Apologetics with Andrew
By Colin Matthews, on Thursday, April 2, 2015
Andrew Wilson opened Loving People, Changing Lives 2015 by speaking on apologetics, or how we explain and defend our faith. If you missed it or just need more time to process it, here’s a summary:
Many people want to jump straight in at the deep end when talking to non-Christians, quoting facts and figures at them to explain that God is real and that Jesus really did exist. The problem is, people today don’t really care about that. Even if Christianity was true, they just don’t see why it matters. Here’s how Blaise Pascal understood apologetics:
“Men despise religion; they hate it and fear it is true. To remedy this, we must begin by showing that religion is not contrary to reason; that it is venerable, to inspire respect for it; then we must make it lovable, to make good men hope it is true; finally, we must prove it is true.” – Blaise Pascal
So, using Blaise’s argument, let’s see how that works.
1. The Gospel is Reasonable
“Why is the gospel worthy of thinking about?” is the question that many non-Christians will have, although it often comes in the form, “You don’t really believe all that stuff do you?”. With the answer, “Of course.” Belief in God is reasonable, it is plausible, and it is credible. Why? Because there is a world. The world had to have come about by one of three ways: Either a result of necessity, a blind chance, or the result of design.
If the world must be like this, then they have to say there is an infinite number of universes, where the world isn’t like this. If there’s an infinite number of universes with infinite possibilities, then God must exist in one. But then if God exists in one, by being very definition ‘God’, he must exist in them all as he is the creator of the universe.
If the world is from blind chance, then we would have to explain that there are 15 different physical constants that have to exist in harmony for the world to be as it is. If any one of these changed by a 1/1,000,000th it would offset everything. It would be like me playing roulette with the galaxy. Imagine it, ‘I’ve rolled exactly the one in a million chance I needed, only 14 more rolls to go.’ Whilst we might end up with a lump of volcanic rock, to end up as we have in this world would be a massive coincidence.
So we have the final option: This world came about as the result of design. At this point many atheists will say that they just don’t need a creator, in fact Douglas Adams wrote, “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”’ The beauty of this quote is, at this point, we would probably agree. It is ridiculous to believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden. But, surely you believe that there was a gardener. You don’t go to the Gardens of Versailles and say you don’t believe in gardeners, it just happens by chance. The difference between a garden and a wasteland is that someone is tending to it.
Belief in God, therefore, isn’t as unreasonable as it first seems. If belief in God is reasonable, it is worthy of thought and respect. If God is possible, then miracles are possible because if there is a God, then surely he can do anything. If miracles are reasonable, then the resurrection of Jesus is reasonable, after all, it was a miracle, the most spectacular one. If belief in God is worthy of respect, then the gospel is worth your thought.
2. The Gospel is Lovable
That’s great, but it doesn’t necessarily inspire hope in the gospel. Why would you want it to be true? If you’ve ever seen Lord of the Rings, right at the end after (Spoilers) the ring is destroyed, Sam says to Gandalf, “Gandalf, I thought you were dead. But, I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue?” It’s a good question, and it’s one that needs answering for us in the real world today. The good news is that for the Christian worldview, the answer is an emphatic ‘YES!’ Today we would call that kind of story, redemption, the ancient Hebrews would have called it ‘shalom’. If you don’t care about the resurrection, then you should care about the Christian message of cosmic rightness coming to the world and fixing the world. The restoration of the world by Israel’s God
Only Christianity and Judaism promise that the world will be made right again at the end. As Christians we don’t just think it will, we know it will because of Jesus’ resurrection, a glimpse of what’s to come, in the middle of history. If you’ve suffered, and everyone has, then you have to want it to be true. You have to want something better than the world is now. But it’s only in the Christian worldview do we get victory and redemption of this earth. Even if it isn’t true, surely you still have to want it.
3. The Gospel Demonstrated
So we’ve seen the Gospel is in fact reasonable, and it is in fact lovable, but how do you prove it? This is actually the longest process. Generally, most people don’t become Christians on the back of one conversation about why Christianity is true, it can take many times of showing Christianity in our lives and many, many conversations. But, if they believe that Christianity could be possible, and they can see why it would be worth it, then they could believe it will be true.
If you want to know more about this, then pick up a copy of ‘If God, Then What?’ by Andrew Wilson, or listen to the talk from Loving People, Changing Lives 2015, with Q&A in full here.