Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Answers To Biblical Objections Against Christian Apologetics

Friday night high school football games were exciting for two reasons. The greasy concession stand food and getting to watch my older brother play in the band’s half time show. Being 7 years old, I was ecstatic about the music, but especially the drum line. The percussion section intrigued me with their constant playing between cadence and song. After the game, I would go home, bust out some old Halloween buckets, and play to my heart’s desire with my pencil’s turned drumsticks. Later, some of these developing skills were honed in junior high and high school band. All in all, I turned out to be a decent drummer eventually playing in praise bands in college.

Nevertheless, when it comes to worship service, biblical objections have been offered by some against, like with other ministries (more on this below), the use of instruments at all. Some will quote verses like Ephesians 5:19 which says, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.”[1] Some contend that since Paul is not indicating the use of instruments for the first century church, this is a point in disfavor for guitars, drums, and the like when praising God with song especially on Sunday mornings. However, under the surface, is this really a sanction against instrumental worship? One way to tell is what the words actually mean to the first century writer/reader of the letter to Ephesus.[2] R. Alan Streett contends, “Non-instrumental Churches of Christ, who teach that Christians should not use musical instruments in worship, have a difficult time with this verse” that is Ephesians 5:19, “since most NT commentaries define the word ‘psalms’ as songs accompanied by musical instrument.”[3] Of course, commentaries can be wrong. But, as Streett also makes known, there is biblical warrant for this conclusion. Psalms 150 lists all kinds of instruments being used to praise God.

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
Praise Him with timbrel and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord! (Psalm 150:1-6 NASB)[4]

Some a cappella onlyists may make the case that since these verses are in a poetical book, it is impossible to know if this is figurative in nature or are these literal instruments.[5] At the beginning of the Psalm, it does seem to suggest that it may refer to a place beyond the here and now. A mysterious type of worship that we cannot comprehend on this side of heaven – but if not this interpretation, then these verses are to be understood as something for Old Testament times and not under the new covenant for, as we understand NT worship, we are to sing only. However, as Streett indicates above, linguistically this is a stretch for “psalms” can be suggested to mean in the Greek(psalmos ψαλμός), according to different lexicons, to be a “Christian songs of praise”[6] or a “song sung to the harp.” [7]

This is the same word used in Colossians 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 14:6. Like in Ephesians 5:19, Paul is talking about assembling to gather for teaching and “psalms.”[9] Thus showing this is not a isolated incident. However, more on “psalms” this word implies more than just vocalists, as indicated by Psalms 150 (c.f. 1 Sa 18:6, 1 Ch 15:16, 16:5)[10] Granted, Ephesians 5:19 starts off with, “speaking to one another” within “hymns” and “singing” hinting at a vocal emphasis– but, also along with “speaking” with “in psalms.” In our modern language, this would be equivalent to say, “Elvis sang in the ensemble vocal sounds.” Even though the main element of the sentence is vocal (“sang” “vocal” “sounds”), the “ensemble” implies there was more to the music than just Elvis’s singing – psalms, (psalmos ψαλμός) implies the same thing as “ensemble” in our Elvis analogy. All in all, Paul was probably not against instrumental “psalms” as Mary Hopper makes known, “While the Bible does not condemn instrumental music, the edification of the body of the church through the word is the primary function of church music. According to Paul [1 Cor 13], music must contribute to the growth of the church in the same way as the gifts of the Spirit.”[11]

Church of Christ scholars do offer arguments for and against what I have just laid out. One thinker is Everett Ferguson. In response to arguments that since instrumental praise and worship practiced in the OT thus, it can be affirmed in our modern sense Ferguson states, “The presence of something in Old Testament worship would legitimate many things in the church that no Christian group would want to practice.”[12] I agree that there are many rituals that would be historically conditioned to OT times like animal sacrifices (1 Chron 29:29-36). However, this is not the case with music. As we have seen in the NT “psalm” does not only mean a cappella style of music, but music in general that can be accompanied by instruments such as a harp. This suggests that the OT and NT are in sync. Also, we have to consider some NT practices that we do not continue to this day, such has head coverings for women (1 Cor 11:5) when they teach. Ferguson’s implied argument to cease OT practices because the NT does or does not mention it must follow what the NT says in all situations in order to be consistent in their hermeneutic.[13] But, again, our argument does not hinge on the OT, but what Scripture says as a whole.

Even so, Ferguson says that etymology (study of words) does not define the words themselves like the word “psalms.” He says, “Actual word usage and context determine word meanings in given passages.”[14] Again, I have much harmony with Ferguson on this point. One can look up a range of meanings for certain words in the Webster dictionary and apply a meaning that does not fit the context. Take, for example, the word trunk. Knowing the possible meanings of either a compartment in the back end of a car, an elephant’s extended nostril, or the base of a tree does little good unless the context can point toward the right meaning of the word. However, this is not the case for (psalmos ψαλμός). Music is the general theme, and instrumental accompaniment is not a contextual stretch. Vocal emphasis, yes – a cappella, no, for this is to narrow of a reading.

Ferguson also makes that point that instrumental music’s, “absence in the early church was a cultural matter, due to the associations of instrumental music with idolatry and immorality.”[15] This is more of a scholarly dispute of which practices the NT church continued from their Judaic roots. NT scholar James D.G. Dunn states that, “the practice in Jewish circles of composing new psalms for use in worship continued into the New Testament period.”[16] These new “psalms” more than likely were accompanied by a harp and possibly other instruments.[17] We know this because of what “psalms” actually means NT Greek as indicated above.

Ferguson’s last argument is guitars, pianos, and so forth, “frequently discourage or even replace congregational singing.”[18] He is probably right. However, if this is as often as Ferguson proposes I think depends on Ferguson’s own experience. After playing or listening to praise bands for 15 years, there are many times when the band is in a resting phase and the singing receives the emphasis. It is a kind of spotlight that is a cappella in nature for all to enjoy including the audience singing or lip sinking to themselves the content of the song. Even when the band is playing very few times have I seen someone playing air guitar, mimicking the drummer, or humming in sequence with the piano or organ. It is about the utterances, with the instrumental portion receiving, for the majority of the time, a secondary though an essential role. The words is what pierces the heart, and this is what Scripture seems to suggest.

Jesus and Transition Into Apologetics

Jesus, though he sang hymns (Mt 26:20, Mk 14:26), he does refer to a music ensemble in celebration in the story to the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:25). Thus our Lord does not sanction against nor forthrightly endorse the practice. We have to follow this same line of thought. As I have exegeted the above passages, hopefully you have noticed that I say the text “suggests” this or “implies” that for much of our information about music within the Bible. Especially in the NT is limited. However, the a cappella position has too many challenges in its way. Thus it is not a viable hermeneutical option – W. J. Porter fairly concludes, “Most scholars also think that singing was unaccompanied” in the early church, but “the surest evidence for this view comes generally from third- and fourth-century documents, not from the first century.”[19] The Church of Christ hermeneutic, the ones that hold to a cappella interpretation, does not hold up to critical scrutiny. 

Many denominations, after considering the biblical evidence, have concluded that instruments can accompany vocalists. The debate is usually not if instrumental accompaniment happens, but what kind of ensembles are edifying to the church in the ever-changing genre world of music. [20] That debate will have to wait for another day. The point is biblical objections to certain types of ministries are, as with instruments; turn out to not be opposition verses when seriously assessed – similarly, the same goes for sanctions against Christian apologetics. [21]

Instrumental music is a much accepted practice. However, it may be a surprise, but the NT case for musical ensembles that are common in our church circles is weaker than for the under used practice of Christian apologetics. The life of the mind is not highly valued within many circles within evangelicalism, though many do not know what it is or misunderstand what Scripture has to say about it. Many will quote verses in its disfavor like a cappella onlyist’s will against instrumental music. Nevertheless, like with instrumental music, these verses are taken out of context. The difference is, we cannot only suggest what Scripture has to offer about knowledge, study, and contending for Christianity. We can know Christian apologetics is a valid ministry when practiced in a (striving) biblical way.

Even so, there are other problems. Several will not see the value in making a case for the Christian worldview, but are unaware of the missiological data that indicates the need for Christian apologetics. As I will show later, many are leaving the church, especially college students and those that have graduated from our local universities and community colleges.

Here, I will outline how the practice of Christian apologetics is both there no sanction against it, Scripture is clear we should, to varying degrees, practice it. All in all, I will strive to do so with gentleness and respect. 

