I would like to ask of some good places to start with learning more about apologetics and how to evangelise better as a student on campus in the company of people with many different beliefs and from many different backgrounds. I’d really like to learn a whole lot more about the subjects and grow in my faith and understanding of whom Jesus Christ is, why He is so significant and how He has/ is changing my life and has such a huge influence.
@Jasmine Thank you for that question. It is encouraging to hear about your desire to share Christ on campus. I would recommend a few resources in 3 main categories:
Resources on God’s character and the Gospel (Knowing God)
Resources on reaching our culture for Christ
Getting to know your Bible - memorize it, study it, pray for the Lord to give you a deeper desire for His Word!
At the end of the day communicating Christ is about knowing your own heart, knowing the God of Scripture and understanding culture well enough to connect God’s truth in Scripture to the cultural moment / situation of those on your campus. I cannot emphasize enough how important studying Scripture itself (memorizing it as well) is in this journey. The Lord Jesus grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in knowledge of Him and open the eyes and hearts of your friends on campus to see the glory of God in the Gospel of Jesus!
I love this question! Thank you for asking it Jasmine. I am on the same path myself actually and have been studying and researching as much as I can. The plan originally was to be prepared to “give an answer” to anyone who. God might lead to me with questions. However, the process of learning more and reading more of God’s word to find out what He has to say and what His character has to say has actually strengthened my faith more than anything. I am not a professional apologist by any stretch of the imagination but I am solid in my faith of know that Christ is who he says He is and that our salvation is secure in Him. This has proven to be a good starting point for me. Know who Christ is. Be confident in Him and who he says he is, what He did for us. That is the Gospel He commanded us to bring to the world and the foundation of the decipleship we are to lead others in. The rest, from my experience, can actually be learned together with the people you are in decipleship with. I hope this helps, God bless you on your journey in following Him.
Hello @Jasmine. Your desire to learn more about apologetics is encouraging. Let me share some of the resources that seems to be good to me for starters:
Apologetics Made Easy - This is like an easier version of the book, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist” for me.
Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics - A book about apologetics, faith and reason, arguments for God’s existence, God’s nature, creation and evolution, miracles, the problem of evil, the divinity of Christ, the resurrection, the Bible, life after death, heaven and hell, salvation, Christianity and other religions, and objective truth.
Twelve Points That Show Christianity Is True - I believe this is an easier book to read compared to Geisler’s book with Frank Turek.
@Jasmine you have come to the right place to increase your knowledge and to ask and answer questions regarding the faith. Everyone here is interested in doing exactly what you are doing to share the work of Jesus in our lives.
@Jasmine I think the short answer is that you guard your heart by remaining rooted in Christ and Scripture. We can study the culture and engage it actively without fear so long as we are rooted in Christ and the Word. If we are walking in the Spirit of Christ, we will not dwell on evil things from our culture and we will easily be able to discern truth from error. Think of Adam and Even in the Garden - if they had only remembered and trusted God’s Word, they would have been fine. But they allowed the deceiver to uproot their trust in God and cause them to doubt / twist His Word - that is what caused them to be led astray.
Proverbs 4:23 - Guard your heart above all else, for it is the wellspring of life.
Here are some resources you may find helpful. The Lord guide you and guard you as you study.
Excellent, excellent question. I love questions about the nature of apologetics itself. Thanks for asking this. It is important to get advice on how to do apologetics in general, since there is so much material and content out there and it is all so easily accessible. The problem is much of it is just not really very good. That said, it is worthwhile just to think about apologetics in general, before even going down the road of specific arguments, particular authors, and their books.
The way I would start (which is not the way I actually did start), is to ask the question what are the fundamental doctrines of Christianity that I know I need to defend at all costs. In other words, what makes Christianity, Christian? You could start with something like the Nicene Creed to get a gist of what the early church felt were the core claims of the Bible that one had to hold to be in line with the Apostles themselves.
