DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Apologetics and Theology

Written by: on February 14, 2014

Apologetics and Theology This week’s readings reminded me of the apologetics courses that I took at Wesley Biblical Seminary. The section from Speaking of God in Public, by Graham, Walton, and Ward, reminded me of a book that I have previously read by Groothuis, called Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith. Both of these books stressed the defense of miracles and divine intervention in the face of a scientific world. Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), an early apologetics leader, defended the validity of miracles and divine intervention in the 1800s.  He “defended the credibility of Christianity against those who argued the faith of miracles or divine intervention was no longer tangible in a scientific, rationalist world.[1] As a pastor, I have had to defend and answer questions concerning the validity of divine miracles. The culture of the world in which we live in today defines reality on what it can see, hear, touch, smell and taste. Individuals in our world trust in science to define what is real. In my apologetic work, I have used a particular line of questioning to prove the possibility that miracles are real. I begin by asking the individual if they have ever seen a black hole? The answer that the individual generally gives is “no”. Then I say that science has determined that black holes exist; yet no one has ever seen or touched one. So, if they acknowledge that black holes exist, then I asked them why the same couldn’t apply to divine intervention? I know that this is a simplistic example of apologetics, but it usually gets the person to begin to open their mind to the possibility that things exist that they cannot see, but yet they can be real. Over the past several years, I have taught classes on cults and engaged in apologetics. What I’ve come to understand and realizes, is that many Christians do not understand what they believe or why they believe it. This is why it is so important for Christian leaders to teach theology to our members and congregations. I teach a class called “faith 101:  why do you believe what you believe.  It is all about helping Christians to understand why they believe in Christ, and how theology can help them spread the gospel message and defend the Christian faith. In this class, I also teach them about the history of the church and the importance of the creeds and liturgy that help define theology of Christianity. Stackhouse, in his book Civil Religion, Political Theology and Public, explains that “the confessions and practices of church religion, usually articulated in various creeds or liturgies and given extended, rationalized articulation by the dogmatic theologies of these specific Christian traditions”[2] As an ordained minister in the Wesley denomination, I see that the local church and many lay leaders struggle to understand theology. I also find that many individuals rely upon the discipline of the church and not the Scriptures themselves when they need to find answers to theological issues.

[1] Graham, Walton, Ward. Speaking of God in Public Pg.6
[2] Stackhouse, Civil Religion, Political Theology and Public Pg. 227

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Richard Volzke

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