Essentials of Apologetics - Lesson 1

Interview with Sean McDowell on Apologetics

Sean McDowell
Essentials of Apologetics
Lesson 1
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Interview with Sean McDowell on Apologetics

  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of apologetics, the theological discipline of defending the Christian faith, through a personal mall encounter that highlights the importance of being prepared to provide reasoned defenses, with a focus on biblical foundations, addressing objections, and fulfilling a ministry to those with questions.
  • This second lesson on apologetics, highlights the importance of understanding worldviews, using practical exercises and examples to illustrate how our minds shape beliefs, categorizing worldviews based on their answers to fundamental questions, and exploring Christianity's unique perspective on creation, the world's problem, and the solution through Jesus.
  • This lesson explores Antony Flew's shift from atheism to recognizing Christianity's uniqueness. Dr. McDowell provides four reasons why a spiritual quest ought to begin with Christianity: testability in history, free salvation, a livable worldview, and Jesus' central role beyond religious boundaries. The lesson includes a Q&A time reviewing Islam's view on Jesus and Darwin's evolution.
  • Debunking the myth of blind faith, Sean counters with a scriptural foundation, using personal encounters and anecdotes. Examining biblical narratives, especially in Exodus and the New Testament, reveals a pattern: God provides evidence, imparts knowledge, and calls for faith and action. The story of doubting Thomas underscores that belief aligns with evidence, not against it. The lesson closes by emphasizing faith's dynamic nature, which can be fortified through evidence-based study.
  • In this session, you'll delve into the speaker's exploration of truth, gaining insights into its multifaceted importance in various life aspects. The session highlights three key reasons for the significance of truth, introduces the correspondence theory, and underlines the implicit connection between Christianity and truth, offering a comprehensive understanding of the topic.
  • You gain a deep understanding of the distinction between subjective and objective claims in this lesson, illustrated through relatable examples like ice cream preferences. Sean communicates that subjective claims rely on personal beliefs, while objective claims are based on the external world. Overall, you will develop a nuanced perspective on truth, specifically in differentiating between subjective and objective claims, with a focus on moral values.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insights into the moral argument for the existence of God. Sean draws from a personal debate experience, emphasizing that God provides a solid foundation for moral values. Three key points are highlighted: the need for a transcendent standard for right and wrong, the role of free will in moral accountability, and the requirement for divine grounding of human value. The lesson challenges naturalistic worldviews, asserting that they fail to offer a satisfactory explanation for objective morality, ultimately suggesting that living in accordance with God's design leads to true freedom and fulfillment.
  • Explore the Christian view on the soul, diving into its significance through moral law and beauty. Analyze arguments supporting its existence, like its role in free will, using analogies. Address contemporary debates on gender and transgender issues, suggesting a dual human nature. Incorporate biblical references, evaluating flawed arguments and introducing stronger ones. Discuss practical implications for personal well-being. This lesson explores the soul's concept from a Christian standpoint.
  • Gain insights into the intricate relationship between science and faith, exploring arguments for God's existence, the concept of fine-tuning in cosmology and biology, and the conclusion that the fine-tuning of the universe and DNA's information complexity point towards a fine tuner and an author of life, offering compelling evidence for the existence of God.
  • In this exploration of miracles, the lesson shifts from discussing God's existence to questioning divine revelation, challenging skeptics to reconsider their worldview and illustrating the philosophical underpinnings of miracles, ultimately emphasizing an open-minded investigation and hinting at a compelling case for theism and Christianity with overwhelming evidence for miracles.
  • You will gain a comprehensive understanding of near-death experiences (NDEs) and their potential as a compelling apologetic tool, exploring evidentiary aspects, transformative impacts, objections, and the significance of information unattainable by natural means in supporting the case for an afterlife and the soul.
  • Dr. McDowell reviews the overwhelming evidence of the resurrection and the significance of the resurrection.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insight into the historical evidence supporting the resurrection of Jesus, including the crucifixion, discovery of the empty tomb by women, early and multiple accounts of Jesus's appearances, and the transformative impact on the disciples, ultimately challenging alternative explanations and asserting the resurrection as the most reasonable conclusion based on historical facts.
  • Exploring the Bible's trustworthiness through the character and copy tests, this lesson establishes the reliability of the New Testament by highlighting the writers' honesty, the disciples' willingness to endure hardships, and the exceptional proximity and quantity of early manuscripts.
  • In this lesson, you will gain a thorough understanding of the New Testament's reliability through an exploration of its extensive manuscript evidence, addressing skeptics' concerns about variations, and highlighting corroboration from external sources such as historical records and archaeology.
  • In this lesson, you will gain an understanding of the problem of evil and suffering, exploring its intellectual and emotional dimensions, drawing on personal experiences, historical perspectives, and a philosophical approach, and laying the groundwork for a more in-depth exploration in the next session.
  • In this lesson, you will learn of the logical problem of evil, exploring the philosophical challenge to God's existence posed by the coexistence of omnipotence, omnibenevolence, and evil, while examining the limitations of God's power, the compatibility of free will, and the unique Christian perspective emphasizing the redemptive nature of the incarnation and the cross in addressing the problem of evil.
  • Gain insights into responding to objections in apologetics, including addressing conflicts between a loving God and hell, defending the Bible against contradictions, clarifying misconceptions about God's stance on homosexuality, explaining the concept of the Trinity, and attributing natural evil to the brokenness of the world due to sin.
  • Gain insights into a personal and relational approach to apologetics by understanding that everyone is an apologist and theologian, as the lesson, through anecdotes, underscores the importance of discerning underlying questions, emphasizing active listening and probing inquiries to address the genuine needs and heartaches beneath surface-level queries.
  • Gain insights into effective spiritual conversations by asking four key questions: understanding beliefs, exploring reasons behind them, finding common ground, and navigating areas of disagreement, with an emphasis on listening and fostering genuine understanding.

What apologetics is and why it matters.

