“People Do Not Come to Faith by Arguments!” 4 Objections to Apologetics

Some time ago, I was in a meeting with pastors and other church leaders from various backgrounds discussing a potential ministry opportunity. I noted the importance that apologetics plays in the realm of collegiate ministries, especially with the mainstream attacks on Christianity from ultra-liberal voices. For instance, the collegiate ministry known as Ratio Christi has held a profound positive influence on the intellectual and spiritual lives of college students across the nation. To my surprise, one particular ministry leader said, “It’s my experience that people are not brought to faith by arguments.” The statement was shocking enough. However, I was even more bewildered by some who seemed to agree with him. I replied, “What do you say of Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, and J. Warner Wallace who were former atheists and became believers because of the evidence for the Christian faith?” The conversation quickly moved to a different topic.

I do not tell this story to demonize or demoralize anyone. The denominational worker who voiced opposition to apologetics was a good, caring individual who loves the Lord and the people he serves. However, we must engage the question he presented. Do logic and argumentation bring people to faith or are such disciplines useless endeavors? The mission statement of Bellator Christi is that it exists to take up the sword of Christian theology and the shield of classical apologetics in order to take Christian truth into the arena of ideas. But if people are not argued into the faith, this ministry would seem a bit futile, at least in the latter portion of the mission statement. So, are apologetic argumentations necessary? This article will review 4 common objections given to apologetics by the modern church. Each objection will contain an explanation and an appropriate reply.

Objection #1: Arguments do not bring people to faith.

The ministry leader I mentioned posed the first objection against the use of Christian apologetics. This objection claims that arguments do not really bring people into faith. Faith is a matter of the heart, not of the mind.

Reply:

One could provide several replies to the first objection. To keep the post brief, I will present only two. First, objection 1 is in reality a self-defeating statement. How so? Well, the objector is presenting an argument to persuade others that arguments do not persuade. The objection is much like someone claiming to be a married bachelor or saying “I cannot speak a word of English” in English.

Second, the Bible presents several examples where people came to faith or were persuaded to faith by various argumentations. For instance, the miracles and teachings of Jesus provided a case for His claim to be Messiah. The miracles served as a sign. Why were such signs offered? Signs were provided to present an argument for the Messianic claims of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus argues that “the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me” (John 5:36). In addition, Jesus challenged His adversaries to “search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39). Other examples could be offered such as Paul’s defense of the faith before various groups of people, including the Athenians. Consider Philip’s argumentation to the Ethiopian that Isaiah 53 referred to Jesus of Nazareth. All such arguments were used to bring people to faith.

Objection #2: The Holy Spirit brings people to faith, so argumentation is useless.

Some people have objected to the use of Christian intellectual arguments due to the assumption that the Holy Spirit leads people to faith. If the Holy Spirit leads people to faith, then why should one worry about intellectual argumentation.

Reply:

Let me first say, I wholeheartedly agree that the Holy Spirit leads people to faith. Jesus noted that when the Holy Spirit comes that He would “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because you do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:8-11). While the Holy Spirit convicts, we are told that we have a part to play in the evangelism process. Jesus also told the disciples before His ascension, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). One could argue; If the Holy Spirit brings people to faith, then why evangelize? Christians evangelize because God commanded us to do so. Through the preaching of the Word, people are convicted by the Holy Spirit to come to faith. The Holy Spirit uses our evangelistic efforts to save people. The same is true for apologetics. Intellectual argumentation is often used by the Holy Spirit to bring people to faith. While the majority of Athens did not follow Christ after hearing Paul’s intellectual defense of the faith, the Book of Acts states that “some men joined him and believed, among whom were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them” (Acts 17:34).

Another problem I have with this statement stems from the spirit of laziness that exists in some Christians today. I heard a person tell a pastor, “You don’t have to study to preach. Just follow the Holy Spirit.” While I wholeheartedly agree that a person should follow the Holy Spirit, I also accept that the Scripture tells us the “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1). How does a person test a spirit? One tests a spirit against the Word of God. Testing spirits require study. I truly believe that it is the increased biblical illiteracy and lack of study that has led the modern church into many great heresies.

Objection #3: No one has ever come to faith through argumentation.

Anti-apologetic apologists argue that no one comes to faith through intellectual argumentation. Why bother if no one comes to faith through argumentation?

Reply:

This is an easy objection to answer. The claim is false. Many have come to faith through intellectual argumentation for the faith. Among such converts include: C. S. Lewis (famed English professor and writer), Josh McDowell (author of countless Christian books), Lee Strobel (former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, atheist turned Christian pastor and writer), Fazale Rana (Christian biologist), and J. Warner Wallace (former Los Angeles cold-case homicide detective turned Christian apologist). These individuals only scratch the surface of those who have come to Christ because of the evidence for Christianity.

Objection #4: If someone is argued into faith, then someone could be argued out of faith.

Lastly, objectors to Christian apologetics often claim that if it is by evidential argumentation that one comes to faith, then one could be easily led astray by some other persuasive argumentation.

Reply:

This objection holds two problems in my estimation. 1) The objector does not understand the power of the Holy Spirit. If Christianity is true and a person comes to faith in Christ, then the Scripture states that the Holy Spirit will abide with the repentant person (John 14:15-16). Jesus notes that the Holy Spirit would lead a believer in truth (John 15:26-27). Thus, it would appear that the objector places less value on the power of the Holy Spirit than the advocate of Christian apologetics.

2) In addition, the objector must consider the following point. If Christianity is true, then it will always remain true. The truthfulness of Christianity will never change. Truth is unchangeable. Thus, if a person is truly convicted of the claims of Christianity and truth does not change, then the person (although doubts may come) will not leave the faith due to the truth claims.

Conclusion:

While I respect the objections made and the people who make them, it cannot be said that such objections hold any merit or value. Christianity is true. Period. If Christianity is true, then it is worth defending. If Christianity is true, eternity is at stake. Some people do come to faith when they are met with the evidences for Christianity. It may be true that some people do not require the same level of evidence that other people require. But, refusing apologetics to the one who needs it is like refusing insulin to a diabetic because not everyone needs insulin. It is, to a degree, a categorical mistake. Remember, Peter tells us, as has been noted several times before, that we must “honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

Check out this video by Brett Kunkle of Stand to Reason as he engages this issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cS2xGUj5KQ

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture comes from the English Standard Version (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001).