                       Collegiate Doubt and What Pulled Me Out

First, if you would indulge me, and let me share a personal story. Ten years ago when I was attending the University of Missouri, I was taking a course called “American Religion After 1865.” I decided to take this class in hopes of learning more about the spiritual history in the United States after the Civil War. However, I got more than I bargained for.

When the main professor had to be out for the day, he said his Teacher Assistant would be giving a lecture about some interesting information about the Bible. This was curious as the course did not have a direct link to the Bible to warrant a whole-class period on the subject. Sure, biblical passages will be cited for a certain position in the late 1800’s into the 1900’s and so on. Nevertheless, a 50 min lecture on the Bible alone seemed to be reserved for a New or Old Testament course. Apparently, I was wrong!

The day came for the Teacher Assistant lecture; my curiosity turned into shock then to doubt about the very Christian faith that I thought I knew was true. The instructor slammed the manuscript evidence for the Old and New Testament conveying we have no idea what the originals said. Moreover, he conveyed there were other books that were not included in the Bible which maybe should be. Lastly, commonly used translations such as the New International Version (NIV), he taught us were inaccurate. When the teacher was done, and as we were walking out of the class building, one of my Christian peers’s said, “that is the best case against the Bible I have ever heard.” A seed of doubt was planted within me, and it was growing like a weed that a little “it’s about faith” Round Up would not contain. Gratefully, this did not happen.

Mentors encouraged me to get reasonable answers to my questions and the writers who provided those prayerful reasons were my ticket out of my intellectual hesitations about the Christian worldview, particularly about Scripture. I had heard of other stories of others, not just college students, who had a bout of intellectual doubt, they would confide with another Christian about their struggles, then that believer (with probable pure intentions) would quote a verse like Hebrews 11:1, advocating that it is all about faith, then further steering the weary further into the mud of disbelief instead of out of it.[22] I am thankful this did not happen to me. Instead, I dived into the realm of Christian apologetics, the arm of theology that gives and finds Scriptural answers for the hope that is within a believer, and never looked back. But what does apologetics mean?

Denver Seminary philosopher Douglas Groothuis defines apologetics and those who carry it out (apologists) as offering “…answers based on rational arguments” for essential Christian truths by being “both theoretical and personal” and “intellectual and relational.” [23] Largely, this definition is not new. Peter was led to convey one should be Christ-centered and “always being prepared to make a defense” for the faith, but with “gentleness and respect” (1 Pt. 3:15-ESV).[24] Put another way, it’s a rational defense of primary truth claims concerning Christianity, made by those who adhere to them, in a relational way.[25]

If I may digress, it may be a surprise, but yet maybe not, that often the practice of apologetics is resisted against by Christian’s who quote biblical passages in support of their view. Unbeknownst to them, they might not realize that they are actually making an apologetic (Greek word apologia) or a case for a case against making a case for the Christian worldview. In response to this, with all the gentleness and respectfulness I can muster at my finger tips, doesn’t this seem self-defeating? In other words, if someone says that the practice of apologetics is wrong, but uses apologetics (giving reasons) to do so, is that consistent? Regretfully, I would have to answer in the negative.[26]

Back on point, with this definition in mind, some maybe will have no objection to the practice of Christian apologetics if carried out how Groothuis describes it. If so, that is music to an apologist’s ears. However, there still may be some hesitations that you or others may have. Maybe you have observed an apologist, in the past, has acted in a manner unbefitting of the apologetic task. If so, I urge you to reconsider. May the messenger not taint the message! [27]Moreover, maybe you do not see the need of making an intellectual case for Christianity. If so, I urge you again to reconsider for your local state university is unfriendly to many essential Christian teachings and those who believe them.[28] Because of this, college bound young adults are in need to know why they believe what they have committed their lives too – namely, to Christ. If not, the data shows that many will leave the church and may all together abandon Christianity, which ministries like Ratio Christi (Latin for “reasons of Christ”) are striving to change.

Even so, many will think of biblical passages against human wisdom/knowledge, prepared speeches, philosophy, Jesus’ refusal, at times, to offer proof of his authority, and so on. It is then concluded that apologetics, because it is connected in one way or another to the just listed topics, is unscriptural thus unwarranted. These “No” verses, considered in context, I hope to show are not “No” passages against apologetics after all. In the first three set of verses I will be considering what systematic theologian James Beilby has to say with further comments from me.[29] However, the medium-length exegesis or analysis of the text is my own for Him who guides me. [30]

  “No verse 1”

Luke 21:14-15

So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute (NASB).[31]

Bare with me as we examine this, for I think it is crucial to do so. The setting here is that Jesus was among others who “were talking about the temple complex” and how magnificent it looked (Lk 21:5 HCSB).[32] In response to this, Jesus said, “As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.”(21:6 NASB)[33] In response, they inquired when this will happen and how can they tell “these things are about to take place?” (v.7). He gladly answers by stating one sign is many will come claiming to be him (also warning not to follow these imposters) (v. 8). Another sign is we will hear of “wars and rebellions” but do not despair for these things “must first take place,” but the end is not hear yet (v.9). He goes onto say nations will rise against nations (v.10), earth quakes, famines, plagues, and sights, some startling and “great sights from heaven.” (v.11). “But,” Jesus says, “before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you. They will hand you over to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of My name.” (v.12) For the 1st century Christian, this meant a possibly horrific judicial experience as NT scholar Craig Keener states this is what Jesus was probably alluding too:

Synagogues were the local places of public assembly and thus provided the natural place for hearings and public discipline. Sometimes discipline was administered in the form of flogging; under second-century rules, this meant thirteen harsh strokes on the breast and twenty-six on the back. Prisons were usually holding places until a trial rather than places of punishment; punishments included execution, enslavement, banishment, confiscation of property and so forth.[34]
This type of persecution is also seen in our contemporary scene. Perform a Google search of “persecuted Christians” or something of that sort and one can find examples similar to what Jesus said would happen to them in the 1st century. Persecution is here and there is no end in sight.

Back on point, at these trials, Jesus said in v.13 this will be an “opportunity for you to witness.” Instead of “witness” the NASB says this was a time to share their “testimony.” [35] In doing so (we now come to the verses against Christian apologetics), Jesus states:

Therefore make up your minds not to prepare your defense ahead of time, for I will give you such words r and a wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict[36]
Since apologetic study does, in a sense, prepare “ahead of time” some say this is counter to what Luke writes about how Jesus said we should witness to others about the gospel. Several responses to this or other similar types of arguments against apologetics by using this biblical passage can be offered. 1) After our medium length exegesis (looking at the background of the text), one can see Jesus’ words should be viewed within the context of probable physical persecution. James Beilby writes, “since the context of the passage is clearly of persecution and threat of imminent physical harm, it might be suggested that Jesus’ command not to prepare beforehand applies only to such instances.”[37] Beilby does also suggest that since, for the large part, most apologetic occurrences are not faced with physical persecution, Jesus did not mean do not prepare ahead of time when making a apologetic case like it is stated in 1 Peter 3:15 and as Paul carried out in Acts 17 (more on this below).[38] 2) Beilby also points out that the translation of “prepare…ahead of time” or “prepare beforehand” (NASB) is in tension (Greek word promeletaō). To illustrate this strain, I will post several translations to make this clearer italicizing when promeletaō is used.

-But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.[39] (NIV84)

-Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer;[40] (NKJV)

-So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you (NLT)

-Therefore be resolved not to rehearse ahead of time how to make your defense. (NET)[41]

As one can see, it is not necessarily to “prepare beforehand” but to “worry” or “mediate” or “rehearse” in advance what one will say at a trial. Now, to be sure, this is not a passage against lawyers or to not organize your civil case you have done everything you can to avoid. Rather, as Beilby asserts the best translation of promeletaō is not “do not prepare beforehand” but “do not rehearse” for he concludes, “On this understanding, what Jesus commands his followers not to do is provide a canned, one-size-fits-all response – something that is very good apologetic advice!”[42] 3) If one takes this Lukan passage as a go-ahead or command not to learn or critically think by preparing one’s response when it comes to Christian truths, then one would remain at a state of ignorance. This state of ignorance would not only apply to apologetics, but children’s ministry lesson training, vacation bible school organizational classes, and even sermon preparation. NT commentator Howard Marshall rightly concludes that “prepare beforehand” means that, “This saying plainly applies to Christians being suddenly arrested and brought to court, and doesn’t apply to preachers going peacefully to their pulpits with plenty of time to prepare their messages.”[43] It is no different for the apologist who prepare a defense for anyone who asks (1 Pt 3:15) or when the faith needs to be contended for (Jude 3).[44] Respectfully, ignorance is not a virtue. As J.P Moreland points out, “Puritan Cotton Mather proclaimed, ‘Ignorance is the Mother not of Devotion but of heresy!’”[45] This can come across as harsh in this day and age (versus around 1700 A.D.) , but the point is we should be alarmed when ignorance is advocated when that is not, what I think I have shown, is not what Jesus meant in Luke 21. Instead, a respectful and rational case for the Christian worldview, to the extent that one is able, needs to be made in an ever changing culture.[46]

"No Verse #2"

1 Cor 2:4-5

and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

It seems that Paul was distancing himself from presenters in his day that used empty rhetoric to convince their listeners. Commentator Alan Johnson states, “Contrary to what they were prizing (oratorical skills, success, acclaim), he did not come as a Sophist would come to them, with eloquence (high-sounding rhetoric) or superior wisdom.”[47] A Sophist would concentrate on how the presented their argument and not also equally on the content itself.[48] There arguments were built on sand.

