On more than one occasion, people have asked me what areas should they focus on in their own study of apolgoetics. These are people that want to engage the culture and are burdened for the people God has placed in their lives. In my opinion, while there are many others not mentioned here, there are at least six areas every Christian should learn about. What I mean is that over the years of talking to hundreds of college students and others as well, these are the continual topics that always come to the surface. Now remember, you can’t learn everything. And you don’t have to know everything! But here are some of my picks:
It is imperative to know the different approaches to the the existence of God. How can you talk to someone about the existence of God without using the Bible? Don’t get me wrong: I love the Bible. But many people don’t accept the Bible as an authority. Remember, not everyone approaches God’s existence the same way. See our clip on this topic here.
2. Biblical Reliability
Obviously, many people turn to the Bible to find God. Others will recognize, though, that the Bible doesn’t set out to prove the existence of God. In other words, the Bible presupposes God’s existence. On the other hand, not everyone thinks the Bible is an authoritative or inspired book. Even those who do believe the Bible is God’s Word differ in matters of interpretation. To add to the muddled mess, millions of people think that their holy book is “The One.”
3. Religious Pluralism
One of the most controversial issues in religious dialogue is whether there is one way of salvation. In other words, the Christian claim that Jesus is the only possible Savior for the human race (Matt 11:27; John 1:18; 3:36; 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 John 1: 5:11-12) is considered to be overly exclusive and arrogant. The Bible speaks of God’s judgment on pagan religions. They are said to have no redemptive value to them (Exod. 20: 3-6; 2 Chron: 13: 8-9; Isa. 37: 18-19; Acts 26: 17-18; Col. 1:13). While Christianity is a Jewish story and salvation is from the Jewish people (John 4:22), salvifically speaking, Paul makes it known that there is no distinction between Jewish and non-Jewish people. Both are under sin and must turn to God through repentance and faith through Jesus the Messiah (Rom 3:9; Acts 20:21).
What about those people in the Tanakh (the Old Testament ) that never exercised explicit belief in Jesus as the Messiah? What about people like Melchizedek, Jethro, Job and Rahab? In response, it is true that people in the Tanakh did not have explicit knowledge of the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah as a payment for their sins. However, this objection fails to take into account the issue of progressive revelation. The principle of progressive revelation means that God does not reveal everything at once. In progressive revelation, there are many cases where the New Testament declares explicitly what was only implicit in the Tanakh. One of these truths is that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah who takes away not only the sins of Israel, but the entire world (John 1: 29; 3: 16). To see more about this, see our clip here.
If there are no miracles, there are no resurrections. Can you articulate what a miracle actually is? What is the role of miracles in the Bible? What about objections to miracles? See our clip here:
5. The Resurrection of Jesus
Given the resurrection is the central claim of our faith, it is important to be able to articulate not only the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, but also the purpose and meaning behind such a significant event. See our clip here:
6. The Reliability of the New Testament
If someone rejects the reliability of the New Testament, it would be hard to talk about the resurrection. See our clip here
While there are obviously many other topics, I think these are some of the essentials. Study hard!