from The Visionary Christian, by C.S. Lewis - p. 30
From all my lame defeats and oh! much more
From all the victories that I seemed to score;
From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf
At which, while angels weep, the audience laugh;
From all my proofs of Thy divinity,
Thou, who wouldst give no sign, deliver me.
Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust, instead
of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.
From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee,
O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free.
Lord of the narrow gate and the needle’s eye,
Take from me my trumpery lest I die.
The discipline of Christian Apologetics holds a place near and dear to my heart. It was one of the primary means by which God strengthened my faith and called me into ministry. Like many others, I remember having conversations in college about my Christian faith. I recall discussing the tough issues college students love to spend time talking about. These discussions were not quite on the level of whether or not God could create a stone too heavy for him to lift (Dr. Ronald Nash would later tell me the answer to that question is, “no.”). But we did deal with some very practical questions about Christianity, especially as it relates to other belief systems. I was a very unprepared Christian. That, however, led me to read. I began reading a book on world religions and cults by Josh McDowell. I next remember buying and reading a book on this strange ”thing” called Christian apologetics by some guy I had never heard of named, Norman Geisler.
What I learned in the years that followed was almost all I really needed for most “defenses of the faith” was a better knowledge of what I believed. This drove me to dig into God’s Word as well as systematic theology. The rest, as they say, is history. God used the study of Christian apologetics (the defense of the Christian faith) in my life to drive me to a deeper understanding of the essential truths of the Christian faith and how to communicate those truths more effectively.
As a pastor, I’ve discovered over the last couple of decades there are very few new questions. There are simply the same questions being asked in different ways. My mentor, Ken Boa, told me while I was in seminary that it’s okay to be asked a tough question by someone and not have the answer… the first time. But, he said, you should never be asked the same question twice without having an answer. In other words, being “stumped” once is virtually a rite of passage. Being stumped by the same question twice is lazy.
The first time we’re stumped by a tough question should encourage us to read and study to find the answer. What I’ve tried to do over the years is to get back together with the person who asked me the question and use the opportunity to share my faith with them if they are not a Christian or to disciple them if they are. One of the worst things you can do is try to bluff an answer. It seldom works and I’ve learned folks respect your honesty.
Having said all of that, I need to be clear: There are indeed some very hard questions about the Christian faith. These questions relate to evil, other religions, science, the Bible, just to name a few. By God’s grace I’ve learned there are some very bright and gifted Christian thinkers who have thought and prayed long and hard about those questions and what God’s Word has to say about them. These very capable apologists have written extensively on most, if not all of those issues, and many have some very helpful websites.
The following websites on this list are general apologetics websites. In other words, they are my favorite websites that address a little bit of everything. Make sure to check these sites out. I think you’ll find them a big help.
PS – There are many outstanding apologists who will not be found on the list below only because they either do not have a website or because their site is not much more than a storefront or a calendar of where and when they will be speaking. They are being used of God in mighty ways, but the sites below are the ones I believe will be the most useful to you online.
PSS - New apologists and apologetics websites are popping up regularly. If I've left anyone off of this list, please share their information with me and I'll take a look. Thanks.
Grace and Truth,
1.) Reasonable Faith.org (William Lane Craig’s site)
2.) Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
3.) The Veritas Forum
4.) Stand to Reason (Greg Koukle)
5.) Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry
6.) Apologetics 315
7.) Apologetics Press
8.) Ankerberg Theological Research Institute
9.) Gary Habermas
10.) Christian Research Institute
11.) Lee Strobel
12.) Mary Jo Sharp (Confident Christianity)
13.) J. Warner Wallace (Cold-Case Christianity)
15. Always Be Ready
16. Sean McDowell
This is one of the many great series by T.M. Moore at The Fellowship of Ailbe. Do yourself a favor and sign up for the various newsletters that are offered from this Kingdom-minded ministry. Moore is a wise and godly man who walks closely with the Lord and has much to offer the church today.
This series, on how Christians ought to understand and engage culture, is a helpful tool for all who want to represent Christ well and reach the world for his sake. These studies work well as either your own personal devotional resource or as study material for your small group… or both.
1.) Repudiate (Engaging Culture, Part 1)
2.) Appropriate (Engaging Culture, Part 2)
3.) Redirect (Engaging Culture, Part3)
4.) Transform (Engaging Culture, Part 4)
5.) Innovate (Engaging the Culture, Part 5)
6.) Three “Legs” (Engaging the Culture, Part 6)
7.) Three “Braces” (Engaging the Culture, Part 7)
In preparing for a Bible study (Galatians 1:10-24), Galatians 1:12 jumped off the page at me. I’ve read that verse many times before, even studied it in depth. Yet, this time it made a unique impression in my heart and mind once. Paul tells us,
I did not receive it [the gospel he preached] from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
Revelation. God’s personal self-disclosure.
I don’t hear much debate these days on God’s revelation of himself, and all truth that pertains to him, at least not as much as I used to. I don’t think that’s because the debates are over. Perhaps I’m just not running in the same circles I once was.
On that note, one of the most helpful books I purchased and read back in my seminary days was Volume 2 of Carl Henry’s series on God, Revelation, and Authority. That book was quite a contrast for me since the two theologians my Systematic Theology class dealt with primarily were Paul Tillich and Karl Barth. It was helpful for me way back then (about 1990) to read what an American evangelical author had to contribute to the debate regarding how God reveals himself. I’ve read many useful critiques since then, but it was Carl Henry who first gave me some nutritious food for thought.
In his six-volume series, Henry lays out fifteen theses related to how he understands the Bible’s teaching on divine revelation. You may find yourself bickering with a point here are there, but I have found them succinct and quite helpful as I explain how God reveals himself to creatures who are slow on the uptake, and who certainly would have never "discovered” God on their own.