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Bill Mounce Well, let's get started. I want to have a quick introduction here. We are going to be talking to Dr. Sean McDowell. He is a professor of apologetics at Talbot School of Theology in Southern California. And this webinar is a way to help people know what's happening in the future. And that is we're going to be filming a 20 hour class of Sean's on November 1st and second, we're going to be at Compass Church or the school in conjunction with the Compass Church in Aliso Viejo. If any of you are in the area, we welcome you to come. There's plenty of classrooms and you can be part of the recording. There will be information sent to you as to how you can sign up to do that. Please sign up so we'll know how many are come, but that the class will be filled November 1st and second. Our basic schedule for this webinar is that we're going to let Sean talk for about 20 minutes. He's going to be covering some of the questions that you've already sent in and but also talking about some of the things that he'll be teaching on in November 1st and second. And then a lot of you have already sent in questions and I will be asking Sean those questions. And then please use the Q&A function of Zoom that if you want to ask some additional questions, just type them in to Q&A and we'll do all we can to answer them in the last 20 minutes of this hourlong webinar. The. It's hard to know how to do Sean. His. This is get it over with. Okay? Yes. He's a sun adjustment dog. Okay. We know that now. It's some of us have well known fathers in the same field, and it's always kind of interesting to follow in their footsteps. And Sean's done a good job. Plus, earning his own right as a as an apologist. So, anyway, just that I get that that outshone. I was watching the movie American Gospel the other nights on Netflix and it's it's about what is the gospel and the some perversions of it. And it was really interesting Sean there's a know this but there was one of the gals on the movie was giving a testimony and she talked about she read more than a carpenter and you could see the book on the shelf behind her. And she said, I was an atheist. And I read that book and I thought, you know what, There must be a God. And then eventually she became a Christian show. Shane's influence is beyond what even he understands. And so we're glad to get this chance to share him with you all. So that's the schedule. There'll be a follow up email to you all so that you can get more information about things that he's talking about. We're in terms of funding his class, we are part way funding it there. So if you would like to help fund some of that class, there's a in the Q&A section, there's a link you go to to do that. So anyway, Sean, thank you so much for being here and take it away.

