What is Apologetics?
Ever heard of Apologetics? No? That’s not too uncommon. But at some point, you probably will have pondered some of the hard questions that come under the title of Apologetics, such as:
- If God is good, why is there suffering in the world?
- Hasn’t science disproved God?
- Why would God care why I live?
- Why would I trust anything the Bible says?
These four questions are some of the most frequently asked over the last five years at REBOOT events. REBOOT is hosted each year by RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries), and brings together some of the best Christian apologists, and in this instance, over 1000 young people, from all different backgrounds, who are keen to explore these questions and find out answers. For me, it’s one of those things that can often be intimidating. If approached with one of these questions, it’s so easy to shy away, and ignore the question entirely. I’d much rather avoid the question than give a half-hearted answer that doesn’t help the situation. So, I’ve found REBOOT really interesting – and a great opportunity to think about the answers to these questions from a logical stance – finding answers with evidence and a suitable way to approach conversations about apologetics.
When it comes down to the fundamentals, Apologetics are about the three following things:
- Engaging and Asking Questions
Let’s take the compatibility of God & science as an example. Often people think that the rationality of science doesn’t work when you put God into the scene. Yet there are several important pieces of information to consider. First off, while science is good to prove scientific experiments (don’t worry, I’m not going to get all science-y, my GCSEs feel a very long time ago), there are some things it cannot prove. It is redundant in proving morals or ethics, not give an explanation to this type of question.
I’m not going to go into details about every single question they covered on the day, but if you’d like to hear more, I’d love to chat with you!
Is anything really true?
One thing that really struck me was Tanya Walker’s talk on ‘Is anything really true?’ In this, she explored the concept of truth, and the nature of evidence. For me, this just was fascinating. We’ve got to the point that truth often becomes blurred with opinion, and the quantity of false news around makes distinguishing fact from fiction a hard task.
Yet, if someone were to say “There’s no such thing as truth.” – this is a direct contradiction. For that to be a ‘true’ statement, they must believe in some form of truth. It’s impossible to deny truth without also affirming it.
With Jesus, the story looks a bit different. We no longer have a need to explain away, but things are instead explained. After all, Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)
Often, we look for all the possible options before focusing in on what seems the only option left. Have you tried working out what makes the most sense with the evidence you have?
Take this example: you don’t need to know that 2+3 ≠ 4, or 2+4 ≠ 4 in order to know that 2+2 = 4.
(These examples and thoughts are very much Tanya’s, who is amazing, and I fully recommend checking out her work.)
The Resurrection: Fact or Fiction?
One of the other big questions we learned about during the day was the ‘Resurrection: fact or fiction.’ This seminar was led by Simon Edwards, a really intelligent Australian who just brought historical evidence and delivered it in an understandable manner. The Bible stands to the test of ‘Textual Criticism’, and is unrivalled to any other ancient texts in comparison. Let’s take Homer’s Iliad – which ranks the highest, with 600 manuscripts found. In comparison, there are 20,000 original manuscripts of the New Testament. It is hard to say that the Bible has no founding as an accurate text – the history speaks for itself. In a similar way, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ has the biggest historical footprint.
A really good analogy that he used when looking at the topic was to talk about playwrights and their characters. When reading a play, a specific character can be found at any given point, say they were hiding – they could be behind a closed door etc. Asking ‘where is God in the Bible?’ is like asking where Shakespeare is in Hamlet. You can find Hamlet, the character, but not the author within the pages of the play.
God himself IS the playwright.
He has written himself INTO the story, in history. This is evident when you read it – because the Bible is full of real events, real history and real people. There are people who are great historical figures aside from their involvement in the Bible. For example, there is Herod, or Augustus. Another important point is that the places can be visited. It’s possible to go and walk around sites in Jerusalem (something I’d love to do at some point), and visualise where biblical events occurred.
A couple of the other questions that were discussed on the day were:
- Why is it a sacrifice if Jesus was brought back to life again?
- Did Jesus visit hell?
- Are we allowed to doubt?
The day ended with a session of worship – an amazing opportunity to give thanks and praise to God, alongside 1000 other young people.
The last thing I want to leave you with is this. The hashtag for the day was #NoQuestionsOffLimits – to encourage questions of all proportion and content – it was an open forum. At one point, Tanya was talking about doubting, and suggested reading the Psalms. I’ve recently started reading the Psalms as part of a reading plan, and they’re the best place to see the range of emotions that people felt in the past. They could potentially be classed as #NoEmotionOffLimits (if books of the Bible were given hashtags…!)
If you’re looking for somewhere to ask the hard questions – REBOOT is a great place to do that. Also, it’s worth taking a further look at some of the great apologists who were there – I’ll leave their links below.
If you’ve got a question you’re wrestling with – share it. Don’t leave it unspoken, but work through, and dig into God’s word to find out the truth.
The REBOOT UK twitter is a good way to keep up-to-date with all the latest events and questions, but a really good resource is their YouTube channel, where there are questions answered in short videos.
Links to the apologists:
RZIM – the organisation who set up REBOOT
- Amy Orr-Ewing – Bio – Twitter
- Tanya Walker – Bio – Twitter
- Simon Edwards – Bio – Twitter
- Michael Ramsden – Bio
- Tom Price – Bio – Twitter
- Sharon Dirckx – Bio – Twitter
- Sam Allberry – Bio – Twitter