A Biblical Foundation for My Apologetic Approach

By Adam Lloyd Johnson, Ph.D.

Many people don’t like the type of ministry I do. It may surprise you to hear that a lot of these folks are Christians. The reason they don’t like my ministry is that they believe what I’m doing goes against the Bible. Here is my loving and respectful reply to such individuals.

I believe there is a place for human reason in the sharing of God’s truth with the lost. Of course, there’s some tension in this issue, that is, the relationship between faith and reason. There’s always tension where the human and divine intersect – for example, the incarnation of Christ, the inspiration of Scripture, the doctrine of election, our role and God’s role in evangelism, etc. I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time reading, thinking, and writing on this issue (faith and reason) because it lies at the heart of the apologetics ministry I believe God has called me to. The apologist Francis Schaeffer has influenced me in this area more than anyone else. I believe he has a solid understanding of the biblical relationship between faith and reason and a biblical approach to apologetics.

I love how Schaeffer explains how the church has been negatively influenced by Western philosophy in this area, that is, how Western philosophy elevated human reason too much during the 1600s and 1700s (modernism) and influenced the church to elevate human reason too much, a position I call “Prideful Reason,” which eventually led to deism. Then starting in the 1800s and continuing to today, Western philosophy for the most part has looked down upon human reason (postmodernism) as a reliable source for ultimate truth, meaning, morality, and purpose. This movement has also influenced the church to look down upon reason. Søren Kierkegaard (early to mid-1800s) is the most famous example of this. Kierkegaard wrote “To have faith is to lose your mind and to win God” and the “fact that Christianity is contrary to reason… is the necessary precondition for true faith.” I call this mistake, an extreme on the other side, “Blind Faith.” Apologists are constantly battling this “Blind Faith” perspective in the church, of people viewing faith and reason as enemies and looking down upon reason more than they should. Schaeffer talks about this at length in his book Escape from Reason but even more so in his classic The God Who Is There. He advocates for a biblically balanced position (the premodernism of the New Testament writers and church fathers) that doesn’t elevate human reason more than it should (modernism) but also doesn’t look down upon human reason more than it should (postmodernism). The premoderns viewed faith and reason as working together, not as enemies. The modernists viewed faith and reason as enemies, looking down on faith and elevating reason. The postmodernists kept faith and reason as enemies, but instead look down on reason and elevate faith. How could it be wrong to elevate faith too much? Consider those quotes from Kierkegaard again. That’s how. Blind faith isn’t biblical. Blind faith isn’t the picture of faith we see in the Bible. Schaeffer explains this in a short appendix in his Trilogy called “‘Faith’ Versus Faith” (from He Is There and He Is Not Silent).

I maintain that we shouldn’t put stock in human reasoning or human wisdom when it comes to evangelism but that our confidence should be in the power of the Word and Holy Spirit to convict and ultimately bring people to saving faith. However, that doesn’t mean apologetics is therefore worthless. Apologetics is similar in this regard to “the way we live our life.” Certainly, our lives as Christians can’t save someone, just like apologetics ultimately can’t save someone. However, the Bible often talks about the importance of how we live before non-Christians, that we should live loving lives before them as a good witness to them. The Bible often talks about how God uses our lives, if we live them for Him, to help draw people to Himself – our kindness to others, etc. But I would never think that living my life a certain way is what saves another person. I believe apologetics is similar in this regard to how we live our lives as Christians, that God uses it to draw people to Himself. In addition, if apologetics is simply giving people good reasons and evidence to believe that Christianity is true, then God Himself does this time and time again throughout the Bible. More on that below.

Some people use 1 Corinthians chapters one and two to try and show how apologetics is unbiblical, to make the case that apologetics is a waste of time at best and heretical at worst. For example, several people have shared with me the following verses from 1 Corinthians chapter two in an attempt to persuade me to believe that apologetics is unbiblical:

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

But was that really what Paul was getting at in those chapters? So often verses from these chapters are quoted out of context, as proof texts to use against something Paul isn’t even addressing there. There’s a very specific context that Paul is addressing in the first four chapters of 1 Corinthians. Sometimes people even say 1 Corinthians chapters one and two seem contradictory to Paul’s blatant apologetic approach in Acts 17 where he’s talking with Greek philosophers. Some have even said Paul made a mistake in his approach in Acts 17 when he used apologetics there! F.F. Bruce is the most well-known name who advocates for this position, although it probably didn’t start with him. Regardless, to me this is like Luther saying James must be a mistake in the Bible because its emphasis on works seems to contradict Paul’s emphasis on salvation by faith alone apart from works. If we step back and understand that Paul and James are talking about two different issues, then the contradiction disappears, and we understand that both men are correct because they’re addressing different issues. By the way, that’s what systematic theology is all about – using reason and logic to show how various verses complement, and don’t contradict, each other. Reason and logic aren’t merely “human” wisdom per se; they are truth from God that we know from His general revelation. Don’t forget that general revelation is still revelation from God. We didn’t create reason and logic; we just know (or learned) it from the way God created us and His world. How scary it is to start rejecting parts of the Bible just because we think it contradicts another part! That is indeed a dangerous path.

Similarly, I believe that if we understand the context of Acts 17 and the context of 1 Corinthians chapters 1-4, then we can see that there are two separate issues going on, that these two parts of Scripture aren’t contradictory but that they’re dealing with two completely different issues and that, ultimately, they complement each other. In other words, I’ll argue that Paul in 1 Corinthians 1-4 isn’t bashing the very type of apologetics he himself used in Acts 17. If for no other reason, we know Paul wasn’t against apologetics because we see Paul himself using all sorts of apologetics in various places, especially in Acts 17. Apologetics is just providing good reasons and evidence to believe Christianity is true. Paul is dealing with a very specific issue in 1 Corinthians 1-4, and it’s in light of that issue that he’s saying those things about human reason, human abilities, human strengths and weaknesses, human wisdom, etc. If we interpret the individual verses in those four chapters in light of the context of the particular issue he’s addressing, then we can see they don’t contradict his apologetic approach in Acts 17 at all.

So what is the issue Paul’s addressing in 1 Corinthians 1-4? It’s the issue of Christians dividing themselves over human leaders – I’m of Paul, I’m of Apollos, etc. Paul spends four chapters on this issue in order to explain to them how silly it is to divide over human leaders. Ultimately, human leaders, teachers, prophets, and apostles are nothing compared to God and His Word. It’s in this context that he makes those comments “against” human reason, human abilities, and human wisdom. He’s trying to lower the significance of human teachers so these Christians will stop dividing and arguing amongst themselves over human teachers. Clearly, we know from Paul’s other writings that he’s not against the reason, abilities, and wisdom God gives us as gifts to use for His glory and using such gifts to try and reach the lost. For example, in other places Apollos is honored because he’s an eloquent speaker. Praise God for human giftedness! I praise God for people like John MacArthur, whom God has gifted and who works hard (from a human perspective) at teaching, articulating, and communicating God’s Word clearly. But ultimately, those things pale in comparison when compared to the Word and the Holy Spirit. I’m sure John MacArthur would say the same thing about his own human abilities, dismissing his “human abilities” if he had to write a letter like 1 Corinthians 1-4 to people who were following him too much instead of Christ. This is exactly Paul’s point—that it’s silly to divide and argue with other Christians based on which Christian leader we prefer because all that human leaders do is plant and water; it’s God that causes the growth. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 3:3-9. 

for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

It’s not that planting and watering are useless, but compared to “causing the growth,” they pale in comparison as practically insignificant. Thus, I think Paul understood in Acts 17 that when he “reasoned in the marketplace” and gave the Greek philosophers good reasons and evidence to believe Christianity was true, he understood he was merely planting seeds, that he was laboring as God’s fellow worker, and that ultimately they’d only believe by the work of the Holy Spirit. Of course, this is the human versus divine tension I talked about above. We, from a human perspective, work hard at preaching and teaching the Gospel, to be winsome, loving, reasonable, kind, well spoken, articulating and communicating as best we can from a human perspective, all the while understanding that ultimately only God and His Word can ultimately save a person. It would be a mistake to trust in our human abilities, but it would also be a mistake not to labor hard as a worker at planting or watering to the best of our human abilities (communicating, being kind, living a loving life, reasoning in the marketplace, etc.). Paul goes on in the Corinthian letters to talk about the “human side” of his own ministry as well. He wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

Certainly Paul isn’t contradicting himself from chapters one and two here. Certainly Paul isn’t trusting in his human ability to “win” people to Christ through his own human efforts of becoming all things to all men, as though that ultimately could save someone. Just like MacArthur works hard, from a human perspective, on honing and perfecting his “human abilities” of preparing his sermons and delivering them well, still he certainly understands it’s ultimately the Word and the Holy Spirit that saves people. In addition, Paul also mentioned later to the Corinthians a key part of his apologetics, namely, that “we destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:5). He certainly did that in Acts 17 with the Greek philosophers!