Sean McDowell Hey, this is a real treat. Had not heard that about the American gospel. So that's a thrilling thing to hear about that testimony. And I do love that you shared the story of my father. He is my hero and he is one of the big reasons I'm interested in apologetics from his example from his life. And I think his story really illustrates why apologetics matters so much today. And I'll frame it in two ways. Number one reason apologetics matters is because there's unbelievers who have genuine questions about the faith. There are people who have genuine intellectual barriers about the Bible, about the person of Jesus, about the nature of truth, about the problem of evil. And our job is to be ready with an answer to help them see that Christianity is actually true. And that was my dad story that you mentioned, Bill. He grew up actually grew up in a really troubled background with abuse in his family, sister who took her life. My grandpa, his dad was the town alcoholic and he was searching for ways of happiness, was challenged by some folks. This is back in the fifties to consider the claims of Christ, and he thought it was a joke. So he set out before any modern day apologetics movement, there was basically C.S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer, not much else to prove that it was wrong, but then he was surprised by the evidence. But he would say really drawn by the love of God and ended up becoming a believer. And as you mentioned, more than a carpenter. This highlights one reason why apologetics is so important today. There are nonbelievers at our workplace, in our families, in our communities who have genuine intellectual barriers to the Christian faith. And our job is to be ready with an answer that's reasonable. One Why it matters. Second reason why it matters is to strengthen believers, too. There's so many Christians out there that have an emotion filled faith and experience based faith, but they don't really have an intellectual faith. And then when we begin to learn that these things are actually true, not just stories we've been told, there's a certain level of confidence that often comes with this. So for years when I was teaching high school, full time high school Bible, I would take students on trips to places like Berkeley where we'd bring in atheists to speak to our students. We take students on trips to Salt Lake City, and we'd go visit BYU and we'd bring in some Mormon missionaries, and we teach our students how to have spiritual conversation with folks and defend their faith. And I get a call from this high school student of mine. He goes, Hey, this is right after we got back from the trip, he said, We just invited some Mormon missionaries over. We're having a conversation. Could you answer this theological or apologetic question? I forgot what the question was, but what happened is they had gotten this apologetics training and as a result, it gave them confidence. So really, the reason I'm so passionate about this course and I hope that you'll join us is because we want to equip you to have answers for nonbelievers, but also strengthen and build up your faith. Now, before we get into some of what we'll be talking about in the course, what do we mean by apologetics now? Probably most, if not all of you have a sense of what apologetics is, but. Amazing how much even misunderstanding there is. And of course, it has nothing to do with apologizing for your faith. We actually, because I teach in a master's program of apologetics by all that's been there over 20 years, we've had people call up and complain about why we have classes of people apologizing for their faith. And the problem is they don't understand what we mean by apologetics. Interestingly, when Socrates wrote I'm sorry, when Plato wrote his defense for Socrates, what he wrote is he called it an apology. So in Greek, an apology is to make a case for something. It's a defense for something. So it's not just a Christian term. There's apologists for Islam, there's apologists for atheism, there's apologists for a certain kind of car that you should buy if you should go electric. There's apologist for certain political parties, but we're also called to be apologists for the faith. And of course, we see this in first Peter 315 where Peter says, Sanctify Christ as Lord in your heart. Always be ready with an answer for the hope within David with gentleness and give it the respect. And of course, the Greek term, their apologia is what's often translated as apologetics. Now ask Guinness, one of my favorite thinkers today, he said One of the reason apologetics matters today is because really, everybody is an apologist. We are I mean, look at our culture. Even a lot of what social media does is people are presenting themselves to the world. They're making a case for a certain kind of life that they're living. So the question is not really are we apologists? In fact, I believe it was C.S. Lewis who said it's not whether we are apologists. The question is what kind of apologists are weak? How effective are we in the apologetics that we do? What's fascinating about apologetics is it's not a spiritual gift. We have teachers, we have evangelists. Even though we're teaching evangelize to a degree, doing apologetics is not a spiritual gift. Now, there might be some people more inclined than others towards it or wired a certain way, but we're actually all called to be ready with an answer for the hope within. That's you and that's me. So apologetics, in a sense, for everyone. Now, I might add a third reason why it's important strengthen believers in number to reach nonbelievers. But I'd also say it also helps cut some of the bleeding of young people disengaging the faith. There's been a ton of talk recently about the nuns. No. And yes, and the amount of people disengaged. In fact, I'm reading this big book right now by this sociologist by the name of Jean Twenge, and it's called Generations. And she walks through all the generations up to Gen Z. And then now she calls the younger generation a POLARS And she talks about how millennials down have increasingly become a more and more secular generation that have genuine questions about God. So if we care about our kids, we care about our kids and the church, one thing we have to do is teach them how to know that the Bible's true. God exists, why evil happens in the world. So apologetics helps to cut some of the bleeding of young people disengaged in their faith. They're not saying it's all intellectual, but I'm saying this is one piece that really matters. Now. There's other reasons why, but from evangelism, strengthening believers to stopping young people from disengaging their faith, that in itself is huge when it comes to apologetics. Now, we're going to get into again in a minute some of the topics that we'll cover. But I think it might be helpful if I just frame a couple things for us. Sometimes people ask me, what are the biggest questions this generation is asking? What are the toughest objections that people have? And I frame it in one of two ways. I'll say there's certain timely questions about the cultural moment that we find ourselves in, but then there's also timeless questions that transcend the generation that humans have always asked and we always will be asking. So some of the timely questions in particular, we hear a lot about our questions of sexuality. These are huge questions. So in this course we're going to talk a little bit about a biblical case for sexuality. In fact, a lot of nonbelievers, it's not only that the Christian view of sexual ethics is false, but they'll think that it's bad and that it's harmful and a sense that it's ugly. So we have to show that God's design is good and true and beautiful. That's an example. Of a timely question, you might say questions related to like artificial intelligence. Those seem particularly timely. But then there's timeless questions that we hear and these kind of timeless questions that be things like does God exist? Is the Bible true? Is Jesus God? Is there such a thing as truth that we can actually know? So as we walk through in this course, we're going to make sure that we talk about some of the timeless issues and also the timely ones. Because if we only talk about the timeless issues, they don't really scratch in a sense where people are itching. But if we only talk about timely issues, then we don't build up the larger confidence in the Christian worldview of the big questions. That's important as well. So we're going to make sure we hit on the timely questions and the timeless ones. Now, to do so, we kind of have to be aware of how some of the issues have changed. And one of the cool things, again, Bill, you mentioned my father, which is awesome. I love it is my dad is he's 84 years old. He's been doing apologetics for a long time. And we've had a lot of questions about how culture shifted. And he pointed something out interesting to me. He said kind of when he started back, a lot of this doing stuff in the seventies more publicly and even probably the late sixties, people assumed that the problem was out there. It was external. But now the problem has shifted internally in a sense. That's why we hear a lot about depression and loneliness and mental health issues. These are internal types of questions. So the way we do apologetics has to reflect the nature of the way that certain questions have changed. It has to be timely but also timeless. I think another way apologetics has changed is that it's changed in terms of the amount of information that is accessible. So even when I was in college, really a doubting period that I went through, I remember this is mid-nineties and I this kind of the first time the Internet was popping up and people were getting like email addresses, figuring out what that was. And I got online and discovered that some of the secular web had begun trying to debunk my dad's stuff, a chapter by chapter, and it kind of rocked me. It was pretty unsettling to me to see that. Well, that was the first time the amount of information began to expose me to certain ideas I didn't know before. Well, this generation is getting challenged by ideas through Netflix, through Disney Plus, through TikTok, through YouTube, through their friends. The kinds of challenges and the amount of information that it's out there can feel overwhelming. So it's not enough to say, Skeptic says, eh, we say B, we've got to talk through what is truth. How do we know truth? How do we in fact discover it and give people confidence in the truth in the way that we didn't necessarily need to with previous generations? Now, here's some of the things I'll just walk through a little bit and then we'll take some questions here in a little bit here. So the topics that were to talk about, we're taught things like what is truth and why does it even matter? You've probably heard people say things like live your truth. That might be true for you, but not true for me. Well, or you might hear people say, that may be your truth, but not mine. Here's one quick nugget that's important. You cannot have your own truth. You can have your own beliefs, but you cannot have your own truth. Part of the reason we see these claims in our culture is we're confusing truth with belief, and we have to help people. Sometimes non-Christians and Christians make some of these two sermons. So we're going to walk through what is truth. How do we know it? Why is it important? How do we discover it? That's a very, very important topic today. We're gonna walk through some common misconceptions here. People say all the time or faith is blind. Faith is just about believing something when there's not evidence or friends. This is not what Scripture teaches. Jesus did miracles largely to give public evidence that He, in fact spoke for God. He did publicly accessible miracles that we can examine and use our minds to consider. So faith goes beyond the evidence, but evidence gives us confidence that our faith is well-placed. And we're going to walk through some of those distinctions in. In the in the in the course itself. Now, some of the things we'll walk through is we're going to start it's a very systematic course. So the such a thing is truth. Going to walk through some of the evidence for intelligent design, which is incredible from fine tuning in the universe. The thing so kind of on the macro fine tuning down to the micro with DNA in the human body, I mean, the amount there's about 100 trillion cells in the human body. I mean, just think about that. If you took the cell, if you took the DNA out of one cell in your body would be nine feet in length. That means the DNA in your body all strung together would go from here to the sun and back about 200 times. That's just phenomenal. What does DNA do? Its stores information which points towards an author of life. Certain kind of walk through that there's such a thing as truth. What do the evidence for intelligent design. And a talk I added in here that I don't give a lot is on evidence for the soul. I think especially now with all this talk about artificial intelligence, it's really clear. It's really important that we have clarity on what it means to be human and that we are body and that we are soul. That we're not just a soul, that we're not just a body, that we are an embodied soul. And there's good philosophical and even scientific evidence, in fact, that we're going to look at that the soul is real. We're to look at near-death experiences. I just interviewed a friend of mine on my YouTube channel who has a new book out, Dr. Steve Miller, on near-death experiences, and he shared how people kind of think that near-death experiences point towards universalism that may be Buddhist see Buddha, Hindus, see Christina, Muslims see Mohammed and Christians see Jesus. But he actually showed in the data that he studied that very few cases are people have seen Krishna, very few seen Buddha, very few with Muhammad. They're all equivocal, minor cases, but about 20% of near-death experiences. And these are cross-cultural. People report seeing Jesus. There's something powerful about near-death experiences that tell us we're not just our bodies. Life continues after the grave. And I would argue that we can even know certain things about God and his character from near-death experiences. But we'll get into that. We're talking about what I did, my dick, my doctoral dissertation on, which is the deaths of the Apostles. You probably heard the argument that all the apostles, except for John, died as martyrs, proclaiming the resurrection to their last breath, refusing to recant, which proves the resurrection is true. Well, friends, it's not quite that simple. And especially today with fact check, it's important we get our details right. I think a case can be made for the sincerity of the apostles from their willingness to suffer and die. But it's important. We don't overstate that argument in ways that maybe we've done in the past or into some of the huge issues about the problem of evil. Three talks on that, the emotional problem, the evil logical problem, and then natural evil. I really believe that the biggest question and objection people have to God is the problem of evil. As long as I've been doing this, I'm more and more convinced that at its core, the biggest problem that we often have and sometimes even struggling with this can be what Christians struggle with is this sense that we look at this world and think, if God was good and powerful, He would stop this sin. Yet he does it. Maybe God doesn't exist. This is really you get into ethical issues like in my country, issues on like say, the border or gun control. At the root is people are suffering. How do we help them? It's the problem of evil. It's everywhere. Why do we love superhero movies? Because we want to believe that somebody is going to come and fight the bad guy and stand for justice. So we're going to walk through that and then we're talking about issues of sex and marriage and gender, and then at the end give some practical steps of how to really have spiritual conversations with people. So we're going to give you some some evidences and some apologetics and define it and equip you, but some very practical tools at the end that you can use to engage friends, family, neighbors, coworkers with the material that's here. Looking forward to it. You got a great team working kind of behind the scenes, getting this ready and looking forward to it. Come on back in and let's let's look at some of the questions that folks have set.

