A-1 - Encouraged by What You Read?

Recently someone asked me how you can know if you have had a successful apologetics encounter. My immediate answer was that defending the faith (Greek: apologia) is never easy and one must trust in God’s grace for the results. Ultimately, I believe that only God by his extraordinary grace can instill a desire for himself in a human being.

Yet I do think there are important goals to strive for in apologetics interactions. So whether it’s a television or radio interview, a formal debate, or a personal discussion with someone, I generally have three goals in mind when engaging in the enterprise of apologetics. If I can work toward accomplishing these goals, then I think my time of defending the faith has been well served.

3 Broad Goals of Christian Apologetics Interactions

First, I try to present clear, careful, and cogent arguments for my faith. Whether presenting arguments for God’s existence, a defense of the Christian worldview, or an explanation of Christian truth claims like Jesus’s incarnation, atonement, or resurrection—I endeavor to convey what I believe as a historic Christian and why I think it is indeed true. I want people to know that they can embrace Christianity because it is true.

Second, I attempt to demonstrate an intellectual code of conduct by striving to treat other people and their beliefs the way I want mine treated. That means I try to engage with other people’s beliefs and arguments with respect and in a fair-minded manner. I work to discipline myself to carefully listen to others in order to understand their beliefs, arguments, and objectionsMy desire, especially in debate, is to render an honest and fair assessment of my opponent’s position.

Third, I look to build bridges with others when I can do so without compromising my beliefs and values. Because all people are made in God’s image and everyone benefits from general revelation and common grace, there are inevitably important places where I can find common ground with others. I want to have meaningful connections with other people, and finding places of agreement often provides further opportunities for authentic dialogue.

Of course, I’m not always able to accomplish these three lofty goals. There have been times when my apologetics efforts have been weak, argumentative, and excessively confrontational. Becoming a skillful Christian apologist takes deliberate intellectual preparation, practice, and growth in character. As an apologist, I have learned from my rocky encounters. But no matter how much I learn, I still humbly ask the Triune God to use my modest efforts in communicating and defending the great truths of historic Christianity.

Reflections: Your Turn

Of the three goals, which is the most important? Which is hardest to achieve? Visit Reflectionson WordPress to comment with your response.

Resources

Here is a link to an apologetics dialogue-debate I had with a Hindu scholar: https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes/Unbelievable-Krishna-Christ-and-Hinduism-debate-Ken-Samples-and-Dipen-Rajyaguru

Here is a link to an apologetics dialogue-debate I had with a Buddhist scholar: https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes/Unbelievable-Buddhism-Christianity-Nirvana-Salvation-Alex-Crowe-Ken-Samples

For further study in Christian apologetics, I hope you’ll consider four of my books: Without a Doubt: Answering the 20 Toughest Faith Questions (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004); A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007); 7 Truths That Changed the World (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2012); God among Sages: Why Jesus Isn’t Just Another Religious Leader (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2017).

 

Check out more from Reasons to Believe @Reasons.org

About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.

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