Of Our Character
In addition to Evidences, the another main consideration in Apologetics is our character and how our character impacts how willing others are to seriously consider the information we communicate. If others don’t believe that we have integrity, they won’t consider the information we present as credible, and they won’t take what we say seriously and truly consider it.
Three of the definitions for Character at www.dictionary.com are:
Moral or ethical quality:
Ex: A man of fine, honorable character.
Qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity:
Ex: It takes character to face up to a bully.
Ex: A stain on one's character.
The way you present information and your character can have a big impact, positive or negative, as to how receptive a person is to considering the information you present. Ive already mentioned the impression at least one person had of the entire Christian Club at one of our local high schools. And this was after they had only seen one instance of just a few members of the Christian Club demonstrating very poor character, character they saw as inappropriate for a Christian.
Something else to consider related to how others see our character. The family friendly version of a saying I heard a long time ago is,
“It only takes one ‘Oops’ to wipe out a whole bunch of ‘Great job!’s’.”
It only takes one mess up to ruin the impression others have of us, even if we had established a positive impression through many positive efforts. We can see many examples of this in the news today, and in the recent past.
A real-life example of the impact of character is that of Kent Hovind. He is a Creationist lecturer and debater, and has a video series called the Creation Seminar. Even though other creationists question some of the content, the series has a lot of great information and I believe it is very good. Here is a link where you can see the videos online:
Creation Seminar - Kent Hovind
Even though the information is presented very effectively, many won’t even consider the evidences for Creation which Kent presents, because he was sent to prison for supposed tax-evasion. Some people believe that a lawyer originally convinced him that he wasn't legally obligated to pay the taxes in question. He evidently didn't pay the taxes, was prosecuted, and served time. The result of his situation is the ridicule of both Creationism and Christianity. Even though some have this negative belief about Kent’s work I think you will still find much value in the content of his videos.
Kent Hovind is Still in Jail
The following link gives additional information about Kent Hovind’s situation, and the inconsistent way that he has been treated compared to others who have been accused of violating tax laws. I wonder if this inconsistent treatment he is experiencing is due to his being a committed Christian? Hmm.
Kent Hovind: Political Prisoner?
As indicated previously, we need to remember that even with what we might consider great evidences, a person will sometimes still not be willing to consider the evidence because of their worldview. Remember the question from earlier?
“What evidences against Christianity would you need to see to consider giving up your beliefs about God, Jesus, the Bible, etc.?”
The more evidences we know for what we believe, the harder it is for others to persuade us to believe differently. This is the same whether the evidences we believe are for or against Christianity. Many of those who do not accept Christianity and the Bible feel as strongly about what they believe as Christians do about what we believe, and they will not readily be open to considering evidences we present which are contradictory to what they believe.
When someone has heard mis-information about Christianity which hasn't been effectively answered, they can be convinced of the mis-information and it will be more difficult to bring them to a point of considering Christianity as reasonable. They have more “reasons” not to believe than to believe. These “reasons” are barriers to considering the evidences. Until these barriers are removed, evidences supporting Christianity won’t be considered and Christianity won’t be viewed as a legitimate belief system.
Another benefit to the Apologetic process is that it helps us discover those barriers a person might have to the evidences so that we can present the evidences in such a way that helps to lower those barriers. Once again, this must be done with love for the individual and a respect for what they currently believe is true. This way the evidences we share might make it to the point of being considered by the person we’re sharing with and not rejected by them.
You may find it beneficial to check out information in support of beliefs contradictory to Christianity to become familiar with arguments non-Christians present against Christianity. If you are planning on talking with someone who holds to a non-Christian belief system, you may find it helpful to learn information on the belief they hold so that you can speak intelligently on the belief and how it compares to Christianity.