Bill Mounce Yeah. Thank you, Sean. And I'm excited to be there on November 1st. What a lot of the questions that came in had to do with how to have a conversation with a skeptic. And so I need to ask a couple of different variations on that question. But I want to I want to start with actually a conversation I had with a skeptic. And I want you to tell me whether what I said was right or not or whether you nuance the different. How's that? Okay. The person raises the question. I'm just not sure he believes anything anymore.

Sean McDowell And I said.

Bill Mounce I said, whatever you do, make sure you think through this. Don't just kind of go through life blindly and not really come to a decision, because when you die, it's final and either you'll end up in heaven or some other place, or if your materialist life will simply cease, but whatever happens to you is permanent. So please don't just kind of pass it after. Or maybe when I'm old, I'll think about it. Hmm. Is that a good argument? How would you nuance that?

Sean McDowell I think that's a really fair question to ask. A lot of even going back to Pascal's ponte say Punches was not to argue for the truth of Christianity, but to try to help people realize what's at stake. So today, a lot of what we see with when it comes to students, I take students on college campuses. We've gone to Georgia Tech and Berkeley and BYU, and we send the send the students out to do surveys to have spiritual conversations with people. And one of the biggest takes from the students when we come back and debrief, these are the Christian students. It's kind of just a sense of apathy. The students don't know a lot. They really just don't care. So that's kind of a default position many people can take, especially young people. So you framing it for them is great. Now, there's other ways to do this. I think one of the best things that one of the best things I've learned is just with with skeptics. I just ask questions. Okay? I mean, Jesus asked 339 questions. We have 200 recorded questions. We have recorded 262 questions of Paul, the God who made our brain communicates with us largely through questions. Anybody can engage a skeptic. So if this guy was a former Christian is a skeptic, I don't want to say. When did you first become a Christian? When did you start having doubts about your faith? How did people respond to you? Have you ever thought about coming back? Is there anything you miss from your faith? And I ask these questions because I want to get to the root of it. I want to know for this person, it's moral. It's intellectual, It's spiritual. And so by asking questions, I can get to the heart of it. Proverbs 25 says the purposes in a man's heart are deep and a person of wisdom draws it out. So when I'm speaking to a skeptic, I want to ask questions and draw. What's the heart of your objection? And then see if I can help.

Bill Mounce Oh, that's okay. I'll go back and ask questions. Paul Snider from Florida. It's a little longer question, but I want to read it to get it right. Because in my job, I'm often called upon to address a roomful of people having diverse spiritual worldviews, and they include all major religions and those who have no religion. I give talks on the importance of having a spiritual belief system that is effective in creating spiritual resiliency. I am not allowed to denigrate any religion as a Christian. What tactics would you use to address this room?

Sean McDowell I would go straight to some of the work of my boss at Baylor, Craig Hazen. Now, Craig Hazen has a Ph.D. from UCSB in world religions. And what he does is he has he has chapters on this. He has talks on this. He has a whole book on this, I think it's called The Five Sacred Crossings, where he walks through five ways that makes Christianity unique. And he just says, for example, Christianity is testable. It invites an examination of the evidence. Second, Christianity is rooted in grace. It's the only religion in which salvation offers is completely a free gift. So he walks through these four or five arguments. The final one is, he says Christianity is religion based upon Jesus. And what's interesting is every religion wants a piece of Jesus. So many Buddhists would say he's enlightened. Many Hindus would say he's a, you know, a reincarnated God, may be a guru. New Age wants Jesus. Muslims would say he's a virgin, born, sinless, miracle working profit. Yet everybody wants Jesus. So he kind of stands above other religious ideas. Christianity is rooted in who Jesus claims to be. Mm hmm. But what's unique about Craig's talk is he's not saying other religions are false. He frames it by saying, If you're on a spiritual quest, doesn't it make sense to begin with the religion that's free, the religion that you can test, the religion that has Jesus at the center? That's what I would do. In fact, one of the talks that were going into his house, Christianity unique. I'm going to walk through these very points in a lot more depth, but that's what I would do. I wouldn't criticize other religions. I would make the case I would frame for somebody how to go on a spiritual quest and talk about the positive attributes of Christianity. Mm hmm.

