by Ken Williams
Understanding worldview as the first step in Christian apologetics.
For the majority of my life I was an ardent atheist. One of the main reasons I now am not, is Christian Apologetics. Apologetics is “the defense of something,” Christian apologetics then, is the defense of the Christian faith. It is providing a thoughtful, reasonable, and persuasive case for the truth claims of Christianity. This practice has largely been lost in our culture.
The purpose of Classical Christian Education is to glorify God by uniting the intellect (head), emotion (heart), and will (hands) under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. How then can this be accomplished without learning to effectively share and lovingly persuade for our faith in the marketplace of ideas?
“Doing” apologetics is not merely an academic exercise for theologians and ivory tower types. We are all commanded in Scripture to do it. We are commanded to refute false ideas and demolish arguments contrary to God’s word (2 Corinthians 10:5). Further, we have the example of Paul; he reasoned with the people in the synagogues (Acts 17:16-17), he refuted those who opposed the truth (Titus 1:9), he defended the Gospel (Philippians 1:7) and he commanded that false teachers be rebuked (Titus 1:3). Additionally, Jesus himself corrected error (Matthew 22:29) and refuted false teaching (Matthew 15: 6-9). Once he was asked, what is the greatest commandment? He responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your MIND” (Matthew 22:37).
In short, it is our Christian duty to glorify God by defending His Word: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. 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” (1 Peter 3:15).
Very often, when talking with skeptical friends, the initial hurdle to overcome is finding common ground. Although, in reality, everyone has a religious set of beliefs; telling someone this (who doesn’t believe in “religion”) will only fortify their walls of defense. A better approach is to talk in terms of “worldview”. Again, everyone has a worldview, it’s what governs our thinking − even when, or especially when, we are unaware of it.
One effective way to explain worldview is by defining it as a set of answers to life’s most foundational questions:
1. How did it all begin? Where did we come from?
2. What went wrong? Why is there so much pain and suffering?
3. What can be done about it? How can it be set right?
4. How does it all end? What is my ultimate future?
Everyone thinks about these things and what you think about these things determines what you’ll think about all other things. Further, and more importantly, it will determine how you live your life.
Most of the world’s religions fall into 1 of 3 worldview categories − Theism, Pantheism, and Atheism:
- Theists believe God is personal. That He created the universe, but that He himself is not part of that universe. Like and artist who creates a painting, God is the painter and His creation the painting. However, He is not part of it himself. The major theistic religions are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
- Pantheists are people who believe in an impersonal god that literally is the universe. So instead of making the universe, he IS the universe. He IS the painting. God is everything that exists. I.E. he is the grass, he is the trees, he is the sky, in fact − he is you. The major pantheist religions are Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, and the New Age movement.
- Atheists are obviously people who do not believe in any type of God. What appears to look like a painting is really something that has just always existed and no one painted it. Examples of Atheism include Neo-Darwinism, Naturalism and Secular Humanism.
A memory tool is helpful here:
Theism = God made all,
Pantheism = God is all
Atheism = No God at all.
In each issue we will build a positive case for the next logical piece of evidence that proves Theism (in general) and Christianity (in particular) true, and all views opposed to it false.
The Christian worldview answers our 4 foundational questions with 4 words:
These answers can be shown true, but more importantly in skillful hands, can become like an arrow to the unbelieving heart. The Christian worldview is the only intellectually consistent and emotionally satisfying answer, confirming both our greatest fears and deepest desires. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ uniquely says, yes…you are more wicked than you ever dared imagine and yet, at the same time, more loved than you ever dared dreamed.
No other answer even comes close − as we will discover. Glory to God, the Gospel is true!
This article was originally published in our Excelsior! monthly newsletter.