ll look at one today—the problem of evil and suffering in the world. One scholar calls this issue “the most serious and cogent [of] objections that unbelievers have brought against Christianity.”1 R.C. Sproul agrees, stating, “the problem [of evil] is a severe one and one for which I have no adequate solution. I do not know how evil could originate with a good God. I am baffled by it, and it remains a troublesome mystery to me.”2 Atheistic scholars assert that the presence of evil is the strongest argument against the belief in God, offering a complete refutation of theism. Hence the problem of evil must be a troublesome one indeed.

This issue can be stated in various ways: If God were all-powerful, He could prevent evil. If He were good, He would prevent evil. But there is evil. So God is not powerful or not good, or perhaps neither good nor powerful. Or perhaps there is no God.

Most people have experienced great suffering, loss and pain, and even believers cry out to God at such times, hoping to understand why such evil has entered their lives. “Why, Lord?” is an almost universal response to suffering. Seemingly undeserved suffering and pain is not easily reconciled with the idea of a good, all-powerful God. The word that theologians use when discussing this issue is theodicy, which comes from the Greek words for “God” and “just.” How can God allow or even cause evil and yet be righteous? How can the existence of God be harmonized with the existence of evil? That’s the problem.3

How should believers approach this issue? Is there a reasonable, biblical defense? Defenders of Christianity have constructed several responses. However, those we’ll examine today are all weak and unsatisfactory. We’ll look at these because they are common in Christianity. We should avoid these approaches in our dealings with critics and skeptics.

  1. God allows evil so that, in triumphing over it, God displays His power and name throughout the earth.

Romans 9:17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

This verse implies that God raised up an evil ruler so that He might display His power in defeating him. This is not a bad answer altogether, but it does not really answer the objections posed above. It side-steps the issue. The question still remains: Why is evil required to display God’s power and glory? Much evil goes unpunished, unlike the case of Pharaoh. How does evil, especially when that evil seems to go unpunished, display God’s power? God’s power was evident in Pharaoh’s case, but not seemingly in every case.

  1. Evil is just an illusion. If you have the right attitude, it can’t harm you.

Followers of certain Eastern religions (e.g., Buddhism) and cults (e.g., Christian Science) profess to believe this doctrine. If you don’t believe in evil, nothing evil can happen. Some Christians have also suggested that evil is more of a lack of good than anything that exists independently.

But evil does truly exist. Only blind fools believe that pain and suffering are not real. If evil is just an illusion, it’s a very strong one. Someone could easily say, “How could God allow such a terrible illusion of pain and suffering?” It is true that evil cannot exists by itself—it depends upon the corruption of that which is good. Nevertheless, evil is real and powerful. It’s irrational to deny it.

  1. God cannot overcome all evil.

In 1981 Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a popular book entitled When Bad Things Happen to Good People. His explanation of evil was that although God does the best He can, He is unable to prevent evil in some cases. God is good and is doing all He can, but sometimes His hands are tied, especially when it comes to people suffering the consequences of their own free choices.

Kushner wants to retain God’s goodness, but he does it at the expense of God’s omnipotence, omniscience, and sovereignty. The Scripture repeatedly teaches that God is both good and all-powerful. One cannot deny any of God’s attributes without denying God Himself. A weak God is no solution to this problem. Kushner presents a wimpy “god” who is in subjection to his own creation, which is absurd. With such a weak “god,” there’s no certainty that evil ever will be overcome. Perhaps there will be no eternal triumph of good over evil in that case.

  1. God has created the best possible world.

Some philosophers have argued that since God is good, and that He created the world the way it is, it must be the best possible world. If it could have been better, God would have made it better. The fact that it is not better must mean that it’s as good as it could be. Certain evils are necessary to achieve certain good ends. For example, it’s good to show compassion for those who suffer, so evil is necessary to allow for the good of compassion. It’s logically necessary for some evil to exist in the world.

The world was created good (Gen 1:31), but not perhaps as good as it could have been. Nothing in creation rises to the level of God Himself, the ultimate standard of good. Creation cannot be as “good” as God. Although God is perfect, He is capable of creating imperfection. Adam was imperfect—he was alone and found no mate among all the animals God had made. Both Adam and Satan were created good, but with the capacity for sin. God can use evil for good ends, but it seems reasonable that evil is not really necessary to achieve good ends. Much more good would exist if evil did not exist.4

  1. God allows men to make their own free choices.

This is one of the most common defenses today. Evil came about by the free choice of a man, Adam. That choice was in no way foreordained or controlled by God. God is good and wants people to do good, but does not exercise any influence over the choices people make. Once a choice is made, people must live with any consequences that occur from that decision. These consequences may be evil. God lets us do what we want, even if it’s evil or creates suffering. He does not suspend the laws of gravity to prevent us from falling down the stairs. He does not miraculously redirect the hammer when it’s about to hit our thumb. If our choices extend suffering and pain to others, that’s just too bad.

The Bible teaches that man does possess a degree of freedom. He acts in accordance with his inner desires, whether they are holy or wicked. Man is not the helpless victim of circumstances. Genetics and background do not determine the outcome of one’s life. So man is indeed free to certain extent.

However, the Bible also teaches that God alone is truly free. God is free; man is limited in his freedom. Further, God is fully capable of influencing or foreordaining the “free” choices of man. Scripture frequently speaks of God determining man’s choices (cf. Gen 50:20; 2 Sam 24:1; Prov 16:9; Luke 24:45; Acts 2:23, 4:27-28). Even in the matter of salvation, Paul claims that God is sovereignly controlling man’s choices (Rom 9:11-15). The wicked choices of evil men do not obstruct God’s plan. Sometimes, in fact, God uses such men and their choices to further His plan. A perfect example of this is the crucifixion of Jesus.

  1. God builds our character through suffering.

This argument suggests that God uses evil and suffering to bring man to a state of spiritual maturity. The expression “no pain—no gain” is true in a spiritual sense. Suffering teaches us important lessons that we would not learn otherwise.

We commonly hear this explanation when loved ones are suffering, and it is comforting to know that pain may be of some meaningful use. The Bible does teach that pain can build character (e.g., Rom 5:3-5; James 1:2-4). Even the discipline of a father is helpful in the maturing process.

Perhaps if all cases of evil brought about the growth of a believer, this defense would be more acceptable. But in most cases, evil does not help anyone. People the world over, Christians and pagans alike, suffer and learn nothing from it. Evil often seems to be meaningless, random, and irrational. Also, maturity for believers can develop through other means than suffering. Suffering is not absolutely required for growth to take place. Further, the ultimate cause for Christian maturity is God’s grace, not the presence of evil.

  1. God is not directly responsible for sin.

Because God is sovereign, one could argue that all sin and evil is really God’s fault. That’s the defense Adam and Eve tried with God. But the Bible teaches that God tempts no one to sin. The serpent, not God, tempted Eve. God is the ultimate cause of all things, but only indirectly so. Secondary causes are really to blame for evil.

This “divine permission” scheme suggests that God somehow controls evil apart from controlling the one who is doing the evil. God orders circumstances and leaves the creature to the power of his own choice, unaffected by God.

This defense merely shifts the blame one step away from God. It makes God into a Mafia boss who breaks no laws himself but commands his henchmen to do so. Scripture warns us that enticing someone else to sin is still sin (Deut 13:6f; Prov 1:10). A person who hires a hit man to murder someone else is equally responsible for the murder. So to blame secondary causes rather than the ultimate cause does not really prevent the blame from falling on God.

  1. God is outside the law (ex Lex)

God need not follow the Laws He prescribed for men. Human morality does not apply to God. For example, He can take life without being guilty of murder. He can do anything that suits His own purposes, even if it contradicts Scripture.

There is some truth in this approach, because some of the Laws of Scripture and morality do not apply to God. For example, God can and does take life, yet is not guilty of murder. He is the creator and has the right to do whatever He wants with creation.

However, the Law of God reflects the character of God. The holiness, justice and goodness of God are part of His character, and God is thus incapable of violating such attributes. God does, for the most part, honor the Laws that He gave for men. God behaves according to biblical standards. Hence, God cannot unjustly torment men and still not be guilty of sin. Unrighteousness is sin no matter who is guilty of it.

  1. We’ll appreciate heaven more because of our temporary earthly experience with evil.

Without enduring the results of evil, believers would not know how wonderful it is to live without them. The enjoyment of heaven will be heightened because believers will be able to look back on their earthly lives of suffering and pain and realize how much better heavenly life is without the presence of evil. In order to really enjoy the bliss of heaven, believers had to suffer under evil.

Again, there is some truth to this idea, but it does not explain why evil is necessary to experience the bliss of heaven. Were Adam and Eve less than perfectly happy in the Garden before the fall? Did they really need to experience sin and its consequences to appreciate what they had before evil was introduced? Likewise, one’s experience of heavenly bliss does not seem to require that he also experience the pains of evil. Could God not make the joys of heaven complete without the previous experience of evil? No doubt believers will appreciate heaven because evil will be eradicated, but the idea that evil is necessary in order to appreciate heaven does not satisfy.

  1. The presence of evil has no meaning for an unbeliever.5

Even if believers explained what Scripture says about evil, the unsaved won’t understand it because they cannot grasp spiritual truth. Those who deny that God exists have no basis for complaining about the presence of evil because without an absolute standard of good, there can be no evil. If there is no God, then morality is impossible.

It is useful to bring this to the unbeliever’s attention. The believer can point out that without God, suffering has no meaning or purpose. It’s just bad luck. Further, the atheist has the added problems of explaining both good and evil, and how life can be meaningful at all without God. He’s in a far worse conundrum than the believer is.

While this response has some merit, it doesn’t directly address the issue. It simply tells the unbeliever that he has a bigger problem than figuring out where evil comes from. This is simply a refusal to discuss the issue. It just shifts the argument away from the problem.

Conclusion: Some of these responses maybe valuable, but none of them explain away the problem of evil. Ultimately, they all prove unsatisfactory in one way or another. Most of them attempt to solve the problem at the expense of God’s attributes. We should be very cautious when using these approaches in our dealings with critics and skeptics.

As you can see, the problem of evil is a great one indeed. However, it is not insurmountable. The key to an appropriate response is a commitment to biblical revelation. The Bible has the answer to the problem, as we will see in the next lesson.


  1. What’s the theological word used to describe the problem of evil? Theodicy

  2. Why is this such a serious issue? 1) Because most people experience evil and many wonder where God is at such times; 2) Because it’s not easily explained away.

  3. How could you prove to someone that evil is not just an illusion? Punch him in the nose; take him to a hospital or graveyard.

  4. Why is Rabbi Kushner’s explanation so unsatisfactory? Because it robs God of His power. It rejects the biblical view of God.

  5. Why does the atheist have a bigger problem explaining evil than the Christian? Because he has no way to define evil. Good and evil are meaningless unless God exists.

1 Frame, Apologetics to the Glory of God, p. 149. Most of this lesson follows Frame.

2 Reason to Believe, p. 126.

3 For a real-world example of how the problem of evil applies to apologetics, read parts of the debate between Bahnsen and Stein. A copy of the debate is available at http://www.popchapel.com/Resources/Bahnsen/GreatDebate. Stein brings out several of these arguments and Bahnsen replies to them.

4 The famous skeptic Voltaire wrote the novel Candide showing the folly of the perfect world approach.

5 For a very good examination of this idea, see Bahnsen, Always Ready, pp. 169-170.

Lesson 6: Common Criticisms

Part II: The Weaknesses of Criticisms of Christianity

Lesson 6: Common Criticisms

We’ve already examined the evidence supporting the trustworthiness of the biblical text (Lesson 2). We found that Bible is historically verifiable, accurate and trustworthy. Whether one examines the Bible’s historical, archaeological or manuscript evidences, he will find little to discredit the Bible’s claims. Such an examination in fact lends great credibility to the Bible.

However, there are still many critics of the Bible. In today’s lesson, we’ll be examining some typical criticisms of the Bible, and we’ll find that most criticisms lack substance.

Common Criticisms of the Bible and Their Weaknesses

  1. The Bible is full of myths, legends and old-wives’ tales.

This criticism is brought up because of the Bible’s many miracle stories. Such accounts, to the modern mind, are surely mythical and not factual. Miracles like those described in the Bible just don’t happen. We see no evidence of them happening today. Further, some Bible stories, like Noah’s ark and the flood, are very similar to the fables from other cultures. The stories in the Bible are of the same mythical quality.