Bill Mounce Yeah. So often we've been defined by what we're against. In in and take such a negative tone that if you can find a way to be positive and not upfront demeaning. Yeah. Yeah. It'd be a lot more effective, isn't it? Now. From India. I have a question from Katara. Samuel. Sorry if I don't pronounce it properly. He says With the arrival of artificial intelligence and the ascent of things like deep fake and I will have to tell you we found a way to translate mimicking training classes into other languages. And I heard myself speaking Chinese. Now, I don't speak Chinese now, but I heard myself speaking Chinese. And Steve was self meaning. Or I go, Hey, I want to sound like James Earl Jones. 10 minutes later, it was James Earl Jones. Seeing my words in Chinese making this whole deep fake thing is is it is is bringing up all kinds of issues. I think if the only way I'm looking I can see shown over here, but my camera's over here, so sorry if I'm looking around and but what Kadri is asking is the difference between truth and trust. As the world has taken the direction of no absolute truth, then it means they don't trust anything. They don't trust anything any more. And I think it's an it's a it's a nuance, but it's a it's an interesting find. Two nuance of the difference between the trust and truth. Do have comments on trusting things.

Sean McDowell Well, I actually think as Christian apologist, one of the most important things we have to have is trust that we earn the right to be heard, I think. You know, you mentioned my father's book. That's one of the reasons I updated evidence demands verdict, because when he first wrote that book, no, we had access to the information. Now people have access to information in other ways. So I updated it and the answer was because of trust in the ministry that my father's done and kind of the brand evidence. So if we're going to be apologists, being trustworthy and being voices is important, How do you gain trust? Well, you got to tell the truth. You got to know your stuff. You got to do your homework. If you make a mistake, own it. I've had to own plenty of mistakes. I'm sure many more we're all going to miss at some point. Right. But do our homework. I mean, you lose trust immediately. Parents do this with their kids if they just give them an answer. That's not true. Or Pastor gives tells them something that's not true, and then they find it out they will lose trust. Now, what artificial intelligence and deep faith does is it makes it that much harder to know what is true and know what is false. It doesn't make it impossible. I don't think we need to despair. I think we just need to have more of a filter than we've ever had. That said, you know what that proverb that says the first two speaking course sounds right until the cross-examination begins. I think it might be Proverbs 1820. That proverb. I'm going to use that and refer to that. So if I hear something, I'm going to check it out and get another source and get another source. So if anything, it's just going to make us go back and just do more of our homework. You know, sometimes I hear people yeah, I hear people make up their minds on one perspective that they've heard. And I think, gosh, we got to do better than that. So I actually think the most important work in apologetics is really in the realm of epistemology. What is truth? How do we know it? How do we have confidence? That's always been important, but even more important today in light of the excellent question.

Bill Mounce Yeah, interesting. Now, whenever I hear someone quote a verse and I'm always trying to figure out what translation they're quoting from, that leads right into the next question. This and okay, if I have only one Bible, which version do you recommend?

Sean McDowell You know what, Bill? You could probably answer that a lot better than I could, but somewhat. It depends on what you want to accomplish with it, because there's a lot of good translations today. We have an embarrassment of riches. So if somebody said, I just want a, you know, a book on read ability, you know, the NIV or the you know, that that's a very readable one. But there's some times where I'm not convinced it's as accurate as could be. And maybe the NASB or the CSV is more accurate. If I had to pick one to answer a question, I really like the ESV and I like the CSV. I think they're accurate as a whole and I think they're both readable. Bill, you're more qualified than I am. Give your sense on this one.

Bill Mounce I'm laughing because I was the New Testament chair The ESV New Testament.

Sean McDowell Oh, you were? I didn't even know.

Bill Mounce I'm currently on the NIV translation team, so. Yeah. I mean, you know, all translations. They all have different philosophies and they stick beautifully to the translation philosophies. And as long as you understand what they're doing, you can use any of them. I mean, they're really I mean, I've been I'm reading through the CSB right now and I really like it. I think is is a good space between the ESV and the NIV is still uses he generically which in my mind makes it a bit of a niche bible because that will eventually go away. The nib trade in is anticipating he going away is a generic word but you know Bruce Wiki says all translations lead you to the cross and none will lead you into error. And that's that's really true. And the NASB update that just came out a couple of years ago it's really good. I mean they've used the NASB didn't seem to remember him well Crusade used the NASB on.

Sean McDowell Yeah he liked he liked the NLT even he really liked how readable it was.

Bill Mounce Yeah, yeah. It really is. So. And debating whether to tell a story in your dad or not. But maybe I'll say this.

Sean McDowell Let's keep going.

Bill Mounce This is a related question. Why is the. But it was a good it was a good story in your day. Why is the Bible different from other religious books that claim to be inspired by God? What makes it unique.

Sean McDowell Well, so this might sound very simplistic, but the Bible is different because it's actually the inspired word of God. So the Koran claims to be inspired. I think the evidence is there. People claim the Book of Mormon is inspired. I don't think the evidence is there. I think the evidence is there that the Bible actually is inspired. Now, of course, I haven't laid that out right now. I understand that. But I would say a couple other things about the Bible is it's not just one author. It's somewhere around 40 authors written on three continents over a span of about 1500 years from every not every but a range of different professions in different seasons and times, and yet tells a coherent story of the anticipation of Jesus and then the coming of Jesus, the realization of Jesus. So I think what makes it unique is the amount of voices that way into it. Also, the impact of the Bible is completely unparalleled. There's no other book in the history of the world that comes close to the impact in music, in the East, in the West. The impact on politics. The impact in art architecture. The impact on lives. The impact on literature. On and on and on. So the way it's written, the impact that it's had. And I would also argue the evidence for the Bible, and we don't have time to get into that. We will, in the course, sets it apart from other religious texts, too. And that's not to just disparage other religious texts. That is not my point. I've read other religious texts and benefited greatly from them. But there is something unique and powerful about the Bible.