On the contrary, Paul was in favor of using good argumentation, as James Beilby contends, as Paul does in the book of Acts. Here, in Acts 17:2 Luke accounts Paul, “went to the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and showing that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead” (emphasis added). [49] Beilby also cites Acts 17:7; 18:4,19;19:8-9; 20:7; 24:12, 25 as examples of when Paul was reasoning (Greek: dialegomai) with “men in the Jewish synagogues he visited.”[50] I would like to add that, on the role of evidence, Paul seems to be following Jesus who, “after He had suffered, He also presented Himself alive to them by many convincing proofs” (Acts 1:3 emphasis added).[51] All and all, Beilby concludes that Paul’s “goal was to present the gospel as clearly and powerfully as possible and allow the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of his hearers. So there is nothing in these passages that suggests that using thoughtful, logical arguments in the service of defending and commending the faith is inappropriate.” [52] Paul’s arguments and his method of presenting them were built on rock, not rhetorical sand like the Sophists of his day. Christ like persuasion is how Douglas Groothuis describes it:

Christian persuasion (involving both apologetics and evangelism), if it is true to Scripture and the Holy Spirit, eschews any undue pressure, personal threats, power plays, coercion or deception. The goal of conversion does not justify every means of convincing, but only those means that flow from Scripture itself….In truly Christian persuasion, one simply seeks to make known the Christian message so that others may hear it, believe it and live it out. The results are left to God’s sovereignty and the judgment of those who hear.[53]

"No verse #3"

Matthew 12:39-40

But He answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.[54]

Beilby says that individuals that quote these verses as being against discipline of apologetics say “Jesus refused to give a sign or a proof of his authority to those who were questioning.” Likewise, it is argued, “…we should neither offer nor demand aruguments and reasons for the truthfulness of the gospel. We should simply believe.”[55]

Granted, there were some in Jesus’ day that demanded or looked forward to signs/miracles, but they did with bad intentions (like Herod in Lk 23:8). Even so, Jesus had no trouble using signs or proofs that he was who he claimed to be with others who were genuinely seeking him. In the preceding chapter of Matthew, John the Baptist sent a messenger to ask Jesus “Are You the One who is to come, or should we expect another?” (Matthew 11:2) Jesus said that he was indeed the One and offered (along with some teachings) empirical verifiable miracles (that Jesus directly causes) to undergird or back up his messianic claim. For instance Jesus caused certain blind persons to see, the deaf are now hearing, and the dead are raised (11:4-5). As commentator Louis A. Barbieri reports, “These works would, of course, indicate that Jesus indeed is the Messiah.”[56] The use of signs or proof was on a case by case basis, not outright condemned.

However, circumstantial apologetics is a good evangelistic practice for the intellectually inclined because proof is not warranted to the degree we sometimes perceive within our evangelistic encounters. We feel like we have accomplished something when our spiritual gifts have been exercised, especially when there are many dry spells for the Christian apologist. This is especially true when your fellow brothers and sister’s in Christ devalue knowledge, philosophy, or just critically thinking about eternal truths. If there is no value in a certain type of ministry, then there are no oppurtunities to serve. If there are no opportunities to serve this can lead to a bottling up effect, then, when one can utilize their apologetic spiritual muscle, the temptation to pop the unfruitful conversational quark is great.[57] Use us who strive for the most biblical way of practicing apologetics.

"No verse #4"

 Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.[58]

About Hebrews 11:6, Craig Hazen writes, “The only way this verse can be a problem for the task of apologetics is if one equates saving faith with ‘blind faith.’”[59] So how should “faith” be defined here in Scripture? For some, it means an understanding minus any evidence, proof, or assurance. Some Christians, even in academic settings, will quote verses from Hebrews 11 advocating for a faith only approach when it comes to religious truths(usually not about other subjects such as . The Greek word used here for faith is pistis (πίστι) which means, within the Hebrews 11 immediate context, the following in these Greek lexicons and dictionaries (see footnotes):

- state of believing on the basis of the reliability of the one trusted, trust, confidence, faith[60]

- to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance—‘to believe in, to have confidence in, to have faith in, to trust, faith, trust.’[61]

- is natural, however, that the πίστις of the OT characters in Hb. 11 should be trust as well as obedience.[62]

- has the sense of a. “confidence,” “certainty,” “trust,” then b. “trustworthiness,” and c. “guarantee” or “assurance” in the sense of a pledge or oath with the two nuances of “trustworthiness” and “proof.”[63]

- faith, trust[64]

- belief in one, confidence, assurance, trustworthiness, faithfulness[65]

- …trust…trustworthiness…Christian faith, [66]

Summing up what “faith” or pistis means in Hebrews 11, Ceslas Spicq and James Ernest write: 

…pistis, which derives from peithomai (“be persuaded, have confidence, obey”), connotes persuasion, conviction, and commitment, and always implies confidence, which is expressed in human relationships as fidelity, trust, assurance, oath, proof, guarantee. Only this richness of meaning can account for the faith (pistei, kata pistin, dia pisteōs) that inspired the conduct of the great Israelite ancestors of Hebrews 11.[67]
As outlined above, blind-faith or non-evidenced conclusions about who God is, did Jesus rise from the dead, or is Scripture the word of God is not what Hebrews 11 is conveying. Rather, it means we place our trust in what we do know and understand about another, just like we trust another human being (i.e. our spouse) because we know they will be faithful in word and deed (see footnote about belief and certainty).[68] Trust is earned and God is trustworthy based on the cross that is a fact based in an historical setting (1 Cor 15:3-8, Acts 1:3) that is one of, if not the most important doctrines to contemplate (1 Cor 15:14-20).

Christianity deserves a fair hearing in academia and Christians, who advocate a faith only approach to how we know what we know, should consider altering their position based on the above. I was not able to cover every biblical objection there is. Even so, I submit that, when certain cited passages are considered in the immediate/remote scriptural framework, they do not say “No” to Christian apologetics.

Verses That Say “Yes”

Denials are numerous in Scripture, but so are affirmations and Christian apologetics is no exception. Particularly, the mentioned above 1 Peter 3:15, is a “Yes” passage. Expanding out to verse 16, Peter writes:

honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear,[69] (1 Peter 3:15-16)

Some would state this verse applies only when Christians are in the face of persecution. That is to say, when one has to present a legal defense because they are being taken to court due to the Christian faith, this is the type of “defense” Peter means when writing to his first century audience. Therefore, the application of this verse is in a trial by jury setting or something of that sort.

