Apologetics Class Sunday 9-27

I will probably start to post notes about what we’re doing in our apologetics class at my church.  Currently, we are reading the book Unsilenced: How to Voice the Gospel by James Boccardo.  It is a great book about evangelism that also includes some information about Apologetics.  Here are the note from this past Sunday’s class:

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Hi All,

Thanks for attending and participating today.  We had a good class albeit some technical difficulties.  For those that were unable to make it today, here is a summary of what we did:

  1. Watched a short (3 min 20 sec) clip of Lee Strobel interviewing William Lane Craig on the question “What Is the Role of Apologetics In Evangelism?”  In it, he gave 3 reasons why apologetics is important in the church and in evangelism – please watch the video to see the 3 reasons: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7umMcyW1R2I
  2. Practiced our memory verse – Philemon 1:6 – I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.
  3. We read pages 81-91, covering problems 5 – 8.
  4. After problem 7, we (attempted) to watch 2 short videos (~3 ½ min. each):
    1. We don’t have the original manuscripts by Alan Shlemon – this was related to “Problem #6”: http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2015/07/challenge-response-we-dont-have-those-original-inerrant-manuscripts.html
    2. [J Warner Wallace] Getting to the Original Message through Multiple Copies with Errors – this was related to both “Problem #6” and “Problem #7”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNfp6M8kMDc
  5. Then after finishing problem 8, I challenged everyone to give me an answer to the question someone might ask us about how we can know Mormonism is false if we haven’t read the Book of Mormon or that Islam is false if we didn’t read the Qu’ran.  We had some good discussion that topic. I then handed out an article (which I encouraged you to read on your own) entitled “Does One Need To Investigate Every Religion Before One Can Conclude That Christianity Is True?”.  I have put the text at the bottom of this message.
  6. Finally, we finished up by discussing the following questions:
  1. (pg. 81) Problem #5: You’ve Never Been to Heaven or Hell, so You Can’t Tell Me About It!
    1. (pg. 81) What question can you ask someone who states the charge above?
    2. (pg. 81/82) What are some prophecies that Jesus fulfilled and why can we know that they weren’t “written in later”?
    3. (pg. 82 bottom) Is it possible for anyone else to have fulfilled these prophecies?
  2. (pg. 84) Problem #6: The Bible Was Written by Man, and We Don’t Even Have the Originals!
    1. (pg. 84) Why doesn’t this objection work?
    2. (pg. 84) How is this similar to Darwin’s notes?
    3. (pg. 85) Why is it ridiculous to think that any handwritten notes about God are automatically to be considered false?
  3. (pg. 86) Problem #7: There Are so Many “Interpretations” and “Translations” of the Bible
    1. (pg. 86) What is the difference between an “interpretation” and a “translation”?
    2. (pg. 86-87) What is the common misconception about how we got our modern English translations of the Bible?
    3. (pg. 87) Where can you look up the pictures of the ancient manuscripts?  http://www.csntm.org/
  4. (pg. 90) Problem #8: Who Says the Bible Is True Anyway?
    1. (pg. 90) What 2 questions should you ask someone who says “who says the Bible is true anyway”?
    2. What should you say if someone asks if you’ve read the Book of Mormon or the Qur’an?

 

Does One Need To Investigate Every Religion Before One Can Conclude That Christianity Is True?

June 10, 2014 by Jonathan McLatchie

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend concerning epistemology (how we come to know certain ideas to be true) and religious propositional claims. My friend asked me how I could be so confident that the evidence supports Christianity when I have not investigated every other religion to find out whether they have any evidence going for them.

This is a common talking-point that I encounter in discussions with atheists. “Have you read the Qur’an?” I am frequently asked. In the case of the Qur’an, I can claim to have read it and I have in fact studied Islam in significant depth. But I have not taken the time to study every religion in comparable detail. Does that mean I cannot conclude Christianity to be true and all other religions to be false? Of course not. By the very nature of concluding that the propositional claims of Christianity are true, one is de facto excluding other possibilities. If, for example, one concludes based on the evidence that Jesus really claimed to be divine (as I argue here), one has excluded as an option all religions that insist that Jesus did not claim to be God (such as Islam). Likewise, if one concludes based on the evidence that the Universe had a definite beginning in the finite past, one has excluded as an option all religions that assert that the Universe is eternal in the past (i.e. pantheistic religions).

It is curious that such reasoning is employed in discussions about religious questions when we rarely use such methodology in any other realm of inquiry. A homicide detective does not need to investigate every single individual in the city before he can conclude that a particular suspect committed the crime. Investigators of John F. Kennedy’s assassination did not need to investigate all of Kennedy’s contemporaries as potential suspects before they could conclude that his assassination was carried out by Lee Harvey Oswald.

One does not need to weigh up the arguments pro and con for every single possible alternative that is out there in order to conclude that a certain hypothesis best explains the available data. When multiple independent lines of evidence converge on a single given hypothesis, other possibilities are by nature excluded and it becomes unnecessary to investigate every conceivable candidate hypothesis before one can reach a proper judgment. Of course, one should always be open to the possibility that one’s judgment is mistaken and be prepared to revise conclusions should new information come to light. But one certainly does not need to investigate the tens of thousands of competing religious propositional claims that are out there in order to conclude that Christianity makes sense of the pertinent available data. Moreover, the claim that one has to investigate every religious proposition in order to assert any religious position backfires on the atheist, for it renders it impossible to draw any religious conclusions — including atheism.

Nobody has the time or resources to invest in studying every religion that has ever been proposed. Although I would encourage people to, at the very least, be acquainted with the three major Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Islam and Judaism — the only theistic religions to teach creation ex nihilo, a claim consistent with modern cosmology), for one to be rationally justified in affirming Christianity as true, one only needs to show that it possesses sufficiently good evidence to warrant belief.

 

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