Bill Mounce Yeah. Yeah. All right. Now, you. I think it's. Your last book was set adrift, Is that correct?

Sean McDowell Yeah, that one. Literally. Just what's the date today? Literally released yesterday. Officially.

Bill Mounce Oh, well, good. Let's talk about it, because one of the questions had to do with deconstruction ism. How do you have a conversation with a deconstruction? So can you can you define what deconstruction ism is? And then let's say you're sitting next to one on the bus. How would you how would you have a conversation?

Sean McDowell So I literally have a sitting here is called Set Adrift and the title, the subtitle is Deconstructing What You Believe Without Sinking Your Faith. So this is it's not an apologetics book. I want to make that very clear. This is a book to help people who are questioning and examining their faith, ask the right questions, and have certain guide rails to better follow Jesus and have a more biblical faith. That's the idea of this book. So in many ways in my life I had people like Jp morgan and William Craig answer my intellectual questions when I was doubting. But then I had people like Rob Loane, who is my resident director, who is more of kind of a spiritual guide for me that helped me just ask certain questions as I was rethinking my faith. That's more what this book is. So deconstruction can mean a few different things. Sometimes people refer to deconstruction in the kind of Jacques Derrida postmodern sense rage as dismantle a text. That's not what we mean by deconstruction. Others would say deconstruction. They might confuse it with the conversion to deconstruct is to convert from the faith. And some people use it that way. We're very careful to define at the beginning deconstruct D is to break down, construct is to build up. So the way we define it is somebody is saying, I'm thinking through my faith, I'm examining my faith, and I want to know what I got from culture. I want to know what's more biblical. I want to know what's not. I am deconstructing my faith to shed away things that are secondary, that have a more biblical, Jesus focused faith. That's what we mean by deconstruction. So if you're talking with somebody who's a deconstructionist, the first thing you say is, What do you mean by deconstruction? Because I mean, honestly, sometimes people use the term deconstruction. Also just kind of this this I don't know if this is a fair way to characterize it, but there's a negative, critical, you know, critique focused approach to anything that applies to evangelical Christianity. So given how ubiquitous the word is and how equivocal it is, just say tell me what you mean by deconstruction. So if they're somebody who's converting from the faith, that might be very different. QUESTION And somebody says, I'm a Christian, but I'm just rethinking things and I'm trying to figure out what it means. So bottom line, the best thing you can do is just listen and you can ask good questions because those who can. Extract whether they leave the faith or not, it can actually be a really painful thing. It can hurt. That's why Jude 122 says, Have mercy on those who doubt. So ask questions, be present, listen and just invite a conversation with that person.

Bill Mounce I taught at a zoo specific down the street from where you are for ten years, and I always started my freshman classes by saying, If you don't make up your own mind, you won't really believe it. I said, Do you believe everything your mom and dad told you? And so I deconstructionist, I guess at that point just saying, yeah, you need to honestly ask, do I really believe the Bible or is that just part of being raised in a, you know, a Southern Baptist kind of church where, yeah, we believe the Bible, but if you don't really know it's true or believe that it's true, then you'll never trust it. So what are some give me some examples of in deconstruction ism the kinds of things that if someone is in that process, what are some of the things they might shed? What would be some of the things that they might have picked up culturally from their church or, you know, being raised in the South or something that they would have thought was central to what it is to be a Christian. But it really wasn't.

Sean McDowell Yeah, I think there could be a few things. Some of these can be controversial things, could be like a certain view of the age of the earth that if I give up that view, the other two, I abandon my entire faith and people learn to go, Oh, no, maybe there's some different, you know, perspectives I can take on this. Some might be certain political views that people associate with what it means to follow Jesus then, is they rethink their faith and look at scriptures. Maybe they start approaching politics a little bit differently. You know, a some could be cultural views of love that often we read into the scriptures that don't match up with what Scripture is. Oftentimes today we assume love is just to affirm what everybody believes and to say that a certain kind of relationship is not right, is bigoted, is considered bigoted and hateful. Well, these are assumptions because it's the water we live in and the air we breathe that many Christians start to realize and go, okay, wait a minute, where did I get this idea from? Does it line up with Jesus? So those are the kinds of secondary things. A lot of it is experiential, too, as well, Bill. There's a lot of people who have experienced church hurt. They've seen him or see maybe sometimes people have an over emotional based kind of faith. We really in evangelicalism tend to just really just focus on the emotion so much. And so there's a range of things given the denomination and the culture and experiences that somebody has, that they start to just rethink their faith. Mm hmm. That's what we wrote said Adrift for. Again, it's not apologetics book. It's just to give people kind of guide rails and help walk them through a process of maybe sharing secondary beliefs.

Bill Mounce Whose are the weak?

Sean McDowell Oh, my coauthor. His name is John Marriott. He works at Loyola University and he's from Canada, which gives him a very interesting, different perspective than oftentimes how Americans might see things.

Bill Mounce Yeah. Yeah. I'm getting some notes here that for those of you that still have questions, please keep asking them. We will work through them and post answers afterwards. I got a note that the questions about the evidence of the Bible, we do have quite a few classes on biblical training on the accuracy of the Bible. We have the classical Why I trust the Bible. We have stuff on texts, Criticism by Dan Wallis. We have stuff on translations that I did. We have stuff on Canon, why? We had the books in the Bible that we do. By Michael Kruger Contradictions in the Gospel by Craig Blomberg. And we're doing Historical Jesus with Mark Strauss. So there's quite a bit of stuff on the website. If those are things that you wanted to ask about, hey, I want to switch over to some questions that came in while we're doing this. Angelica Bill or Bill? Angelica I'm not sure which way it goes. So I live in Sweden, which is notoriously atheist in its majority. They often feel like it's a subject they aren't remotely interested in and it doesn't apply to them. How do you approach the subject? I guess of theism even in such a secular society?

