Sound Doctrine & Apologetics: New Year’s Resolution Revisited

Is my New Year’s Resolution resolute?

[Update 6.8.18: See “About” post concerning, “What Does It Mean To ‘Catch For Christ?‘”]

As the halfway mark of 2017 rapidly approaches, I thought it reasonable to revisit my 2017 New Year’s resolution. Text from my 1.1.17 Facebook Post:

My Christian faith is based on an inference to the best explanation given the evidence –historical, archaeological, scientific.

In 2017, I hope to share fewer Scriptures (often without context) and, instead, endeavor to explain and defend them.

But one last one for 2016. To the church at Corinth, who was dealing with false teachers circa 55-57 A.D., the Apostle Paul writes:

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world [‘world’ meaning the unbelieving masses] does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 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.

#Apologetics #ReasonableFaith #GiveEmHeaven

Happy New Year! God Bless!!

Although, in my haste, I forgot to include the Scripture notation (2 Cor 10:3-5), I have not forgotten what I have resolved to do: To do my best to present myself to God as one approved, to have no need to be ashamed, and to correctly handle the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). In addition, if I can clarify my earlier post, I want to strive to present, to the world, a reasonable defense of a Christ-centered worldview. This twofold presentation entails both (1) Christian doctrine and (2) Christian apologetics.

(1) Doctrine

As renowned church historian Jaroslav Pelikan affirms in his book, The Christian TraditionChristian doctrine is simply what the church believes and teaches. Philosopher and theologian Dr. William Lane Craig, one of the foremost Christian apologists in the world, clarifies that doctrine is not necessarily what the Bible teaches, but what believers believe the Bible teaches.1

That being said, not all doctrine is biblically sound doctrine. And, many may not even put up with sound doctrine (2 Tim 4:3). Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers were given by Christ himself to equip followers of Christ for works of service — works that will result in the body of Christ being built up and mature in our knowledge of Him. Then we will no longer be blown here and there by every wind of doctrine (Eph 4:11-14). While listing qualifications for spiritual leaders in his letter to Titus, Paul writes that:

He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Tt 1:9.

Doctrine is vitally important!

According to Dr. Craig, studying Christian doctrine is important for several reasons: (a) “Every Christian is a theologian”, (b) “right living presupposes right thinking about God”, (c) “the study of doctrine is an expression of loving God with all our minds”, and (d) “Christ cannot be separated from truths about Christ.”2 In the future, I hope to explore, in greater detail, each of these reasons.

(2) Apologetics

Making a reasonable defense for the Christ-centered worldview is known as Christian apologetics. The term apologetics comes from the Greek word ἀπολογία (apologia), which means defense or a speech in defense.3

In my view, it often doesn’t matter how biblically sound one’s doctrine is whilst in a conversation with someone who does not think that the Bible is sound. In a recent Instagram post I wrote:

What’s the point of quoting Scripture to one who does not believe in any objective truth (post-modernism), any objective morality (relativism), or any god (atheism)? One who believes that Neo-Darwinism explains the origin, complexity, and diversity of life? One who believes the Bible has been corrupted over time and that Jesus was never crucified (e.g., Muslims)? One who believes the Bible is full of fairy tales?

In our increasingly post-Christian society, I feel the need to not only know sound Christian doctrine, but to be able to defend it. We need to have reasonable responses to the common objections to theism, a Christ-centered worldview, and biblically sound doctrine. Speaking of reasons, I continue:

I am not one to say, “Just have (blind) faith!” On the contrary, I aim to offer logical reasons for reasonable faith (active trust) in a Christ-centered worldview.

My theses are twofold:(1) Considering the full scope of the evidence, reasonable faith in a Christ-centered worldview is an inference to the best explanation. (2) Given such a worldview, it takes more (blind) faith not to believe than to believe.

As Dr. Norman Geisler and Dr. Frank Turek would say, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist.”4

Though examples of apologetics in Scripture abounds, the classic apologist charge is found in Peter’s first letter: (1 Pet 3:15) but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, [ESV]

It is quite challenging to evangelize (proclaim the Good News) with obstacles to the Gospel in the way of He who claimed to be the Way. Apologetics can lead to more — and more effective — evangelism.

Dr. Craig would add that, in addition to (3) “evangelizing unbelievers,” apologetics is also invaluable  for (1) “shaping culture” and (2) “strengthening believers.”5 In a future post, I  hope to explore these and other reasons for studying apologetics in greater detail, as well.

Well, it’s been six months since the ball dropped and I must say that God has truly been working on me in a mighty way. I hope God is able to work through me in a mighty way as I strive to be an advocate of sound doctrine and apologetics. After revisiting my New Year’s resolution, I consider it to be resolute and, with the inception of this website, redoubled.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

Sources

  1. Craig, William Lane. “Foundations of Christian Doctrine (Part 1).” ReasonableFaith.org. Accessed June 11, 2017. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-3-podcast/transcript/t01-01.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Liddell, Henry George, Robert Scott, Henry Stuart Jones, and Roderick McKenzie. A Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.
  4. Geisler, Norman L., and Frank Turek. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004.
  5. Craig, William Lane. “Foundations of Christian Doctrine (Part 2).” ReasonableFaith.org. Accessed June 11, 2017. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-3-podcast/transcript/t01-011.
About @DannyScottonJr 172 Articles
Imperfect servant striving to be an unapologetically apologetic ambassador for Jesus the Christ. Princeton University Alum | Palmer Theological Seminary Student