© August 30, 2016. Brian Chilton.

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Review of Peter Kreeft’s “Socratic Logic”

Kreeft, Peter. Socratic Logic: A Logic Text Using Socratic Method, Platonic Questions, and Aristotelian Principles. 3.1 Edition. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2014. $40.00. 399 pages.

Socratic Logic

Peter Kreeft provides an introductory textbook on the argumentative logic of Socrates in his book Socratic Logic. The 16 chapters of Kreeft’s book could be divided into three main sections: the First Act of the Mind–Understanding; the Second Act of the Mind–Judgment; and the Third Act of the Mind–Reasoning. These three sections are based upon the three main functions of any argument. First, one must define the terms to see whether they are clear or ambiguous. Then, one must evaluate the premises to determine whether they are true or false. Finally, one must test the argument to see whether the argument is valid or invalid.

The first section of Kreeft’s book helps the logician define the terms being presented in an argument. In other words, the terms are defined within the argument. A helpful section on material fallacies is given in chapter 3. Chapter 3 should be given great focus. The reader will find the listing of 40 material fallacies quite helpful. Personally, I found it quite fascinating how often these fallacies are used in popular media and politics.

The second section of Kreeft’s book demonstrates how premises are tested for their accuracy. The essence of truth and contradiction is given in this section of Kreeft’s book. For a person who is interested in logic–which it is assumed that the reader of this book would–great concentration will need to be given to the universal propositions (A, E) and particular propositions (I, O) given on page 146.

The third section of Socratic Logic focuses on the third test for logical accuracy which involves testing the argument for validity. By far, the third section is the longest and most difficult of all. Kreeft provides an array of various arguments from the more basic syllogism to the more difficult enthymemes and epicheiremas. Chapter 9 is especially good as Kreeft provides four ways to test the validity of any argument: Euler’s Circles, Aristotle’s Six Rules, “Barbara Celarent,” and Venn Diagrams. Because I am a visual person, I really enjoyed Euler’s Circles. However, I think Aristotle’s Six Rules are perhaps the best test as Kreeft argues on page 263.

Kreeft gives some helpful information in the latter chapters as it pertains to reading books in a logical fashion. Chapter 15 gives excellent information on how to write logically. Chapter 16 is perhaps the capstone of the book. Kreeft shows how logic applies to every part of a person’s life from theology to modern ethics.

Socratic Logic finds strength in its layout. Kreeft emphasizes the importance in knowing the three fundamentals of an argument: clarity of the terms, truthfulness of the premises, and the validity of the argument. The book is laid out according to these three fundamentals. This provides excellent structure and imprints the fundamentals upon the reader’s mind.

Another strength is the applicability of Kreeft’s book. While mathematical logic is extremely important, Socratic logic is applicable in everyday life. It seems as if there is an instantbologna detector found in this form of logic. As this reader read through Kreeft’s book, common examples of modern fallacies entered this reader’s mind. One will even find oneself evaluating posts on social media according to the principles learned in this book…something for which I had to apologize to one friend.

The greatest weakness of Kreeft’s book is its readability. If a person is looking for an easy read, this book is not for you.Socratic Logic is a book that must be slowly digested rather than quickly consumed. If one does not care about how much they learn, then it is supposed that a person could read through the book much quicker. But if one did not care to learn the information, then why read it in the first place?

I strongly recommend this book to anyone who desires to know the truth and how to test truth claims. Relativists will not like this book because Kreeft presents truth as it truly is: objectively known. This reader agrees with Kreeft’s definition, but relativists may not. Essentially, truth is calling something what it is. Truth, and the knowledge thereof, should be of utmost importance to all people.

I give this book 5 glowing stars!!!

Copyright, May 15, 2016. Brian Chilton.

3 Attributes Critical for Effective Persuasion

Aristotle, the famed ancient Greek philosopher, wrote On Rhetoric in the 4th century BC. Aristotle writes on how one can build a strong case that will be coherent, persuasive, and winsome. In Christian apologetics, it is imperative that one build a strong case for Christianity. Often, apologetic antagonists will claim, “No one was argued into the kingdom.” Yet, it seems that more and more people are being illuminated by the Holy Spirit through the use of arguments stemming from the apologetic renaissance. In fact, the pages of Scripture, one will find Christian case-makers arguing for the truths of Christ.

In On Rhetoric, Aristotle provides three important aspects of persuasion. These three aspects are called the ethos, pathos, and logos. Interestingly enough, Jesus himself demonstrated these attributes as he led people to faith. This article will examine Aristotle’s three attributes of persuasion and will show how Jesus used these attributes to powerfully argue for his identity as Messiah.

Ethos: Having Character Persuasion

The first attribute of persuasion is that of ethos (literally “character”); that is, the moral integrity of the speaker. English contrives its word “ethic” from the term “ethos.” Aristotle writes that the “orator persuades by moral character when his speech is delivered in such a manner as to render him worthy of confidence; for we feel confidence in a greater degree and more readily in persons of worth in regard to everything in general, but where there is no certainty and there is and there is room for doubt, our confidence is absolute” (Aristotle, On Rhetoric I.2.4).

To have value, the speaker must demonstrate authority and character. These two attributes are found in one simple term—integrity. By what authority does the speaker present his/her case? Why should I listen to such a person? Does a person live by what he/she speaks? Many a great communicator has lost value because their ethos does not support their theses. In this regard, a persuasive speaker must have authority to speak on the manner in which they address and they also must have the moral character that supports their speech. Carter and Coleman note Aristotle’s categories of ethos in that of “Phronesis—practical skills and wisdom. Arête—virtue and goodness. Eunoia—goodwill toward the audience” (Carter and Coleman 2009, 67). In this regard, the audience determines the ethos of the teacher.

In this regard, Jesus demonstrated ethos par excellence, although his adversaries chose to disregard this aspect of Jesus’ teaching. Jesus exemplified phronesis as he consistently outsmarted his opponents. Zuck writes that “Jesus knew the minds of three groups: inquirers, his disciples, and his enemies” (Zuck 1995, 51). Jesus was so good at answering his opponents that after a certain point, “no one dared to ask him any more questions” (Mark 12:34).[1] Jesus also demonstrated arête. Jesus did not provide a commandment which he did not himself keep. He told his disciples to “love their enemies” (Matthew 5:44). Jesus exemplified this commandment as he prayed while being crucified “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Jesus also demonstrated great eunoia by the multiple healings provided to the sick and helpless.