Sean McDowell That's a great question. I was recently reading a book called My Year with God by Svend Brinkmann. And what I enjoyed about that is he is a he's a skeptic. He's a materialist, lives I think if I remember he's in the Netherlands. Maybe I'm free and exactly where it's at. And what's fascinating about that book is he kind of tells the story of deciding, even though his whole culture has written off the idea of God, maybe we should rethink this question. Now he spends a year thinking about God and examining the evidence. Does it become a believer at the end? But it was really interesting to hear somebody from that background describe why he thinks we should consider spiritual questions, why he thinks religion still has a level of value. And so I don't live in your culture. I hesitate to tell you how to do this, but that book by an atheist talking, it's called My Year with God by Sven Brinkmann, might be interesting to you, but I think I'll, you know, if I if I were there, I would just build relationships with people and I would try to ask the right thoughtful questions and just probe people's got to be in the right time. It's got to be in the right place. Some people are open. You know, if the culture is so secular, probably in public settings might be different than private settings and just probe and see and ask thoughtful questions, you know, about like the one you asked before about what comes after death if there's such a thing as free will. Do you ever think about, you know, if miracles happen today, what if you're wrong? I just ask people I consider it's almost like you're fishing just to see who's going to show some interest and engage you in the conversation. Yeah.

Bill Mounce Leonardo wants to know that aside from your dad, who are the key apologists who have helped you in this journey, you've mentioned some, but I get you to highlight these people again.

Sean McDowell Yeah, I would say few. I'd say women. Craig and JPMorgan have been huge. To have them as colleagues in different ways that all a Talbot is just hugely special. Greg Cockle has had a huge influence on me, probably in terms of the way he's such a careful thinker that there's no nobody who's taught me not just what to think, but how to think more so than Greg Coco. So I read and write and you know, there's a lot of other apologists I can mention, but that's probably my my top tier.

Bill Mounce All right. This question came in from one of our board members. So I do have to ask, who happens to be a doctor that how can you trust science and faith? Don't they conflict? And then she writes dinosaur question. After that, I'm not sure what that is, but how do you put science and faith together as an apologist?

Sean McDowell So if somebody says to me, How can you trust science and faith? Because they conflict, I would say, define faith for me. And second, define science. And then why do they conflict? So I would agree with Alvin Plantinga, who he wrote a he wrote a book. It's probably been a dozen years or so where he talks about how the on the surface there's a conflict between science and faith. It's like an apparent conflict, maybe the age of the earth, or maybe it's perceived that evolution conflicts with Genesis. But when you get down deeper, it's actually naturalism that conflicts with science. I think the title of Planet Guest book is Where the Conflict Really Lies. So I think he brilliantly makes a case that natural is because it undermines any confidence we can have in our cognitive faculties that our brain resulted to this purposeless, mindless material, accidental process. We can't even have confidence that our brains put us in touch with reality, which is necessary to do science. And then on top of that, you add that it's actually some of the great scientific pioneers passenger Galileo plank plank. Why is my mind going blank? You almost go across the that that the spectrum of science scientific pioneers and many of them most of them were motivated to do science because their faith. Why? Because we had the commission to bring the world and, you know, submission, so to speak, to care for it. But God is rational. We've been made in his image. The world is orderly, so it makes sense that we could do science. So I just don't think there's really a deep conflict there when we probe into it. Now, there are some scientists who have resisted. You know? There have been moments of conflict. But those are the exceptions.

Bill Mounce Now, I don't know where I heard this. It was quite a while ago that it was some of these scientists faith that convinced them that there was order in the universe. And that's what propelled them to to discover the order. You know, why did things fall down again? Well, there's there's an order to the universe, because there's an order to God. So an interesting combination. Mm hmm. How do you engage this from John Hancock? How do you engage someone who considers Christianity to be morally wrong?

Sean McDowell Well, here's what I think I would say. First off, I would say, where are you getting this standard of wrongness from by which you criticize Christianity? So I had a buddy, I had a debate. He was 2010, so 13 years ago with his Ph.D., who's a high school teacher across town on what's the best explanation for morality, God or basically evolution. And when I was done, this professor from the local Jay Siewert Wise came up to me and he said, You to argue that God explains morality. But what about Exodus chapter 21 that says you can be a slave? And I said, First off, I'm exhausted. I just been debating two and a half hours. But second, let's go get some coffee and talk about this. So that's the local coffee shop. We sat down. I said, I'm happy to move to Exodus chapter 21, if you can answer two things for me. Number one, how you get objective right and wrong without there being a God. What's the standard where moral values and duties come from? The second word is human value come from. If there's no God. If you can answer that, we can move to Exodus 21. And after probably a two hour plus conversation, we never got to Exodus 21. So somebody like Christopher Hitchens says, you know, religion poisons everything in this debate. Frank Turk is like, wait a minute, you're assuming that poisoning is bad and the standard of right and wrong, yet you don't believe in God. Where does that standard even come from? Right. So that's where I would start. Now, it's possible that somebody is a muslim or a Jew and says Christianity is morally bad, then I'm just going to say why and I'm going to have to listen to them, make sure I understand their case. Get down to the particulars, and then as best I can, I'm always going to shift it back to the person of Jesus. There's tough passages in the Old Testament. We need to address those and deal with them. But Jesus is the story of Christianity and if he believes those things in the Old Testament claim, But God did the things that the New Testament records. That's good enough for me now.

Bill Mounce Hmm. Good. Charles Cong, another Canadian, asked this question. I would like to ask Brother Sean McDowell what he thinks the best uses of presupposition apologetics versus evidential apologetics with evangelism. And if he has a preference, you just find those terms.