However, this interpretation is to narrow in function and there are Scriptural clues to suggest this. First, in verse 15, it says to “always” be in a state of readiness to give reasons for the gospel to “anyone” who asks, not just in judicial or persecuted settings. Second, commentators, who speak on the issue, lean in the direction that this is a general applicable verse for all Christians. Warren Wiersbe states that, although these verses apply to situations of despair, it has an overall application thus is a “Yes” verse for Christian apologetics. He says, “‘Apologetics’ is the branch of theology that deals with the defense of the faith. Every Christian should be able to give a reasoned defense of his hope in Christ, especially in hopeless situations” [70] NT scholar Craig Keener acknowledges a both-and approach writing that 1 Peter 3:15, “implies especially (though probably not only) the image of a legal defense before a court” (emphasis added).[71] David Wheaton states that when we are giving an account, doing your utmost without fear, should be expressed, “both in upright behaviour and with a well-thought-out statement of faith, will drive out all lesser fears and eventually shame the detractor.” (emphasis added),[72] Commenting more extensively on the question at hand, Southern Baptist professor Thomas Schreiner proclaims:

The word “defense” suggests to some scholars a reference to formal court cases in which believers responded to legal accusations….persecution in 1 Peter was sporadic and informal and does not represent the kind of state-sponsored persecution under Pliny and Trajan. Hence, the text does not address primarily formal legal situations. It envisions instead informal circumstances when believers are asked spontaneously about their faith.241 This interpretation is supported by the words “everyone who asks you” (panti tō aitounti hymas), suggesting that believers respond to a wide variety of people, not exclusively in court situations. The admonition here, of course, also applies to legal settings, nor does it preclude the possibility that believers occasionally faced legal charges.243 What I am saying is that the admonition cannot be restricted to courtroom appearances.[73]
Contemplating, some may see the general application of this verse to all Christians, not just persecuted ones. Nevertheless, they retort that believers are supposed to give a “reason” for the hope that is within them based on their personal testimony, not with from philosophy, theology, and science. Commentators Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown argue along these lines proposing, “This verse does not impose an obligation to bring forward a learned proof and logical defense of revelation….the believer must be ready to give an experimental account “how this hope arose in him, what it contains, and on what it rests” (emphasis orginal)[74]

Granted that personal testimony is an effective tool for others to see what Christ has done in the lives of those who adhere to His name.[75] Nonetheless, this is not what Peter probably envisioned. Again conservative theologian Schreiner contends:

The exhortation here is instructive, for Peter assumed that believers have solid intellectual grounds for believing the gospel. The truth of the gospel is a public truth that can be defended in the public arena. This does not mean, of course, that every Christian is to be a highly skilled apologist for the faith. It does mean that every believer should grasp the essentials of the faith and should have the ability to explain to others why they think the Christian faith is true. [76]
Schreiner, in the most balanced way possible, outlines that not everyone is called to be a Christian apologist. It seems, from my limited by not insignificant experience, to be a sort of spiritual gift of teaching (Rom 12:7) though we must not limit gifts of the Spirit to narrowly (1 Cor 12:4-7) for Paul had somewhat different lists for each church he was writing too (Rom 12, 1 Cor 12). Apologists have sub-disciplines they will specialize in (history, science, etc), but the point remains apologetics as a discipline, as Peter says, should “always” be allowed to be practiced (relationally and rationally) when every the need arises. The university is one such place where certain ministries, such as Ratio Christi (Latin for Reasons of Christ), are carrying out Peter’s imperative command. Many denominations, including Southern Baptists, should have a robust collegiate strategy to carry about 1 Peter 3:15. Regretfully, at this time, most do not.[77]
                        Beyond Biblical Denials: The Data Says It All

Biblical basis for denying any method of apologetics can be endless as with any position such as verses, as we saw above, a cappella praise or proof texts that the King James Only Bible is the only true authoritative translation. One would be hard pressed to deny the above data when considering the next set. The need for apologetics at the collegiate level is suggested by the missiological data itself.[78] This set of numbers examines trends of Christian and non-Christians on certain questions by various measuring methods such as surveys. There are limits to such measuring tactics, but when taken as a whole the below, I would contend, paints a bleak picture for collegiate evangelism without a robust element of relational and rational apologetic presence. Put another way, apologetics will be shown to be in dire need.

To begin, professors on college campuses have views that are against orthodox Christian belief or are hostile toward evangelicals especially in the humanities.

For example a survey found (48.3%) think the Bible is full of not only history but fables, legends, and moral precepts as well. [79] However, there is a sizeable minority(39.5%) that believe the Bible is “the inspired word of God.”[80] This minority is overshadowed though by the majority of professors that has a very negative outlook on Evangelicals in general. Jewish researchers Gary A. Tobin & Aryeh K. Weinberg conducted a poll study of college faculty feelings towards different religious group. They found that of the faculty polled the following:

“…only 30% ranked their feelings toward Evangelical Christians as warm/ favorable, with only 11% feeling very warm/favorable, the lowest ranking among every other religious group, and 53% said that they have cool/unfavorable feelings towards Evangelical Christians …Faculty feelings about Evangelicals are significantly cooler than any other religious group, leading Mormons as the least liked religious group by 20%. These negative feelings are noted across academic disciplines and demographic factors.[81]” (emphasis added)
These attitudes seem to have some sort of impact on college students along with secular (sometimes certain seminaries)[82] higher education. One study showed that 11 percent of young adults entering college claim to be unaffiliated with any religion – when young adults leave college that number increases about 14% to nearly 25% (24.7). Christians lost more than any other religion.[83] Another study showed that if a young adult has attended some college or got a degree 63 percent of them believe in the resurrection compared to 92 percent who stopped at high school. That is just about a 30% drop.[84] Moreover, researchers Ed Stetzer , Richie Stanley, and Jason Hayes convey “Eighty-two percent of respondents with less than a high school education would be willing to join a small group to learn about the Bible and Jesus, compared to 39 percent of college graduates.”(emphasis added)[85] How can they learn about Roman’s road when they will not even hit the road to attend a study about the very book Roman’s Road comes from?

Spiritual education outside of church. Barna reports that in the general population, which includes students, “Six out of ten say they are more likely to develop religious beliefs on their own than to adopt a slate of beliefs or a worldview taught by a church.”[86] Others report the same sentiment; specifically young adults get their spiritual information and shape them outside of the church context.[87]

Education outside of the evangelical church context can lead to unorthodox views on inerrancy. Barna also shows that, specifically the unchurched (again, college students are apart) have these types of views about the debate over, which the conservative resurregence was about within the SBC, biblical inerrancy:

Only one-eighth believe the Bible contains the actual words of God and should be taken literally, word for word. Another one out of seven views it as the inspired Word of God, containing no errors, but including some passages that are symbolic, not literal. One out of six says the Bible is the inspired Word of God but contains factual and historical errors. One out of ten believes it is not the inspired Word of God, but represents how those who wrote the text understood the ways and principles of God. The most common perspective among the unchurched (27 percent) is that the Bible is “just another book of teachings written by men that contains stories and advice.” Nearly one in ten of the churchless (8 percent) just aren’t sure what to make of the Bible.[88]

A robust apologetic collegiate strategy dynamically communicating the inerrant gospel in a cogent attention grabbing way would counter act this trend.

The “dones” are here. Also, in the general population, we have heard many of individuals are checking “none” when asked about their religious affiliation. However, there is a new trend of individuals that are still born-again Christians, but are “done” with church. As Barna reports, “For twenty-plus years, Barna Group has tracked the church engagement of churchless adults who meet the born-again criteria we use in our studies. The growth of their numbers has gathered momentum in recent years. Two decades ago, just 8 percent of born-again Christians did not attend church. Since then, the figure has doubled to 16 percent.”[89] Young adults, who include college students, are a part of these.

Barna’s research has concentrated allot on young people leaving the church. There are a strong number that remain Faithful, however, many leave. Some come back, but some don’t (Exiles and Nomads typically return within months or years, but not always).

Apologetics would aide in bringing some of these individuals back, especially the Prodigals. [90] 23 percent thought the Bible was not clearly taught or often enough.[91] Apologists can aide pastors and church planters in filling that void. 1/3 said church is boring. A life of the mind will bring more theological depth to the disengaged.[92] What a national relational and rational apologetic collegiate strategy would address is the following among young born again believers:

More than one-third (36 percent) of young dropouts say they are unable “to ask my most pressing life questions in church” while one-quarter (23 percent) indicate they have “significant intellectual doubts about my faith.” Even when their doubts do not directly relate to faith issues, a significant number of young unchurched adults (18 percent) feel misunderstood and ignored in times of need because churches “do not help with depression or other emotional problems.”[93]

David Kinnaman verifies this research done by Barna saying about the de-churched and those who doubt. He writes:

In one of Barna Group’s most recent studies, conducted in early 2011, we asked a nationwide random sample of young adults with a Christian background to describe their journey of faith. The interview population was made up of individuals who attended a Protestant or Catholic church or who identified at any time as a Christian before the age of eighteen. This included young people who were currently churched and those who were unchurched, as well as those who called themselves Christians and some who once did but no longer did so. The research confirmed what we had already been piecing together from other data: Nearly two-fifths (38 percent) say they have gone through a period when they significantly doubted their faith. Another one-third (32 percent) describe a period when they felt like rejecting their parents’ faith. [94] (emphasis added)
Apologetics, as I have defined above, would address to a great degree these concerns from the churched and unchurched.