Here are some specific questions that have been asked of me in this area:

1) Do you believe that Scripture is self-sufficient in terms of being adequate to bring people to a saving faith?

Yes, I do. Not only do I believe the Scripture is sufficient to bring people to a saving faith in Christ, I’d also say it’s necessary. In other words, general revelation isn’t able to save anyone; special revelation is necessary. However, as I described above, I would be careful not to use this truth as a way to denigrate, belittle, or view as worthless the human side of things such as “being all things to all people,” tearing down arguments made against God, working hard at communicating the Gospel well, living a loving life before others, and giving people good reasons and evidence to believe Christianity is true. It’s not an either-or, it’s not a dichotomy; these two things aren’t mutually exclusive. Many people create a false dichotomy between God’s Word and apologetics, that it must be one or the other. Why can’t it be both? In fact, I believe the two work together and that the Bible teaches that they do.

2) Do you believe in the self-authenticating nature of Scripture?

My simple answer is yes, I do. But this must be thought through very carefully. Again, some people throw this phrase around as a way to denigrate apologetics as worthless, unspiritual, unbiblical, or ungodly. John Piper often argues for the self-authenticating nature of Scripture, and many of his fans use this phrase to dismiss apologetics as a waste of time. I’m not sure Piper himself thinks this way, but if he does, then I respectfully disagree with him. Thus I have to unpack this phrase very carefully so I can explain that, while I agree with it, I strongly disagree with a common implication that some folks make from it, that is, that therefore apologetics is unbiblical.

What does it mean to authenticate something? Basically it means to confirm its authenticity, that it’s authentic. Well, what does it mean to be authentic? For something to be authentic it must be the real deal, not a fake; it really is the thing it claims to be. So in this case, if the Bible is authentic, then that means it’s the real deal; it really is a message from God, inerrant and true. Thus, when the Bible is authenticated, it’s confirmed to be truly what it claims to be, that is, God’s Word, truth revealed from God to us. Does the Bible itself do this? In other words, does the Bible itself provide confirmation that it’s from God? Certainly it does, both at a human level and a divine, supernatural level. At a human level it provides confirmation that it’s from God by its beauty, elegance, superior moral teaching, insightfulness, consistency in spite of the fact it was written over centuries by many different authors, etc. The Bible also confirms itself as the Word of God at a divine, supernatural level, that is, through the supernatural ability of the Word and the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit who enlightens our souls, minds, and hearts to understand and believe that the Bible is from God. We know these things from Scripture, regardless of our human experience, but a human example can be helpful sometimes too, to help give us an example of what we’re talking about. For example, one of my seminary professors, Dr. Greg Welty, though he loves apologetics, appreciates the importance of apologetics, and knows many people who have gotten saved through the ministry of apologetics, has told me that when it comes to his own personal experience, he became a Christian simply by reading through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. He explained to me how God used those verses to impress upon Him the truth of the Bible, that is, to confirm the Bible’s authenticity. Obviously the Holy Spirit was at work in Dr. Welty as well, enlightening Him to believe the Bible is truly from God and to trust Christ as his Lord and Savior. Thus, here is a real-life example of the Bible authenticating itself.

If Christianity is true, if God exists and is omnipotent, then certainly He could supernaturally cause someone to correctly know which messages are truly from Him and which ones are not. The Bible indicates that God does this for people to one degree or another through the Holy Spirit. As a side note, technically this isn’t “self-authenticating” because in such a scenario it’s not the Bible authenticating itself but God authenticating it supernaturally in someone’s heart and mind. However, even though God can, and does, authenticate His messages through this supernatural, internal, subjective means, this does not mean He doesn’t also give us external, objective evidences that authenticate what messages are truly from Him. In fact, as I’ll show below, the Bible describes God, Moses, Jesus, and Paul all pointing people to external, objective evidences to authenticate His Word so they can know which messages are really from God and which ones are fake. Thus we can conclude that the Holy Spirit’s internal, subjective, supernatural affirmation works together with external, objective, non-supernatual evidences to authenticate God’s Word. However, when we’re encouraging non-Christians to believe the Bible is from God, it doesn’t seem fruitful to try and convince them of this based on our own internal, subjective experiences. Thus, while I certainly pray that God would affirm His Word to them supernaturally through the Holy Spirit, in my conversations with non-Christians I, like Moses, Jesus, and Paul, focus on giving them external, objective, non-supernatural evidences that affirm the Bible really is from God.