Non-Christian beliefs or worldviews are contradictory to Christianity so anything indicated as an evidence for a view contradictory to Christianity will very probably be a challenge to Christianity. Before investigating arguments supporting other beliefs though, I highly recommend first reading through this guide. This way you will have a good foundation of the evidences for Christianity. As well, this will reduce the possibility of finding yourself in a situation similar to the 70% of college students unprepared for challenges they've not known about, and so never prepared for them.
And similar to the Challenging Statements section where you can start learning how to respectfully respond to the challenges others will make, you may find it worthwhile to search for evidences indicated as proofs against Christianity so that you will see what non-Christians actually consider as evidence against Christianity. Again, I recommend strongly before doing so, that you read through the rest of this guide and various websites of Christian Apologetics, so that you first learn some of the excellent evidences supporting Christianity. This way you will have a firm foundation for what you believe.
I can’t stress enough the importance of having a firm foundation for what you believe before getting into some of these good sounding presentations of evidences, some of which may seem quite convincing against the beliefs of Christianity. The more you know about the challenging evidences though and how to respond to them and the way those evidences are presented, the easier it will be to see the flaws in the evidences and the presentation being used as evidence against Christianity.
After learning the challenges in this guide you will probably find some of the arguments presented against Christianity to look pretty irrational, but some arguments will also initially sound quite convincing. They will seem convincing at first, much like the challenging statements do, until you learn how to respond to them. To be fair, some Christians still use phrases like, “You just need to have enough faith” when trying to persuade others to consider Christianity. This is foolish. Like building a house, you want to make sure you have a very strong foundation before exposing yourself to the winds and storms of these supposed evidences against Christianity.
Section 5 covers many of the evidences for Christianity. After reading through this guide and then searching for evidences for other belief systems you will be amazed at the amount of evidence for Christianity as compared to any other belief system.
Possibly the most important reason to learn and understand the importance of apologetic information is so that we can know why we believe what we do and have confidence in what we believe. As already indicated, the more confident you are in what you believe, the more effective you can be in answering the misinformation presented by others as “truths” about Christianity and the more persuasive you can be presenting actual truths about Christianity and the Gospel.
Using the method demonstrated in the section:
A person can be shown that they are a sinner and not as good as they originally thought, as are we all. Even when a person realizes they are a sinner, they will still probably resist considering Christianity as a legitimate belief system because they may still believe mis-truths about Christianity, and unfortunately there are many. Again, I believe that most of those who believe the mis-truths about Christianity typically do so because they have never been shown the evidences for Christianity or truths to correct those mis-truths.
As indicated by the statistic in the beginning of this guide, only 15% of Christian students still hold to their beliefs after their senior year in college. And the Barna poll revealed that only half of one percent of 18 to 23 year olds have a Biblical worldview. These low percentages clearly show that most Christian students have never learned what Biblical Christianity and even less, the evidences for why they can believe Christianity as true.
Considering this, should we conclude that non-Christians who are inclined to believe against Christianity would be more likely to have learned about any of the evidences which validate the truths of Christianity than these Christian students? And considering the effectiveness of the challenges weave covered, should we then expect that non-Christians would have become Christians based upon the mis-information many non-Christians (and Christians) believe to be true?
Many believe that science has disproved the existence of God, that the Bible is full of errors, and thus concluded that Christianity is not worth considering. Similar to the non-Christians who believe the unanswered challenges they have heard presented against Christianity, many who believe that science has disproved the Bible do so primarily because they have heard others make these claims without the claims being answered, and likely not because they have been shown actual evidences nor that they themselves have investigated the challenges to the Bible.
They also think that if God actually exists and there is a heaven, as long as they are sincere in what they believe God will accept their sincerity. What many don’t realize is that one can be sincere but be sincerely wrong. Take driving. A person may run a stop sign in an intersection believing they see no cross traffic. They are sincere in their belief that there isn't any cross traffic, but they don’t see everything, are sincerely wrong, and they cause an accident, and possibly the injury or death of another or themselves. The truth isn't determined by their sincerity.