Liberals and others who deny the Bible would agree with the above criticism, but suggest that it’s not important whether the stories are actually true. The point or moral of the story is what’s important. But those who uphold the validity of Scripture deny such a suggestion. There are several reasons to believe that the miraculous stories of the Bible are true, not mere mythical fiction:

  • If God exists, it is not irrational to reason that He might occasionally intervene in various ways and upset the normal flow of events. Those who deny the existence of God obviously would also deny miracles. But if God exists, miracles are not out of the question.

  • Biblical accounts are usually sober and restrained rather than frivolous and bizarre. If one compares the fables and myths from other sources with biblical stories, he will notice a marked contrast. Biblical stories don’t sound like typical myths and legends. We see no half-man, half-beast creatures, no worlds supported on tortoise’s backs, or individuals springing from the head of Zeus or the like in the biblical record.

  • The biblical writers come from a tradition with a solid commitment to truth. The authors of the Bible are men of profound ethical integrity who were willing to die for the truth of their claims. One would expect the truth from them. It makes no sense to suggest that accurate historians would include myths and legends in their otherwise factual accounts.

  • The fact that certain biblical stories share similar themes with mythical stories should not surprise us. For example, if the flood really happened, it’s not irrational to suppose that we would find evidence of it in the stories of pagan cultures.

  • Christianity is not irrational or absurd. Christians do not believe in things that are patently untrue, mythical or legendary.

Note the Quote: Christian faith does not aim to affirm what is absurd, reveling in irrationality. Such a thought misconstrues the nature of faith as it is presented by the Bible. The Christian notion of faith—unlike most other religions—is not an arbitrary leap of emotion, a blind stab of commitment, a placing of the intellect on hold. For the Christian, faith (or belief) is well-grounded.1

  1. Science has proven the Bible to be untrue.

Two hundred years ago, most people in western cultures believed the Bible to be an accurate record of actual events. Today, however, after the Enlightenment and the rise of rationalism and naturalism as the predominant ways of thinking, most westerners have rejected the Bible. Science and technology have been able to explain most phenomena that used to be thought of as the mysterious ways of God. We no longer need God to explain why things happen. The Bible teaches a view of reality that is out of sync with the assured results of modern science.

  • Science depends upon the ability to verify a hypothesis by repetition and testing. The events described in the Bible are non-repeatable and untestable. They are the subject of history, not science. A biologist or paleontologist may give you his ideas about how things came about, but it’s impossible for him to say how things did indeed happen. He wasn’t around to observe them, so he really doesn’t know.

  • The Scripture describes things as they appear to the naked eye, how they appear on the surface to the casual observer. The Bible is not a science textbook. This is not to suggest that the Bible is inaccurate, but simply that one should not impose modern scientific standards upon the Bible. For example, we know that the sun does not really rise or set. The use of such language does not invalidate the Bible’s claims.

  • The “assured results of modern science” are not so assured as we are led to believe. Every so often, science experiences a major upheaval which throws out the old ideas and replaces them with new ones. Today there are many scientists who disavow traditional scientific naturalism. Even the venerable theory of Darwinian evolution is not without a significant number of critics within the scientific community.

  • Science tells us that miracles simply don’t happen. One cannot break the laws of nature. However, such an argument assumes that God does not exist, or that if He does exist, He is unable or unwilling to intervene in nature and suspend the natural order of things. But if God exists, it is not unreasonable to suppose that He could occasionally interrupt natural laws.

  • Science may claim to have the answer for everything, but it clearly does not. One of science’s major problems is explaining how mindless forces give rise to minds, knowledge, sound reasoning, and moral principles. Further, science cannot tell us how matter arose from nothing, why the big bang (supposedly) happened, or why life is meaningful if random forces are really in control. Science also can say nothing in regard to morality, decency and virtue. A world governed by pure naturalism would be a savage, inhuman place indeed.

  1. The Bible is full of contradictions.

Skeptics and critics commonly assert that the Bible is full of contradictions. Not just a few, but hundreds, even thousands. Lengthy books have been written detailing the supposed contradictions in the Bible. In a normal storybook, contradictions wouldn’t make much difference. But when a book claims to be inspired and inerrant, the very words of God, contradictions, if genuine, would present a major problem. We would expect there to be no contradictions and no mistakes in God’s Word.

How should we respond to this accusation?

  • We must from the outset admit that there are a few apparent contradictions and problems that have not yet been satisfactorily resolved. But such are few and far between. To say that the Bible is “full” of contradictions is a serious overstatement.

  • Most critics use the word “contradiction” very loosely. Two accounts that seem not to correspond are not necessarily contradictory. A genuine contradiction must assert that something is true and false at the same time and in the same respect.2 For example, the Bible commands, “Thou shalt not kill.” Yet God tells the Israelites to kill the Canaanites and others. The Bible even supports capital punishment, the killing of a guilty criminal. Is this a contradiction? No, because the Fifth Commandment deals with murder, not the killing associated with warfare or capital punishment. The word “kill” is used in a different sense. No genuine contradiction exists here.

  • Some supposed contradictions result from two or more different perspectives on events, such as the varying accounts in the Gospels. For example, one writer mentions only one angel at Jesus’ tomb while another writer says there were two. There is no contradiction here. Had the first writer said that there was only one, then a genuine contradiction would exist. But he doesn’t say that.

  • Some supposed contradictions arise from a copyist’s error. Because the Bible was copied by hand for many years before the printing press, it was inevitable that small typographic errors crept into the text. By comparing texts, scholars are able to weed out these mistakes most of the time. Some of the apparent contradictions are likely due to an error of this sort. Such errors are not true contradictions.

  • The problem of outstanding discrepancies in the Bible becomes smaller as time goes by. As scholars study the manuscripts and dig around in the Middle East, these problems yield to close examination and solutions arise. Such has happened many times in the past and continues to happen today. There is less reason today to believe that the Bible is full of contradictions that at any time in the history of the church.3

  1. The manuscripts (MSS) of the Bible have been corrupted and changed over the years so that we cannot be sure what was originally written.

The OT was written primarily in Hebrew and the NT in Greek. We have no original MSS, only copies of copies. Sometimes these copies are quite far removed from the time of original writing. Thus, critics assert that many scribal errors and mistaken readings have made the text of the Bible unreliable.

The critics are simply wrong in their contention that scribal errors and multiple copies over many centuries render the text unreliable. Scribes were fully capable of making very accurate copies of manuscripts, and the copying process has not degraded the text to the point that it is no longer trustworthy.

See the two articles on the subject in the Additional Material. Also available at http://www.lbcantigo.org/resources.htm

  1. The Bible is full of historical errors.

As we saw in Lesson Two, there is good reason to believe that history as presented in the Bible is accurate and trustworthy. Archaeological discoveries have supported the sequence of events as reported in the Bible. Many of the supposed errors reported in the Bible have proven to be accurate historical accounts. The Christian has nothing to fear from rigorous historical research.

  1. Some parts of the Bible are offensive to modern, secular “values.”

There are many statements in the Bible that people find offensive. A God who pours out His wrath upon sinners is simply unacceptable to the modern mind. God should be loving and forgiving, not strict and “terrible” as the Bible makes Him out to be, especially in the OT. Further, it would be narrow-minded and downright mean if God allowed only one way of salvation. For God to prohibit the majority of the people in the world from being saved is reprehensible to our pluralistic culture. God ought to at least give them a chance to be saved. Also, God surely could not have meant for the Israelites to kill all those innocent people when they conquered the Promised Land. And the whole idea of eternal punishment in hell is certainly not acceptable.

All such sentiments are the result of both misunderstanding God and substituting worldly, human “wisdom” for biblical thinking.

  • God is the creator; Man is the creature. The ways of God are not subject to the uninformed judgements of sinful man. God is under no obligation to explain His reasoning to man. Man is in no position to judge God.

  • God’s ways are often unsearchable and beyond man’s intellectual grasp (Rom 11:33f). The fact that man cannot understand God’s ways should not surprise anyone.

  • God and His Word give us the standard by which we judge the morality of any act. There is no higher standard independent of God. God doesn’t have to measure up to what unsaved people think is right.

  • All sinners rightfully deserve God’s wrath and judgement. It is purely an act of mercy and grace that God chooses to spare believers. The fact that God presents people with a means of salvation is a clear display of His lovingkindness.

  • The people the Israelites killed when they conquered the Promised Land were by no means innocent. Their cultures were exceedingly inhumane. The Israelites spared many of the Canaanites, who in turn became a major stumbling block for them.

  • Eternal punishment is the reasonable and just reward for those who have offended a holy God. If there’s a heaven, there must surely be a hell.

  1. Christianity, like all religion, is man-made.

Karl Marx, one of the founders of communism, is famous for his statement alleging that “religion is the opiate [i.e., drug] of the masses.” He asserted that the rich use religion to exploit the poor and keep them from rebellion. Because it emphasizes virtues such as industry, service, humility and obedience, religion keeps workers in line, thus protecting the interests of the rich minority. Religion promises the oppressed “pie in the sky bye and bye,” milk and honey and streets of gold for those who behave themselves in this life. Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, suggested that man created religion to help him deal with the problems of life. Uncontrollable forces surround man, and religion helps people deal with things they can’t understand. According the Freud, religion owes its origin to psychological needs rather than the actual existence of God. People want gods to exist, so they invented them.

Scholars teach us that monotheism evolved from animism (the belief that spirits inhabit all things) and pantheism (the belief in many gods). Ancient people attributed human characteristics to the forces of nature, which led to the belief that spirits inhabited physical things. This led to the belief that many gods existed. Eventually, someone suggested that his god was better than all the rest, and this led to monotheism. Religion evolved just like many other aspects of life.

How should Christians respond to such criticism?

  • Christianity does not somehow drug believers into a mindless stupor. As we’ve already seen, Christianity emphasizes logical, reasonable thought. It’s not a blind faith or a leap into the dark.

  • The fact that religion meets a psychological need in people does not imply that religion is the result of such a need. While faith does help people psychologically, that is not its primary goal.

  • Although Christianity teaches a blessed future existence, it also teaches the necessity of justice and fairness in this life. Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles were very critical of powerful, rich people who were oppressing the poor.

  • If man had invented God, he certainly would not have invented the One whom the Scriptures reveal. A man-made god would be much more human-like, less wrathful, less judgmental, and far easier to please than the biblical God. Attributes such as holiness, omniscience, sovereignty, omnipotence, and immutability actually make God more of a threat to man than a “crutch.”

  • There is no archaeological or historical evidence suggesting that monotheism evolved from any other religious practice. A fully-formed monotheism is evident from the very beginnings of Judaism.

  1. The church is full of hypocrites.

A hypocrite is a play-actor, one who lives a lie. Our culture has had its fill of liars and frauds in positions of authority. The government, education, the military and even organized religion have provided us with many examples of people who say one thing but do another. Critics loudly declare that the church is filled with such people.

We must admit that the church is full of sinners. In fact, the church is one organization that requires its members to admit that they are sinners. But “sin” is not necessarily synonymous with “hypocrisy.” In one sense, the church has fewer hypocrites than other organizations because church members admit their sinfulness. They don’t claim to be perfect. Even pastors and other leaders, those who should be the least guilty of hypocrisy, are not perfect. Everyone falls short of the glory of God, including mature believers. One should not expect perfection from anyone. For a pastor to preach a higher level of holiness than he himself has achieved is not hypocrisy. In order to proclaim the whole counsel of God, preachers must exhort people to do what they may fail to do. But such is not hypocrisy.

There is a sense in which all people are somewhat hypocritical. They present an image to the public that is not a true reflection of themselves. However, the assertion that the church is “full” of hypocrites is an inaccurate exaggeration. Every church has a few in it, but there are many good churches “full” of sincere believers who are actively seeking to life holy lives as well. The fact that church members have not achieved perfection does not imply that they are hypocrites. Further, even if it is true that churches are full of hypocrites, that fact should not prevent a sincere seeker of God from participation at church. One should not allow the shortcomings of others to hinder his own spiritual development.

Christians are fortunate in that their Lord was no hypocrite. Jesus is the perfect example for believers to follow. Rather than looking at the failures of believers, critics ought to examine the life of Christ. Christianity must be judged, not on the basis of the lives of Christians, but on the life of Christ. He was no hypocrite.