If one is to have an impact for God’s kingdom, then such a person will need to demonstrate a strong ethic. A person must have integrity. Without it, nothing that is said will leave an indelible mark on anyone. A great communicator without a strong ethos will fade into the shadows of failure.

Pathos: Having Connected Persuasion

The second attribute is that of pathos (literally “suffering,” “experience”); that is an emotional connection with the audience. English contrives its words “sympathy” and “empathy” from the term “pathos”. Aristotle writes, “The orator persuades by means of his hearers, when they are roused to emotion by his speech; for the judgements we deliver are not the same when we are influenced by joy or sorrow, love or hate; and it is to this alone that, as we have said, the present-day writers of treatises endeavor to devote their attention” (Aristotle, On Rhetoric I.2.5).

While it seems that many have been captivated more by emotionalism rather than intellectualism in modern times, emotionalism is still important. On a side note, let it be known that many a danger has come by speakers who manipulate the emotions without demonstrating the other two components. Hitler, Mousseline, and others have persuaded by appealing to negative emotional aspects (i.e. racism, nationalism, et. al.) without adhering to the other two cornerstones of effective persuasion. That being said, it would behoove the speaker to note the great power found in one’s emotions. If one is to connect with the audience, they must be willing to connect with the listeners emotionally.

Much could be said of Jesus’ use of pathos. However, such a treatment extends beyond the scope of this article. Nevertheless, Jesus’ use of pathos is demonstrated most clearly through his use of shared artifacts. “Jesus often made use of shared artifacts by utilizing his knowledge of Scripture, geography, and Jewish history” (Carter and Coleman 2009, 26). If the speaker is to connect with the audience, he/she must find a point of contact just as Jesus did through his parables and Paul did through his missionary ventures. If there is no connection, the most throughout intellectual treatment of a topic may fall on deafened ears. Never negate the power of a good illustration.

Logos: Having Coherent Persuasion

For the Christian who knows his or her Bible well, the third term will strike a chord, for it is the “logos” (literally “word,” or “from which a thought is expressed or delivered”). English contrives its word “logic” from “logos”. The third attribute considers the logic of an argument. Aristotle writes, “Now, since proofs are effected by these means, it is evident that, to be able to grasp them, a man must be capable of logical reasoning, of studying characters and the virtues, and thirdly the emotions—the nature and character of each, its origin, and the manner in which it is produced” (Aristotle, On Rhetoric I.2.7).

Here again, a full treatment is not possible in this article. I would suggest one interested in this topic pick up a copy of Carter and Coleman’s book which is referenced in this article. However, it should be noted that those who argue against logic will be surprised at the great use of logic used by Christ. Consider Jesus’ use of the following forms of logic:

Enthymene: an incomplete syllogism made to allow the “audience to ‘connect the dots’ and discover the insight on their own” (Carter and Coleman 2009, 49). Example found in Matthew 10:40, “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me” (Matthew 10:40).

Syllogismus: “the use of a remark or an image that calls upon the audience to draw an obvious conclusion” (Carter and Coleman 2009, 52). Example found in John 3:14-18, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the only Son of God” (John 3:14-18).

A fortiori: (Latin: “to the stronger”) the use of a commonly held truth to argue for a stronger truth. Exemplified in Jesus’ defense of his healing on the Sabbath, “Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day” (Luke 13:15-16). Also exemplified in Matthew 18:12-14.

Reductio ad absurdium: “a type of logical argument where one assumes a claim for the sake of argument, derives an absurd or ridiculous outcome, and then concludes that the original assumption must have been wrong, as it led to an absurd result” (Carter and Coleman 2009, 55). Jesus’ rebuttal to his adversaries considering him demon-possessed is an example of reductio ad absurdium. Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand” (Matthew 12:25-26)?

Appeal to Evidence: noting the evidence supporting one’s claims. This is incredibly important for apologetics. Jesus used this type of logic masterfully. Jesus would say, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) then go out and raise the dead to prove his statement (as he did in the case of Lazarus). Jesus appealed to several pieces of evidence in John 5: the evidence from the Father (John 5:30-31); evidence from John the Baptist (John 5:32-35); the miracles performed by Jesus (John 5:36); God the Father’s witness (John 5:37-38); and evidence from Scripture (John 5:39-47).

As I have noted several times on this site, one must hold intellectual reasons for holding to the faith if one is to be effective in communicating the gospel. This comes by knowing WHAT one believes and knowing WHY one believes it.

Conclusion

This somewhat lengthy article has noted three important attributes that should accompany one’s presentation of the truth. One must hold a strong ethos (character), pathos (emotional connection), and logos (coherent argument). It may be possible that one can influence another without all three in place. For the one who holds character without the other two may be a beloved person whose beliefs are held because of the person’s character. Yet, such adherents will not hold a strong connection with the beliefs themselves. They simply inherited the beliefs. One may influence another by strong emotionalism to the detriment of the other two. This is most dangerous as the person may captivate a crowd by one’s charisma. Yet, the adherents will not have a defense for their position and, if the speaker is of low moral virtue, may be captivated by what could quickly escalate to dangerous cultic practices. One may also have high intellectual prowess and may convince others. Yet, without a strong ethos and pathos, the speaker may come across as cold and calloused. A blend of all three attributes is necessary if one is to be both persuasive and winsome in their approach. As noted, Jesus was a master of all three.

Sources Cited:

Aristotle. On Rhetoric. Acheron Press. Kindle.

Carter, Joe; and John Coleman. How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator. Wheaton: Crossway, 2009.

Zuck, Roy B. Teaching as Jesus Taught. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 1995.

© August 30, 2015. Brian Chilton.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture comes from the English Standard Version (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001).

33 Logical Fallacies Everyone Should Know

Logic is a proper way of thinking. Norman Geisler writes that “Logic deals with the methods of valid thinking” (Geisler 1999, 427). Logical fallacies, then, are errors in the way one thinks or presents an argument. Logic and logical fallacies are important for everyone to know, but it is especially important for Christians to know since they are called to promote truth. Paul writes that the Christian should be in the practice of “laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25, NASB). So, the Christian should know how to speak the truth and to avoid any fallacy of thinking. Unfortunately, many sites devoted to logic promote an atheist agenda. One might think that the atheist has a stranglehold on logic, but nothing further could be the case. Therefore, this article will provide 33 logical fallacies that every Christian, in fact every person, should know.

