MAKING CHRIST REASONABLE (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah
(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on August 28, 2019)
“If God is all good and all powerful, why is there evil and suffering in this world?” “Why should anyone believe the Bible if Science and Evolution contradict it?” “Hasn’t the Bible been corrupted beyond repair? “Isn’t it offensive and arrogant to claim that Jesus is the only way to God?” “How can Christianity be good if Christians have supported evils like slavery, the subjugation of women, and the crusades?” These are just a few of the popular objections raised against Christians and Christianity by those who don’t believe. Unfortunately, many believers don’t know how to respond to these questions and some have even lost their faith (if they truly had any) because of them. It is imperative that those who claim to be followers of Christ give clear and cogent responses. This is Apologetics. It comes from the Greek word apologia, meaning a verbal defense.
Apologetics is not some new invention. It began in the early church when enemies of Christianity, and even neighbors and friends, began challenging the new believers for their faith in the resurrected Son of God. One of the first apologists was the Apostle Paul. In Athens, “he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.” (Acts 17:17) His discourse so intrigued the Epicurean and the Stoic philosophers that they took him to the Areopagus (Mar’s Hill) to hear more. My wife and I have stood atop the Areopagus in Athens. It’s a breathtaking sight! High above in the distance is the Acropolis with the ancient Parthenon. Down below is the Agora with the shops, the Stoa, and the temples. Everywhere one turned in those days, there used to be a statue to some god or goddess. Paul used this backdrop to introduce the Athenians to Jesus. When he was done speaking, some mocked him, others dismissed him, but a few joined him and believed. Apologetics may not always be successful but when done well, it never fails to open someone’s heart.
Our culture today is very similar to the one Paul addressed two thousand years ago. We are surrounded by idols, albeit they are not statues of gods and goddesses but material things. We are living in a post-Christian culture that is very close to the beliefs of the Epicurean and the Stoic philosophers. Not only that but our children and grandchildren are daily bombarded by worldviews that are contrary to the truth of the Bible. Failure to give reasonable answers is hazardous to their faith. It’s not enough to tell them—“Don’t question. Just belief.” We are obligated to do what Peter said in I Peter 3:15 “Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”
So where do you begin? Start reading the Bible for yourself. It’s not enough to watch your favorite preachers on TV. Familiarize yourself with the writings of trusted Christian apologists. Attend conferences on Apologetics. Pray and remain open to the leading of the Holy Spirit to reason with those who may have questions about your faith. Be humble. The goal of apologetics is not to win an argument but to “Make Christ Reasonable.” Always remember—the best apology for the gospel is your own life.