Intellectuals have a negative view of Christianity:

Researchers David Kinnamen and Gabe Lyons write:

This may not surprise you, but the perception that Christians are sheltered is most significant among the subculture of intellectuals and influentials. Our research shows that upscale outsiders-those with advanced vanced educational and financial profiles-are much more likely than average to express resistance and skepticism toward Christianity. The sheltered perception-that Christians are ignorant and uninformed-is most common among young intellectuals. They were more likely than average to describe Christianity as judgmental, old-fashioned, out of touch with reality, and insensitive to others.[95]

Apologetics would help make the case with those who have great influence in our society such as lawyers, doctors, professors, and the other intellectually leaning professions that Christianity is a rational worldview option to consider.

Of course, extensive apologetics is not the answer to all of the above.[96] However, if we mobilize some sleeping evangelistic giants that have been neglected because of the still rampant anti-intellectualism (individually and corporately) within parts of evangelicalism, then we can start to chip away at the above missiological data. Apologetics needs a formal place on the national stage. I would implore NAMB and other collegiate ministries to do so within its collegiate plans.[97]

A Side Note on The Role of the Holy Spirit

From reading the above, one might think that I base my faith solely or primarily on evidence. If I portrayed this, let me clear up this misunderstanding. Even though I primarily exercise how I present the gospel is through apologetic exchange as a spiritual gift (1 Cor 12:2-4) that is sanctioned by Scripture (1 Peter 3:15), I do not primarily base my faith on evidence. For I know, through the work of the Holy Spirit undergirded by Scripture, that I am a child of God because of the cross. The top Christian philosophers and theologians take a similar position. William Lane Craigs says, “Rational argument and evidence can be used to confirm in the believer’s mind the truth witnessed to him by the Holy Spirit. What he knows immediately and unmistakably via the work of the Spirit, he may also know inferentially and defeasibly via argument and evidence. But the latter obviously will be of less importance to him than the former.”[98] Gary Habermas, although differs somewhat on Craig’s position, agrees that the Holy Spirit’s, “witness imparts knowledge to the believer, particularly of his or her own salvation.”[99]

The role of the Spirit, according to Craig and others, imparts knowledge onto us that is “properly basic.” In other words, knowledge such as “God exists” and “Jesus died for our sins” is imparted onto the unbelieving world. I think we can take this further and state that, Scripture either orally or written, is used by the Spirit to convey what was already conveyed to those who were inspired to write it (2 Tim 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20). Additionally, the Spirit’s witness does not contradict Scripture.[100]

However, evidence in the service of the gospel, has it’s important place that is used by the Spirit to lead unbelievers to Christ and strengthen believers confidence and trust in their Holy God. Thomas and Richard Howe comment on this relationship between evidence and the Spirit:

While it is the Holy Spirit who enables someone to believe, he may sometimes use the presentation of evidence for the Christian faith as the means whereby someone can come to see the truth of the gospel. There is no conflict between the work of the Holy Spirit and the use of evidence dence and reason. The evidence and reason as such were never intended tended to supplant the work of God's Spirit but rather are intended to be the means by which the Holy Spirit brings someone to faith in Christ.[101]

But are there examples of evidence being used, in conjunction with the Holy Spirit, actually brining other’s to Christ? Yes, there is! But before I list them, I must somewhat digress and address a point. Some will retort my claim that Spirit uses evidence because “how do you know what the Spirit is and is not doing?” Point taken, but I think we have to take conversion stories at face value. Namely, if we seriously consider what the influences were behind one’s decision to really follow Christ and they are biblical, then why should we denounce their testimony? If evidence moved them, just like with others in Acts 17, then that is evidence in of itself that the Spirit used reasoning.

William Lane Craig accounts that about 15 years ago he:

…flew up to Chicago at the invitation of Willow Creek Community Church to take part in an evangelistic outreach. Christian believers were to invite their nonbelieving friends who had intellectual problems with the Christian faith. The goal was to get folks to join “seeker small groups,” where their questions could be discussed. Lee Strobel, at that time one of the ministers at Willow Creek, told me that around 80 percent of those who join such groups become Christians. About 600 people filled the tables throughout the ballroom, and Lee gave me fifteen minutes to summarize the historical case for Jesus’ resurrection. He then pumped me with tough questions for another quarter hour and then invited people to discuss the issues around each table. After the discussion each table was then given a chance to put one question to me. The entire evening was stimulating and dynamic, and when the comment cards were collected, 116 people indicated that they wanted to join a seeker small group![102]
Other notable (if you have not heard of them, consider them here) Christians have come to know Christ through evidence that, at least hopefully Christians, was used by the Spirit to move them more toward the gospel. In a publication Southern Baptist professor Chad Owen Brand lists several “Intellectuals Who Found God.” For instance, writer of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) was a agnostic, but through reading answers to the problem of evil and mentorships with other intellectuals like J.R.R. Tolkien (composed The Lord of the Rings book series), he finally threw in the towel saying “God was God” knelt and prayed turning his life over to God in the Christian sense.

Another example of the Spirit, at least partly, using reason and evidence is with Aurelius Augustine (354-430). Like Lewis, he had similar problems with the arguments of evil against Christian theism. But, also through reading and hearing pro and con positions for and against Christian answers to his questions, receiving preaching apologetic answers from the teaching of Ambrose, and reading the NT he came to believe, in heart and mind, that Christ was the answer to his doubts. Christians have reaped the positive effects of this apologetic conversion. Brand writes that Augustine had great influence in the church because his thoughts about the Christian worldview, “lay the foundation for the political and intellectual developments of the next 1,500 years in the Western church.”[103]

Brand also lists Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Francis Schaeffer, J.S. Bach, and Lewis Wallace as other intellectuals became Christians, in one sense or another, were compelled by the evidence through the Spirit. Also, the atheist turned Christian, journalist Lee Strobel became a Christian based on evidential persuasion. He recounts, “Frankly, I was completely surprised by the depth and breadth of the case for Christianity. And as someone trained in journalism and law, I felt I had no choice but to respond to the facts. So on November 8, 1981, I took a step of faith in the same direction that the evidence was pointing—which is utterly rational to do—and became a follower of Jesus.”[104] Just like with sermons, the Spirit can use reasoning to bring unbelievers to Him.

The Holy Spirit most likely does not only use reasoning with just men, but women who are Christians who either were influenced by apologetics when coming to the faith or see the value of it as a believer. Professors at Houston Baptist University Holly Ordway, Nancy Pearcy, Mary Joe Sharp, Melissa Cain Travis, and Kristen Davis all are practicing apologists in the areas of theology, philosophy, and cultural studies.[105] Some of them progressed more toward accepting Christ because of apologetic writings. More to add to the evidentially moved by the Spirit list are Oxford grad Amy Orr-Ewing, [106]my wife Rebecca Hanna, and a half a dozen friends of ours through our local apologetics chapter called Reasonable Faith. Moreover, the dozens and dozens I saw at the yearly Evangelical Philosophical Society meeting in 2010. The Spirit is using evidence not only with men, but also with women.

There are more, but the point is this is not anecdotal. [107] That is to say, an example here and example there, but no consistency what effect evidence, used by the Holy Spirit, can do. The signs point to “Yes,” apologetics is often used by God. Want to fill up a stadium full of college students on a secular campus with plenty of non-believers in attendance? Hold a debate over questions like “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?” or “Does God exist?” and they will come in droves.[108] They will hear the gospel, maybe not Roman’s road style, but it is there. Moreover, as we have seen, many come to the faith through apologetic inquiry or believers have their doubts answered through honoring God with their mind (Matt 22:37) type of studying. Evidence is an asset, not a liability for the Holy Spirit. Let us seriously consider releasing it from the unwarranted chains that have been placed upon it. Support apologetics through prayer and partnership with apologetic ministries like Ratio Christi to carry out 1 Peter 3:15 and turn the tide of many leaving the faith.

Brief Exegesis of What “respect and gentleness” Means in 1 Peter 3:15b

Personally and what I see in others, I am not totally convinced we necessarily understand, appreciate, then apply 1 Peter 3:15b to how Peter intended. Allot comes down to what does “respect and gentleness” actually entail on how we give a certain apologetic or giving “reasons for the hope that is in us”(1 Pt 3:15a). As I was listening to Pastor Greg Johnson earlier this month, he exclaimed that we carry out giving a reasonable defense of the faith quite well, but struggle on how to carry it out. This seems to be especially true when we run into arguments, that break an obvious logical rule, like we cannot have a square circle or an eastern sunrise. In an apologetic response to such fallacious claims, it can be easy to laugh, smirk, and respond like Alex Treback on Jeparady with a sly smile then stating, “No, the answer is….” Nonetheless, is this how we should respond? What did “respect and gentleness” (πρᾳΰτητος καὶ φόβου°) means to the 1st century audience and how does it apply today?