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Ad Hominem:  This fallacy means literally “against the man.” This is a classic debate tactic. Instead of attacking an argument’s validity, the debater will instead attack one’s opponent. For example: some atheists have attacked the character of William Lane Craig instead of dealing with Craig’s cosmological arguments. This is an ad hominem fallacy.

Ambiguity:       The fallacy of ambiguity is used when the debater uses vague language that could be taken in a variety of ways. This is also known as someone speaking “out of both sides of one’s mouth.” Politicians are normally the worst culprits of this fallacy. When posed with a particular problem, the politician may claim that he or she may not have known about the issue when it is clear that the politician did. Or, it could be demonstrated by a politician presenting a bill without directly expressing the contents of the bill.

Anecdotal:       The anecdotal fallacy is found when one uses one’s experience instead of a sound argument when making a case. For instance, one could argue that one person benefited from taking a particular medicine; therefore everyone should take that medicine. It could be that not everyone would benefit from that kind of medicine due to the differences in each person’s body. It is for this reason that the Christian should not only rely upon their experience with Christ when making a case for Christianity, but provide the evidence for Christianity in addition to providing one with their experience. If one relies only on their experience, one could be found guilty of committing the anecdotal fallacy.

Appeal to Authority:    This fallacy is often used in the atheist community, but is often used in the theist community, as well. The appeal to authority fallacy is committed when one uses the beliefs of one in authority (scientist, archaeologist, theologian, philosopher, etc.) instead of dealing with the argument itself. It may be that the authority in question is correct. However, just because one is in authority does not make the authority figure correct. Consider the fact that at one time; most scientists and theologians believed that the world was flat. Thus, an appeal to authority would have been flawed in those days.

Appeal to Consequences:        In this fallacy, one uses consequences without providing any real evidence that a consequence would follow the antecedent. Mothers forgive me. But this is normally used by mothers when they tell their children that if they do not eat their Brussel sprouts they will not grow up big and strong. It may be that the children will grow up big and strong without eating Brussel sprouts. The mother has not provided a clear link between the consumption of Brussel sprouts and growing up big and strong. (Note to children: I would not use this against your mothers or you may find yourself the victim of the appeal to force.)

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Appeal to Emotion:     This fallacy is found in the classic “guilt trip.” In this fallacy, the debater will manipulate an emotional response from the listener without providing any clear evidence for the debater’s claim. For instance, atheists will appeal to the atrocities performed by Christians as an argument against the resurrection of Christ. It could be that Christ has risen and that Christians have performed atrocious acts, but the atrocities do not deny the validity of Christ’s resurrection. Grandparents are good at the “appeal to emotion.” For instance, a grandmother may claim, “You never come see me. You must not love me anymore.” In fact, it could be that the grandchild loves the grandparent very much, but is not able to see the grandparent as they wish they could. Nonetheless, this is an appeal to emotion.

Appeal to Force:         The appeal to force is also known by its Latin name argumentum ad baculum. This fallacy is found when a person, or institution, forces their beliefs upon another by issuing threats. The person or institution has not proven its case but forces others to believe by force. For instance: in certain regimes of the past, if one did not become an atheist and adhere to the government’s new system of control, the person could lose his/her occupation, could be ostracized, or could be executed.

Appeal to Nature:        This fallacy claims that just because something is “natural” it must be good. For instance, some will argue that men are drawn to have multiple relationships with other many other women, so infidelity must be okay. One can find the falsehood in such a claim. Just because something comes “natural” does not make it right. Unfortunately, this fallacy is made by many trying to cover up their misdeeds.

Appeal to Novelty:       This fallacy assumes that just because something is new that the thing, or idea, must be better. For instance, many believed that Windows Vista was going to be better than Windows XP because it was newer. It was later found that Windows XP was far better since Vista had many programming flaws. Therefore, just because something is new does not make it better unless it is demonstrated to be better.

Appeal to Poverty:      This fallacy occurs when one assumes that just because a view is held by the poor that it must be true. This is the opposite of the appeal to wealth fallacy. It may be that most poor people believe that the government is oppressing them. The view may or may not be true. However, such a view cannot be accepted on the merits that the poor hold it without any other evidence.

Appeal to Tradition:    This fallacy is the opposite of the appeal to novelty fallacy. In this fallacy, one holds that just because a viewpoint is old that it must be true. For instance, some Calvinists will hold that their view is true because it correlates with the view held by Augustine. It could be that the view is true. However, one cannot claim the accuracy of the view by its antiquity alone.

Appeal to Wealth:        This fallacy is opposite of the appeal to poverty fallacy. In this fallacy, one holds a view as true because its adherents are wealthy. For instance, one might claim that Al Gore is correct about global warming because Gore is wealthy. The merits of global warming have nothing to do with the wealth of one of its advocates: Al Gore.

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Bandwagon Fallacy:   This fallacy is based upon an appeal to popularity. One claims that something is good based only on the fact that everyone else thinks that it is good. For instance a young lady may ask her parents if she can have her tongue pierced because all of her friends are piercing their tongues. The problem is that a view can be popular and be incorrect. Therefore, the bandwagon fallacy should be avoided.

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Begging the Question/Circular Reasoning:    Circular reasoning is performed when the conclusion is presented in the argument. For instance, a Christian may be asked, “How do you know that the Bible is true?” The Christian responds, “I know the Bible is true because the Bible says that it is true.” This is providing absolutely no evidence whatsoever. Such a form of defense should be wholeheartedly rejected.

Black or White:           This fallacy is committed when only two options are presented when more options may be available. For instance, some claim that one can only have faith or reason. However, it can be that one can hold faith and reason.

Burden of Proof:         This fallacy is committed when one assumes that they do not have to provide evidence for their claim and that the burden is upon the one trying to prove them wrong. For example, the atheist may desire to have 100% certainty that God exists in order to believe. Therefore, the atheist will declare that the Christian must provide this level of evidence or the Christian’s view is wrong, or vice versa. Therefore, it could be said that a person that desires more evidence than is necessary to believe/disbelieve.

Composition/Division:            The composition fallacy assumes that what is true of a part is true of the whole. The division fallacy assumes that what is true of the whole is true of the parts. Someone might claim that since North Carolina has islands offshore and is one of the states of the United States of America, that all states in the United States of America must have islands offshore. This is impossible since many states are not aligned along an ocean. Therefore, this is the composition fallacy. Someone could also claim that since the United States is one nation, all the states of the nation must experience the same weather. This would be considered the division fallacy.

