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Archive for the ‘apologetics tactics’ Category

Over some years I’ve been slowly writing down illustrations that I thought might be helpful for sermons or evangelism that has apologetics’ thrusts.

Here’s 50 of them arranged topically.  Which one was your favorite?

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There is something called the Dunning–Kruger effect.  It is when people of low ability inaccurately believe their ability is greater than it is.  Here’s a short TED animation video about it:

I think this phenomenon in which incompetent people think they are more knowledgeable than they really are explains the behavior of some such as the troll attacking our series refuting Bible contradictions which I responded to in “Mr. Hodge’s Dodge from Proving a Bible Contradiction.”  That particular individual would assert I need to learn Greek and Hebrew while he himself doesn’t know Greek and Hebrew and somehow he failed to see my posts regularly deal with the Greek and Hebrew when it is relevant.

Although it won’t be easy to deal with an incompetent person who think they are amazing yet what can a Christian apologist do in dealing with such individuals?  Here are six principles to keep in mind.

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This is a recent four part series on Apologetics from the implication of Jesus’ own apologetics in Luke 20, which is an underrated chapter in the Bible that has implication for how we do apologetics.

This series is available in MP3 and also on Youtube (sound only).  Two of the sessions have additional PDF documents as well which is also linked below.  Also if you want to start with the most practical one of these messages start with session 2.

Check it out below:

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GO TO PART 42

Point: Sometimes when one engage in apologetics the issue of alleged Bible contradiction comes up and the example given of a Bible contradiction really isn’t a Bible contradiction but an instance where one account gives lesser detail than another account.  Think for instance of those who raise the question “How many men were possessed with demons at the country of the Gadarenes?”  Are there examples we can give in other areas outside of the Bible of how such a tactic to claim there’s a Bible contradiction is problematic?

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GO TO PART 41

Point: How often do you hear people say that they are against Christianity because of the hypocrisy of those who say they believe in Christianity or are leaders in the Christian community?  Does the existence of hypocrites rule out the truth claims of the propositions set forth in Christianity?  While we don’t want to downplay the responsibility of people’s sin and hypocrisy we must also realize that hypocrisy as an argument against Christianity does not have that much weight as it might seem initially.

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GO TO PART 36

love-figure-of-speech

Point: Sometimes what is found in the skeptics’ list of Bible contradictions are not contradictions but are what appears to be contradictions because the skeptic hasn’t account for the Bible’s use of figure of speech.  Of course to bring this point up the skeptics might respond by saying this is a cop-out.  But are there are figures of speech we use that appear to be contradictory on the surface level but really they are not?

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GO TO PART 31

houston fire rescue construction worker

Point: What do you do in a conversation when someone object to the truth that Salvation can only be found in Christ alone?  We have covered this objection previously but this is another example of an illustration that responds to this objection.

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GO TO PART 30

dmx anti cop save by cop

Point: An argument in the arsenal of Presuppositional apologetics is the Transcendental argument.  John Frame describes apologist Cornelius Van Til’s transcendental argument in the following matter with one of Van Til’s famous illustration:

The non-Christian, then, in Van Til’s famous illustration, is like a child sitting on her father’s lap, slapping his face. She could not slap him unless he supported her. Similarly, the non-Christian cannot carry out his rebellion against God unless God makes that rebellion possible. Contradicting God assumes an intelligible universe and therefore a theistic one.

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I think what follows below is another illustration in explaining Presuppositional apologetics.

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GO TO PART 28

fbi hostage rescue team

Point: Some Christians engage in apologetics in a piecemeal fashion.  They give evidence here and there.  They refute an objection here and there.  They don’t see the importance of Presuppositional apologetics’ emphasis of going beyond the individual point and pursuing refutations at the level of worldviews.

