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Apologetic Approaches

Offensive Apologetics
MTP III September 2007
Apologetic Steps
• Know What You Believe
– Defensive Apologetics
• Know What Unbelievers Believe
– Offensive Apologetics (More on This Later)
• Don’t Be Intimidated
– Most Objections to the Bible are A Product of
– Even If You Don’t Know the Answer on the Spot…
“I’ll Be Back.”
• Keep the Right Attitude
Defensive Apologetics
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NIV)
4The weapons we fight with are not the
weapons of the world. On the contrary, they
have divine power to demolish strongholds.
5We demolish arguments and every
pretension that sets itself up against the
knowledge of God, and we take captive
every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
• Systematically address and overcome each
objection to Christianity
Offensive Apologetics
• Proverbs 18:17: “The first to present his case
seems right, till another comes forward and
questions him.”
• Ask Questions
• Allow the inquisitor to present a case for his
worldview first
Offensive Apologetics
• Our goal is to learn how to be the challenger
rather than the challenged in religious
• In other words, seek to turn the tide, so to
speak, on unbelievers, removing the burden
of proof from Christians and placing it on
Socratic Method
• Dialectic
• Conversational Questions
• By asking specific questions
that challenged his
students’ assumptions,
Socrates lead them into a
kind of self-discovery. They
concluded for themselves
the error of their existing
beliefs and went on to
accept a new truth or a
different conclusion.
Ask Questions
• In doing so, we
– identify inaccurate data,
– inconsistencies, and,
– especially, hidden assumptions.
• Then we ask for a response to these errors by
questioning them.
• This places the burden of proof over
disagreements on the unbeliever; it forces him
to explain what he believes, why he believes it,
and to justify it.
“Bloody Bible/Vengeful God”
• My friend assumed that God destroyed the
Canaanite nations without just cause.
• He assumed that the nations were not
worthy of such treatment.
• He assumed that God’s judgment was too
• He assumed that the Canaanite children
were innocent and did not deserve such
Step Back Before Surging Ahead
This technique is contrary to our normal
tendency to become defensive when our faith
is challenged—to argue our point of view. At
first blush, it may even seem counterproductive
because we aren’t providing an immediate
answer to an unbeliever’s challenge. But it’s not
counterproductive. It’s a highly effective tactic.
Like defensive apologetics, offensive
apologetics is designed to help unbelievers see
why Christians are Christians and open the door
for a gospel presentation.
Slow to Speak, Quick to Listen
• Asking challenging questions helps unbelievers
to reconsider Christianity for two reasons:
– First, their existing religious or secular worldviews
can’t be substantiated.
– In other words, unbelievers discover that they are
unable to defend what they believe. They can’t
muster evidence to support their view the way we
– When they see this, we point out that we can
confirm our views. This should cause fair-minded
people to reconsider their own presuppositions and
listen to ours.
Slow to Speak, Quick to Listen
• Second, unbelievers see that their view of
Christianity is erroneous. Non-Christians
frequently harbor misconceptions about
what the Bible teaches and
misunderstandings of what Christians
actually believe. Their opinions, more often
than not, are byproducts of our secular
culture—not the result of personal
How The Socratic Method Works
• Non-Christian religions and secular philosophies
will eventually lead practitioners to a dead end.
– “We ought not first try to move a man away from
what he should deduce from his position but
towards it.… We try to move him in the natural
direction in which his presuppositions would take
him. We are then pushing him towards the place
where he ought to be, had he not stopped short.”
• Encourage an unbeliever to follow his religious
presuppositions to their logical conclusion
Do they have proof? Is their source
“How do you know that?”
“What evidence do you have for that?”
“Why do you believe that?”
“Where did you learn that?”
“On what authority do you base your view?”
“Aren’t you taking … for granted?”
Clarification or Elaboration:
“What do you mean by that?”
“I don’t follow you, tell me more.”
“Can you give me an example?”
“You seem to be contradicting yourself. You
said earlier . . .”
• “What difference does it make?”
• “How can … ?”
Questions Worth Asking
• “How do you know that evil and sickness are illusions?”
• “What evidence do you have that people are actually
• “Where did you learn that all religions are true?”
• “What happens if you’re wrong, and all religions don’t
lead to God?”
• “Are you willing to risk salvation rather than check out
• “If Jesus didn’t die and rise from the grave, how do you
account for the existence of the Christian church and the
changed lives of His disciples?”