Magic is an example of something showing that we can sincerely believe that we saw something happen, and at the same time knowing full well that what we see couldn't happen as we see it presented. That’s part of the appeal of magic. We don’t believe that the magician can fool us and we feel amazed that they were able to. When we learn how a trick is performed, (learning the evidence), the trick loses its intrigue, but all the details make sense.
Christianity is an example of something some can sincerely disbelieve, because of the mis-information they hear/believe about it. And they can confidently disbelieve Christianity without ever having any knowledge that any of the mis-information they believe as fact is actually wrong. Since they've only seen information challenging the truth of Christianity and they've not seen anyone respond to the challenges, they have no reasons to believe differently. Why would they believe that there is any truth to Christianity if the only information they know of it is wrong, and they don’t know the information they believe as fact is wrong?
With magic, everyone knows there are hidden details which make the illusion possible. With Christianity, those who don’t believe there are evidences proving Christianity have no reason to consider that any supporting details might exist, and so they don’t know about any of the evidences supporting the truths of Christianity. This is where our ability to effectively present these evidences comes in.
When you are able to effectively provide and present evidences for Christianity to someone who has questions or doubts, you demonstrate the truths of Christianity and eliminate doubts they have. Learning the truths of Christianity doesn’t guarantee that a person will then accept Christianity but it may bring them to the point where they are open to considering Christianity as actually worth considering.
As already mentioned, think about yourself and the evidences you would need to see against Christianity to abandon what you believe. Those who don’t accept Christianity believe what they believe as strongly as we believe Christianity. And again, this is usually because they have never seen any evidences that would encourage them to consider Christianity as true. This confirms their non-Christian worldview.
Changing a person’s worldview is sometimes a long process. In some cases, it may seem almost impossible. It may be that the person isn't ready to really consider the evidences.
There are those who haven’t seen evidences supporting the truths of Christianity so they've never really had an opportunity to objectively consider the evidences for Christianity. There are also people who unfortunately have decided that no one will ever be able to show them enough evidence to change their belief about Christianity. They have already made up their mind that they won’t consider any evidence we might share with them.
When a person is not willing to accept Christ, even when they can’t dispute the evidences, their commitment to their worldview or commitment to lifestyle they don’t want to give up are major factors. They like their life as it is and are not willing to change. Frank Turek will ask a person,
“If Christianity is true, would you become a Christian?”
He indicates that if they hesitate when answering, their objection to Christianity is not an intellectual one but one of the heart.
We must realize that when a person asks for evidences, they may not actually be interested in evidence and they may not accept the evidences we provide anyway. They may be trying to stump us hoping that we won’t be able to reply. If they are successful in stumping us, they will be more confirmed that their beliefs are correct. And remember, just providing evidences doesn't mean that a person will accept those evidences. I demonstrated how the same evidence can be used to support both Evolution as well as the Creation.
If they are trying to stump us, they are most likely happy with their conclusion and aren't really interested in considering evidences. The conviction to their worldview may be stronger than the strength of any evidences we provide. We also don’t know which evidences they will be willing to accept. Hopefully this should help you understand why evidences are not always as convincing to others as we might initially think.
If you are a Christian however, these evidences will be very beneficial in giving you much greater confidence in your own belief in Christianity and in the Bible. If you are not a Christian but are willing to consider the evidences, these evidences should give you reasons to consider Christianity and correct misconceptions you might have about Christianity.
If you've ever seen someone speak knowledgeably about a subject you've probably noticed how confident they appeared and how comfortable they were sharing their knowledge. You can have that same confidence by investing some time learning this information. Wouldn't you agree that when considering the potential impact to another person’s eternal destiny, it’s hard to think of another endeavor more important or rewarding?
