Christians can feel secure in defending their faith with facts and evidence
As Christians continue to proceed into an age of lawlessness, it is essential that we teach our children, and remind ourselves, that there is solid reason and evidence to believe in God and Jesus. Our faith is not based on feelings, but on facts.
This was the essential message presented by Dr. Adam Francisco recently at Zion Lutheran Church in Grant, Neb. The talk was entitled Defending the Faith in the 21st Century.
Dr. Francisco is a professor of history and political thought at Concordia University in Irvine, Calif. He earned his PHd from Oxford University and has written and edited such books as “Martin Luther and Islam”, “Resurrection: Fact—Making the Case for Christianity: Responding to Modern Objections”, and “Where Christ is Present.”
Today Mirrors the Third Century
Dr. Francisco explained that Christians are now living in a time that resembles the world of the third century, from 201 to 300 years after the resurrection of Jesus when Christianity was not regarded as a moral center.
“It is regrettable, but we are living in a post-Christian America. An America where the majority of people think that all religions are equal,” he said, going on to say that our children will bear the brunt of the ramifications of a pluralist society.
This pluralist mentality is not just being seen in larger cities or universities, but also within the Christian church itself.
Francisco pointed out that a Pew Research Center survey a few years ago discovered that nearly one-half of those in America professing to be Christian, including those in leadership, did not believe in the Bible as the final moral authority and did not believe in the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
“Christians lack substance. Their defense of their faith has become weak and corroded,” he said. “Christians struggle to know what it is they really believe.”
Dr. Francisco stated that although the emergence of a post-Christian society will present trying times for Christians, it also presents Christians with an opportunity to defend their beliefs, stand up and be recognized and start a revival of their faith.
Christianity is Based Upon Reason and Facts
The technical term for the religious discipline of defending or proving the truth of religious doctrines through systematic argumentation and discourse is called apologetics. It is the discipline of apologetics that Christians must adhere to and teach to their children if they want to provide a solid stance for Christianity.
“Christianity is different than any other religion, not just in doctrine but also in its foundation—its historical, factual, and logical moorings,” he said.
The main reason for this difference is that Christianity is grounded on facts, where all other religions are grounded on feelings.
“Other religions say that their religion is true regardless of the facts, but Christianity says that it is true because of the facts, and mainly because of the fact of the resurrection of Jesus,” he said.
When Defending the Faith, Start with God
When defending the Christian faith, Christians should not jump in defending the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus, but should first begin with proof of God and then lead into the life of Jesus, especially with those who are atheists, he said.
Francisco gave three main points to make when making a case for the existence of God.
1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2) The universe began to exist, so the universe has a cause, which we call God.
3) There is a natural moral law that is not relative or made up by humans that every human has written on his heart. Everyone recognizes there is right and wrong, and this knowledge comes from outside of us and is fixed. Who put this knowledge there? Christians call this mind God.
Dr. Francisco said that even after the presentation of the above, most atheists will still probably not change their world view and will continue to embrace atheism as an act of rebellion.
“Atheists believe that man is essentially good, could be perfected, and lacks original sin. So they don’t see man as the problem instead they pin the problems of the world on institutions, including Christianity,” he said.
If the Christian can establish the reality of man’s original sin with the atheist, he can then introduce Jesus to this person. Jesus is the Savior of all who have sinned, if they turn from their sin and place their trust in Him, he said.
Making a Case for Jesus
The factual evidence that Christians can base their faith upon, and begin making a defense from, are as follows:
1) The gospels come from first source eyewitness testimony. Archeologists have recovered fragments of Biblical manuscripts that date back to the first century. This is nearly unheard of for historical documents, Dr. Francisco said. “This means that content of these documents most likely came from someone who was one of Jesus’ followers or acquaintances with one of Jesus’ followers,” he said.
2) The Bible does not contradict itself. Despite having many authors and being written over thousands of years, the Bible never contradicts itself.
3) The Gospels, or the first four books of the New Testament, are historically reliable.
For example, the empty tomb of Jesus was recorded in the Bible to be found by women. In Biblical times the testimony of women were not trusted, unless there were three or four women present and testifying to the same thing. So if Jesus’ followers wanted to tell a story that the Jews of that day would believe, the would not have made up a story where women were the first people to find the empty tomb. “But, why was it reported in the Bible this way? Because that is what actually happened,” Francisco said.
Another way we know that the Bible is historically reliable is for the fact that there are other writings outside of those written by Christ’s followers attesting to the very things that are written in the Bible. These historical accounts were written by Jewish scholars as well as Roman writers, he said.
The Coming Storm for Christians
Dr. Francisco touched on what Christians can expect as we continue to live in a post-Christian world.
1) Christianity will continued to be resisted from all sides.
2) We will see the increase in secularism, or the principle of separation of the state from religious institutions.
3) A continual rise in post modern thought and a rampant rise of relativism will be seen, which basically states that there is no such thing as the ultimate truth.
“The world has gone crazy and we are living in a time of lawlessness as the Bible said we would,” Dr. Francisco said. “In this time we need to follow Jesus and what He did in His time of need, which was to rely on the scriptures and depend on the Holy Spirit to strengthen us and help us.”
He went on to stress that any Christian equipped with Scripture will be able to defend the faith.
“We need not wring our hands about the world, but we must defend our faith by confessing Jesus and giving a reasoned case in defending Hi,” he said.
Reliable sources for Christians looking to strengthen their defense of their faith include the following books: “The Resurrection: Fact—Responding to Modern Critics”, and “A Case for Christ,” by Lee Strobel.
Current apologists that Christians can follow for references include William Lane Craig, Ravi Zacharias and Lee Strobel.
For more information on Dr. Francisco, logon to https://www.1517legacy.com/contributors/adam-francisco/ or search Google for Dr. Adam Francisco.