Christian Apologetics - Lesson 1

Introduction to Apologetics

Introduction to Apologetics.

Ronald Nash
Christian Apologetics
Lesson 1
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Introduction to Apologetics


Part 1

I. Introduction

  • Introduction to Apologetics.

  • Apologetics involves finding evidence and presenting arguments to defend the Christian faith.

  • Two prominent worldviews are Christian theism and naturalism.

  • The law of non-contradiction states that A cannot be B and non-B at the same time and in the same sense.

  • Explanations and responses to different worldviews.

  • If God is good and all powerful, then why does evil exist?

  • Discussion about how the existence of evil is consistent with God's character.

  • Your noetic structure, presuppositions and view of epistemology are important elements in the formation of your worldview.

  • Discussion of deductive presuppositionalism vs. inductive presuppositionalism.

  • Objections to inductive presuppositionalism.

  • Arguments for and against evidentialism.

  • Arguments for and against foundationalism.

  • Discussion of natural theology.

  • There are valid, sound and cogent arguments for the existence of God, but no coercive proofs.

  • Discussion of different arguments for God's existence.

  • One version of the cosmological argument for God's existence emphasizes God as first in time, another emphasizes God as first in importance.

  • A possible world is a way the real world could have been. Modal logic, propositions, state of affairs and eternal entities are some of the considerations when discussing a possible world.

  • Something is logically possible if its description does not include a logical contradiction. The existence of the laws of knowledge refute the system of naturalism.

  • Middle knowledge is a form of knowledge attributed to God by Molina.

  • Miracles are a dividing line and central to Christianity.

  • David Hume's rational arguments against miracles and responses to those arguments.

  • Two miracles central to Christianity are the incarnation and resurrection.

  • The question of whether or not Jesus is the only savior touches on pluralism, inclusivism and exclusivism.

  • Pluralism is the view that all religions have salvific value.

  • Inclusivism is the view that even though the work of Christ is the only means of salvation, it does not follow that explicit knowledge of Christ is necessary in order for a person to be saved.

  • Salvation is totally the work of God and all children who die in infancy are elect of God.

  • Discussion from a biblical perspective of God's character and attributes.

  • Open theists believe that God does not have a perfect knowledge of the future.

  • Divine omnipotence and divine omniscience are two attributes of God.

  • When contemplating life after death, remember, Jesus has been there and come back. Will you commit your life to him or reject him?

These lectures were given at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida during the fall of 2001.


Dr. Ronald Nash
Christian Apologetics
Introduction to Christian Apologetics
Lesson Transcript