At this point you may be thinking that you don’t have the time to learn evidences and ways to present them. Right? It is easy to say that we just don’t have enough time when starting something new. But in truth we are able to find the time for those things we think are important enough to spend time on. Right? When you think about it, none of us will ever have enough time to do everything we want to do in this life. It ultimately comes down to how we choose to spend our time. As I've told my sons,
“When you choose to spend your time doing something, you automatically choose not to spend that same time doing something else”.
So, when we choose to spend time; watching TV, gaming, texting, surfing, listening to music, etc., we have automatically chosen not to spend that same time reading our Bible, praying, learning the evidences for our convictions. It’s not a matter of not having enough time, it’s how we choose to spend the time we have been given.
Again, don’t we always make or find the time for what we want to do and what we feel is important? When was the last time you thought, “I just don’t have time to eat today.” or “I just don’t have time to shower or get dressed today”?
What is important to you? What do you find is the easiest activity to make time for? I remember someone saying, “What you spend your time on is what controls you”. The following video shows the average time spent on various daily tasks. I hope you are as surprised at the end of the video as I was. It really gives perspective as to how much time we actually waste each day.
How do you spend your time?
Also concerning time, what we spend the greatest amount of time doing is often what we consider the most important thing in our lives. It is what drives us, what fulfills us, in some cases it might be considered what we worship. If it is more important than anything else in our life it might even be considered our “god”. Granted jobs, careers and education take our time, but what is our motivation in spending time on a career or education? Are we ultimately looking to acquire money, power, fame, etc. through a career or gaining education toward that career? The following is a great video showing how we turn different things into “gods” in our life.
Counterfeit Gods - Tim Keller
With all of this in mind, think about how you spend your time. Would God be more honored by you changing your priorities or keeping the ones you have? God won’t force you to change what you do, but realize that once you've passed from this life, the one thing you will never again have the opportunity to do is to reach others for Christ. Hopefully this should prompt us to think about our priorities and how we spend our time.
When you think about the resource of time, have you ever wondered where we get time from? Have you ever thought of the resource of time as being a gift that God has given to each of us? If God were to consider your job as being how you use the time He has given you, what kind of job evaluation would He give you for how you've spent His time? Would you receive a promotion, a disciplinary write-up, or would you deserve to get fired? I regularly think about how I spend His time and I hope you will start to think about this now too.
The key verse in the Bible about Apologetics is: 1 Peter 3:15
1 Peter 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 the reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”.
Notice that the end of the verse emphasizes “with gentleness and respect”.
Again, our task is not to embarrass another or put them in their place and win an argument, (the non-legal type of argument). Our task is to win their heart for Christ, to provide them with reasons to consider and possibly choose to accept Christ, and His offer of salvation and eternal life. It is important to remember that people who have beliefs contradictory to Christianity often hold to these beliefs as strongly as we hold to what we believe. They sincerely believe what they believe just as you sincerely believe what you believe. Remember however, sincerity is not the same as truth.
As mentioned previously, think about the evidences you would need to see to abandon what you believe. Do you understand now why a person may not immediately accept Christianity when they first start to learn about the evidences confirming the truths of Christianity? It may take them time to consider this new information especially in light of their current beliefs. That is why the most important task is to show where the evidence leads, and to do so “with gentleness and respect”.
You may have heard the saying,
“A person doesn't care how much you know till they know how much you care”.
If those with whom we share the truths of Christianity feel that we’re just trying to win a debate or argument, just trying to add a mark to a scorecard, do you think they will believe that we sincerely care about where they spend eternity?
Another saying you may have heard,
“A person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still”.
You can win the immediate argument and effectively silence someone with your knowledge but in the end turn them off to considering Christianity. If people we talk with believe we don’t respect that they have beliefs they hold as true, because we've made fun of or made light of what they believe, we lose any credibility with them.
And like the saying I mentioned earlier, “
It only takes one ‘oops’ to wipe out a whole bunch of ‘great job!’s”
Any comment giving that person the idea that we don’t respect what they believe as true will eliminate any good impressions they might have had of us previously and virtually eliminate them considering what we believe.