Picture: Earlier this year I read a book on counter-terrorism titled Counterstrike by Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker.  There was a conversation in the book that really stayed with me in terms of the FBI’s post-9/11 change of strategy against terrorism.  Instead of going after an individual they were now going after networks.  Here’s an excerpt from page 38 and 39:

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Here are some animated Youtube video by “Apologetics Dood” that is pretty much a skit of what Presuppositional apologetics (Van Tillian) dialogues look like in action.  They have been loaded up recently.

I like the back and forth exchange that raises objections one commonly see when one engage an unbeliever with Presuppositional apologetics.

As more is being loaded online I hope to add more to them here.

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dictionary apologetics

I am in the middle of John Frame’s latest book Selected Shorter Writings Volume Two.  I have benefited immensly from Dr. Frame’s insight especially in the area of apologetics and theology.  I think he’s able to apply Cornelius Van Til’s insight more broader than Van Til was able during his lifetime.  Lord willing I would be able to finish the book sometime next week and have a review up on here.  In the chapter on the problem of evil Frame said something that I found helpful.  Speaking of God, John Frame said

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This is a lecture series by Professor Brian Rickett on the topic of Presuppositional apologetics for the Forty-Fourth Annual William N. Paschal Memorial Bible Lectures held on October 14 and October 16, 2014 that was hosted by the Baptist Missionary Association (BMA) Theological Seminary.  Rickett is a capable teacher specializing in the Old Testament and also Presuppositional apologetics.

The messages have just been made available over at Sermon Audio.  You can download the lectures of this four part series below:

1.) Apologetics and the Contemporary Setting

2.) Biblical/Historical Justification for Apologetics

3.) Worldview and the Apologetics Tool Box

4.) Presuppositional Praxis: Applied Apologetics

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strategy1

Christian apologetics and apologetics’ methodology must take into account the reality of Total Depravity.  Much more could be said beyond the video but this might be a place to start in terms of thinking about presenting evidence in light of one’s listeners’ presupposition and sin.

Can we say a Reformed apologist is a Reformed apologist if they are naively presenting evidence without being wise in how they go about presenting evidence?

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outnumber fight

As much as I like apologetics, typically in my evangelistic life I try to just share the Gospel and do not go out of my way looking for an argument or a fight.  The Lord has been gracious since this past year God has blessed us with people who listened to what we have to say.

Several weeks ago we were evangelizing in an open area in a college campus in Southern California.  I had two guys approached our evangelistic table with vulgarities against the faith with sexual and drug references.  There was a tone of mockery and condescension that they were really smart and knew a lot more than Christians do, with the assurance that they were going to beat down any Christians intellectually.  I attempted several times to stick to the Gospel but my effort to explain what we believe was derailed by their desire to attack to the Christian faith.

I happen to have a recorder and thought I asked if I could record our conversation for educational purpose for future teaching at my church and also to be made available on the internet.  They not only gave permission but they expressed confidence that people will lose their faith once people get to hear what they have to say.  They were ready for a two against one “beat down” before onlookers.

One good thing about having this conversation recorded was that the level of blasphemy and vulgarities toned down.  I appreciated that they got more civil in our discourse.

Sometimes people throw out so many objections you have to really think about what is important and what to focus on.  My intent in this dialogue was to respectfully press the antithesis and demonstrate the irrationality of their worldview that they can not account for the moral standard that they use to criticize the Bible.  Moreover, their worldview is itself self-refuting.

As 2 Corinthians 10:5 says,

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, andwe are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

The audio clip is available if you click HERE.

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Marines demonstrate Corps tactics, principles

Introduction and an Illustration

Before I develop the point of my post on apologetics’ tactics, let me begin with a physical illustration (pun intended).  Before I was a Pastor I’ve spent some time around men who are incredible warriors and fighters (although I’m not really a physical fighter myself ).  The US Marines have a saying: “One mind, one weapon.”    You will be amazed at how good fighters put quite a bit of thought into their training and actual fighting–and one man I know described it excitedly as a game of chess in light of your opponent’s intelligence and ability.  Serious fighters realize that training someone to be a skillful fighter is more than memorization of a few move–it involves the whole mind, a mind that wisely know which moves to employ at any given situation; and at times, the wisdom of not doing anything.  Although I stress the mind, that is not to say that learning tactical moves are not important–in fact a lethal warrior mind that learn some new moves will find a way to incorporate it into the way they think and become a part of who they are in terms of practically deal with an opponent.  And sometimes the simple move goes a long way.