Now to the implications from this I disagree with. Some imply that if the Bible is self-authenticating, then therefore apologetics is a waste of time, worthless, unbiblical, ungodly, and unspiritual. I see this implication in the famous quote from Charles Spurgeon: “The Word of God is like a lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself.” I’ve heard this quote many times. I appreciate Spurgeon’s sentiment here, that God’s Word is powerful, that God’s Word never comes back void, that it always accomplishes its purpose, etc. However, people so often use this quote to imply that apologetics is therefore a waste of time. Here’s what I think is going on: Yes, we agree that the Bible can and does authenticate itself, as I discussed above. Some then conclude from this then that somehow it’s a mistake to also authenticate the Bible with things outside of the Bible. In other words, they imply then that it’s a mistake to use things outside the Bible to confirm that the Bible truly is God’s Word. But why think that? Again, they present a false dichotomy. They think either that “the Bible authenticates itself” or “things outside the Bible authenticate the Bible.” But why can’t it be both? Why can’t the Bible itself and also things outside the Bible confirm that the Bible is truly God’s Word? The two aren’t mutually exclusive. To say they are is to create a false dichotomy.

Apologetics is simply giving good reasons and evidence to believe that Christianity is true. And so yes, apologists use things “outside the Bible” to confirm that the Bible is God’s Word. And if someone claims that this is a mistake for us to do that, then they are claiming that God, Moses, Jesus, and Paul all made the same mistake. Throughout the Bible God, Moses, Jesus, and Paul all refer to things outside the Bible in order to confirm that the Bible truly is God’s Word. So clearly they didn’t think it was an either-or between “the Bible confirming itself as authentic” and “things outside the Bible confirming it’s authentic.” I’ve written many papers, preached many sermons, and given many lectures on this issue, so be patient with me as I go through the following verses.

Many people have said to me “Look, the Bible doesn’t start off by giving good reasons and evidence to believe God exists or that the Bible is from God. It simply starts off saying ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’ In other words, it begins presupposing that God exists and the Bible is from Him. Therefore, that’s how we should begin. We should just start out presupposing God exists and the Bible is truly from Him. Don’t waste time with apologetics, trying to provide people reasons and evidence to believe that.” Though I even used to believe that argument was correct, after years of studying and wrestling with these issues, I’ve come to realize that yes, that’s how the Bible begins, but that’s not how the Bible began. Consider how the Bible began, how the Bible actually first came about. The first author of the Bible, from a human perspective, of course, was Moses. God first appeared to Moses at the burning bush. God there told Moses to take His message, His Word, to the Israelites. But Moses was concerned that the Israelites wouldn’t believe him, that they wouldn’t believe he really had heard from God. Look at how God replied to Moses’ concern:

“What if they won’t believe me… but say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” The Lord… said, “Throw [your staff] on the ground.” He threw it on the ground, and it became a snake… “This will take place so they will believe that Yahweh… has appeared to you.” In addition the Lord said… “Put your hand inside your cloak.” So he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, his hand was diseased, white as snow. Then He said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” He put his hand back inside his cloak, and… it had again become like the rest of his skin. “If they will not believe you and will not respond to the evidence of the first sign, they may believe the evidence of the second sign. And if they don’t believe even these two signs… take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the Nile will become blood on the ground.”

Exodus 4:1-9

Note that God Himself gave Moses things outside of His Word (the ability to do miracles) to authenticate and confirm that Moses’s message really was from God. In fact, in God’s own words, he gave Moses evidence, that is, external evidence, in order to confirm His Word was authentic, that it really was from Him. Note what God did not say: God did not say “because my Word is self-authenticating, you shouldn’t use anything else external to my Word to confirm and authenticate it.” Nor did God say to Moses “My Word is like a lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself.” No, God actually gave Moses external evidence to defend God’s Word and told him to use it to confirm and authenticate that this message really was His Word. It’s not an either-or but a both-and. God provided external evidence in the form of miracles so people would know Moses really had heard from God. This external evidence confirmed the message was genuine and authentic.