False Cause:               This fallacy occurs when someone finds a correlation and assumes a cause. For instance, one may view a chart to find that the crime rate in a particular community is rising while the immigration rate in the community is also rising. One may assume that the immigration rise was causing the rise in crime. There may be other causes afoot than just the rise in immigration.

Gambler’s Fallacy:     This fallacy has ties to Las Vegas. This fallacy occurs when one attributes a run of events to independent events. For instance, a gambler may claim to have a “run” on the roulette wheel. In fact, there is no run but a series of independent events. For instance, assuming that since 9 red cards have been consistently taken from a card deck that a black card will be drawn next is committing the gambler’s fallacy.

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Genetic Fallacy:          This fallacy is committed when one’s argument is considered good or bad only based upon the advocate’s ancestry. For instance, a theologian from Nigeria may not have his arguments taken seriously because he is dark-skinned and comes from a third world nation. The guilty party would have committed the genetic fallacy. Or, a Christian scientist may not have her experiment considered because she is a Christian. This is also a genetic fallacy.

Loaded Question:        This fallacy is committed when one asks a question with a presumption built into it. This is performed in order to side-track the particular person in question. For instance, one may ask a Christian apologist, “Since a belief in God is primitive and superstitious, wouldn’t that make your arguments primitive and superstitious?” Or if one were to ask another, “Do you need help with your drug problem” when there is no evidence of a drug problem; this would be an example of a loaded question.

Middle Ground Fallacy:         This fallacy assumes that a “middle ground” between two extremes is always true. Or, this fallacy can be conducted when assuming that a middle ground exists when it does not. For instance, some may try to find a middle ground in the debate on the existence of God. However, there are only two options: God exists or God does not exist. No middle ground can exist in such a case.

Moralistic Fallacy:      This fallacy is the opposite of the appeal to nature fallacy. In this fallacy, one assumes that because something should be a certain way, something is that way. For instance, one may claim that all parents will take care of their children because all parents should take care of their children. Unfortunately, not all parents do take care of their children.

RobRoyLiamNeeson_6135

No True Scotsman:     This fallacy is somewhat difficult to describe. To simplify, this fallacy avoids criticism by changing the dynamic of the argument so present the case unfalsifiable. The tenets are changed to avoid scrutiny. On http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com, a good example of this is presented, “Angus declares that Scotsmen do not put sugar on their porridge, to which Lachlan points out that he is a Scotsman and puts sugar on his porridge. Furious, like a true Scot, Angus yells that no true Scotsman sugars his porridge” (https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/no-true-scotsman).

Personal Incredulity:   This fallacy is committed when one passes off difficult concepts as inherently false because one does not understand the concept. For instance, Jimmy does not think that Thomism is a valid theological system because he does not understand the writings of Thomas Aquinas. Or, Betty does not believe in the distance of light-years because she cannot understand how light can travel at 186,000 miles per second. Therefore, a light-year must not exist.

Post Hoc Fallacy:       This fallacy is committed when one assumes that things happen after an unrelated experience. For instance, athletes participate in certain rituals before they take the field. They believe these rituals will help them perform in the game. In reality, there is no correlation. Note: some sites have claimed that the efficacy of prayer is a post hoc fallacy. However, this claim is committing several fallacies including the anecdotal and black-or-white fallacy. The author who claims that prayer is superstitious is abiding by their own preconceived notions that God does not exist. If God does exist, then it is entirely logical to expect an answer to one’s prayer. It is just as logical as expecting a person on the other end of the telephone line to respond to one’s question. Beware of sites that promote a genetic fallacy in designating that people of faith are automatically wrong because they believe in the power of God.

red-herring

Red Herring:   The red herring fallacy came from fox hunters who sent out their dogs to chase foxes only to find that their dogs were distracted by red herrings (perhaps purposely placed by opposing hunters) which led them off the trail of the fox. This is a tactic used to get a person off their point. For instance: a Christian apologist is addressing the evidence for God’s existence. Someone then asks, “What about the crusades? Don’t the evil acts performed by the Crusaders in the name of God negate God’s existence?” Obviously, the Crusades have nothing to do with the plausibility of God’s existence.

slippery slope

Slippery Slope:            This fallacy assumes that just because a person does one thing that the person will eventually do something else. For instance, some would claim that if one listens to rock music then one will become a delinquent. Or others assume if one reads any other translation other than the King James Version, one will become a flaming liberal. Obviously, the consequents do not proceed from the antecedents with the slippery slope fallacy.

Special Pleading:        This fallacy is similar to the No True Scotsman fallacy. In this fallacy, one refuses to accept that one is wrong by inventing ways in which to hold to old notions. For instance, it has been demonstrated that the Alexandrian codex is a better than the Byzantium codex for use in translating the Bible. However, for those who desire to hold to the Byzantium texts, one will claim that the Alexandrian texts were modified by cults when there is no evidence to back up such a claim. If science demonstrates something to be true, one will claim that science is faulty. These are cases of special pleading.

Straw man newspaper

Strawman:       Strawman fallacies are among one of the more popular fallacies that are employed. This fallacy misrepresents someone’s argument to make the argument easier to attack. Unfortuately, this happens far more than this writer would like to imagine. For instance, Bill might claim that Sally is a tree-hugger because she believes in global warming. Or, Brent makes Hugh out to be a Darwinist because Hugh believes in an old-earth interpretation of Genesis. These are examples of the strawman fallacy.

The Fallacy Fallacy:   This fallacy accuses a claim to be false because it is poorly argued or another fallacy has been committed. In other words, the claim is not evaluated on its own merits but by the way it was presented. Since Susan presented a poor presentation on the nutritional value of blueberries, Barbara believes that blueberries should never be eaten. Barbara has committed the fallacy fallacy.

texas-sharpshooter-by-mahbsol

The Texas Sharpshooter:        This fallacy gets its name from a sharpshooter who shoots holes in a barn and then paints a bullseye around the majority of bullet holes (Richardson 2012, http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com). The person committing this fallacy will choose data that only suits his argument or presumption. For instance, a drug company may only choose positive data that supports a drug that they are promoting without considering the negative data. Or, Zane, a statistician, evaluates the educational systems of various states. He only chooses the best schools to evaluate in his state, while choosing the worst schools in other states, in order to demonstrate that his state’s educational system is better than any other system. Zane has committed the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy.

tu-quoque

Tu Quoque:     Pronounced (too-kwoo-kee), this person committing this fallacy turns criticism back upon the critic instead of dealing with the criticism itself. It’s also called “passing the buck.” For instance, Christine’s theory is challenged by Cassandra because of a mathematical error. Christine retorted, “Oh yeah, well your last theory had two mathematical errors in it and you didn’t hear me say anything about it.” In this case, Christine was guilty of the tu quoque fallacy because she did not deal with the criticism but instead dealt with the criticism by offering criticism.