A good friend of mine was a police officer for 25 years. Early in his career I shared with him about Christ and Christianity, but without most of the evidences I know now. After a number of my sharing efforts he strongly insisted that he did not want me to talk to him anymore about Christianity. He stated that he would find out the truth on his own. Being that he is 6’1” and weighed about 230 pounds at that time, he was very convincing visually in his request for me to stop sharing my beliefs with him, (as if some police officers aren't already visually convincing ;-).
Some months after the last time I had tried to share the message of Salvation with him, while still early in his career as a police officer, he found himself at the point of committing suicide. In his police work, he had witnessed pretty horrific things and he didn't want his memory to keep reminding him of the images he had seen. He told me that at the point he was about to pull the trigger, he was stopped by the realization that “committing suicide wasn't what God wanted for his life”. He believed this because even though he hadn't accepted Christ’s gift up to that point, he still believed in God.
Something to realize is that a belief in God doesn't mean one has accepted Christ’s gift of salvation. This is confirmed by the Bible in James 2:19:
James 2:19 “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe-and shudder!”
This verse shows that belief in God doesn't equate to having accepted Christ’s sacrifice for our sin. You see, demons believe in God, even though they will never be able to accept Christ’s priceless gift of salvation.
Two of the officers my friend worked with were Christians, and they had been sharing evidences for Christianity with him. They shared with him prophesies from the Old Testament about a Christ to come and showed how these prophesies were fulfilled by Jesus Christ in the New Testament. The day after my friend almost pulled the trigger and then came to his senses, these officers led him to make the choice to accept Christ as his savior, saving his life and confirming his eternal destiny. I truly believe it was because these officers had showed my friend evidences that he did not kill himself.
As Christians, it is easy to come to the mistaken conclusion that since we have accepted Christ there is something special about us. Some Christians may even think they did something to deserve salvation. Remember, the ONLY thing that makes us different from those who haven’t accepted Christ’s payment on the cross for our sin is just that. They haven’t chosen to accept Christ’s payment for their sin, and we have. Absolutely nothing else!
The truth we frequently forget is that none of us deserve salvation, are worthy of salvation, or ever could be. There is absolutely nothing better, holier, more deserving, or worthier about one who has chosen to accept Christ’s sacrifice as compared to a person who hasn't chosen to. The gift of Christ's payment for our sin by dying on the cross is exactly that, a gift. Jesus did everything to provide this gift. We have done nothing to deserve His gift, nor is there anything we can do to earn this gift.
I heard a great quote by Jonathan Edwards, a minister of the 1700's:
“You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.”
Once again, think back to what I wrote about a gift in the Self-Check section. Can you earn a gift? If you could earn it, it wouldn't be a gift, would it? You can’t earn a gift. Since what Christ offers is a free gift – being that Christ has done all the work by his sacrifice on the cross to pay for our sin - there is nothing we can do to take any credit for our salvation. There is nothing that we can point to in ourselves that makes us deserving of this gift. The only thing we can point to as the reason we have eternal life is what Christ accomplished on the cross, nothing else, because he did everything! Remember, it is a free gift. The only thing we can do is either accept His gift or reject His gift.
Reality – Paul Washer Sermon Jam
In the next section we will look at some of the numerous evidences that exist for Christianity as a defense of the claims of Christianity. Once again, Apologetics is giving a defense for what one believes. Giving a defense for the claims of Christianity is called Christian Apologetics. And again, the key verse in the Bible for the defense of Christianity is 1 Peter 3:15:
1 Peter 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”
As a Christian, there are significant reasons why we should learn the solid evidences for what we believe. Ive included them in the following section as reasons to know why we believe what we believe. These include reasons that have been mentioned by Brett Kunkle of Stand to Reason and Lee Strobel in recordings Ive heard.
Next Page: Reasons To Learn Evidences For Christianity