God spoke through Moses throughout the rest of his life, but when he was close to death, he gave the Israelites some important instructions. He explained to them that he was passing off the scene and when he was gone, different people would come to them claiming to have messages from God. Some would really have messages from God, but some would be fake. Therefore, they shouldn’t believe everyone who claims to have a message from God. Just because something claims to be from God, that doesn’t mean it really is. How would the Israelites know which messages were really from God and which weren’t from God but were fake? In other words, how were they to authenticate and confirm which ones were really God’s Word? I find it interesting that Moses didn’t say “because God’s Word is self-authenticating, you shouldn’t use anything external to His Word to confirm and authenticate it.” Nor did Moses say “God’s Word is like a lion. People don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself.” No, Moses told them to look at external evidence in order to confirm and authenticate which messages were really from God and which weren’t. Moses wrote,

You may say to yourself, “How can we recognize a message the Lord has not spoken?” When a prophet speaks in the Lord’s name, and the message does not come true or is not fulfilled, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.

Deut. 18:18-22

Obviously, Moses’ instructions here are based on the notion that only God can predict the future. This notion is seen throughout the Bible. For example, in Isaiah 41:21-29 God makes fun of idols, explaining that we can know they aren’t true gods by looking at the evidence, namely, the fact that they can’t predict the future.

“Submit your case,” says the Lord. “Present your arguments… Let them come and tell us what will happen. Tell us the past events, so that we may reflect on them and know the outcome, or tell us the future. Tell us the coming events, then we will know that you are gods.”

Isaiah 41:21-29

Thus, external evidence, the ability to predict the future, can help confirm and authenticate if something is truly from God or not. This is external from the Bible in the sense that in order to evaluation it, you have to look at the reality of history to see if the prophecy was fulfilled or not. Now in Deut. 13, Moses also explained that they should compare any new proposed message from God with what’s already been revealed by God, to see if it’s consistent and not contradictory, in order to confirm and authenticate if the new proposed message is from God. This confirms my point that these two things are not an either-or but a both-and.

What about Jesus? Why think He truly had messages from God? I think it’s appropriate to take Jesus through this “Moses test” from Exodus 4 and Deut. 18. In fact, Jesus pretty much said to do just that.

If I am not doing My Father’s works, don’t believe Me. But if I am doing them and you don’t believe Me, believe the works. This way you will know and understand that the Father is in Me and I in the Father.

John 10:37-38

In other words, He said not to just look at His Word but also His actions, His miraculous works, something that is external to His Word but which confirms His Words as authentic and genuinely from God. Consider what Jesus said to John the Baptist when John was having doubts about whether Jesus was really the One or not:

[John the Baptist asked] “Are You the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind see, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news…”

Matt. 11:3-6

I find it very interesting that Jesus didn’t say “because My Word is self-authenticating, you shouldn’t need anything else external to My Word to confirm and authenticate it.” Nor did Jesus say to John “My Word is like a lion. I don’t have to defend a lion. All I have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself.” No, Jesus told John to look at the external evidence in order to confirm and authenticate that His message was truly from God, that He in fact was the Messiah. And this external evidence was the miracles Jesus performed, just like with Exodus 4 and Deut. 18. These miraculous works were written down for us too, so that we’d have additional confirmation that Jesus was who He claimed to be.

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name.

John 20:30-31

See also Acts 2:22. Of course, the key evidence for all of Christianity is the resurrection of Jesus. Thus we finally turn to Paul in Acts 17. I love this chapter. There Paul tells the Greek philosophers the Christian message, even using their own Greek poets to make his points, to confirm that the message he’s preaching to them is true! I believe the Greeks knew these correct facts about God through general revelation as Paul explained in Romans chapter one. It’s so fascinating to me that Paul affirmed their correct beliefs about God that the Greeks gleaned from general revelation in his approach of sharing the Gospel with them. Imagine using their own Greek poets to confirm that the message he, Paul, was giving them was true! Talk about “being all things to all people”! But Paul ends his speech there like this:

He has set a day when He is going to judge the world in righteousness by the Man He has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.

