The wise person scales the city of the mighty and brings down the stronghold in which they trust.
Proverbs 21:22

 

While a student at Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota, I took an upper level course titled, “Christian Thought,” that profoundly shaped my understanding of secular thought and theology.

The textbooks used were:
The Dust of Death by Os Guinness
Set Forth Your Case by Clark Pinnock
Escape from Reason by Francis Schaeffer 

Set Forth Your Case served as a study in Christian apologetics through an “examination of Christianity’s Credentials,” while the books by Guinness and Schaeffer provided social commentary and a theological critique of society and culture. I loved the course so much that I went back to Park River, North Dakota that summer and used the Pinnock book to teach a study on “Apologetics” at my Lutheran Church. It was my first real teaching experience as a Christian. God filled the church annex every Sunday night with college students, eager to learn more about the “defense of our faith.” It was an unbelievable summer of growth for me.

My interest in apologetics continued the next year in college and when I heard that Josh McDowell (author of Evidence That Demands A Verdict) was coming to the Twin Cities for meetings, I cleared my calendar. After an evening lecture, I waited to speak to Josh and told him of my interest in apologetics and then asked him what seminary provided the best advanced degree in this subject. He immediately said Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) in suburban Chicago. I later made an application to be admitted to the divinity school where I would continue my study in Apologetics.

While at TEDS I took multiple courses on apologetics and the philosophy of religion. During those days, I began to sense God’s calling upon me to be that of a pastor rather than a career in teaching, but my love for apologetics remained strong. I discovered that God would use my love for apologetics to lead a large collegiate ministry in San Jose, California. I had five wonderful years helping college students integrate their faith with their chosen academic program; equipping them with arguments to defend their faith in the science lab, history and literature lectures, business ethics, etc.  

Throughout my time as a Pastor, I have incorporated apologetic subjects, etc. into my teaching and preaching.  It is in this context that Proverbs 21:22 became very significant to me. The verse describes a wise man as one who scales the walls of the city (the mighty) and brings down the stronghold in which they trust. This is a very appropriate description of the work of an apologist. The apologist is a person who studies the philosophy, the pre-suppositions, the teachings of the various “-isms” of the world, and finds where the “cracks” are in the wall, and then proceeds to dismantle and expose the weakness of the “-ism.”

The work of dismantling and exposing a world view as false requires thoughtful investigation into primary source material accompanied by clear Biblical and theological truth. The use of primary source material is crucial to apologetics because the Bible may often times not be considered an authoritative resource by others in the discussion.

The use of primary sources also serves a second purpose: namely, equipping a Christ follower to defend his position. For example, if a Christian uses only the Bible to defend “Intelligent Design,” he will find persuasion difficult if his audience does not respect the Bible. If, however, he can quote a scientist on the subject of “intelligent design” (in addition to his theological argument), his argument may have greater potential to influence his audience.

An example of this apologetic approach is a three week sermon series I recently taught on “Science and the Bible.” Throughout the series I quoted extensively from primary sources in science to argue… 
– Against the overreach of science (Scientism)
– For healthy, respectful conversation by Science people and Bible people
– That there are multiple points of agreement between Science and the Bible.

In so doing, I sought to be a “wise man scaling the mighty city of science, and bringing down the stronghold on which scientists trust.”

Apologetics has profoundly impacted my confidence in the Bible and the Christian faith.  My hope is that my love for apologetics bolsters your faith as well.

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