  1. Christianity is a crutch for weak people.

People often state that they feel no need for religion. Everything is running smoothly in their lives without it. Perhaps those who are psychologically weak find it helps them feel better, but well-balanced, educated people don’t need it. Such people are indifferent to Christianity—they never think about it and never sense a need for it. Further, some suggest that the virtues that Christianity produces, such as integrity, industry, and kindness, need not be rooted in faith at all. People are basically good, and one need not religious to be virtuous. Given the right set of circumstances, people are fully capable of virtuous living without the threats and rewards of religion.

However, one’s sense of need for a certain thing, or a lack of need for it, does not validate or invalidate that thing. Christianity is not based on how people feel about it. God’s existence is not determined by whether or not anyone believes in Him. For someone to allege that Christianity is invalid simply because he does not find it personally necessary is the height of arrogance.

Man is not basically good; he is basically evil. The unsaved person is dead in trespasses and sin, unable and unwilling to please God. Man may reform himself by “turning over a new leaf,” but he cannot redeem himself or restore his relationship to God by self-effort. Man is a fallen creature in need of grace.

Man does need to be religious in a sense. He needs that genuine religion which fully depends upon God’s grace. Repentance from sin and faith in Christ are not unnecessary options with God. Christianity is not a crutch; it’s the solution to man’s primary problem, a problem he cannot solve by himself.

  1. Christianity is just one of many legitimate religions.

Our pluralistic society tells us that Christianity is just one option among many. If it “works” for you, then fine. People have the right to believe whatever they want. All religions are equally valid. In fact, all religions are simply different ways of accomplishing the same thing. All religions are basically true even if they differ on the details. One should focus on the similarities instead of the differences. Each religion is like a separate road up a mountain—they all lead to the same place even if they seem to be going in different directions at times. No single religion has all truth locked up within itself. One should not make narrow, exclusive claims for his own faith or criticize the faith of others. God is not so narrow-minded that he provides only one way of salvation.

The problem with such a view is that Christianity is in clear contradiction with other faiths. If what Christianity alleges to be true is indeed true, then all other faiths that contradict it are false. Christ makes many exclusive claims for Himself and His way of salvation (e.g., John 14:6; Acts 4:12). If He’s right, then all contradictory faiths are invalid.

We’ve already learned that two contradictory statements cannot both be true at the same time and in the same respect. So it is with Christianity and other faiths—they cannot all be true. They could all be false, or one true and the others false, but they can’t all be true because they contradict each other on many points. One could simply ignore these contradictions, suggesting that they are mere nonessential, minor details, stripping Christianity of its distinctives and watering down its doctrines, but it could no more be called Christianity. To contend that Christianity does not really contradict other religions is to descend into irrationalism. While irrationality is not a problem for some faiths, it definitely is for Christianity. Thus, it’s impossible to hold that Christianity and other faiths are equally valid. Such cannot be the case.

If God does not exist, and if all religions are simply man-made traditions, then all religions would indeed be equal—equally empty and futile. But if God exists and if man is able to enter into a positive relationship with Him, there must be appropriate and inappropriate ways to approach Him. Christianity asserts that it is the one and only way to God. Thus, all other ways are invalid.

Conclusion: Christianity has plenty of critics. But many of the criticisms leveled against our faith are quite weak, unreasonable, and empty. Believers must be ready to give an answer to criticisms whenever they have the opportunity.


      1. Why is it reasonable that we find similar themes in the Bible and in mythology? 1. In some cases, the Bible and mythology are treating the same event, e.g., the flood; 2. Both the Bible and mythology deal with similar issues, e.g., life, death, families, tragedy, etc.

      2. Why can’t science prove that a historical event happened? Science cannot prove history. Science proves things thru observation and replication. History is not the object of science. Historians can gather evidence that a certain thing happened, and they can do so in a scientific way. But the best they can do is to give an educated guess as to what happened.

      3. Define a genuine contradiction. You must have two statements that cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense. Both a and –a must be alleged to be true.

      4. Why is it impossible for both Christianity and Islam or Buddhism to be equally valid? Because of the law of non-contradiction. Contradictory statements cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense. These religions contradict each other at many points.

1 Greg Bahnsen, “The Problem of Evil” in Always Ready (Covenant Media Press, 1996), p. 196.

2 The Law of Non-Contradiction states “not both A and – A at the same time and in the same sense.” In other words, a statement and its opposite cannot both be true at the same time and in the same respect. A genuine contradiction exists only when two statements are both alleged to be true when they cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense.

3 Sproul, Reason to Believe, p. 26.

Lesson 5: The Trinity

Lesson 5: The Trinity

The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the great fundamental doctrines of Christianity. Belief or disbelief in the Trinity marks orthodoxy from unorthodoxy. Human reason alone cannot fathom the Trinity, nor can logic explain it fully.1 Probably a more descriptive term would be Tri-unity, which suggests the three-in-oneness of God better than the word Trinity. God is trinal, not triple; three in one, not three-parted. [There is no good natural analogy to God’s nature—not eggs, 3 states of matter, etc.)

A definition of the Trinity must include the distinctness and equality of the three Persons within the Trinity as well as the unity within the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity asserts that one God exists indivisibly and eternally as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is three persons in one essence. The divine nature subsists in three distinctions—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.2 All three Persons possess the divine attributes, yet the essence of God is undivided. The Persons do not exist or act independently of one another.

One of the great criticisms of the doctrine of the Trinity is that the word is not found in the Bible. Further, there is no uncontested, clear statement of the Trinity in one particular passage in the Bible. Nevertheless, the biblical evidence strongly supports the doctrine.

  1. Hints of the Trinity in the Old Testament.

While there is no clear statement of the Trinity in the OT, there is some evidence of it. The OT allows for and implies the existence of the Trinity.

    1. Suggestions of plurality in the Godhead

      1. Gen 1:1 God (Elohim) is a plural noun.

      2. Gen 1:26 “Let us make man in our image.” C.f. also Gen 3:22.

      3. Ps 110:1 God’s name is applied to more than one person in the same text.

    2. Suggestions of three persons

      1. Isa 48:16 “The Lord God, and his Spirit hath sent me”

      2. Isa 61:1 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.”

    3. The Angel of the Lord

In Ex 3:1-5, the Angel of the Lord is equated with God and worshipped as God. Most likely, this was a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ.

While the OT by itself does not furnish a sufficient basis for the doctrine of the Trinity, it does contain certain suggestions that are consistent with it. It is highly doubtful that OT saints held any true Trinitarian ideas. The OT stressed the unity of God (Deut 6:4-5), and OT saints were strict monotheists. The revelation concerning God the Son and God the Holy Spirit had to await the historical appearance of Christ and the works of the Holy Spirit.

  1. New Testament proof of the Tri-Unity of God

    1. Texts mentioning the three Persons

      1. Matt 3:16-17 At the baptism of Christ, the Son was in the water, the Father’s voice was heard from heaven, and the Spirit appeared in the form of a dove.

      2. Luke 1:32-35 Persons named: the Lord God, Son of the Most High, the Holy Spirit

      3. Matt 28:19 Baptism formula “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”

      4. 2 Cor 13:14 Apostolic benediction “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.”

      5. Jude 20-21 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Texts that draw a distinction between the three Persons of the Godhead teach that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are individual, distinct persons. The Father is not the same individual as is the Son, nor is he the same individual as the Spirit.

    1. Texts asserting the equality of the three persons

      1. John 6:27, 20:17 – The Father is God.

      2. John 1:1, 5:23; Titus 2:13; Heb 1:8– The Son is God.

      3. Acts 5:3-4 – The Holy Spirit is God.

      4. Matt 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14 – The Persons are associated together in ways denoting equality.

Note: There is no fixed order in the naming of the Godhead. That is, the names Father, Spirit, and Son are given in different orders.

  1. Other issues regarding the Trinity

    1. The name “Son of God”

Some suggest the term “son of God” implies a lower stature than God Himself. However, as we saw in Lesson Four, the term “son” as used in the Bible is a Hebraic expression suggesting that one partakes of the qualities of whatever one is said to be a son of. Jesus also called himself the “son of man,” that is, he was a man. Thus the phrase “son of God” implies that Jesus partakes of the qualities of God. The Jews understood this—they were ready to stone him for making himself equal with God (John 5:18).

    1. The economic Trinity

Occasionally it appears as if one member of the Trinity is submissive or subservient to another member. For example, Paul states that “the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor 11:3). Jesus repeatedly said that he came to do the Father’s will, not his own (Mark 14:36; John 5:19). And since the Holy Spirit is sent by God, He must be of lesser stature than God or Jesus.

An understanding of the functional nature of the Trinity dismisses the idea of essential difference within the Trinity. While the Persons of the Godhead are essentially equal, there is a functional or administrative chain of command. This concerns what they do, not who they are. God the Son and God the Holy Spirit do the will of God the Father. The Father is the source, the Son is the means, and the Spirit is the active agent (Eph 2:18).

This does not imply that the Father is better or superior to the Son or the Spirit, but simply that there is functional differences based on differing roles. Inferiority or superiority is not the idea here. Just as a father is to be head of the household, yet is not essentially different or better than any other persons in it, so God the Father is head of the Trinity without any essential difference between any member of the Trinity.

    1. 1 John 5:7 “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”

This verse directly supports the doctrine of the Trinity and is included in most versions of the Bible until the 19th century. But it appears in only three Greek manuscripts, all of which are late and of suspect nature. No church father quotes the verse, which is a significant fact, because had they known the text, they certainly would have used it in the Trinitarian controversies they were engaged in. It’s not found in the Latin until the 4th century. Erasmus did not include it in his first two versions of his Greek NT because he couldn’t find it in any existing Greek text. He included it reluctantly in his third and following editions, with a lengthy footnote asserting his disbelief in its authenticity. It was included in the KJV because the translators followed Greek manuscripts based on Erasmus’ third edition. Thus this text is of limited value in proving the Trinity. Fortunately, the existence of the Trinity can be easily proven from many other texts.

    1. Misinterpretations of the Trinity

      1. Tri-theism: three separate gods rather than one God in three persons.

      2. Modalism: three roles or modes of existence. The one God manifests Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

      3. Arianism: the Son is a created being, “a god,” and thus inferior to the Father in nature or essence. Jehovah’s Witnesses are Arians.

    2. The use of “only begotten” and “first born”

Critics of the doctrine of the Trinity often assert that Christ cannot be equal with the Father because he was begotten and is called the first born. However, the term “only begotten” does not necessarily suggest a beginning point in time, but rather the unique, one-of-a-kind quality of Jesus. The term “only begotten” could be translated “one-and-only.”

The term “first born” is based on the OT idea that the first born son inherits a double portion of the father’s estate and other privileges unique to the first born son. Figuratively, the word denotes special privilege, priority and supremacy (c.f., Ex 4:22; Col 1:18; Heb 1:6). Christ is the head of the church and supreme over all, and is thus the first born. The word emphasizes Christ’s position, not his birth or origin. Read Psalm 89:27.

Conclusion: The Bible clearly teaches the doctrine of the Trinity and Christians have believed it for nearly 2000 years. We may not fully grasp its meaning or understand how three can be one, but we must believe that one God exists eternally and indivisibly as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


      1. Must we thoroughly understand a doctrine in order to believe it? No.

      2. Why is denial of the Trinity such a serious error? Because it denigrates the nature of God. It says that Jesus and the HS are not fully and equally God.

      3. What’s wrong with this statement:

The Bible calls God by the names Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That does not mean that He is three persons. Actually, these are the titles of three roles that He has filled. This can be understood in the same way that a man can say, “I am a father, son, and husband.” A man can truly be all three, but he is still a single person. So it is with God.

The Bible teaches 3 persons, not 3 modes of operation. The above idea is called modalism–one God functions in different modes at different times. Refutation: All three members of the Godhead show up simultaneously (e.g., Matthew 3:16-17), which would be impossible if modalism was true.

1 Moody Handbook of Theology p. 198.

2 Chafer

Lesson 4: The Deity of Christ

Lesson 4: The Deity of Christ

Orthodox Christianity claims that Jesus of Nazareth was God in human flesh. This doctrine is absolutely essential to true Christianity. If it is true, then Christianity is unique and authoritative. If not, then Christianity does not differ in kind from other religions. Thus, this is a vital topic.

The teaching of the Bible and the historic confession1 of the Church is:

We believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man. He is God of the substance of the Father begotten before the worlds, and He is man of the substance of His mother born in the world; perfect God, perfect man subsisting of a reasoning soul and human flesh; equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, inferior to the Father as touching His Manhood. Who although He be God and Man yet He is not two but one Christ; one however not by conversion of the Godhead in the flesh, but by taking of the Manhood in God; one altogether not by confusion of substance but by unity of Person. For as the reasoning soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ.

