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Miranda Writes: Unapologetic About Apologetics, Part 1




by Omar Miranda



I remember the first time I talked with somebody about what I believed who didn’t agree with me. I still remember what the argument was about—the Sabbath—and man, I was so right, and he was so wrong! But in my rightness, I was outright rude and obnoxious.

How did it end? Well, let’s just say that I won the argument but lost an opportunity to make a friend, and more important, lost an opportunity to have a continuing discussion with that person over what makes us the same or different. You see, I totally missed the opportunity not only to evangelize but also to use apologetics.

You may ask, What is apologetics? I’ll define it shortly, but first I want to discuss what evangelism is, and then I hope you’ll be able to see the similarities and the differences between them.

For the past two weeks we’ve been discussing the importance of worldviews. I hope you haven’t already forgotten what a worldview is. In short, a worldview is the way that somebody views the world. This is important stuff for us to understand because we can’t truly evangelize the world until we understand how others view it.

Think about it this way: Jesus said that He came to make us fishers of men, and as fishers we must study and understand whatever we are trying to catch. So understanding someone’s worldview is like understanding the types of things that attract a certain fish. Evangelism is the appropriate baiting of the hook. Apologetics is the struggle with the fish to reel them in!

I used to think that my job as a Seventh-day Adventist Christian was to make other Seventh-day Adventist Christians, but that’s not what Jesus said when He gave His disciples their last assignment. Jesus told them (and us) to make disciples. You see, it’s our job as Christians not only to share the truth with the world but also to make the truth as clear as possible and work to remove any barriers and/or misunderstandings that people may have. We can’t just be like “See, world, we have the truth, and you can either accept it lock, stock, and barrel or you can burn in hell—and by the way, Jesus loves you!” No! We are not to be the way I was in my argument about the Sabbath.

Of course as Christians we’re not to apologize to the world for being who we are. In fact, apologetics is completely the opposite of that!  “Apologetic” is a fancy name for the legitimate arguments we make about the gospel. We not only inform others of the good news of the gospel (evangelism) but also defend it in a way that is true, correct, kind, and intelligent (apologetics). As Christians, we are clearly expected to be prepared to give this defense of our faith in any situation.

The most obvious command for an apologetic (aka defense of our faith) is 1 Peter 3:15, 16: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (NIV).*

So now that we have some clarity about worldviews, evangelism, and apologetics, let’s talk about what type of apologetics we’ll be learning about. There are different types, but the one that makes the most sense to me is “presuppositional.” Presuppositional apologetics assumes that life begins to make sense only when it is considered with a Christian perspective—or worldview—in mind. Once you “presuppose” that Christianity is true, everything else begins to make sense. Wait one minute, though. This presupposition does not imply that an apologetic defense cannot change the mind of someone who presupposes that there is no God or Christ (atheist) or the mind of someone who presupposes that God just created the earth and planets, and wound them up like a clock and let ’em go, and doesn’t care about what happens to us (deist). In every case when we begin the process of arguing (kindly, respectfully, and gently), it is God and only God who ultimately brings around the heart of the hardened person to Him, working through us. (Thus the command for us to have a ready defense for what we believe.) In the study of apologetics we confirm our faith both for ourselves and for others who are truly searching for the truth.

Now, apologetics should seek to answer what I like to call the Big Five Questions. In my experience, these have historically been the questions that most people have the most difficult time with and that keep them from becoming Christians—or coming anywhere near Christianity. They just can’t get over these. They are as follows:

1. Truth: Does absolute, universal truth exist?
2. God: Can we know that He exists?
3. Scripture: How can we be sure that the Bible is trustworthy?
4. Jesus: Is He really the one and only Savior?
5. Pain: Why does a supposedly loving God allow pain and suffering in the world?

Next week we’re going to look at an interaction that Paul had with some people in Athens, Greece, and how effectively he used the principles of worldviews and apologetics to reach people in that city. I know that we’ll be able to learn a lot from him.

Until next time, remember God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Make God first above all in your life and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

*Scripture quotations credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.





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