My favorite move from the Marines is rather simple; it’s called the Iron bar take down.

marine iron bar take down

One might laugh at how it’s doesn’t even look like a Ninja move.  You simply grab the guy’s wrist with one hand while using the other hand to grab their upper arm so you can force them to the ground.  I have spent some time thinking about this move.  Since I’m a much smaller guy I like to throw my whole hip when I execute the movement in a spiraling descending direction to get the momentum from my body as additional force.  The key is to do it quickly.  Like I said, it’s not a move you’ll see in the movies because it doesn’t look Ninja-cool.  But it has helped me in the Marines and later as security for Hollywood’s red carpet events (Hollywood has its shares of weirdos).   Again, sometimes the simple move goes a long way.

I believe the same is true with apologetics’ tactics.

Unger Who?

Those who frequent Veritas Domain might be familiar with Lyndon Unger.  Mr. Unger is a Calvinistic Dispensational Presuppositionalist.  He blogs on WordPress under the name MennoKnight and is a regular contributor at The Cripple Gate.   John MacArthur has also mentioned his research.  Before he became (in)famous(?), Lyndon once shared with me a good and simple apologetics tactic.  I’ll call it the “Unger Move.”  Again, it’s not a complicated karate chop but remember, sometimes the simple move goes a long way.

The Unger Move

Those engage in apologetics for any length of time will inevitably run into those who says, “There are too many evidence for _______,” or “There are too many reasons against _____________.”  Typically conversations with such individuals also include them throwing out objections after objections against Christianity.  They might go on so long with their ranting, you are not given  time for a rebuttal–or if you do disarm one objection, they go ahead to offer another objection followed by another, etc.

As Calvinists, we must acknowledge the Biblical truth that nonbelievers will suppress the truth and will keep on doing so, since Romans 1:18-19 states:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth [l]in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident[m]within them; for God made it evident to them.

Yet we must also acknowledge that God wants us to refute error as 2 Corinthians 10:5 exhort:

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

While also realizing that if someone were to ever convert and be saved, the Gospel needs to be shared in the apologetic dialogue.

How does one deal with such a conversation and be faithful to all three of these Biblical truths?

  1. Set the Ground rule
    1. Tell the individual since there are too many reasons/objections they are giving, ask that they limit their presentation to their TOP reason/objection/argument.
      1. Explain the rationale:  Best use of time.
      2. Explain the rationale:  Present their best one, because if their top argument “works,” they have already establish their perspective is rational.  Other argument, if there is merit to them, will confirm it.
      3. Explain the rationale:  Present their best one, because if their top argument fail, then the other arguments/objection/reason by their own admission presents a weaker case.  If the best reason presented is unconvincing, the lesser reasons will be even less convincing.
    2. Tell the individual that after their TOP reason is given, you should share whether or not there is merit to their case.
      1. Explain the rationale:  Fairness of both individuals speak in the conversation.
      2. Explain the rationale:  Just because someone says an argument is reasonable doesn’t mean it is; we need to scrutinize it.
  2. Let the individual share their TOP argument.
    1. Listen carefully.
    2. Rationale: For true understanding of the other person’s view so as to love them and not misrepresent them.
  3. Refute it.
    1. Bring Presuppositional apologetics to bear.
    2. Rationale: Don’t get lost in trails with the particular details (they do have it’s place), but remember the bigger picture of worldview analysis.
  4. Present the Gospel
    1. Be Biblical in the Gospel presentation.
    2. Rationale: Only the Gospel will save sinners and soften harden hearts.

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