First, I mainly writing to seasoned apologist here, but if you are not I welcome your audience. Second, I have made the case above that Petrine meaning here is not narrowly applied to just persecuted trial sense, so I assume that much for the rest of exegesis for you to mull over. Third, I want to make it clear that I am for parody, gags, and other forms of comedy, but not at the sake of tainting the apologetic case, whatever that case entails, either for or against a non-believer or believer. Hopefully a hermeneutical overlay of 1 Peter 3:15b will shine some light on how we all should proceed.

There seem to be some difference in the apparatuses on 1 Peter 3:15b with “respect and gentleness” (πρᾳΰτητος καὶ φόβου°) being omitted from the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) and NA27 NT editions. However, this is of little concern, for they just move πρᾳΰτητος καὶ φόβου° to verse 16 thus not interrupting the overall context. Here is what the Westcott and Hort, NA 27, SBL, Byzantine, and Cambridge (CGT) Greek NT’s say for 1 Peter 3:15 (omitted on this blog due to formatting issues):

This discrepancy is also illustrated in the translations. The NASB, NIV 84, NKJV, and ESV include πρᾳΰτητος καὶ φόβου° in verse 15, but the NLT, NET Bible, and HCSB place it in verse 16. However, this is of little consequence, because it is not all together omitted. However, one should be careful for citation purposes. For our function here, I am including πρᾳΰτητος καὶ φόβου° in with verse 1 Peter 3:15 because this is how this is most commonly quoted within apologetic circles thus I am following the NASB, NIV, etc tradition.

However, the translation of πρᾳΰτητος καὶ φόβου° varies, which will play a factor in how one interprets it. In the NIV, ESV, and HCSB it says “respect and gentleness” where the NET Bible changes it slightly to “courtesy and respect.” NLT elaborates a little stating, “gentleness and respectful way.” Going down a different path, the NASB and NKJV state “gentleness and reverence” and “meekness and fear” respectively. Why?

It seems that it comes down to the meaning of φόβου°? Is this a “respect” toward man or a “fear” (NKJV) or “reverence” (NASB) toward God? Peter, of course, would not be arguing against respecting our fellow man. Again, as Thomas Schreiner argues, the meaning is richer than we realize:

“fear” in 1 Peter is always directed toward God…Furthermore, “gentleness” or “humility” also becomes a reality when creatures consider themselves in relation to God. Still, Peter probably had in view gentleness toward other people and reverence before God…. Those who fear God and live in humility will treat their opponents with dignity and refrain from lashing out against them. What Peter emphasized, however, is the relation with God that enables believers to respond appropriately to unbelievers.[109]
It seems, since φόβου (reverence or respect for God) and πρᾳΰτητος (gentleness toward our interlocutor) we need a slight shift on how we view 1 Peter 3:15b. This is true in many apologetic circles. I was just an apologetic camp when, 1 Peter 3:15 is quoted and “respectful and gentleness” are emphasized, this is in a human horizontal interactive sense. Peter’s intention here seems to be different and we must consider how this plausible original meaning applies today, to our respective apologetic arguments, interactions, and strategy, especially in response to fallacious utterances.[110] If we do, we can keep a “good conscience” (1st Pt. 3:16 NASB).

                                         The Semi-Literate

Many protest against relational and rational people who think they “know” something about the Bible. If someone knows something about another topic let’s say, on the Civil War or the cardiovascular system Christian and non-Christian alike usually respond with “that’s interesting” or “I did not know that” thus their mind is actively being molded. However, when it comes to Scripture, everyone is a scholar in their own right. Therefore, it is assumed in a settle way, that no one can tell them differently on their particular interpretation of the Bible.

This is sad that many are not open to new or reforming information about the historical background to the text, what certain Bible dictionaries might have to say on a certain word usage, or even what other translations might have to say that is different from the one they are use too. This keeps the mind at an elementary school level on how to read the text we call the Bible. This is not attractive to the college student who is less likely to join a Bible study compared to those with a high school diploma.[111]

Because our minds are at the elementary school level when it comes to interpreting any text we are semi-literate.[112] Yes, I include myself into this category. However, and I speak forthrightly in love, but I have stepped out of denial about my semi-literate state into the somewhat less scary area of deep study vs. idle ignorance. Some of you may not be convinced that you are semi-literate. This may be because you know how to read, thus since you can read you would argue you can interpret the Bible for yourself without any too little aid from others, like biblical scholarship in the way of commentaries, dictionaries, and the like. Even so, can the illiterate read the Bible for themselves? Can they understand it on their own with no aid from those who can teach them how to read? Of course not – orally yes, but not the written Word. So why does the reader, who is semi-literate, automatically understand what is written at face value without aide? Isn’t the semi-literate in need of assistance just like the illiterate? The hard to deny conclusion is yes.

If my tone seems sharp, it is meant to be, but it is an intention to be spurring to my fellow laymen. [113] Many conservative theologians agree with me about the semi-literate. Evangelical biblical scholars William Klein, Craig Blomberg, and Robert Hubbard write that even though some efforts have been made for right interpretation and application within Christendom, “Christians today still encounter widespread misapplication of Scripture. [114] Southern Baptist scholars Bruce Corley, Steve Lemke, and Grant Lovejoy make known that seminary students came ill prepared and are semi-literate when entering school. They contend, “Many of them were coming to seminary with little or no background in the liberal arts. Some, having become Christians only a few years before, had only limited knowledge of Scripture and its interpretation.” Because of this, at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary they, “decided to begin requiring all students in its basic theological degree programs to take a course in biblical hermeneutics.” [115] Evangelical biblical experts Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart comment further on how the reader, that is semi-literate, is not only a reader, but an interpreter as well. The agree that, “most of us assume as we read that we also understand what we read. We also tend to think that our understanding is the same thing as the Holy Spirit’s or human author’s intent. However, we invariably bring to the text all that we are, with all of our experiences, culture, and prior understandings of words and ideas. Sometimes what we bring to the text, unintentionally to be sure, leads us astray, or else causes us to read all kinds of foreign ideas into the text."[116]

All in all, the semi-literacy has to become a thing of the past in order for bizarre readings of the biblical text to become fewer in number. Of course, I agree with, Roger Lundin, Anthony Thiselton, and Clarence Walhout, when they propose ,“For the sake of human understanding and the future of the Christian church, it is more important for God to be seen as the maker and keeper of promises than it is for us to perfect the procedures we employ as we interpret texts and the world about us.”[117] However, for us to know what those promises are and for the very gospel to survive we have to become more literate and semi-literate in a post-Christian culture, here in the U.S. and abroad. 