The Westminster Confession2 puts it a little more simply:

The Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man’s nature, with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin; being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.

Christ is, and always has been, 100% God, to which was added a human nature at the incarnation, making Him 100% man and 100% God, without any confusion, intermingling, or overcoming of either the divine or the human natures. While each member of the Godhead is equal in glory, Christ voluntarily took on a subordinate role in order to accomplish the plan of redemption. Each member of the Godhead works in perfect harmony to mercifully bring about the redemption of believers.

Cultists and skeptics commonly misunderstand this vital doctrine. They may believe that Christ is either entirely divine (not really human) and only appears to be human, or that the divine and human natures are somehow combined or mixed. Some cultists assert that Jesus was the first and greatest of God’s creation. But any teaching that comes short of acknowledging Christ’s full deity is simply incorrect and unbiblical.

How do we know that Jesus is equal with God the Father? Several reasons:3

  1. Christ existed before the birth of Jesus.

Many mistakenly believe that Christ came into existence at the birth of Jesus. However, the Bible teaches that Christ is eternal. As God, there was never a time when He was not.

    1. Christ existed prior to Creation .

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The context of this verse clearly indicates that “the Word” here is Jesus.

    1. Christ was active in Creation .

All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (See also Colossians 1:16.)

Note: Since Christ was the Creator, He could not have been part of the creation.

    1. Christ appeared in temporary human form in the Old Testament.

Gen 16:7 Now the Angel of the Lord found [Hagar] by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur.

Who Was the Angel of the Lord?

Several facts have led many scholars to identify “the angel of the Lord” with Christ:

  • The use of the definite article (“the” angel): appearances of other divine messengers normally do not include the article (Luke 2:9 and Acts 12:7).

  • The angel of the Lord is equated with God and worshiped as God (Exodus 3:1-5).

  • The angel of the Lord never appears after Jesus is born.

This should not lead us to conclude that Jesus is an angel or any other kind of created being. The word “angel” is simply “messenger.” These were pre-incarnate appearances of God the Son.

    1. Christ claimed to have existed prior to Abraham .

Jn 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

Jesus here clearly claims to be the “I AM” of Exodus 3:14, i.e., Yahweh, the God of the Israelites. Look at the next few verses to see how the Jews responded to this — they understood that He was equating Himself with God, and they wanted to stone Him for it.

  1. Clear statements in Scripture equate Christ with God.

    1. John 1:1 clearly states “the Word was God.” It’s unreasonable to deny that this verse is teaching the deity of Christ. Cultists do deny it but Christians have upheld this obvious interpretation for two thousand years.

    2. In John 10:30-33, Jesus states “I and my Father are one.” The Jews understood this assertion and accused Jesus of claiming to be equal with God. They were going to stone him for such a claim. The word that Jesus used suggests oneness in nature or essence.

    3. In John 20:28, Thomas calls Jesus “My Lord and my God.” Jesus accepts such worship.

    4. In Philippians 2:6, Paul asserts that Jesus was “in very nature God” who “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.”

    5. Hebrews 1:8-10 clearly equates the Son with God.

But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” And: “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.”

  1. Christ is called the “ Son of God .”

In Scripture, “son of” often means “to possess the character qualities of” a person or object. For example, in Genesis 5:32 the original Hebrew literally says that Noah was the “son of 500 years.” Acts 4:36 says that the name “Barnabas” means “Son of Encouragement.” The title “Son of God” indicates that Christ possesses the attributes of God, a fact which even Christ’s enemies acknowledged:

Jn 10:33-36 The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “… do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?”

  1. Christ is fully God.

Col 2:9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;

Heb 1:3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Some cults and/or false religions teach that Christ is “a god” or somehow less than fully equal with God the Father. The Bible teaches that He is fully and equally God.

  1. Christ demonstrated that He was God.

    1. Christ demonstrated that He was omnipotent .

Mk 4:39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

    1. Christ demonstrated that He was omniscient .

Mt 12:25 But Jesus knew their thoughts, …

    1. Christ demonstrated that He was sovereign .

Mt 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”

    1. Christ demonstrated that He was holy .

Christ did not yield to Satan’s temptations (Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13). Many other texts assert Christ’s sinlessness.

Jn 8:46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?

2 Co 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

1 Pe 2:22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;

Arguments often used against the deity of Christ:

  1. Jesus denied equality with God the Father when He said, “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). Paul also denies such equality when he asserts that “the Son also himself be subject unto [God]” (1 Cor 15:28).

Answer: The Father and the Son occupy different offices or function in different roles, but that does not imply a difference in essence or nature. Jesus submits to the Father as part of his role as Son. This is a functional relationship that does not imply a inferior nature.

  1. Jesus must have been inferior to God because He was limited. He claimed to be ignorant of some things, which cannot be said of God. So He must be less than God.

Answer: Jesus possessed two natures: God and man. As a man, Jesus was limited in some respects—He got hungry, thirsty, tired, etc. His divine nature was unlimited, but His human nature was limited. Any limitations that He experienced were part of His human nature.

  1. Jesus claimed not to be good (Mark 10:18), so He must not be equal with God.

Answer: A careful look at Mark 10:18 shows that Jesus is not saying that He is not good. The man was unwilling to recognize Christ as his master, so Jesus is challenging the man’s use of the title “good master.” Jesus is saying, “Don’t call me ‘good master’ if you don’t really recognize my authority.” Jesus refuses to accept the flattery of the man and soon points out that this fellow is not as good as he thought he was.

  1. On the cross Jesus claimed that God had forsaken Him (Mark 15:34). God could never forsake Himself.

Answer: Jesus took the sin of the world upon Himself on the cross (2 Cor 5:21), which caused God the Father to turn His back temporarily upon the Son.

Many of those who deny the deity of Christ do so because they can’t understand the nature of the Trinity. While the three-in-one-ness of God is indeed difficult to comprehend, it is clearly taught in the Bible and Christians have believed it throughout history.

Conclusion: How do we know that Jesus is equal with God the Father? All the biblical evidence points to that conclusion. The Scripture explicitly states that He is divine. Divine names and attributes are ascribed to Christ. He does those things that only God can do. People worship Him as God. And He claimed to be God. As all genuine Christians have always believed, Jesus is the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity, equal in essence and nature to God the Father.

Almost all cults and other false religions deny the deity of Christ. If you want to know where a person stands, just ask, “What do you think about the deity of Christ?”


  1. Can you reject the deity of Christ and still be a Christian? No. This is an essential aspect of Jesus’ nature that one cannot deny and still claim to be a Christian.

  2. With all the Scriptural evidence, why do you think cultists deny the deity of Christ? 1. They are unsaved and cannot comprehend spiritual truth; 2. The Trinity doesn’t make sense to them so they want to get around it.

  3. How important is it that Christians have historically accepted and taught the deity of Christ? I’d say it’s very important. This has been a central doctrinal teaching in all branches of Christianity (RCC, EO, Protestant, independents, etc.) for 2k years.

1 From The Athanasian Creed. Athanasius (269-373 AD), the “Father of Orthodoxy,” was the bishop of Alexandria, Egyt and a great champion of orthodox belief.


3 Much of this material comes from BFL Lesson 13.

Lesson 3: The Resurrection of Christ

Lesson 3: The Resurrection of Christ

Christianity rises or falls on one historical event: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus rose from the dead, then everything he claimed is true—he is the Son of God, the Savior, the Messiah. If he did not rise from the dead, then all the things he said and taught are worthless. Paul says that if Jesus is not risen from the dead, the Christian faith is empty and meaningless (1 Cor 15:17-19). Christians believe that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead. One cannot claim to be a Christian unless he believes this central doctrine (cf. 1 Cor 15:1-4).

Note the Quote: “We need to see clearly that there can be positive theological implications of the resurrection only insofar as its historical reality is affirmed. While many theologians may find such a conviction hopelessly antiquated, the man in the street knows better. His common sense tells him that there is no reason why a dead man should be decisive for his existence today, and I agree with him. Once doctrinal teachings are detached from their historical realities, we have entered the arena of myth. And there is simply no good reason to prefer Christian myths over other myths or, for that matter, secular philosophies. The resurrection is only real for our lives today if it is a real event of history.”1

Remember the central aim of the apologetic task: to defend or make highly probable the truth-claims of Christianity. The central truth-claim of Christianity is the resurrection of Christ. Our desire is to show non-believers that it’s reasonable to believe that Jesus did rise from the dead. So how do we go about our task?

We must first admit that almost everything we know about this event is based on what the Bible says about it. There is very little extra-biblical information about Jesus’ death and resurrection. So what we know is based on the accounts from the Bible. If one does not accept what the Bible says about Jesus’ resurrection, then there is no hope of making any headway.

We’ve already seen (in Lesson 2) that there is good reason to believe that the NT documents are trustworthy. History, archaeology, and manuscript evidence support the authenticity of the NT accounts. So, given that what we find in the NT is true, we can suggest the following in support of Jesus’ resurrection.2

  1. The death of Jesus was actual, literal and genuine. He did not just pass out, faint or temporarily lose consciousness. The crucifixion extinguished Jesus’ physical life.

Roman soldiers crucified Jesus and finished the execution. To quicken death, they broke the legs of the two criminals crucified on each side of Jesus. But when they came to Jesus they did not break his legs, because from experience they knew he was already dead. As a final precaution, however, they thrust a spear into his side, thus insuring his death. Further, those who handled Jesus’ body after removing it from the cross were convinced that he was really dead.

  1. The gravesite was secure.

The Jewish leaders met with Pilate to urge him to secure the gravesite. They said Jesus had predicted he would rise in 3 days. To assure that the disciples could not conspire in a resurrection hoax, Pilate ordered the official seal of Rome to be attached to the tomb to prevent any grave robbers from tampering with the tomb. To enforce the order, soldiers stood guard. A huge stone was rolled in front of the tomb as added security.

  1. The tomb was found empty.

On the morning after the Sabbath, some of Jesus’ followers went to the grave to anoint his body. But when they arrived, they were surprised at what they found: the huge stone had been moved and Jesus’ body was gone. As word got out, two disciples rushed to the burial site. The tomb was empty except for Jesus’ burial wrappings, which were lying neatly in place. In the meantime, some of the guards had gone into Jerusalem to tell the Jewish officials that they had fainted in the presence of a supernatural being that rolled the stone away. And when they woke up, the tomb was empty. The officials paid the guards a large sum of money to lie and say that the disciples stole the body while the soldiers slept.

  1. Many people claimed to have seen the resurrected Christ.

Paul wrote that himself, Peter and the other apostles, James, and more than 500 people at one time had seen the resurrected Christ (1 Cor 15:5-8). By making such a public statement, he gave critics a chance to check out his claims for themselves. In addition, Luke begins his second book (Acts) by saying that Jesus “presented Himself alive after his suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by [the apostles] during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). Eyewitness testimony is very strong.

  1. The apostles changed dramatically after the resurrection.

Jesus’ disciples were in a state of panic and utter depression after the crucifixion. Even Peter, who earlier had insisted that he was ready to die for his teacher, lost heart and denied that he even knew Jesus. But the apostles went through a dramatic change after the resurrection. Soon they were courageously standing face to face with the ones who had crucified their leader. Their spirit was like iron. They became unstoppable in their determination to obey the risen Christ. Even threats of imprisonment, torture and death did not stop them (Acts 5:42).

  1. The apostles were willing to die for their claims.

While it’s not uncommon for people to be willing to die for what they believe to be the truth, few if any will die for what they know to be a lie. That fact is important because the disciples of Christ did not die for deeply held beliefs about which they could have been honestly mistaken. They died for their claims to have seen Jesus alive and well after his resurrection. They never would have willingly gone to their deaths for what they knew to be a lie.

  1. Jewish Christians changed their day of worship.

The Sabbath day of rest and worship was basic to the Jewish way of life. Any Jew who did not honor the Sabbath was guilty of breaking the Law of Moses. Yet Jewish followers of Christ began worshiping with Gentile believers on a new day. The first day of the week, the day on which they believed Christ had risen from the dead, replaced the Sabbath. For a Jew, it reflected a major change of life. The new day, along with the Christian conversion rite of baptism, declared that those who believed Christ had risen from the dead were ready for more than a renewal of Judaism. They believed that the death and resurrection of Christ had cleared the way for a new relationship with God.