The two basic textbooks for our course. Our apologetics course are faith in reason and life's ultimate questions. Both of them are published by Zondervan Publishing Company. I was playing around the Internet couple of months ago. I was checking on how my books were doing on Amazon.com, and I noticed an icon that said ten books that will change your worldview. So out of curiosity, I clicked on the icon and I found a list of ten great books that will change a person's worldview. I think the first set of books that will change your worldview were written by somebody named Francis Schaefer. I'm trying to figure out who he is, and maybe Chuck Colson may have been in there too. I'm not sure. But what I do know is right about in the middle of the list, the person compiling this list had given Homer and Homer's Iliad. And I thought, boy, this is not only this is classy stock, this really are classic books. Now, a lot of people think Homer was from Cleveland. We're talking about a different homer than that. Then right after Homer was St Augustine's book The City of God. And I'm going like this. Wow, is this great stuff or is this great stuff? And then the book, right after Saint Augustine was your textbook faith and reason. And of course, my heart beat a little faster. And I thought, well, how perceptive is this person? Really perceptive stuff. Okay. Couple of weeks after that, I got a phone call and somebody said, it's from a church in California. And this fellow said, Dr. Nash, we're having a conference at our church and we're trying to get a hold of some people and we can't find their email addresses or their telephone numbers. And somebody said, you know, absolutely everybody, is there any way you can help us locate either Homer or Augustine? So I said, But I said, Homer died 3000 years ago and Augustine died 600 years ago. Then there was silence on the other end of the phone and the guy said, Are you telling us that they're not available? And I didn't answer that question. All right. And then he said, All shocks. Well, then are you available? I mean, with great excitement. Are you available? I said, I don't know. Let me check my pulse and I'll I'll let you know. All right. So because I was alive, I ended up speaking at this church in California two weeks ago. And they're still disappointed that Homer and Augustine weren't available. But I just want you to know. That I'm right up there with Homer and St Augustine. The only difference is I still have a pulse. Okay, so great books. After faith and reason in life's ultimate questions. You're going to read a book called The Concept of God. Let me just tell you the function that this book will play in our course. The concept of God defends Christian theism. That is the Christian worldview against two major contemporary attacks. The concept of God defends Christianity from an attack that is inside of Christendom and another attack that comes from outside of Christendom. The attack from outside The faith is the atheistic claim that the Christian concept of God is that of a logically impossible being. Let me tell you this If God should turn out to be a logically impossible being, then you have the strongest of all possible arguments against the existence of God. A logically impossible being not only is difficult, finds it difficult to exist, it cannot possibly exist. So in that case, where someone claims that the Christian God, the concept of the Christian God contains any logical contradictions inside of it, we really have to defend that. And it's not really that difficult to do that. The other attack against Christianity these days comes from within and represents a really serious heresy called process theology. This is the idea that somehow the historic Christian concept of God must be replaced with a finite, evolving deity who is not outside the world, who is not the separate creator of the world, but he is somehow involved in the ongoing process and evolution of the physical universe. So the concept of God is not only an exercise in philosophical theology, it is a defense of the Christian faith against two somewhat serious attacks. The fourth book we're going to read is my book called Is Jesus the Only Savior. This defends the central belief that Jesus is the only savior, and that explicit knowledge about and faith in Jesus is a necessary condition for salvation. That book will critique two contemporary errors, namely the theological error that we call pluralism, which is the belief that there are many paths to heaven. And even though Jesus might be a savior in some sense, he is not the only savior, and that there are many equally effective paths to salvation other than Jesus. That view in my book is associated with a a British philosopher named John Hick. The second error criticized in that book is the inclusive ism of some people within the evangelical movement who believe that yes, Jesus is the only Savior, but it's not necessary for people to know about Jesus or to believe in Jesus in order to be saved. And this serious error called inclusive ism is presently being taught when in a large number of Christian colleges and seminaries, at least they call themselves Christian colleges and seminaries. And it is also very influential in a large number of para church ministries. And then our last book, When a Baby Dies, is actually a sequel to His Jesus the Only Savior. It answers one objection to the earlier book, one that When is Jesus the only savior appeared? Some people said, Well, Nash, you have made clear that you believe certain things about the salvation of children who die in infancy. And we believe that your admission on that point opens the door to a kind of slippery slope so that if you do believe that there will be millions. Of children who have died in infancy and who, in fact, have died before birth. We believe you're actually opening the door for the very position of inclusive ism that you attack in that other book. Now, of course, what these people are suggesting is that I'm contradicting myself, but I'm going to let you in on a clue. I have never contradicted myself. Okay. So whenever you think that I've contradicted myself, here's the way to proceed. Hold up a red flag and say, we know that Dr. Nash never violates the law of non contradiction. Therefore, there must be a better way of reading his book. And you will then go out and find that better way of reading that book. Well, that's a brief introduction to our texts. Hopefully each of these books will also teach you by example. Some of the were various ways of arguing for important Christian positions and arguing against certain serious errors. So the purpose of this course, then, is to give you a foundational understanding. Of what we mean by such terms as apologetics. Worldview. And our objectives are include at least the following goals. We want to help you be able to define apologetics. We want to help you understand the role of the Christian in apologetics. And listen, apologetics is often a prelude to effective evangelism. You really can't do evangelism as long as the person to whom you're witnessing has certain barriers between him and the gospel against between him and the scriptures. So we want to we want to better enable you to do not only apologetics, but also evangelism. We also want to help you understand worldviews and their significance, the significant role they play. In helping people live and think better and the significant way in which they hurt, the way people think and behave. We want to help you recognize that Christianity is a worldview. It's not just a haphazard collection of theological bits and pieces. It is a system, a system that has coherence, a system that is consistent. We also want to help you acquire a better understanding of your own worldview. Maybe some of you have come in here with a worldview that has some elements that are basically incompatible, inconsistent with things that a Christian ought to believe. And another objective, at least of today's class, is to help you recognize the superiority of Christianity and the Christian worldview. Two Competing systems.