[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Eph 5:19.
[2] Maybe other churches as well.
[3] Ted Cabal, Chad Owen Brand, E. Ray Clendenen, et al., The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 1769.
[4] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ps 150:1–6.
[5] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton give a detailed description of what OT times instrumental ensembles looked like writing, “Musical instruments were among the first inventions of early humans. In Egypt the earliest end-blown flutes date to the fourth millennium B.C. A number of harps and lyres as well as a pair of silver flutes were found in the royal cemetery at Ur dating to the mid-third millennium. Flutes made of bone or pottery date back at least to the fourth millennium. Musical instruments provide entertainment as well as background rhythm for dances and ritual performances, such as processions or cultic dramas. Other than simple percussion instruments (drums and rattles), the most common instruments used in the ancient Near East were harps and lyres. Examples have been found in excavated tombs and painted on the walls of temples and palaces. They are described in literature as a means of soothing the spirit, invoking the gods to speak, or providing the cadence for a marching army. Musicians had their own guilds and were highly respected. These are all typical musical instruments of the time and are attested in ancient Near Eastern texts, reliefs and paintings as early as the third millennium B.C. ….The tambourine has been identified in archaeological reliefs as the tambour, a small drum (leather stretched over a hoop) that would not have the tinny rattle sound of modern tambourines. The instrument translated as flute is likely a double pipe made of either bronze or reed. Cymbals are made of bronze and are in the percussion group, so the only remaining question concerns their size.” Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), Ps 150:5.
[6] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 1096.
[7] Henry George Liddell et al., A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 2018.
[8] Myers, Richard. Images from A Biblical and Theological Dictionary: Illustrative of the Old and New Testaments. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2011. Also, Louw and Nida indicate psalmos ψαλμός means, “a song of praise (in the NT probably a reference to an OT psalm).” OT psalms such as Psalm 150 are not implausible. Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 401; Another lexicon defines psalmos ψαλμός as a, “song of praise, psalm; music made with an instrument.” Johan Lust, Erik Eynikel, and Katrin Hauspie, A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint : Revised Edition (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft: Stuttgart, 2003).
[9]Here, psalms meaning “playing with strings” maybe taken figuratively, as Kittel and company assert, “The literal sense ‘by or with the playing of strings,’ still found in the LXX, is now employed figuratively.” Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 499; Even so, in the figurative sense, this is not a clear sanction against instrumental accompaniment to vocalists when praising God.
[10] For the Church of Christ point of view, see (accessed July 2015). I will note that in the source just cited they state, and I paraphrase, that they take the Bible seriously. I agree they do, but I hope that they also agree that others, who take the Bible as the inspired and revealed word from God to us, take interpretive conclusions not in a lighthearted manner.
[11] Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1512.
[12] Everett Ferguson, The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1996), 272.
[13] He would be hard pressed to historically condition head coverings to just the church of Corinth.
[14] Everett Ferguson, The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1996), 273.
[15] Ibid
[16] James D. G. Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: William B. Eerdmans Publishing; Paternoster Press, 1996), 237.
[17] We even see the use of instruments in other Jewish texts when it says in 1st Maccabeus 4:54, “At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals.” The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), 1 Mac 4:54.
[18] Everett Ferguson, The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1996), 273.
[19] W. J. Porter, “Music,” ed. Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter, Dictionary of New Testament Background: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 712.
[20] Church of Christ apologists will, I suspect, have much agreement with me on this point.
[21] I am sure there are critically assessed a cappella onlyist work that has been published on the matter beyond what Ferguson has to offer. But, all in all, the reasons seem to disfavor the position.
[22] More on Hebrews 11:1 below.
[23] Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Apollos, 2011), 23.
[24] More on this verse below being a “Yes” verse for the practice of the discipline of Christian apologetics. On a somewhat different note, what I mean “Peter was led to convey” is in the plenary verbal inspirational sense.
[25] Being relational is speaking the truth in love. Here, I have failed many times and strive to improve in each conversations in many different settings (one on one in person, blogging, social media, and many other modes).
[26] For a coherent view of fideism (simply put, faith alone) see (accessed 08/2015)
[27] All apologists are guilty of this. The question is, what is the frequency?
[28] Jewish researchers Gary A. Tobin & Aryeh K. Weinberg conducted a poll study of college faculty feelings towards different religious group. They found that of the faculty polled the following,“…only 30% ranked their feelings toward Evangelical Christians as warm/ favorable, with only 11% feeling very warm/favorable, the lowest ranking among every other religious group, and 53% said that they have cool/unfavorable feelings towards Evangelical Christians …Faculty feelings about Evangelicals are significantly cooler than any other religious group, leading Mormons as the least liked religious group by 20%. These negative feelings are noted across academic disciplines and demographic factors.[28]” Gary A. Tobin & Aryeh K. Weinberg. Institute for Jewish and Community Research (2007) Religious Beliefs & Behavior of College Faculty. P.80-81
[29] Professor of systematic theology and philosophy at Bethel University. See (accessed 06/2015)
[30] I acknowledge the fallibleness of my conclusions.
[31] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Lk 21:14–15.
[32] Unless otherwise noted, verses are from the HCSB. The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009.
[33] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Lk 21:6.
[34] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Lk 21:12.
[35] The BDAG lexicon says this word in the Greek (marturion μαρτύριον) means, “testimony or proof.” William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 619.
[36] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009), Lk 21:14–15.
[37] James K. Beilby, Thinking About Christian Apologetics: What It Is and Why We Do It. (Downer Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2011), 134.
[38] Ibid
[39] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), Lk 21:14.
[40] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Lk 21:14.
[41] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Lk 21:14.
[42] James K. Beilby, Thinking About Christian Apologetics: What It Is and Why We Do It. (Downer Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2011), 135.
[43] D. A. Carson et al., eds., New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1013.
[44] These are not the only two cases that apologetics is needed. Sometimes one needs to make a positive case for a particular Christian truth claim when no one even asked them too or it is not necessarily a immediate need that needs to be addressed.
[45] The word “heresy” was in all caps, but I changed it because it gives the impression of yelling, especially in our digital age. Instead, I put an exclamation mark to show emphasis as this is what was probably intended. Moreland, J. P. (2012-09-14). Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul (Kindle Location 159). Navpress. Kindle Edition.
[46] The wording “ever changing culture” I owe to other apologetic ministries.
[47] Alan F. Johnson, 1 Corinthians, vol. 7, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 62.
[48] Bryan Gamel defines a Sophist as follows: “The Sophists were a group of professional educators who offered instruction in the ability to speak effectively, usually for political purposes. For a fee, these instructors would train a student in the art of logos—speech, reasoning, and argumentation …The Sophists primarily understood logos as rhetoric—the ability to persuade an audience based on the power of one’s speech” Brian K. Gamel, “Logos, Greek Background,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2013, 2014).
[49] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009), Ac 17:2–3.
[50] Beilby, Thinking About Christian Apologetics, 136.
[51] Stanley Toussaint points out the uniqueness of the Lukan vocabulary. He writes, “The Lord’s post-resurrection appearances attested the reality of the Resurrection. Christ gave many convincing proofs of this. The word ‘proofs’ (tekmēriois) occurs only here in the New Testament and looks at demonstrable evidence in contrast with evidence provided by witnesses. In other words, the Resurrection was proven by touch, sight, and feel.” Stanley D. Toussaint, “Acts,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 353.
[52] Beilby, Thinking About Christian Apologetics, 136-137.
[53] Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Apollos, 2011), 29.
[54] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009), Mt 12:39–40.
[55] Beilby, Thinking About Christian Apologetics, 137.
[56] Louis A. Barbieri, Jr., “Matthew,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 43–44.
[57] Though it is on the apologist not to do so or seek out more opportunities.
[58] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Heb 11:6.
[59] Francis J. Beckwith;William Lane Craig;J. P. Moreland. To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview (p. 43). Kindle Edition.
[60] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 818.
[61] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 375.
[62] Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 206.
[63] Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1985), 849.
[64] Robert E. Van Voorst, Building Your New Testament Greek Vocabulary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1990), 24.
[65] H.G. Liddell, A Lexicon: Abridged from Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996), 641.
[66] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
[67] Ceslas Spicq and James D. Ernest, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), 110–111.
[68] Any belief, however, is a step beyond what the evidence can offer. NT scholar and pastor Gregory Boyd offers this advice to his Father, who was a agnostic who became a Christian. Boyd conveys, “No matter what people believe, Dad, their belief will go beyond what the evidence requires them to believe. That’s why it’s belief, and not certainty. “ Gregory and Edward Boyd, Letters from a Skeptic (Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications, 1994), 185; See also Lee Strobel’s book The Case For Faith (Zondervan, 2000) pages 330-332 – the chapter with Lynn Anderson on doubt and being a Christian. Some of these books bindings are somewhat different so the page numbers might be different vs. others.
[69] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009), 1 Pe 3:15–16.
[70] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 413–414.
[71] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 1 Pe 3:15.
[72] D. A. Carson et al., eds., New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1379.
[73] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 174.
[74] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, vol. 2 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 508.
[75] Believers who believe in the essential truths of Christianity.
[76] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 174–175.
[77] North American Mission Board (NAMB), the evangelistic arm of the Southern Baptist Convention for the US, Canada, etc, use to have a special apologetics department. However, as of 2011, this was settle done away with due to really no forthcoming reasons. Granted a apologetics website ( still exists, but the apologetic landscape needs boots on the ground.
[78][78] As you know, NAMB has it’s on research intitity. However, I could not find data on college students. (accessed 07/2015)
[79] Gross, Neil, and Solon Simmons. 2009. "The Religiosity of American College and University Professors." Sociology Of Religion 70, no. 2: 101-129.
[80] Ibid
[81] Gary A. Tobin & Aryeh K. Weinberg. Institute for Jewish and Community Research (2007) Religious Beliefs & Behavior of College Faculty. P.80-81
[82] J. Budziszewski writes in chap 7 about college students that go to Christian college proposing, “Pastors and even parents often assume that the war against the faith is waged only in secular schools, so if our young people go to Christian colleges and universities, their life with Christ will be nourished instead of assaulted. This assumption is not merely false, but reckless. To be sure, there are some fine Christian schools. But the worst stories about antiChristian ideological assault I have heard so far come from nominally Christian colleges that have not remained faithful to their mission.” Zacharias, Ravi; Geisler, Norman L. (2010-06-23). Is Your Church Ready?: Motivating Leaders to Live an Apologetic Life (Kindle Locations 1498-1502). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
[83] P.8 of this Georgetown University Study on Millennials. (accessed 07/2015) This is accumulative between Catholic, Evangelical, Mainline Protestant, Eastern Orthodox. Evangelicals actually did quite well in this study, even so, data suggest otherwise in other venues.
[84] Stetzer, Ed; Stanley, Richie; Hayes, Jason (2010-07-19). Lost and Found (p. 30). B&H Books. Kindle Edition.
[85] Stetzer, Ed; Stanley, Richie; Hayes, Jason (2010-07-19). Lost and Found (p. 39). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.
[86] (2014-09-19). Churchless: Understanding Today's Unchurched and How to Connect with Them (Kindle Locations 568-569). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
[87] Stetzer, Stanley and Hayes confirm what Barna has found writing that young adults say, “they do not need a church in order to learn what it means to be a Christian, nor to have a good relationship with God.” Stetzer, Ed; Stanley, Richie; Hayes, Jason (2010-07-19). Lost and Found (p. 41). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition; This is not to say that published books at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Hasting book stores who are authored by a believer who is part of the universal church does not have influence. Moreover, the many Christian blogs that evangelicals write, academic papers presented at society meetings, and one on one conversations is the church, in a broad sense, still having a impact. When someone is asked in these surveys if they are willing to join a Bible study or do you believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, they have a misconception as to what a Bible study entails or what an actual essential doctrine actually looks like because they were never relationally and rationally taught. This can taint the results of survey research. However, these misconceptions do not account for the numbers of people, especially with education beyond high school, are disconnected from the local church milieu with orthodoxy (essentials, fallibly prayerfully defined by those who are qualified, are non-negotiable) and orthopraxy (which should be flexible, i.e. contemporary vs hymnal worship). Relational and rational apologetics would bridge that chasm aiding these disengaged intellects to honor God with their whole being (Matt 22:37).
[88] (2014-09-19). Churchless: Understanding Today's Unchurched and How to Connect with Them (Kindle Locations 796-801). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition
[89] (2014-09-19). Churchless: Understanding Today's Unchurched and How to Connect with Them (Kindle Locations 878-881). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
[90] And aide in rising the satisfaction of those with a intellectual bent toward all truths, including eternal ones. Overall satisfaction is been decreasing with religion and I think it is safe to assume, when considering other data, that intellects fall in this category. For overall dissatisfaction see
[91] (2014-09-19). Churchless: Understanding Today's Unchurched and How to Connect with Them (Kindle Locations 992-996). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
[92] Ibid
[93] (2014-09-19). Churchless: Understanding Today's Unchurched and How to Connect with Them (Kindle Locations 1031-1034). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
[94][94] Kinnaman, David (2011-04-01). You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church...and Rethinking Faith (Kindle Locations 265-274). Baker Book Group. Kindle Edition.
[95] David Kinnaman;Gabe Lyons. unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and Why It Matters (Kindle Locations 1470-1474). Kindle Edition.
[96] David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, in the most balanced way put, “Most people, by personality, are not logical thinkers and are not likely to change their beliefs because of elegant argumentation mentation or apologetics. Of course, some outsiders are wired this way, and thoughtful responses are particularly important for articulating Christianity's remarkable ability to address all aspects of life. Culture is shaped by ideas and worldviews, so do not underestimate the proper role of good thinking, logic, and intellectual engagement. However, most people do not become Christians because of the overwhelming evidence. And since Mosaics and Busters are more likely to possess a nonlinear, fluid way of processing life, they are increasingly comfortable with subtlety, nuance, ambiguity, and contradiction. So even if you are able to weave a compelling logical argument, young people will nod, smile, and ignore you.” David Kinnaman;Gabe Lyons. unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and Why It Matters (Kindle Locations 765-769). Kindle Edition.
[97] It is hard to deny that college professors and the like did not have an influence on these numbers. College is a time when ideas are flung every which way at the college student. This needs a reasonable robust national response, not just a local one. Another thing to also consider is that many individuals have been to church, but just don’t see the need. Some of this is sinfulness, but some of their complaints on legitimate. The Barna group has recently reported that, “Only about one in ten adults has never attended a Christian church at any time in his or her life, other than for a special service such as a wedding or funeral ceremony. The majority of unchurched individuals have firsthand experience with one or more Christian churches and, based on that sampling, have decided they can better use their time in other ways. This fact should motivate us to examine how our local church looks in the eyes of the de-churched and consider making appropriate changes — not for the sake of enhancing attendance numbers but to address the possibility that we do not always behave like the church Christ died for.” (2014-09-19). Churchless: Understanding Today's Unchurched and How to Connect with Them (Kindle Locations 395-400). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
[98] William Lane Craig, “Classical Apologetics,” in Five Views on Apologetics, ed. Stanley N. Gundry and Steven B. Cowan, Zondervan Counterpoints Collection (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 37.
[99] Gary Habermas’s response to William Lane Craig. Stanley N. Gundry and Steven B. Cowen, eds., Five Views on Apologetics, Zondervan Counterpoints Collection (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 62.
[100] But the hermeneutical illuminated conclusions are always up for debate. We must not canonize our interpretive conclusions, though we have confidence in the essential Christian truths revealed in Scripture and affirmed by the first five centuries of church creeds in response to heretical movements (though this is still debated).
[101] Francis J. Beckwith;William Lane Craig;J. P. Moreland. To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview (p. 33). Kindle Edition.  