• “In light of what you believe, if it’s a myth that Christ died
and rose from the dead, how do you account for the
untold thousands of Christians who were willing die for
their faith?”
Questions Worth Asking
• “Why do you believe in evolution? Have you ever
checked out creation? Aren’t you taking for granted that
evolution is true?”
• “Why does belief in evolution discount Christianity or
salvation through Jesus Christ?”
• “How can order come from disorder?”
• “How can life come from nonlife?”
• “How can something come from nothing?”
• “If Jesus didn’t die and rise from the grave, how do you
account for the existence of the Christian church and the
changed lives of His disciples?”
• “In light of what you believe, if it’s a myth that Christ died
and rose from the dead, how do you account for the
untold thousands of Christians who were willing die for
their faith?”
Question the Questioner
• “You Christians can’t prove what you believe!”
– “Then you prove what you believe!”
• “How do you know the Bible is true?”
– “How do you know it’s not true?”
• “The Bible is full of contradictions!”
– “What contradictions?”
• “If the Christian God exists, how do you
account for the existence of evil and suffering?”
– “If God doesn’t exist, what is the solution to evil and
• “I think belief in God is a psychological crutch for
weak people. What proof do you have that God even
– “I think atheism is a psychological crutch to get off the
hook in terms of accountability to God. What proof do
you have that the evidence for God’s existence is false?”
• “Christians are so narrow-minded. You only think
your religion is true!”
– “Don’t you believe what you say is true? Does that make
you narrow-minded? Does being narrow-minded
automatically make something untrue?”
• “I think people are free to decide their own moral
– “Then you think it was okay for Hitler to massacre 6
million Jews?”
• “The Christian God is harsh and vindictive. Look how
He annihilated whole cities in the Old Testament.”
– “Why do you think God is cruel and unfair to punish a
wicked and perverted people who were warned for
centuries to repent and yet continued to blaspheme
God, worship pagan deities, engage in deviant,
forbidden sexual acts in the name of religion, and even
sacrifice their children to false gods?”
• “I could never follow a God who sends people to hell
just because they don’t worship Him as you
Christians do.”
– “You mean you’re willing to go to hell just because God
doesn’t act the way you think He should?”
• “What makes you think Christianity is true when it
contradicts my religious beliefs?”
– “How do you know your religion is true when it
contradicts Christianity? Can you prove your religion is
• “How do you know Jesus really speaks for God?”
– “What evidence do you have that Charles Taze Russell [or Joseph
Smith or Muhammad] speaks for God? How does he prove it?”
• “If a woman wants an abortion, it’s her right to do
whatever she wants with her own body.”
– “If a baby is a human being, why wouldn’t it have the same right
to live as the mother?”
• “We don’t need a God to set standards of good and evil.
People can make their own moral choices.”
– “Then if I say infanticide is acceptable, would you agree?”
• “Science disproves miracles like the Resurrection.”
– “Aren’t miracles like the Resurrection historical events? How can
science disprove anything in history?”
• “I don’t believe God exists.”
– “If there was a time when nothing existed, what would be here
now if there is no God? What I mean is, if God doesn’t exist, how
did nature come into being? Can something create itself? Can
something come from nothing?”
A Post-Modern Slant: Storytelling
• After nearly three centuries of
Enlightenment thinking, where truth was
seen as rational, objective, and attainable,
• Western culture is now abandoning this
traditional “modernist” view of reality and is
moving toward a “postmodernist” view
where truth is relativistic, subjective, and
A Post-Modern Slant: Storytelling
• Today, communicating the gospel as a set of
propositional statements of truth (truth that can be
checked out and verified; truth that is applicable to
everyone) is becoming increasingly ineffective.
• While past generations of evangelists based their
apologetic tactics on Enlightenment thinking—that
is, they used the tools of logic and the scientific
method for verifying truth—today’s generation,
which has not been raised in a modernist culture, is
rejecting reason and objectivity in favor of feelings
and experiences.
• Communicating the gospel now will require a
different approach.
A Post-Modern Slant: Storytelling
• What kinds of stories?
• Testimonies
• Parables/Illustrations/Word Pictures
– Swim across the Atlantic
– Two wings on an airplane
• Friend’s stories
• The MacArthur Mall illustrations
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