Acts 17:31

I find it very interesting that Paul didn’t say “because God’s inspired message I’m giving you is self-authenticating; you don’t need anything else external to this message to confirm and authenticate it.” Nor did Paul say to them “God’s message is like a lion. I don’t have to defend a lion. All I have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself.” No, Paul explained to them that there was external evidence that confirmed this message of Christianity, that is, the resurrection of Christ.

Elsewhere Paul explains that if the resurrection didn’t really happen, our faith worthless.

If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

1 Cor. 15:14

Jesus Himself gave a lot of evidence that His resurrection did actually happen:

After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

Acts 1:3

Clearly, if someone has decided flat out to reject Christianity, then, as Jesus said, “even if a man were raised from the dead, they won’t believe” (Luke 16:31). In other words, unless the Holy Spirit is at work in someone’s heart, no amount evidence will convince someone. In that sense, apologetics would be a waste of time. However, we don’t know who the Holy Spirit is working in and who He isn’t. That’s why we share the Gospel with everyone, and that’s why we should provide good reasons and evidence to everyone that the Gospel is true. This verse from the parable of Abraham’s bosom doesn’t nullify the point that this external evidence, Jesus’ resurrection in this case, is good solid evidence to believe the Bible is truly God’s Word. Paul certainly thought it was appropriate to use this evidence while encouraging the Greek philosophers to trust in Christ in Acts 17. If apologetics is giving good reasons and evidence to believe Christianity is true, then Paul is doing apologetics here in Acts 17. In addition, God, Moses, and Jesus all did apologetics too. It’s not “the Word and the Holy Spirit” or “reasons and evidence.” It’s not an either-or but a both-and. They aren’t mutually exclusive. To say they are is to create a false dichotomy.

In addition, I include in this category of “external evidence” things like general revelation, such as Romans 1 as I mentioned above. Based on Romans 1 I believe it’s appropriate for apologists to provide good reasons and evidence to believe that God exists, based on the evidence He’s given of Himself in His creation, that is, His general revelation. And from the verses above, I’m convinced it’s appropriate for apologists to provide good historical evidence that the miraculous events in the Bible actually took place. That’s because this historical information provides evidence that these miracles took place, and these miracles provide an external confirmation of the authenticity of the Bible.

At this point someone may ask me, “Well, if we can prove Christianity is true with good reasons and evidence, then where is there room for faith?” From a human perspective, there are many good reasons and evidence to believe Christianity is true. Apologists such as myself work hard to provide those good reasons and good evidences, in a loving and respectful way. But of course, there could always be more evidence, and the more evidence, then the more confidence one would have to trust something. Apologists need to be more careful in explaining that they can never “prove” something with absolute certainty. In fact, I don’t think there’s anything we, as finite human beings, can know with absolute certainty. And that’s because we’re finite creatures; we’re not omniscient like God. Therefore, all of our beliefs and decisions involve faith to one degree or another. In other words, based on good reasons and external evidence, there are good reasons to believe the New Testament is truly God’s Word, but we can’t prove this with 100% certainty through historical evidence. However, there’s nothing we can prove with 100% certainty. At the end of the day, it still comes down to a decision of trust. We have to make a choice if we’re going to trust Jesus or not. Now, a decision to trust is black and white; it’s 0% or 100%. Either you jump out of the plane and trust your parachute or you don’t. Either you decide to trust someone to be your spouse or you don’t. When you make that decision, you aren’t 100% sure with absolute certainty that the parachute will work or that your spouse will be faithful to you. But you’ve decided to trust, or put your faith in it. Maybe you could say you’re 99% confident your parachute will work, based on the evidence and the research you’ve done, but there’s no way you can be 100% certain. Again, this is all from the human side of things. In this paragraph I’m not talking about the power of the Word itself, or the Holy Spirit, to confirm and authenticate God’s Word. Please understand that all I’m explaining here is that reason and evidence doesn’t eliminate the need for faith.

In conclusion, I do understand that there are Christians who view my type of ministry as unbiblical. I’ve tried to demonstrate here that their position is based on a misinterpretation of several verses from the Bible. I’ve also tried to provide a biblical defense that the type of apologetics ministry in which I specialize is not unbiblical but, in fact, is approved in the Bible by God, Moses, Jesus, and Paul.

Convincing Proof