[102] William Lane Craig, “A Classical Apologist’s Closing Remarks,” in Five Views on Apologetics, ed. Stanley N. Gundry and Steven B. Cowan, Zondervan Counterpoints Collection (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 327–328; There is evidence elsewhere that apologetics is being used by the Spirit to keep kids in the Christian faith despite going to a four year university. See (accessed July 2015)
[103] Chad Owen Brand “Intellectuals Who Found God” The Apologetics Study Bible, 975
[104] Lee Strobel, “How Apologetics Changed My Life!,” in The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith, ed. Ted Cabal et al. (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), xxvii.
[105] (accessed 06/2015)
[106] (accessed 06/2015)
[107] Individuals, based at least part on evidence, can be moved from atheism to at least deism (existence of God, theism (existence of God that acts in creation), or outright Christian theism. NT historian Michael Licona accounts that, “Antony Flew, one of the most prominent and influential atheist philosophers of the twentieth century, recently abandoned his atheist views in the face of what he regarded as compelling evidence for the existence of God from relatively recent finds in the fields of astrophysics and molecular biology. Similarly, the prominent cosmologist Frank Tipler moved from atheism to theism, having been impressed with the data in astrophysics that pointed to a designer of the cosmos. Moreover, scholars Dale Allison and Craig Keener claim to have had experiences that are more at home within theism than atheism.” Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Apollos, 2010), 158.
[108] (accessed 06/2015)
[109] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 176.
[110] In response to arguments that are similar to utterances like a “square circle” or “my brother is a only child” one can easily laugh or smirk in response. If this is appropriate, I will leave that to the context of the conversation and the leading of the Spirit. The question remains is that the best way to respond?
[111] See the missiological data below
[112] I owe the “semi-literate” wording to John Mark Reynolds. See his lecture “Why I am not a Spiritualist” through Biola University. See (accessed 08/2015)
[113] Though layman is along a learning and knowledge spectrum. A nurse is not a layman in the medical field. They are a nurse with a certain amount of expectations set upon them in knowledge and wisdom within their respective field. The same goes for the apologist, theologian, and the like.
[114] William W. Klein, Craig Blomberg, and Robert L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 480.
[115] Bruce Corley, Steve Lemke, and Grant Lovejoy, Biblical Hermeneutics: A Comprehensive Introduction to Interpreting Scripture, 2nd ed. (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2002), xv.
[116] Gordon D. Fee and Douglas K. Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993), 18.
[117] Roger Lundin, Anthony C. Thiselton, and Clarence Walhout, The Promise of Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1999), xii.

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