. . . otherwise known as apologetics
An apology, as the term is used here, is not saying "I'm sorry." Rather, it means a ready defense; "offered in defense or vindication, especially of the divine origin and authority of Christianity." Thus an apology is a defense of what you believe to be true. An apologist is a person who makes the defense. And apologetics is a "systematic argumentative discourse in defense." (All quotes in this paragraph taken from Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary.)
If apologetics in general is the defense of a doctrine or system of beliefs, apologetics is, in this course, a defense of the Christian faith.
What Apologetics is Not
Apologetics is not designed to prove the word of God, but to provide an intellectual basis for faith.
The objective of apologetics is not to convince a person to become a Christian contrary to his will. The objective, as Clark Pinnock puts it, "strives at laying the evidence for the Christian gospel before men in an intelligent fashion, so that they can make a meaningful commitment under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit." Pinnock adds that, "The heart cannot delight in what the mind rejects as false."
The field of apologetics does not diminish the importance of faith. What apologetics does is defend that faith in God and his Word is reasonable.
Why Should I Be Able to Defend My Faith?
If I believe it, isn't that enough? First Peter 3:15 says, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." When non-Christians ask tough questions about the Christian faith, will you be able to give a solid and logical response? If not, there is an opportunity lost to spread God's Word. Worse, the Christian who has a weak foundation for his faith can be easily shaken by the doubts of non-believers.
Is faith reasonable? Apologetics can help clear away intellectual obstacles to faith and show that faith in Christ is reasonable (i.e., able to be reasoned). Though not everything in the Bible can be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, there is far more proof than most people-Christian or non-Christian-are aware of. As apologists for our faith, it is our job to line up the available evidence, base our decisions upon it, and present the evidence to others to help give them an intelligent foundation for their decisions.
"An intelligent Christian ought to be able to point up the flaws in a non-Christian position and to present facts and arguments which tell in favor of the gospel. If our apologetic prevents us from explaining the gospel to any person, it is an inadequate apologetic." Clark Pinnock
"We cannot pander to a man's intellectual arrogance, but we must cater to his intellectual integrity."
"We believe in Christ because it is rational to believe in him, not though it be irrational."
Benjamin Warfield (Princeton theologian and apologist)
"God gives enough proof that faith is reasonable, but not so much that reason alone sustains faith."
"Christianity is either everything for mankind, or nothing. It is either the highest certainty or the greatest delusion. ... But if Christianity be everything for mankind, it is important for every man to be able to give a good reason for the hope that is in him in regard to the eternal verities of the Christian faith. To accept these verities in an unthinking way, or to receive them simply on authority, is not enough for an intelligent and stable faith."
"Faith is, in all its exercises alike, a form of conviction, and is, therefore, necessarily grounded in evidence."
"Faith in Christianity is based on evidence. It is reasonable faith. Faith in the Christian sense goes beyond reason, but not against it."
Thus we reach the purpose statement for this course, which is specifically designed:
To prepare people with an academic defense for their faith, both to maintain their own faith amidst intellectual criticism and to advance God's kingdom in the intellectual community.
We will be discussing the origins of Scripture and a defense of the Bible as the accurate and inspired Word of God. We will also discuss historical and archeological support for the Bible, confirmation of Biblical events from non-Biblical sources, the evolution/creation debate, apparent contradictions in Scripture, tough Bible questions, and more ...
Throughout the course, we will also be discussing ways to effectively argue your faith. As I Peter 3:15 says, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." But it does not end there. Peter continues, "But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."