Conclusion

One may find that they have engaged in these fallacies more than on one occasion. While these logical fallacies are certainly not the unpardonable sin, they should be avoided by the one promoting truth. The Christian’s faith is built upon fact and reality. The Christian has nothing to hide. Therefore, these fallacies should be avoided as much as possible. Remember the words of Paul, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15, NIV).

 

Bibliography

Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999.

Richardson, Jesse. (2012). http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com. Accessed July 28, 2014.

Scripture marked (NASB) comes from the New American Standard Bible. La Habra: Lockman, 1995.

Scripture marked (NIV) comes from the New International Version. Grand Rapids: Biblica, 2011.

Some information taken from www.logicalfallacies.info. Accessed July 28, 2014.

© Pastor Brian Chilton. 2014.

The Apologetic Methodologies of Justin Martyr and Their Modern Applications

Dislaimer: The following is a paper submitted by Pastor Brian Chilton to Liberty University. This paper has been scanned and admitted through “Safe Assign” and will be detected by any and all accredited universities and colleges. No part of this paper may be copied and pasted into another paper without giving credit to the author. Failure to do so may, and most likely will, cause the student to be charged with plagiarism by his/her respected school. Charges of plagiarism can result in academic probation and/or expulsion. 

Justin Martyr1

Introduction

 Justin Martyr was a second-century Christian who was known for being a powerful apologist, or defender of the faith. Justin was “born by pagan parents in Samaria”[1] and “taught in Ephesus.”[2] Justin’s apologetic methods were important for the church in the second-century as Justin defended the Christian faith against enemy accusations. However, it must also be said that the field of apologetics is just as necessary in modern times as it was in the second-century. This paper will seek to survey the apologetic methods used by Justin Martyr. How did Justin do apologetics? The paper will first note the nature of apologetics and will then examine the four apologetic methods used by Justin Martyr: philosophical, historical, prophetic, and experiential.

 

The Nature of Apologetics

What is apologetics and why is it needed? William Lane Craig, arguably one of the greatest apologists of the modern time, defines apologetics as “that branch of Christian theology which seeks to provide a rational justification for the truth claims of the Christian faith.”[3] Said in another way, apologetics offers a defense for the truth claims of Christianity. Some would argue that apologetics is not necessary only the preaching of the gospel. However, nothing further could be the case. Justin Martyr saw the need to employ apologetics in the second-century because “reason directs those who are truly pious and philosophical to honour and love only what is true.”[4] But is such necessary in post-modern times? Kreeft and Tacelli argue that “Western civilization is for the first time in its history in danger of dying. The reason is spiritual…The infection killing it is not multiculturalism—other faiths—but the monoculturalism of secularism—no faith, no soul.”[5] Justin Martyr met the similar problems in the second-century that the modern Christian meets in regards to secular challenges to the faith. Although the monoculturalism that Kreeft and Tacelli mention was in a different time and with different opponents, in many ways the times were strikingly similar to that of the current so-called post-modernworld. Both societies place a high value on entertainment, culture, and religious syncretism. Therefore, one might find that the approaches employed by Justin Martyr find a strikingly similar importance in the current world. William Lane Craig would seem to agree. Craig writes that apologetics serve in three different fashions, “…Shaping Culture…Strengthening believers…Evangelizing unbelievers…”[6] If Craig is correct, then apologetics can hold a spiritual and a cultural impact on a given society. Apologetics can create bolder Christians that are more prepared to evangelize and, therefore, have an impact upon the lost. So what were the methods used by Justin Martyr?

 

Justin’s Philosophical Apologetic Methodology

Justin had a profound interest in philosophy. It was through the philosopher’s attire that caused Trypho to begin to converse with the theologian. Justin records, “While I was going about one morning in the walks of Xystus, a certain man, with others in his company, having met me, and said, ‘Hail, O philosopher…I ought not to despise or treat with indifference those who array themselves in this dress.”[7] Justin would further state that “philosophy is, in fact, the greatest possession, and most honourable before God…”[8] When a person speaks of the philosophical apologetic method, one is referring to the use of reason and logic in one’s defense of the Christian faith and “emphasizes the importance of showing that the Christian worldview is reasonable.”[9] Philosophy was important for Justin Martyr. In the second and third chapters of the Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew, Justin describes the importance that philosophy held to him by discussing the pathway that he took through several philosophies before conversion to Christianity.[10] Some scholars are skeptical concerning the historicity of Justin’s philosophical meanderings before his conversion. Troxel states that Justin’s “pilgrimage and conversion has been accused as being an idealization, a literary device and pure fiction.”[11] However, as Troxel later shows, Justin’s statements in his Acta Martydum are “consistent with his own account of passing gradually from ‘imperfect philosophies’ to the true and ‘perfect philosophy.’ Thus there is insufficient reason to deny the historical basis of Justin’s autobiography.”[12] This writer would agree. In addition, Justin’s astute reasoning skills and talents in rhetoric demonstrate one who was deeply intelligent and vastly educated. Although absolute certainty is impossible in this case, the evidence tends to favor the historicity of Justin’s historicity.

Justin’s apologetic use of philosophy opened the door for the Justin’s use of negative apologetics. Two forms of apologetics exist. Craig suggests that “Offensive apologetics seeks to present a positive case for Christian truth claims. Defensive apologetics seeks to nullify objections to those claims.”[13] Justin’s use of offensive apologetics will be examined later in the paper through the use of historical, prophetic, and experiential apologetic methods. For now, Justin’s use of negative apologetics will be addressed. Justin confronted other worldviews and exposed their weaknesses. In Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew, Justin demonstrates that Jesus is the only Savior of the world even for Jewish individuals. Justin said to Trypho,

Since I bring from the Scriptures and the facts themselves both the proofs and the inculcation of them, do not delay or hesitate to put faith in me, although I am an uncircumcised man; so short a time is left you in which to become proselytes. If Christ’s coming shall have anticipated you, in vain you will repent, in vain you will weep; for He will not hear you.[14]

Justin then used the Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible, to demonstrate the validity of the Christian faith. Thus, Justin would defend Christ as the fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures. This will be examined further in the Justin’s use of prophetic apologetics.