  1. Jesus and the prophets predicted the resurrection.

Jesus repeatedly claimed that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem to die and be resurrected from the dead. Isaiah also predicted a suffering servant who would bear the sins of Israel, being led like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53). David said that God would not allow “thine Holy One to see corruption” (Ps 16:10). Peter, in his famous sermon in Acts 2 referred to this Messianic Psalm and concluded, “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses” (Ac 2:32).

  1. The resurrection is central in the preaching of the Gospel.

The message that the apostles took to the “ends of the earth” was a message of the resurrection of Christ. As one reads through the book of Acts, he finds that the good news always included the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. The resurrection was not added to the message years later. The Gospel without a resurrection is no Gospel at all. Faith in the resurrection is not a side issue; it is the essence of Christianity.

  1. The very existence of the Church argues for the reality of the resurrection.

If the resurrection never happened, what explains the transformation of that small band of terrified disciples in to men and women who were willing to suffer and die because of their refusal to renounce Jesus’ resurrection? What changed them into bold, confident, courageous witnesses, willing to carry the gospel to every corner of the world? Only the resurrection explains it.

The conclusion to all this evidence strongly suggests that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead. Good, honest, trustworthy people who had nothing to gain and everything to lose believed that Jesus rose from the dead. However, skeptics and critics of the Bible suggest the following false theories as to what “really” happened after the crucifixion:3

  • The Swoon Theory

Jesus did not really die, he only fainted; therefore the disciples saw only a revived or resuscitated Christ. When he was placed in the tomb, he was still alive and the disciples, mistaking him for dead, buried him alive. After several hours, he revived in the coolness of the tomb, arose, and departed.

The absurdity of this theory is apparent. First, the Roman soldiers were convinced that he was dead even before they speared him. Second, the idea that Jesus could revive in the tomb, push away the stone, overcome the soldiers and convince his disciples that he had miraculously risen from the dead is simply beyond belief. [Read Nash’s quote of Stott, p. 157.] Third, the linen wrappings that clothed Jesus’ dead body were undisturbed in the tomb.

  • The Hallucination Theory

Those who claimed to see Jesus after the crucifixion were hallucinating. The apostles so desired and expected to see Jesus that they experienced mass hallucinations.

Again, the impossibility of this is apparent. How could so many people have hallucinations—especially 500 at one time? Hallucinations are not contagious. Furthermore, the appearances happened under different conditions and at different times. And, don’t forget, the disciples were reluctant to believe in the resurrection in the first place! Plus, they didn’t simply see Jesus; they touched him and spoke to Him. This false theory simply is irrational.

  • The Impersonation Theory

This is the view that the appearances were not really Christ at all, but someone impersonating Him. This, the opponents say, is evident because in some cases they did not recognize him at first (or at all). However, several facts show this theory to be implausible.

  1. The disciples were reluctant to believe in the resurrection, were doubtful and would have been hard to convince unless it was really him, as was the case with Thomas.

  2. It would have been impossible to impersonate Christ’s wounds. This was Christ’s proof to Thomas that it was really he (cf. John 20:24f).

  3. At times their inability to recognize him was a phenomenon of his glorified body brought about by his own purposes as in Luke 24:16, “But their eyes were restricted that they should not recognize Him.”

  4. These men had close personal interaction with the Lord for three years. It is highly improbable that an impersonator could have deceived them.

  5. They were meeting in locked chambers in some instances, and he suddenly appeared and then vanished. No one could fake such miraculous acts.

  • The Spiritual Resurrection Theory

This is the view that Christ’s resurrection was not a real physical resurrection. Proponents of this theory assert that Christ’s body remained in the grave and his real resurrection was spiritual in nature. The story was told as it was to illustrate the truth of spiritual resurrection. This is what many liberals believe. However, this theory lacks credibility for several reasons.

  1. A physical body did disappear from the tomb. If it was only a spiritual resurrection, then what happened to the body? History shows there was a body there and it disappeared.

  2. The resurrection accounts are not presented in parabolic or symbolic language, but as hard fact. John 20 is full of what Greek grammarians call vivid historical present tenses to stress the historical reality of the Gospel message.

  3. The record states he was touched and handled, that he had a body, and that he even ate with the disciples (Luke 24:30, 41f; John 21:12f).

  4. First Corinthians 15 teaches us that Christ not only arose, but that he arose bodily. He possessed a glorified body which had unique capacities. First Corinthians 15:44 calls it a spiritual body, but it was nevertheless a physical body as well. Note the following facts about the body of Christ:

  • He could appear in different forms (Mark16:12).

  • He could eat, though it was not needed for sustenance (Luke 24:30).

  • He could appear and disappear and could pass through solid objects (John 20:19, 26).

  • He could pass in a moment from one place to another (Luke 24:31).

Philippians 3:21 shows that his body was glorious and unique, but nevertheless, still a body according to which our bodies will one day be fashioned. So, it was spiritual, glorified, and yet a physical body of flesh and bone.

  • The Theft Theory

The disciples or someone else stole the body. Matthew 28:11-15 indicates that the Jewish leaders paid off the soldiers who guarded the tomb, encouraging them to tell the authorities that the disciples stole the body.

Who could and would steal the body under the circumstances?

  1. The Romans could have but would not have. Pilate had agreed to have guards watch and seal the tomb in order to prevent such a theft.4

  2. The Jewish leaders could not and would not. They were the ones who had requested a guard to protect the tomb against theft (Mt 27:63-66). The presence of the soldiers and the seal over the door made it virtually impossible for anyone to steal the body.

If any of the enemies of Jesus had taken the body, they would have brought it forward as soon as any claims of resurrection were made. The easiest way to end the whole affair would have been to parade the corpse of Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem, proving to everyone that he was still dead. The fact that they didn’t do that suggests that they didn’t have the body.

  1. The women could not and would not, for they were wondering who would remove the stone for them when they went early Sunday morning to finish burial preparations (cf. Mark16:3-4).

  2. The disciples could not and would not because they were perplexed and scattered, huddled together in locked rooms. Some had even left town. The likelihood of these timid, anxious, disorganized men stealing the body of Jesus out from under the noses of a guard of highly disciplined and skilled soldiers while they all slept (an offense punishable by death) is ridiculous.

  • The Mistaken (or Unknown) Tomb Theory

One of the earliest false theories suggests that the disciples did not know where the tomb was located and probably went to the wrong empty tomb. This theory depends on the belief that those who were crucified were tossed into a common pit and that no one was sure where the authorities put the corpse.

This theory also disregards the straightforward historical narrative about the events surrounding Christ’s burial and the post-resurrection scene. The Gospel record indicates that Joseph of Arimathea received permission from Pilate to take the body to his own private tomb, not to a public mass burial ground. According to Scripture, the body of Christ was prepared for burial according to the burial customs of the Jews. Everyone involved knew where the tomb was. It’s simply irrational to think that the disciples would all go to the wrong tomb.

None of these theories adequately deals with the evidence of the known facts that surrounded the resurrection of our Lord. In order to believe such theories, one must totally reject the NT record, which there is no good reason to do. The evidence clearly asserts that he arose, and the resurrection marks him out as the Son of God (Rom 1:4), the Savior of the world.

If one comes to the conclusion that the NT records are basically reliable, he would also have to grant that Jesus must have risen from the dead. If so, He is exactly who he claimed to be.

Conclusion: We’ve seen that there is adequate evidence to believe that the resurrection actually did occur. It’s an historical event beyond doubt. All the theories that attempt to explain away the resurrection have proven to be absurd and/or unreasonable. [Read Nash’s quote of Craig, p. 162]


  1. What is the primary source of information about the resurrection? The NT.

  2. What makes the resurrection such an important event? Because Christianity is based on it. It’s the central doctrine of the faith.

  3. What do you think are the strongest lines of evidence that Jesus rose from the dead? The empty tomb, eyewitness testimony, accurate reporting of events.

  4. What must skeptics assume in order to discount the resurrection? They have to assume that the NT records are wrong.

  5. How can you convince someone that the resurrection is true if he or she does not believe the NT records? You can’t. One must trust that the Bible is true because it’s the only source of information on the topic. But there’s good reason to believe that the NT records are true.

1 William Craig, Knowing the Truth About the Resurrection, Our Response to the Empty Tomb

2 Some of this material from Ten Reasons to Believe, RBC Ministries, http://www.gospelcom.net/rbc/rtb

3 From False Theories Against the Resurrection of Christ by J. Hampton Keathley III. The Biblical Studies Foundation, 1997.

4 There is some doubt as to whether the guards were Roman or Jewish Temple guards. The guards may have been the same (Roman) ones who were in charge of the crucifixion. It seems more likely that they were Jewish because they reported to the High Priest rather than to the Roman authorities. In either case they never would have fallen asleep on the job.

Lesson 2: The Reliability of the Bible

Lesson 2: The Reliability of the Bible

One of the purposes of apologetics is to present a rational basis for Christian faith. We want to demonstrate that Christianity is reasonable, logical and sensible. Although we’ve already shown that Christianity does not rest on man’s intellectual ability to prove the claims of the Bible, it is beneficial to examine some of the evidence that supports Christianity. In this lesson we’ll endeavor to show the legitimacy of Christianity’s foundational documents and basic claims.

Christianity stands or falls with the Bible. Like the old song says, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” If the Bible is not trustworthy, then faith based upon the Bible is empty and absurd. If one could find genuine, unquestionable errors and/or contradictions in the Bible, Christianity would come crumbling down. Hence, Christian apologists have for centuries been defending the Bible against the attacks of critics and skeptics. In today’s lesson we’ll discuss why faith in the record of Scripture is not misplaced.

Scripture’s Doctrine of Scripture

What does the Bible say about itself? It claims to be God’s book, originating from the very breath of God (2 Tim 3:16). The Bible is God’s self-witness; it is God speaking to us. The words “Thus saith the LORD” occur 279 times in the OT. There is no higher authority, no greater ground of certainty than that established as the Holy Spirit enables Christians to believe, understand and use the Scriptures rightly.

Difficulties of the Apologetic Task

The primary source of our knowledge of the events we are concerned about are the Scriptures themselves. While there is some extra-biblical information available, it does not add much to our knowledge of the events we are interested in. Thus we must ask the question, “Are the accounts recorded in the Bible worthy of belief?”

From the outset we should admit that proving that something actually occurred in history is not as easy as one might think. If there’s doubt as to what occurred a few years or a few centuries ago, imagine trying to prove that something happened 2,000 or even 3,000 years ago! Today we can go back to newspaper or TV reports to research an event, but in biblical times such technologies did not exist. The events of the Bible occurred before the invention of the printing press, so the texts we have are copies of hand-written documents. Small errors can creep into such texts over time as one copy is made from another. Some copyists and translators were more careful than others, so there are some texts that are admittedly less reliable than others. These are just a few of the challenges facing those who seek to defend the reliability of the Bible. However, none of these difficulties make our task impossible.

Some people argue that the details of the biblical stories are not very important as long as the general teaching comes through. Errors of historical or geographical nature are not all that important, they suggest. However, if the Bible is in error on areas that we can check (like dates and locations), then how do we know that it’s not wrong concerning doctrine? The Bible claims to be God’s Word, not just a newspaper account or a historical record. If it’s truly inspired, we should expect it to be perfect in all that it affirms. And that’s exactly what we find—it’s perfectly reliable.

The Reliability of OT History

The OT does not read like a standard history book—it’s full of miraculous stories. God walks on earth and interacts with man, angels appear, children are born to old people, fire falls from the sky, prophets foretell events, a cloud leads a nation through the wilderness, iron floats, and a host of other fascinating events are recorded in the pages of the OT. There are those who dismiss such accounts immediately simply because they don’t believe such miraculous events could have happened. Thus, even if archaeology and related sciences could vouch for all the ordinary data contained in the OT (e.g., dates, places, reigns of kings, etc.), it could say nothing about such miraculous events. They are unverifiable. The only reason we know they happened is that those who saw them happen recorded them.

Before tackling the issue of the historical accuracy of the OT accounts, one must first decide upon the issues of the existence of God, revelation and the possibility of miracles. If one admits that God could exist and that He could intervene in the normal flow of events with a miracle, then the contents of the OT are not so ridiculous after all. On the other hand, if one is dead-set against the possibility of miracles, then he’ll find much to ridicule in the OT.1

With this backdrop, we can still make a good case for the accuracy of the OT account. Here are some factors that argue for the historical accuracy of the OT:2

  1. The text of the Hebrew OT has been preserved with an accuracy unparalleled in any other Near-East literature. The Jews have always held Scripture in very high regard and were exceedingly careful to preserve their texts.