Sean McDowell That is a great question. So pre evidential apologetics tends to lead by offering positive evidences that Jesus has risen from the grave, that God exists, that the Bible is true. In fact, many evidential lists would focus on the person of Jesus and the historical kinds of evidence. That's what Habermas would say. A more presupposition or apologetics, kind of deconstruct somebody else's position, says, Wait a minute, where do you even get reason from? How can you trust reason? Where do you even get morality from? How can you trust morality if there is no God? So it's kind of based on showing that other religions are rooted in certain presuppositions, other belief systems that only make sense if there is a God. So for me, I actually use both. So my example of that conversation I just had on slavery, what did I do? I used a presuppositions approach to apologetics, sat down with this fellow, wanted an answer on Exodus 21, and I said, There's two things you're going to have to explain. First, because I think your worldview is presupposing these, but your worldview can't justify them. So that was a kind of presuppositions approach. Now, at some point with him, we've moved and we've talked about the evidence, we've talked about other topics in which I lay the positive evidence out, but I consider them both within my tool bag of apologetics and just try to use them when they're best and most appropriate. It's not either or. To me, it's both.

Bill Mounce Mm hmm. All right. Yeah. I mean, there's obviously a common thread in your approach to life, and that is you don't start with dogmatic. You start with asking questions and build relationships and figure out where people really are. Because so often tell me if I'm summarizing you right. So often the questions that people are asking are not the real question. There's something down underneath that.

Sean McDowell Actually that's very accurate. Yeah, And sometimes people are asking genuine questions and we need to respond to them. Yeah, but I want to listen, ask questions, get to the heart of it as well. That's right.

Bill Mounce All right. John Ballard asks, What are some of the resources, websites, magazines and blogs and people you utilize for cultural exegesis? By which I assume he means. How do you find out what's really going on out there? And I know you still teach a high school to do that for a Sunday school class, but how do you figure out what's going on out there?

Sean McDowell So I have a blog feed of just dozens and dozens of blogs that I follow and all often spend 20, 30 minutes a morning looking at that. And if I find good articles or buff forum to just retweet later in the day. So one is just a bunch of blogs and then I have a ton of podcasts that I listen to. I could pull up my podcast feed right now and some of the culture ones I enjoy listening to. Albert Mohler, his daily briefing, he talks about news, he gives his, you know, theological take on it. I enjoy the world. What's the exact height of the world and everything in it? I'm going to get the title on this one here and make sure I get it right. I started listening to this one recently and it's Daily News, The World and everything in it by World Magazine also has cultural ideas that are embedded in there. Some other podcasts that I listen to. I also listen to some people, like certain atheists like Coleman Hughes. He has a great podcast called Conversations with Coleman, as sometimes it's cultural apologetic topics. I enjoy listening to that. I really like Breakpoint by John Stonestreet. He's one of my main not only good friend, but he his his updates are just culturally super helpful with great biblical insight. Gosh, there's even other ones that I listen to here, but that's a few. In terms of culturally speaking, that might help. I enjoy the Jordan Peterson podcast. I don't agree with him on everything, but he's really smart. He ask good questions, he's savvy, and then I make sure I listen to, you know, The Daily also by New York Times just to get a little bit more of a secular perspective to kind of balance things out. So that's a few. I'm always looking for new books that come out. I mean, I'm reading books like crazy. I follow other YouTubers. Hopefully this is a little bit a little bit helpful. Lisa Childers has some great stuff on cultural issues that I enjoy listening to her podcasts and her writings as well.

Bill Mounce Okay. And remind our viewers, this is being recorded. So if you want to come back and catch all those names, you'll be sent the link so you can do it. We have time for one more, Sean Lang. What do. How do you. I'm asking these questions, but I can hear your answer already because there's so much consistency in what you're saying. So many times, if you're trying to provide evidence for Christianity, people say, Oh, you just closed made it. How would you address someone? I mean, is this a form of cancel culture? Cancel culture, I guess. But how do you address someone who says you're just closed minded because you have these sets of beliefs and so we can't really talk about it.

Sean McDowell Well, I think I would say. I would probably ask whites. Okay, define for me what you mean by closed mindedness. Is closed mindedness having convictions? Or is closed mindedness not being willing to engage somebody else? Because I do have convictions, that's for sure. But here I am, being willing to engage you. And it sounds like you're the one who actually doesn't even want to engage me and consider that you might be wrong. So the only way we find out if we're right or wrong is if we listen to each other and we ask questions and we have a dialog and we present our evidence. And I'll do my best to listen. And if you make a good point, concede it. I would just ask that you do the same. So if I heard the question correctly, it sounds like somebody is being written off because they're being told that they're closed minded. But the person who's writing them off is not willing to hear their perspective. So I kind of want to know why. Wait a minute. Why can you shut the conversation down before we even start? And yet I'm the one who gets called closed mindedness. It sounds to me like that's more a move of close mindedness. Or I might even just say, All right, let's take a step back here. Tell me what you think open mindedness looks like. Oh, and then let's try to both enter into that. As I'm thinking out loud. Somebody says you're closed minded. It almost be more effective to just say, You know what? Tell me what you think open mindedness looks like. Tell me what a conversation of open mindedness looks like. Is it possible to have convictions and believe something and still be open minded? When is open mindedness shift into closed mindedness? I mean, that's a really interesting conversation to have with somebody and the defenses don't go up. So now that I think about it, that's probably where I hope I would say in that situation.

Bill Mounce That's great. All right. Well, thank you so much, John. Appreciate it. And I'm looking forward to the taping of November 1st and second Campus Bible Church in a Lisa veil. Am I saying that even remotely correctly?

Sean McDowell Yeah. Yep.

Bill Mounce All right. Very good. And so for those of you who are watching, there's links there that you can follow up on and where you can. You'll be sent an email where you can watch the recording. Please share it with your friends. This has been really, really helpful. And if you're so inclined, which we appreciate, we're partway there on funding Sean's course, so funding is always a necessary thing for a nonprofit. We love giving things away for free. Our teachers love giving their stuff away, but it just it just costs so appreciate any funding that you might be willing to send our way. But thank you very much, Sean. Thank you for the time. And we look forward to November 1st. Thanks.