Justin also demonstrated the inadequacies of Greek worldviews. In Justin’s Second Apology, the apologist writes,

And those of the Stoic school—since, so far as their moral teaching went, they were admirable, as were also the poets in some particulars, on account of the seed of reason [the Logos] implanted in every race of men—were, we know, hated and put to death,—Heraclitus for instance, and, among those of our own time, Musonius and others. For, as we intimated, the devils have always effected, that all those who anyhow live a reasonable and earnest life, and shun vice, be hated.[15]

In the text, Justin uses the worldview of the Greeks pertaining to Heraclitus and Musonius to demonstrate what the Greeks held as a virtuous lifestyle. Justin would show that Christians demonstrated the very virtues that the Greeks held sacred. Justin’s usages of Greek worldviews in his arguments have led some to consider that Justin was not exclusive in his views concerning salvation through Christ. Proponents of this idea hold that Justin believed that salvation came through other means than just Jesus Christ, or, as Adam Sparks would call, a “proto-inclusivist.”[16] While Justin was not as exclusive in his salvific claims as future theologians and apologists, it is agreed with Sparks that “in referring to Socrates and others as ‘atheists’ Justin was merely stating they had something significant in common with Christians.”[17] In fact, Justin would later write in the Second Apology,

And our doctrines are not shameful, according to a sober judgment, but are indeed more lofty than all human philosophy: and if not so, they are at least unlike the doctrines of the Sotadists, and Philænidians, and Dancers, and Epicureans, and such other teachings of the poets, which all are allowed to acquaint themselves with, both as acted and as written.[18]

Justin may have been vague in his claims of Christian exclusivity; however, Justin was explicit in defending the Christian faith as the most rational and reasonable of all worldviews. As a philosopher, Justin Martyr set the standard in philosophical apologetics. Perhaps it was not in Justin’s interest to promote a deep soteriological exegesis as Justin sought to find common ground with unbelievers in order to alleviate Christian suffering.

Some object to the use of philosophy in Christian apologetics for a couple of reasons. One, some reject philosophy in Christian work due to a misinterpretation of Paul’s statement that Christians should not be “taken captive through philosophy and empty deception.”[19]However, an examination of the text demonstrates that Paul was not addressing philosophy in general, but bad philosophy. For Paul goes on to address what the philosophy being addressed involved: “tradition of men…elementary principles of the world…rather than according to Christ.”[20] So, Paul is stating that one should avoid and address bad philosophical claims.

Secondly, some object to philosophy’s use in apologetics due to the belief that faith is all that is necessary and not reason. This objection to reason fails at the outset because the objector uses reason in order to object to the use of reason. Such arguments would claim that faith and reason are greatly opposed. However, faith and reason are not enemies, but companions. Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli demonstrate that,

…faith for a Christian is faith in a God who is himself love, our lover and our beloved; and the more our hearts love someone, the more our minds want to know about our beloved. Faith naturally leads to reason through the agency of love. So faith leads to reason, and reason leads to faith…Thus reason and faith are friends, companions, wedded partners, allies.[21]

Therefore, by nature, apologetics employs the use of logic and reasoning in addition to faith. The combination of faith and reason provide a catalyst for a balanced worldview. While some proclaim faith alone as necessary, and others claim that reason alone is necessary, Kreeft and Tacelli respond by offering another model in what they call,

Partial Overlapping…Most people would agree with us that the fifth position is the most reasonable and correct one. It distinguishes three different kinds of truths:

a. truths of faith and not reason,

b. truths of both faith and reason, and

c. truths of reason and not faith.

…If this is the correct position, it follows that the Christian apologist has two tasks: to prove the propositions in class b and to answer all objections to the propositions in class a.[22]

Hence, the philosophical apologist will desire to employ reason to prepare the way for faith. Justin would do exactly that as Justin defended Christianity’s faith claims against the assaults of those from the Roman Empire (First and Second Apologies) and Orthodox Judaism (Dialogue with Trypho). It is agreed that there are some things that must be taken by faith, such as the descriptions of heaven. However, many things can be known by reason (the historical claims of the faith) and some by a combination of reason and faith (existence of God). Justin would seek to prove the propositions that involved faith and reason, or reason alone, by the other methodologies addressed.

 

Justin’s Historical Apologetic Methodology

 Justin also used what is known as the historical apologetic method. This method “stresses the historical evidence as the basis for demonstrating the truth of Christianity…Historical apologists believe that the truth of Christianity, including the existence of God, can be proven from the foundation of historical evidence alone.”[23] Justin’s use of the historical apologetic method is evidenced in his use of Christ’s historical teachings and his use of evidence for the historical Jesus.

Justin sought to clear up misconceptions that the opponents of Christianity possessed pertaining to the teachings of Christ. In chapters fourteen through fifteen of the First Apology, Justin set out to “cite a few precepts given by Christ Himself. And be it yours, as powerful rulers, to inquire whether we have been taught and do teach these things truly. Brief and concise utterances fell from Him, for He was no sophist, but His word was the power of God.”[24] Justin then gave examples of Christ’s teachings from, primarily, Matthew and Luke’s Gospels. For instance; in chapter fifteen of the First Apology, Justin quoted Matthew 5 presenting Christ’s teaching on lust and divorce; then set out to show that those who practice such things are rejected, but then accepted through Christ’s grace; and quoted Luke 6 and Matthew 6 showing the importance of love for one’s enemies and Christ’s teachings on one who works for heavenly treasures (Matthew 6:19-20).[25] In the sixteenth chapter of the First Apology, Justin continues to demonstrate the historic teachings of Jesus as Justin quotes Christ’s teaching on letting one’s works shine before God as found in Luke 6:29; and then quotes the teachings of Jesus pertaining to swearing oaths before God and working for the glory of God also from Matthew and Luke’s Gospels.[26] Thus, Justin demonstrates the historical basis for the Christian’s moral code: the teachings of the historical Jesus of Nazareth, and then by giving examples in how this code of conduct had shaped the early Christians’ lives.