A group of scribes known as the Massoretes (500-900 AD) carefully copied and cared for the Hebrew Bible. They were so meticulous in their work that they successfully transmitted the text with marvelous accuracy. [Read Evidence p. 56]

An example of how well the OT text was preserved over the years is found among the texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS). Prior to the finding of the DSS, the oldest copy of Isaiah available dated back to about 900 AD. In the DSS was a copy of Isaiah from about 150 BC. Looking at the two copies, scholars found only minor differences, mostly matters of spelling, word order, and word use. The text had been preserved very faithfully during that entire time period (about 1,000 years). This strongly suggests a very careful and faithful preservation work over the years that separate the two copies. And if this is true of Isaiah, it’s likely true of the rest of the OT books.

  1. Archaeology largely supports biblical dates. Evidence supports the age and origin of Abraham, Moses and many of the other figures in the OT. One scholar asserts that “no archaeological discovery has ever [contradicted] a biblical reference.”3

  2. There are significant similarities between the biblical accounts and the findings of archaeology regarding the social and political patterns of the times. For example, Babylonian legal documents found in 1925 near the Tigris River reflect and confirm the practices mentioned in the Bible.

  3. Various people groups mentioned in the OT, once regarded by skeptics as legendary, have been discovered. A good example of this is the Hittite nation. Other than in the Bible, no evidence was found for them until scholars found a huge library full of Hittite cultural items.

  4. The Assyrian and Hittite law codes prove that OT laws are had counterparts in other Near Eastern cultures.

  5. Excavations of ancient sites have proven that the other religions mentioned in the OT did exist and that some of their rituals and practices were similar to those the Israelites practiced.

  6. The story of the Israelite conquest of Canaan and settlement there is confirmed by archaeology. Evidence of the violent destruction of Canaanite cities squares with the OT record of the times.

  7. Close parallels exist between the covenants (agreements or treaties) God made with Abraham and those secular kings made with their subjects.

While skeptics and critics would likely take issue with some of the above points, the more scholars dig around and explore in the Middle East, the more evidence comes to light supporting the OT record of events. Archaeology disproves many alleged biblical errors and inaccuracies.

New Testament Accuracy

Perhaps more important to Christians is the issue of how accurate and reliable the text of the NT is. The following facts strongly suggest that the text of the NT is very reliable and accurate.

  1. A large amount of manuscript evidence exists supporting the NT.

  • There are about 5,600 Greek manuscripts of the NT in existence today. In contrast to this, other books from biblical times may be recorded in only a few manuscripts (MSS) or even a few scraps of MSS. Further, the oldest of these MSS may come from a time many hundreds of years after the book was originally written.4 The oldest NT documents come from a time only 50 years or so after the autographs. So there are no other books like the NT. No other ancient books have so much high quality MSS evidence to back up their claims.

  • There are many versions of the NT in other languages. The NT was translated into many languages, such as Latin, Syriac and Egyptian (a.k.a. Coptic). These are important because they were translated from the Greek very early on and likely reflect an early (and thus more likely accurate) reading of the Greek.

  • The NT has also been preserved in the form of quotations in other works. Some of these writings contain lengthy quotations from the Bible. These are important because they go back to an early form of the Greek NT.

  1. Because of the hand-copying process, slight errors were inserted into the text. However, such errors are generally small and insignificant, and can be identified by comparing several texts to each other. And even though there are differences between the various families of Greek MSS, these differences (called variants) are generally minor and do not demand any changes in doctrine or practice. No essential teaching of the NT is greatly affected by any copying errors or variations from one text to another.

  2. This historical accuracy of the NT is verifiable. One does not find historical errors in the text of the Bible.

  • Luke, the author of Luke and Acts, was a very careful and accurate historian. He includes a great deal of secular history in his accounts—rulers, dates, places, customs and the like (e.g., Luke 3:1-2). Luke even is able to accurately record the correct titles of the many Roman government officials mentioned in his books, no small feat in itself. Archaeology has repeatedly vindicated Luke’s historical accounts, so that Luke is now considered among the best ancient historians ever.

  • Archaeology has confirmed many details from the pages of the NT. Entire books have been written on how archaeology supports NT claims.

  • Archaeologists found an inscription warning Gentiles not to enter certain sections of the Temple area. This temple barrier was undoubtedly the source of Paul’s statement about the “middle wall of partition” which separated Jews and Gentiles at the Temple (Eph 2:14).

  • An inscription by Erastus, the city treasurer in Corinth who Paul mentioned (Rom 16:23) was uncovered in 1929.

  • Scholars found the amphitheater where the riot caused by Demetrius took place (Acts 19:23-41).

  • Even ancient coins confirm the details related in the NT.

  • The Pavement, which the Jews called Gabbatha, was buried for centuries and discovered only recently.

  • The Pool of Bethesda, which had no record except in the NT, has been positively identified.

  • The ossuary (burial box) of the high priest Caiaphas has been found.

[Teacher: For more info on the reliability of the OT and NT texts, see the two articles in the Additional Material at the end of this curriculum.]

Conclusion: We don’t ultimately believe the Bible because of the many proofs and evidences that it is an accurate, reliable book. We believe because God gives us the gift of faith. Nevertheless, the Bible is historically verifiable, accurate and trustworthy. Whether one examines the Bible’s historical, archaeological or manuscript evidences, he will find nothing to discredit the Bible’s claims. Such an examination in fact lends great credibility to the Bible.


  1. What does the Bible claim about itself? That it is the word of God, inspired by God.

  2. Does archaeology generally support or disprove the Bible? By far it supports the Bible. Some secular scholars certainly allege that history contradicts some of the biblical account. But no one has ever come up with a certifiable, genuine contradiction between history/archaeology and the Bible.

  3. How is the manuscript evidence of the NT different from other books from the same period? There’s much more and much earlier support for the NT than any other book of like age.

  4. What are the main lines of evidence supporting the validity of the NT? Historical accuracy, archaeological accuracy and manuscript evidence.

1 In a future lesson we’ll discuss the possibility of miracles.

2 From Can I Trust the Bible? p. 135f.

3 Evidence, p. 65, quoting archaeologist Nelson Glueck. Biblical scholars recognize that there are still problems harmonizing archaeology with the Biblical account, but none so serious as to bring into question the accuracy of the Bible.

4 For example, Caesar’s famous book Gallic War, written about 50 years before Christ, is found in only 9 or 10 MSS, none of which is older than the ninth century AD. So nearly a thousand years separate the original writing and the oldest copies now available.

Lesson 1: An Accurate Gospel Presentation

Part I: Defending the Validity of Christianity

Lesson 1: An Accurate Gospel Presentation

A significant aspect of the apologetic task is presenting the Gospel message to unsaved people with the goal that they would convert to Christ. We commonly call this evangelism. It is critical that we are able to make an accurate presentation of the Gospel. Today the Gospel message is often watered down, misunderstood and misspoken. In our evangelistic efforts we must make sure that we are communicating the true Gospel in an appropriate way. We must strive to present the message of the Gospel clearly and accurately. This lesson will examine what information you must include as you tell others of their need for salvation through Christ.

When you present the gospel, there are certain topics that your audience must understand. You should thoroughly understand each topic yourself and you should be able to discuss the content of each topic with any age group.

Note the progression that follows: God, man, Christ, response (repentance and faith)

  1. Who is God? The Creator and sovereign Lord

It’s important that you start here because much error and confusion regarding the person of God abounds in our culture and around the world. People need to know who God is and where they stand in relation to Him.



Gen 1:1

God exists. He is the Creator. Because He made us, we are totally dependent upon Him. He can do as He pleases. He is in charge of the universe.

1 Pet 1:15-16

God is holy. He never sins. He always does what’s right.

John 3:16; Rom 5:8; 2 Pet 3:9

God loves us. He wants to have a friendly relationship with us. He wants us to be saved and has provided a means of salvation.

Eph 1:11

God is absolutely sovereign. He’s the King of kings.

Rev 4:11

As Creator, God is worthy of man’s worship.

  1. What is man? Utterly sinful and unable to save himself.



Jer 17:9; Rom 5:12, 3:10-23

People are basically sinful. People do bad things because they are sinful. Each person has sinned against a holy God.

Eph 2:1, 4:17-19

Man is dead in trespasses and sin. He has no fellowship with God.

John 3:18, 36

Sinners are separated from and under the wrath of God. This is man’s primary problem, and he cannot solve it by himself.

Rom 6:23a; Isa 59:1-2, 64:6

Sin deserves to be punished. That punishment is eternal separation from God and from everything good.

Rev 20:14-15

Those who remain in their sin will spend eternity in hell.

It’s critical that your audience understands the nature and severity of their sin and alienation from God. Francis Schaeffer said that, given one hour, he would take 45-50 minutes to show how one has sinned against and offended a holy God, and then 10-15 minutes to preach the gospel. A person must acknowledge his disease before he’s ready to take the cure. So make sure your student understands the full meaning and ramifications of his or her sin.

  1. Who is Christ? The sacrifice, Savior and Lord

Again, it’s critical to take the time to explain exactly what the Bible says about the person and work of Christ. There’s much false information floating around about Jesus—don’t assume that the student knows who He is and what He did.



Matt 1:21; Luke 19:10; John 1:1; 1 Pet 2:22

He is the Son of God, God in the flesh, and lived a perfect, sinless life. Jesus is the Savior. He came to save us from our sin.

1 Cor 15:3-5

Christ died for our sins, was buried, and arose the third day.

2 Cor 5:21; Isa 53:4-7

Christ took the punishment for our sins. He suffered instead of us. He was our substitute.

John 14:6; Acts 4:12

He is the only way of salvation. There is no other means.

Mt 7:21-23; Luke 6:46; Rom 10:9

Jesus is both Lord and Savior. We must recognize His Lordship.

  1. How should I respond to the Gospel? Repent of my sins and trust in Christ.

The gospel message demands a response. Just knowing the facts of the gospel does not mean that one is saved. One must make a personal decision regarding the facts.



John 3:16; Acts 20:21

Salvation occurs when one repents of his sin and believes in the person and work of Christ.

1 Thes 1:9; Acts 20:21, 26:20

Repentance is turning away from and rejecting sin and turning to God. It is being sorry for sin and wanting to be forgiven.

John 3:16, 36, 5:24; Eph 2:8-9

Faith is trusting in Christ to forgive you. It is a trust in and commitment to Him. It is trusting Christ alone to be saved. Belief consists of knowledge, assent, and whole-hearted trust.

Luke 14:33

Discipleship is costly. Following Christ may require a major change in your lifestyle.

Two frequently neglected but essential aspects of salvation are repentance and commitment. Clearly define and emphasize the need for repentance. Simply acknowledging one’s sin is not enough (e.g., Judas was sorry that he sinned). We must urge people to turn from their sin and seek forgiveness. And when one trusts Christ as Savior, he is also recognizing Him as Lord. We must present Christ as the NT presents him—both Lord and Savior. Make this clear to the student. Unfortunately, much of the material written for evangelism either leaves out or downplays both repentance and commitment. This fact results in many false professions of faith.

Note: People sometimes attempt to make the salvation decision as easy as possible by stripping down the gospel to its bear minimum, and in so doing they leave out important information. Being saved is more than just believing in Jesus. Millions of people who claim to believe in Jesus are not genuinely saved (cf. Mt 7:21-23). So we have to carefully define our terms and express precisely what we mean when we present the gospel to an unbeliever.

Conclusion: An accurate, clear presentation of the Gospel message is an important aspect of the apologetic task. Make sure you can tell others why they need to be saved and what they must do to be saved.


  1. Shouldn’t we first convince people that God exists before launching into a Gospel presentation? No, the Bible teaches that everyone knows that God exists. They need to hear of their alienation from God, of God’s wrath against them, and of the means of salvation thru faith in Christ.

  2. Shouldn’t we first convince our audience that the Bible is trustworthy before telling them what the Bible says? No, we believe the Word of God does the work of God, whether your audience believes it or not. It’s God’s job to convince unbelievers that the Bible is true. We simply proclaim its message.

  3. What if the person you are talking to tells you that he doesn’t believe in God or the Bible? Still present the same message as long as he is willing to listen. Remember that faith comes by hearing the Word, not by being convinced intellectually.