So, I think identifying what you need to defend is the first step to then going out and finding good resources. Here is a brief summary of what I think are the main claims we have to defend:
God exists eternally; He is all powerful, all knowing, and all loving
God is Triune
God created the entire universe and everything in it
God created mankind in His image and likeness
Mankind sinned against God and became in need of redemption
Jesus of Nazareth existed
Jesus Christ (of Nazareth) is God
Jesus was born miraculously
Jesus lived a full human life, and is also fully God
Jesus died on the cross to save us from sin, death, hell, and the devil
Jesus rose from the dead bodily
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to initiate the Church
The Church is the body of all men and women throughout time and place that through the power of the Holy Spirit has come to know, love, and serve Jesus Christ
There is an afterlife; to include a heaven and a hell
God will recreate the entire universe and all believers will live together with Him forever
The Bible is the inspired and infallible Word of God
There may be some other core claims I’ve forgotten, but I think these are, for the most part, the fundamentals. Obviously there are other things that will come up under each of these categories (e.g. does one need to be baptized in water to be in the Church, is Hell eternal conscious torment, or something different, etc.) Those kinds of questions are certainly important, but there can often times be a reasonable amount of disagreement on them amongst people who are dedicated to Christ (13).
From here, you might want to then ask: what kinds of things do I need to know or study in order to be able to defend these kinds of claims. What areas or disciplines do I need to get informed about. Here is a short list:
Biblical Studies (Old Testament & New Testament Commentaries, Original Languages, Hermeneutics)
Historical Studies (Church History, Ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman History)
Jesus Studies (Historical Jesus studies)
Systematic Theology (Doctrinal and Dogmatic Theology, Spiritual Theology*)
Special Topics (Biblical Archaeology, Cults & Occult, Other Religions)
The Natural Sciences (Intelligent Design or Creationism Studies)
Psychology or Neuroscience
Now, some of these areas are more important than others (1,2 & 5 are indispensable, while 8 is more optional). Also, just because the names may sound complex (like Epistemology), that doesn’t mean there aren’t good beginners guides or introductory books on those topics. Epistemology, for instance, is absolutely necessary to understand if one is going to be a good case-maker for Christianity. However, examples range from Greg Koukl’s excellent book “Tactics,” which is epistemology in disguise, to Alvin Plantinga’s “Warranted Christian Belief” which, if you were to try and read it before having a minimum of 4-5 MA level philosophy classes, would make you want to don sackcloth and pour ashes on your head
From there, once you have the core claims identified, and then the areas you want to keep abreast of in order to come up with good answers to them; then you can look for the best Christian authors and scholars working in those areas. But, you first want to gauge the reading and research level you are at. Like any other pursuit, there will be beginner, intermediate, and advanced material. And like any other pursuit it best to crawl, walk, and then run.
Let’s just take Biblical Studies for an example. A great introductory text on Hermeneutics (the art of biblical interpretation) would be this one:
Now, just because this is an introductory text doesn’t mean its simplistic. Gordon Fee and Doug Stuart are top-notch scholars.
A bit more advanced, but in the same area would be this:
And so on. So, once you identify the claims that need to be defended, and the disciplines you want to read in in order to get knowledge about how to defend those claims, and then the level you want to start at, then you can look for the right evangelical (and also Catholic or Eastern Orthodox) scholars who write in those areas. On special topics, for example, like Archaeology, you might find someone like James Hoffmeier.
Finally, since we are in the era of the internet, there is the opportunity to immediately access Apologists and Christian Philosophers who are already highly respected in their field. However, this is where things can get dicey, since there is a lot of garbage on the internet and Youtube as well. So, who in the social media world can we trust as a good source?
You are already familiar with everyone at RZIM, but you can find out about other apologists, or scholars, by considering the people that Ravi and RZIM team members are citing in their written works, or referencing in their talks. Who are the scholars and research professors who Ravi, Vince, Stuart and the rest of the gang are reading as they study and prepare?
But, to save you some time, here are two online sites that are indispensable for the new Apologist:
So, I hope this helps. I could say more, but to conclude I will make this final observation; and I think Sean has already mentioned this. Apologetics cannot be just about evidence and arguments. Evidence and rational argumentation alone will not lead a person to Christ, nor will it, again alone, deepen our own faith in Christ. We must consider the role of the Holy Spirit in every endeavor. Practicing the spiritual disciplines, and praying through our own spiritual formation, while studying the lives of the men and women who have gone before us, must permeate our apologetical endeavor. For this more well-rounded picture of the Christian intellectual life, there is no one better to read than Dallas Willard. If there is one book I would recommend reading early and often as you go through your studies in Apologetics it is this one:
I hope this helps. God bless you in your ministry.