Below are Henry’s fifteen theses with no added comments from him or me. (You can purchase his six volumes if you are craving his explanations for each.) I am, however, going to share an excerpt from a paragraph in his introduction to the theses.
God is not the Great Perhaps, a clueless shadow character in a Scotland Yard mystery. Far less is he a nameless spirit awaiting post-mortem examination in some theological morgue. He is a very particular and specific divinity, known from the beginning solely on the basis of his works and self-declaration as on the one living God. Only theorists who ignore divine self-disclosure are prone to identify God as the nondescript John Doe of religious philosophy.
1. Revelation is a divinely initiated activity, God’s free communication by which he alone turns his personal privacy into a deliberate disclosure of his reality.
2. Divine revelation is given for human benefit, offering us privileged communion with our Creator in the kingdom of God.
3. Divine revelation does not completely erase Gold’s transcendent mystery, inasmuch as God the Revealer transcends his own revelation.
4. The very fact of disclosure by the one living God assures the comprehensive unity of divine revelation.
5. Not only the occurrence of divine revelation, but also its very nature, content, and variety are exclusively God’s determination.
6. God’s revelation is uniquely personal both in content and form.
7. God reveals himself not only universally in the history of the cosmos and of the nations, but also redemptively within this external history in unique saving acts.
8. The climax of God’s special revelation is Jesus of Nazareth, the personal incarnation of God in the flesh; in Jesus Christ the source and content of revelation converge and coincide.
9. The mediating agent in all divine revelation is the Eternal Logos – preexistent, incarnate, and now glorified.
10. God’s revelation is rational communication conveyed in intelligible ideas and meaningful words, that is, in conceptual-verbal form.
11. The Bible is the reservoir and conduit of divine truth.
12. The Holy Spirit superintends the communication of divine revelation, first, by inspiring the prophetic-apostolic writings, and second, by illuminating and interpreting the scripturally given Word of God.
13. As bestower of spiritual life the Holy Spirit enables individuals to appropriate God’s revelation savingly, and thereby attests the redemptive power of the revealed truth of God in the personal experience of reborn sinners.
14. The church approximates the kingdom of God in miniature; as such she is to mirror to each successive generation the power and joy of the appropriated realities of divine revelation.
15. The self-manifesting God will unveil his glory in a crowning revelation of power and judgment; in his disclosure at the consummation of the ages, God will vindicate righteousness and justice, finally subdue and subordinate evil, and bring into being a new heaven and earth.
John 18:36-37 - Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”  “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
Truth is a very big deal in the Gospel of John. Countless verses quoting Jesus begin with phrases like, “I tell you the truth.” In John 14:6, Jesus claims not only to speak the truth, but to actually be truth itself. And in today’s text Jesus declares that he came into the world to testify to the truth. Furthermore, if you are on the side of truth, he says, you will listen to him.
It’s a fairly bold move to say that you are truth and that your purpose for coming into the world is to testify to the truth. It’s downright arrogant…unless your claim is true. And that’s where the rub is. If it is true that Jesus is the truth, (and that he came to testify to the truth), then it would be quite prudent to listen to what he has to say. In fact, it would be an imperative.
The thrust of our text reminds us, rather loudly, that Jesus was not simply an interesting teacher. He claimed to be so much more. People who say that Jesus was just a good teacher – a moral philosopher – are telling me that…
A.) They have never read the gospels for themselves in their entirety. If they had, they could say that they do not believe the things that Jesus taught, but they could not say that his self-referential claims were not audacious. The “good teacher” response is evidence that a person has not read what this “good teacher” taught.
B.) They do not want to submit to his Lordship nor depend upon him as their Savior. Autonomous man still wants to be God. Even postmodern man, with his many “relative truths” – however contradictory they may all be – does not desire the One who claims to be the Truth (capital “T”).
The words of verse 37 are so powerful:
Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.
One doesn’t have to be an expert in logic to understand the implications here. If you don’t listen to Jesus, then you are not on the side of truth. And if Jesus is the Truth and his purpose in coming to us was to bear witness to the truth, then what Jesus says about every sphere of life matters…a lot.
Of course, “listens to me” means infinitely more than to audibly hear what Jesus has to say. It implies “responding in obedience” to him as well. Submission is key here. Jesus is not suggesting that he would be happy if you went to Starbucks, had your favorite coffee, and simply listened to someone talk to you about Jesus. The person, work, and words of Jesus Christ demand a response. And for 2,000 years people knew this and either submitted to him or rejected him. But today some folk opt for just patting him on the head and then ignoring him. But as the wise philosopher-theologian Geddy Lee, from the rock group Rush, sang…
“If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.”
Jesus will not be ignored…at least not with impunity. He will not be placed on the backburner of your life…only to be thought about at funerals and on Christmas mornings. He is the Truth. He testifies to the truth. In fact, as Jesus put it earlier in verse 37, “I am a king.”
Does all of that really describe a person you can blow off if you want to…without consequence?
Why not pick up your Bible today and begin listening to Jesus. Start with the Gospel of John. Then move to Matthew, Mark and Luke… then read John again. Then start listening to Jesus as he speaks through his appointed apostles and prophets. God’s ordinary and significant means by which he has ordained that his Son be encountered and heard is through his Word – the Bible. So pick it up and side with him today.
Much is made these days of being on "the right side of history." I would rather be on the right side of Truth.
Grace and Truth,
Have you ever wondered how we got the New Testament? How the books that ended up as part of that canon were chosen? Why others were not? Don Carson answers those and other questions. Good stuff. Produced by the Ehrman Project.