  4. Why do we need to stress the importance of accuracy and clarity in a Gospel presentation? Because it’s so common for people to leave out or add to the message of the Gospel. It’s very common today for people to make it as easy and painless as possible for people to accept Christ. Evangelists often say little or nothing about repentance, the Lordship of Christ or the costs of discipleship.

Introduction to Biblical Apologetics, cont.

Introduction to Biblical Apologetics, continuation 

The Christian View of Knowledge

As we’ve already learned, the task of biblical apologetics is to spread and defend the Christian message while challenging other non-Christian systems. Before learning how to do so, it’s important that we consider some truths about how we know what we know.1 Understanding how believers and unbelievers think will help us become better apologists.

A Controlling Text

Paul gives us some important instructions regarding knowledge in 2 Corinthians 10:5 –

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

Another translation puts it this way:

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Note the following conclusions based on this text:

  • Christians must strive to “cast down” those systems of thought that are contrary to Biblical teaching. This seems to apply most specifically to the thought life of individual Christians. That is, they should not allow any anti-Christian ways of thinking within their own minds. But more broadly speaking, part of the apologetic task is challenging those philosophies and religions that contradict the Bible no matter where one finds them. It’s biblical to expose and challenge all anti-Christian ideas, whether within one’s own mind or in the broader culture.

  • In all our thinking, Christ is to be recognized as Lord. That is, the contents of the Bible, and especially the teachings of Christ and the apostles as found in the NT, should inform all our thinking. One does not try to defend or propagate Christianity from a supposedly neutral standpoint. Instead, biblical teaching should influence all thinking. Believers need to develop a Bible-soaked logic, a way of thinking that is saturated with biblical principles.

The Bible is the Standard

What is the basis for knowledge? How do we determine that something is true or false? Christians believe that the ultimate standard for determining the truth or falsity of anything is God’s Word. Scripture can be judged by no higher authority than Scripture itself. Believers accept a biblical world-view. Unbelievers adopt other grounds for determining truth, like personal or majority opinion, or even whatever works best. But Christians must base their thoughts on the Bible.

We do not judge the Bible on human terms. “It makes sense to me” is not the yardstick for judging the truth of biblical claims. Man’s intellect is not the highest standard. We submit to the Bible’s teaching; we do not stand in judgment of it.

Communication with Non-Believers

There is no such thing as neutrality when it comes to one’s views about the Bible, God, or Christianity. Everyone approaches the Bible with a set of ideas that are already set in place. Such views are called presuppositions. Christians believe that the Bible is true, that God is the creator and sustainer of all things, and that the highest duty of man is to honor and obey God. Christians know this because God has convinced them that such is the case. Non-Christians reject the Christian view and replace it with other ideas. Further, non-believers are blind to spiritual truth, spiritually dead, and under the influence of Satan, all of which prevents them from comprehending biblical truth. They think that the “message of the cross is foolishness” (1 Cor 1:18). So neither believers nor unbelievers approach the Bible from a neutral standpoint.

How can Christians and non-Christians communicate if they reject each other’s presuppositions? That is, if Christians believe the Bible and non-Christians reject the Bible, how can a Christian convince a non-Christian that he needs to be saved? The Bible teaches that non-Christians do have some knowledge of God, and that deep down they agree on some basic things even if they claim not to (cf. Rom 1:18-25). So based on this fact, believers can encourage unbelievers to admit what they know to be true—that God exists and that there’s a difference between right and wrong. We simply proclaim the message and trust that God will use it to draw people to Himself.

Also, keep in mind that in the evangelism process the believer is not trying to argue a non-believer into submission. He’s not trying to win a debate, thereby intellectually convincing the non-believer that the Gospel is true. He’s simply announcing the good news, planting the seed. It’s God’s business to make an unbeliever responsive to the message. In fact, without God’s work in the unbelieving heart, no one would respond positively to the Gospel. We can plant and water the seed, but God is the one who brings about a harvest (1 Cor 3:6).

The Danger of “Neutrality”

Some suggest that in defending and propagating the Gospel, believers should take more of a neutral attitude. That is, Christians should encourage unbelievers to take an honest, impartial look at the Bible and Christianity and judge it for themselves. People should not assume anything; they should simply look at the Bible like any other book—honestly and impartially. If the Bible seems to make reasonable sense, if it holds up to critical investigation, then it is acceptable. If not, then disregard it.

The problem with such an approach, as noted above, is that everyone starts with some presuppositions. Those who desire an impartial investigation of the Bible assume that they are qualified to engage in such an investigation. They presuppose that their own intellect is sufficient to judge whether the content of the Bible is reasonable. In fact, the Bible itself claims that the principles contained in it will not make sense to non-believers. The wisdom of God is foolishness to men (1 Cor 1:18f). Hence, from a non-believing, “neutral” point of view, the Bible will never be acceptable. It makes no sense, therefore, to encourage unbelievers to “impartially” judge the Bible. Rather, we must encourage and even demand that unbelievers submit to and obey the Bible whether they recognize its authority or not. We do not hold the Bible up for critical scrutiny. We simply proclaim its truths and let the chips fall where they may.

“You shall not tempt [make trial] of Jehovah your God” (Deut. 6:16). When Satan tempted Jesus to do so—to push God into offering proof of the veracity of His word (as quoted by Satan)—Jesus rebuked Satan, “the accuser,” with these very words from the Old Testament. It is not God whose integrity and veracity and knowledge is somehow suspect. It is that of those who would accuse Him and demand proof to satisfy their own way of thinking or living.2

In every area of life, the Bible demands submission to its principles. Christians must be committed to biblical thinking in every area. Paul asserts that all wisdom and knowledge are deposited in the person of Christ (Col 2:3-8). Every thought is in some way related to Jesus Christ. Christians must refuse to think like unbelievers. To attempt a supposed neutrality or independence in our thinking would be an act of disloyalty. We are dependent upon God and the Bible and have no right or ability to assert our intellects apart from God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Prov 1:7). Rational thought is based on a correct understanding of God and His Word.



Vain in their imaginations

Every thought captive to the obedience of Christ

Their foolish heart was darkened

The light of the knowledge of the glory of God

Enemies of God in their minds

Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

“What is truth?” (Pilate)

“Thy Word is truth” (Jesus)

We are not implying in any of this that the Bible is essentially unreasonable, mistaken, full of genuine contradictions and absurdities, or unable to withstand investigation. Christianity is not blind faith that simply believes irrespective of the evidence. Reason is not the enemy of Christian faith. Perhaps no other world-view has as high a regard for logic as Christianity does.3 Critics have been examining the Bible for centuries in their quest to find fatal flaws or any proof that the Bible is not trustworthy.4 While one must admit that the Bible does contain many things difficult to understand and that there are some problems not easily resolved, there are no obstacles so serious that they destroy or even reduce the Bible’s credibility, as we shall see.

Circular Arguments

Those who take a presuppositional approach to apologetics are often charged with circular reasoning. We say the Bible is true because we believe the Bible. We assume what we are trying to prove. But all reasoning starts either with God or with man. Christians are persuaded that the correct starting point is not man’s intellect but God’s Word. Unbelievers also engage in circular reasoning, assuming what they are trying to prove—that they have the intellectual capacity to sit in judgement of the Bible. They think they are rational because they are rational. So there’s no avoiding circularity in reasoning. The question is which circle you want to be in, God’s or man’s.

The Purpose and Place of Evidence

There is much evidence that supports biblical claims. Christianity is not a house of cards that will come crashing down due to a lack of supporting evidence. Our faith is built on a solid foundation of historical accuracy and verifiable events. Some scholars believe that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single most well-attested event in all of ancient history. So there is no lack of evidence to back up the claims of the Bible and of Christianity.

People often say they reject Christianity because it fails to offer enough evidence to support its claims. In response, Christian scholars have accumulated a great many reasons to believe. However, we are on shaky ground when we base our faith solely on historical evidences. Historical studies can suggest that events actually happened, but they cannot prove it. They can persuade and remove doubt, but ultimately people do not convert to Christianity because they are intellectually moved by the proofs. God may use such studies to convince people of the truth of His Word, but conversion is not simply intellectual agreement to a series of statements. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom 10:17). The Holy Spirit uses the Word to convince people of their need for salvation. A study of the evidences of Christianity may remove some of the obstacles that hinder belief, but evidences alone will never bring about conversion. After all, the devil believes what the Bible says (James 2:19).

Unbelievers often claim that one should not believe anything that doesn’t have good evidence. The problem is that we believe countless things without good evidence or proof. If we eliminated all belief in things for which we don’t have good evidence, we would get rid of a good many things indeed. It’s clear that we do have the right to believe things even without solid proofs in many cases. Even the statement “You must have proof before you believe” is unprovable. Those who make such statements should be shown how absurd such a claim is. A person’s beliefs may be perfectly rational even if he cannot prove them to others. This of course does not suggest that Christianity lacks good proofs, only that evidence or lack thereof neither establishes nor destroys Christianity.5


The Christian view of knowledge seeks to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. There is no such thing as independent, impartial, or neutral thinking. Christians seek to think God’s thought after Him; unbelievers rebel against God by asserting their own intellectual independence. All reasoning starts either with God or with man. Christians assert that God and His Word is the correct starting place.


  1. Why is it so important to consider presuppositions before launching into a study of apologetics? Because Christians need to understand their own viewpoint as well as the unbelieving viewpoint. They further need to know that everyone, even the skeptic, bases his thinking on his own set of presuppositions.

  2. Explain the idea of circular reasoning and why all systems of thought are to some degree circular. Circular reasoning is assuming what you are trying to prove. All systems of thought are somewhat circular. Even science and math start with axioms that are presupposed and upon which the whole endeavor is based.

  3. When the unbeliever dismisses the Bible, what is he presupposing? That he has the capacity to sit in judgment of the Bible.

  4. How important are Christian evidences in one’s conversion to Christ? Such may remove obstacles and influence one to study the Bible, but ultimately one is not converted simply because he believed the evidence.

  5. What do we mean by a Bible-soaked logic? Thinking biblically, letting the Bible influence all your thoughts and decisions.

1 The technical word for the study of knowledge is epistemology, based on the Greek word epistamai, meaning “to know” or “to understand.”

2 Bahnsen, “Answering Objections”

3 Nash, p. 74. Many religions include irrationality as a primary aspect of their faith. Christianity does not.

4 Skeptics assert that they have found fatal flaws, but Christian scholars and apologists have discredited such assertions.

5 Nash, p. 88f.

Introduction to Apologetics

Introduction to Apologetics

We live in an era in which society ridicules both the Bible and those who take its claims seriously. The prominent philosophies of the day have caused most people to view the Bible as a source of myth, fable, and old-wives tales. The Bible is the object of criticism and mockery, especially for those who have been educated in the secular university system. Who today actually believes that Noah built an ark, that Jonah was swallowed by a whale, or that Jesus really walked on the water? Such accounts are for the feeble-minded and weak. Further, everyone knows that the Bible is full of contradictions, false statements and inaccuracies. Science has disproved all the major claims of Scripture. Almost everything we’ve been taught about the origins of Christianity is false. The manuscripts have been corrupted and corrupt church leaders have imposed their own political agendas.

Christian truth-claims come under attack in many ways today. They are challenged as to their meaningfulness. The possibility of miracles, revelation, and incarnation are questioned. Doubt is cast upon the deity of Christ or the existence of God. The historical or scientific accuracy of the Bible is attacked. Scriptural teaching is rejected for not being logically coherent. Conscious life following physical death, everlasting damnation, and a future resurrection are not readily accepted. The way of salvation is found disgusting or unnecessary. The nature of God and the way of salvation are falsified by heretical schools of thought. Competing religious systems are set over against Christianity—or some try to assimilate it into their own thought forms. The ethics of Scripture is criticized. The psychological or political adequacy of Christianity is looked down upon.1

Others suggest that the Bible was never meant to be taken literally. Like most fables and morality tales, the stories of the Bible are rooted in historical reality but point to higher principles that are true. It doesn’t matter if Jesus rose from the dead or not. The moral principles Jesus taught are more significant than detailed accuracy of the account. This is the position that most Liberal “Christians” take.2

Those who do take the Bible seriously are not comfortable letting such criticism pass without comment. Students of the Bible have for many years argued for the truth of Scripture, defending both themselves and the Bible from their critics. If the Bible is what it claims to be, all allegations of error and inaccuracies must prove unfounded. Christianity is not a “blind” faith. It is established upon verifiable historical events. If the record of the Bible is found to be genuinely mistaken, especially regarding key elements of the faith, Christianity would instantly lose all credibility. If Jesus did not actually rise from the dead, or if a certified error or contradiction could be proved to exist in the Bible, biblically-based faith would also crumble.

Hence, those who have staked their eternal destiny on the truth of the Bible strive to respond to criticisms. If the Bible is verifiably mistaken or corrupt, no one would retain his commitment to it as the Word of God. Also, believers seek to present logical, reasonable responses to critics to show them that their criticism of the Bible is inaccurate or mistaken. Further, students of the Bible want to be able to give an answer to those who have genuine questions about the Bible or about Christianity.

Apologetics has had a long history going all the way back to the New Testament itself. In the Book of Acts the Christians presented reasoned answers to various charges made against Christianity. To the Jews the church pointed out that Christ was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. To the Gentiles the church argued that God was calling them to turn from superstitious religions to the true God revealed in Jesus Christ. In all of their apologetics the early Church emphasized the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In fact, they called it the central pillar on which all of Christianity either stood or fell.

Key Text: 1 Peter 3:15 Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

All Christians should be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks for the reason for their hope in Jesus Christ. Of course, for some Christians this will be a very special ministry calling, but all Christians should be able to explain what they believe, why they believe it, why others should believe it, and why contradictory systems are inadequate.

Apologetics involves responding to any intellectual challenge to the Christian faith. This means that apologetics deals, first and foremost, with answering the outright denials of Christianity which are found in atheism and in other religions. But apologetics also deals with answering the distortions of Christianity, which are found primarily in the cults, as well as in some professing Christian groups within the Christian community itself. Thus, Christian apologetics must answer all challenges to the orthodox, biblical Christian faith — no matter who the challengers are.3


  1. Meaning.

    1. The Greek Word apologia is used 20 times in the NT.

Acts 18:4 Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

Acts 19:8-9 Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God… [and later] reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.

Acts 22:1 Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defense which I make now unto you.

Philippians 1:7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.

Philippians 1:16 I am put here for the defense of the gospel.

1 Peter 3:15 Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

    1. Activities synonymous with apologetics

      1. Jude 3 you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

      2. Titus 1:3 he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior

“The preaching” is that set of basic truths that constitute the salvation message. This message should include: 1) God; 2) Sin; 3) Jesus; 4) Faith and repentance.

      1. Titus 1:9, 11 [Pastors must] encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach– and that for the sake of dishonest gain.

  1. Definition of Apologetics: “A verbal defense; a reply to a formal charge; an answer.” Apologetics is the justification and defense of biblical Christianity. Biblical apologetics focuses on spreading and defending the Christian philosophy of life while challenging non-Christian philosophies.

The apologist responds to the objections of unbelievers in a way which sets forth the objective truth of Christianity and the exclusive character of the Christian system. He or she offers reasons for belief, vindicating the Christian worldview over against competing systems of thought and living. The appropriate response to critics of the faith is that of reasoning with them, refuting objections, proving conclusions, and offering arguments.

Offering arguments in favor of certain conclusions should not be confused with being argumentative or contentious in one’s demeanor. Presenting a reason for the hope that is within us does not demand that we do so in an offensive or arrogant way.4

By the way, apologetics has nothing to do with apologizing (saying you’re sorry) for anything.

  1. Specific Purposes of Apologetics

    1. to defend or demonstrate the truth-claims of Christianity; to prove that Christianity is true

    2. to answer particular objections and/or criticisms of the Bible and Christianity

    3. to give an account of the foundational concepts of the Christian faith

      1. the existence of God

      2. the reality of divine revelation, the Bible

      3. the ability to know God and truth

    4. 0to reach non-Christian with the gospel (i.e., evangelism)

    5. to challenge non-Christian faith systems (e.g., Mormonism, Islam); to attack the foolishness of unbelieving or unorthodox thought

Summary: Apologetics consists of:

  • Proof: presenting a rational basis for faith

  • Defense: answering objections of unbelief

  • Offense: exposing the foolishness of unbelief and unorthodoxy

  1. Two approaches to Apologetics

    1. Rationalist: setting forth rational, logical arguments defending Christianity with the aim of convincing unbelievers. This approach focuses on reasons to believe and on defending the faith against criticism. This is often called “traditional” or “classical” apologetics because this seems to be the method used by the most prominent apologists of earlier centuries. Rationalists start from “neutral” ground and work toward proofs that the Bible and Christianity are true. Before one can meaningfully discuss historical evidences, one has to establish God’s existence. Without a theistic context, no historical event could ever be shown to be a divine miracle. Once God is proven to exist, one can show that the Bible is God’s Word, that Jesus is God’s Son, and that Christianity is the only valid faith.

The problem with a rationalistic approach to apologetics is that one must assume a standard of truth that exists apart from the Bible. The Bible, in order to be true, must meet this independent standard. The Bible becomes subject to man’s ability to reason—one must show the unsaved person that the Bible is truly reasonable.5 Further, rationalists seem to rely on weighty arguments and evidence to bring conversion rather than on a simple declaration of the Gospel message.

    1. Presuppositional: starting out with the notion that the Bible is true and that it’s God’s business to convince unbelievers of this fact. This approach focuses on presenting the truths of Christianity as fact without regard for how unbelievers respond to it.

Presuppositional writer John Frame states, “[We] should present the biblical God, not merely as the conclusion to an argument, but as the one who makes argument possible.”6 By demonstrating that unbelievers cannot argue, think, or live without presupposing God, presupposition-alists try to show unbelievers that their own worldview is inadequate to explain their experience of the world and to get unbelievers to see that Christianity alone can make sense of their experience.

The problem with this approach is that it assumes what it’s trying to prove, namely, that the Bible is true. However, this seems to be consistent with Peter’s admonition to recognize the Lordship of Christ in the apologetic task (1 Pet 3:15). There is no true neutrality—everyone accepts the authority of God’s Word or they do not, and not to do so is sin.

Both the testimony of history and the testimony of God’s Word have informed us that the world will not be convinced one whit of the truth of Genesis because of a mountain of creationist evidence or the discovery of Noah’s Ark. The world will not be convinced one whit of the truth of Exodus and Joshua because of a mountain of archaeological evidence. The “evidence that demands a verdict” will always return from the world a verdict of unbelief. The “search for the historical Je­sus” or for the “historical Paul” will never convince men that Christ died and rose for them or that the New Testament is authentic. These might attract the nod of approval from a humanistic world that operates from a foundation of intellectual autonomy, but they will do nothing to change the heart. The Holy Sprit can change the heart of the enemy of the gospel, but he never stoops to engage the enemy on their terms. He will only engage the enemy on God’s terms: the foolishness of the Word preached. Far be it from us to imagine we can improve on his meth­ods. The world may call us “anti-intellectual,” but God will call us wise.7

Why does which apologetic approach you take matter? Imagine this scenario: you are attempting to convince a friend that Jesus really did rise from the dead. You show your friend all the evidence from the Bible that the resurrection is a fact. But your friend does not believe the Bible. He says that you can’t use information from the Bible to defend the Bible. The rational apologist would then step back and show that the Bible is indeed trustworthy. The presuppositionalist, on the other hand, would keep preaching the Bible, knowing that God has promised to use the Word to draw unbelievers to Himself in spite of the unbeliever’s unbelief. One should not revert to the unbeliever’s world-view just because the unbeliever doesn’t accept the Christian world-view.8

Note: A third approach to apologetics, experience, is commonly used to defend the faith in many Christian circles. That is, Christians argue for the existence of God and the validity of Christianity based on their own personal experiences of God. This is the argument “I know God is real because I can feel Him in my soul.”9 Feelings of inner peace, confidence, excitement, security or conviction may seem beyond question to the one feeling them, but have little weight with others. Experiences are by nature subjective and personal. While individuals may find such experiences confirm and deepen their own faith, it is unlikely that others will be persuaded based on such experiences. Hence, it is unwise to use personal religious experiences as a primary apologetic resource. Personal testimonies may aid apologetics, but one’s experiences should not be the focus of an apologetic encounter.

Another Note: Apologetics follows and presupposes a correct system of theology. One must determine the content of Christianity before he can defend and propagate it. The better you know the Bible and theology, the better you will be able to explain, promote and defend orthodox Christianity. It’s obviously counter-productive to defend and propagate false doctrine.

Conclusion: Apologetics is the study of the best ways to 1) explain Christianity to unbelievers; 2) defend Christianity against its critics; and 3) challenge unbelieving and unorthodox ideas about God. In this series we’ll follow this general outline, first looking at the validity of what Christianity teaches, then showing that many criticisms of Christianity don’t hold up under scrutiny, and finally exposing the weaknesses of unbelief and unorthodox ideas.


      1. What is apologetics? See conclusion.

      2. Why do we need to bother with defending Christianity? Can’t God defend Himself? God obviously doesn’t need our help to defend Him or His word. Nevertheless, we should be ready to give an answer because we are commanded to do so (1 Pet 3:15), because of biblical examples of doing so (e.g., Paul), and because apologetics is part of evangelism.

      3. What’s the difference between rational/classical apologetics and presuppositional apologetics? Rational apologetics seeks to defend the Bible using external information. It focuses on logical arguments and evidence external to the Bible. Presuppositional apologetics assumes that everyone has a basic understanding of God and that what they need to hear is what the Bible says even if they reject it.

1 Greg Bahnsen “Answering Objections” The Biblical Worldview</span><span style=’font-size:9.0pt; font-family:Arial;color:black’> (VII:2; Feb., 1991) Covenant Media Foundation

2 It’s important to use the term “liberal” accurately. A theological liberal is one who does not believe the Bible is literally true. He may see the Bible as a valuable record pointing to God, but he does not believe that the Bible is true in all it affirms. One should not use the term “liberal” in a theological context unless this is his meaning.

3 Christian Research Institute, What Is Apologetics?

4 Bahnsen, “Answering Objections”

5 Terms such as “likelihood” and “plausibility” frequently crop up in rationalist apologetics. The believer seeks to show the unbeliever that the Bible has good potential for being true.

6 From Five Views on Apologetics, Steven B. Cowan, ed.

7 Snoeberger, Mark, “Engaging the Enemy…But on Whose Terms? DBTS Journal, vol. 8 (Fall 2003), p. 84.

8 For example, one does not help a mentally ill person by adopting his (the sick person’s) skewed ideas.

9 Another example: “You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.” He Lives by Alfred H. Ackley, copyright 1961, Rodeheaver.

Biblical Apologetics

Biblical Apologetics

Introduction to Apologetics

Introduction to Apologetics, continuation

The Meaning and Purposes of Apologetics

The Christian View of Knowledge

Part I: Defending the Validity of Christianity

Lesson 1: An Accurate Gospel Presentation

Lesson 2: The Reliability of the Bible

Lesson 3: The Resurrection of Christ

Lesson 4: The Deity of Christ

Lesson 5: The Trinity

Part II: The Weaknesses of Criticisms of Christianity

Lesson 6: Common Criticisms

Lesson 7: The Problem of Evil, Part 1 (Weak Solutions to the Problem)

Lesson 8: The Problem of Evil, Part 2 (Biblical Solutions to the Problem)

Lesson 9: Atheism and Agnosticism

Lesson 10: Pantheism and New-Age Mysticism

Lesson 11: Rationalism and Pragmatism

Lesson 12: Mormonism

Lesson 13: Jehovah’s Witnesses

Lesson 14: Islam [note to teacher: this lesson could easily take 2 class periods]


A Primer on Presuppositional Apologetics

A Presuppositional Apologetic Applied to Islam’s Teaching Regarding God and Salvation

Is the Text of the Old Testament Reliable?

Is the Text of the New Testament Reliable?

The author recommends that students read the following book as we progress through the series:

Every Thought Captive by Richard Pratt (P&R, 1979)

Other resources for the production of this series:

Greg L. Bahnsen, Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith (Covenant Media Press, 1996)

Tim Davis’ Apologetics curriculum, Tri-Lakes Baptist Church, Brighton, MI.

John Frame, Apologetics for the Glory of God (P&R, 1994).

Norman Geisler, Christian Apologetics (Baker, 1976)

Rolland D. McCune, Biblical Apologetics Class Notes, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict (Here’s Life, 1979)

Ronald H. Nash, World-Views in Conflict (Zondervan, 1994)

Can I Trust the Bible, Howard Vos, ed. (Moody, 1963).