Justin also used the historical apologetic method to demonstrate the historicity of Jesus’ identity. Searches for the historical Jesus have made headlines in modern times. Justin conducted a second-century search for the historical Jesus by presenting evidence that Jesus was a man of history and not an allegory. For instance, Justin points the readers of the “First Apology” to the fact that the teacher of the Christians was,

Jesus Christ, who also was born for this purpose, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judæa, in the times of Tiberius Cæsar; and that we reasonably worship Him, having learned that He is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third, we will prove. For they proclaim our madness to consist in this, that we give to a crucified man a place second to the unchangeable and eternal God, the Creator of all; for they do not discern the mystery that is herein, to which, as we make it plain to you, we pray you to give heed.[27]

Justin directs the skeptic back to a real, historic person: Jesus of Nazareth. The faith that the Christian held was based upon a person that was the object of their faith. The Romans could easily check their records and find that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed crucified under Procurator Pontius Pilate. Furthermore, Justin would also hold that this “Christ being Lord, and God the Son of God, and appearing formerly in power as Man”[28]was also the figure that appeared to many individuals at various times in the Hebrew Bible. The historical Christ was shown to be divine, and that would necessarily demonstrate the existence of God. Therefore, in contrast to the classical apologist, Justin Martyr used historical apologetics to show that Christ’s existence provides evidence for the existence of God.

 

Justin’s Prophetic Apologetic Methodology

 Justin also employed what is termed the prophetic apologetic method.  Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson describe prophetic apologetics as the quotation of “biblical prophecies as evidence of the credibility of the Christian message.”[29] Biblical prophecy is a powerful apologetic. Geisler writes that biblical prophecy is “one of the strongest evidences that the Bible is inspired by God…Unlike any other book, the Bible offers a multitude of specific predictions—some hundreds of years in advance…”[30] If the apologist can demonstrate the Bible’s predictive properties, then it can be shown to some degree that the Bible holds divine inspiration.

Justin Martyr excelled at the use of prophetic apologetics. A. Craig Troxel notes of Justin Martyr that the “form, and the content of his two Apologies, were dominated by an orientation of argumentation fitted to his audience of Jews or Greeks, stressing Old Testament fulfillment with the former, and pagan categories with the latter.”[31] In the Dialogue with Trypho, Liftin notes that Justin “offered many Christian explanations of Old Testament prophecies and defended the divinity of Christ.”[32] Justin defended well the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in Jesus in the Dialogue. For instance, in chapter thirty-three, Justin identifies Psalm 110 with Jesus; and in Dialogue chapter thirty-four, Justin identifies Psalm 72 as the king in which Solomon wrote.[33] In the fiftieth chapter of the Dialogue, Justin identifies Isaiah 40, particularly where Isaiah writes “A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God,”[34] with John the Baptist.[35] A great deal of time is spent by Justin in the Dialogue identifying Jesus with various prophecies.

Prophetic apologetics is important in connecting Jesus with the Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible. LaHaye and Hindson rightfully state that biblical prophecies are “ultimately intended to bring us to a personal point of decision and faith as well. If the Bible predicted these things would happen and they actually did happen, then we must take Jesus’ claims about Himself seriously.”[36] This form of apologetics is especially important when trying to reach those of Jewish descent. It was for this reason that Justin Martyr employed the use of prophetic apologetics in his conversation with Trypho. Trypho was Jewish and accepted the Hebrew Bible. Therefore, Justin wisely met Trypho at a point of agreement to demonstrate the veracity of the faith. It was individuals that were familiar with the Hebrew Bible that would benefit most from Justin’s prophetic apologetics.  

 

Justin’s Experiential Apologetic Methodology

Finally, Justin exercised the experiential apologetic method.  Experiential apologetics is the evidence from one’s own personal experience. One could in a sense call it eyewitness testimony. Norman Geisler defines experiential apologetics as “the form of defending the Christian faith that appeals to Christian experience as evidence for the truth of Christianity. In its appeal to internal, as opposed to external, evidence, it contrasts sharply with other apologetic systems.”[37] Some hold issues with the use of experiential apologetics. For instance, Geisler does not think that evidential apologetics “can demonstrate the truth of Christianity.”[38] Thus the Muslim could claim an experience with God just as much as the Christian and there would exist no means to decipher between the two experiences. However, experiential apologetics can demonstrate evidence by the change in character that comes from the Christian experience. Experiential apologetics is strengthened when supplemented with other more objective forms of apologetics. Justin Martyr does just that.

As noted in the previous portions of the paper, Justin implemented a variety of apologetic methods. Justin’s use of experiential apologetics heightens the defense as one sees that Justin does not merely accept Christianity as a philosophy but as a personal, intimate experience with the Risen Jesus. For instance, Justin tells Trypho,

But straightway a flame was kindled in my soul; and a love of the prophets, and of those men who are friends of Christ, possessed me; and whilst revolving his words in my mind, I found this philosophy alone to be safe and profitable. Thus, and for this reason, I am a philosopher. Moreover, I would wish that all, making a resolution similar to my own, do not keep themselves away from the words of the Saviour…If, then, you have any concern for yourself, and if you are eagerly looking for salvation, and if you believe in God, you may—since you are not indifferent to the matter—become acquainted with the Christ of God, and, after being initiated, live a happy life.”[39]

For Justin, the happiness that was experienced by the apologist was not only a philosophical peace from the intellect; it was an intimate peace stemming from a true relationship with Christ Jesus, the object of the Christian faith. The testimony of Justin makes the defense personal to his readers.

Furthermore, Justin used an experiential apologetic to describe the actions of the apologist’s Christian colleagues. In the First Apology, Justin defends the faith of the Christians in stating that “it is in our power, when we are examined, to deny that we are Christians; but we would not live by telling a lie.”[40] The reader should note the personal pronoun used by the apologist. Justin includes himself among the Christians, the race in whom the apologist sought to defend. The apologist was writing to the Roman Empire. To call such a tactic bold is an understatement. In fact the bravery of Justin is evidenced in the fact that, as Liftin states, “there is no question Justin eventually made his way to the capital city of the empire. There he served as a Christian teacher…”[41] Justin was on the front lines with the Christians. Justin was not writing books from a faraway place unengaged in the affairs of the people. In fact, the apologist was defending Christianity while waving at Rome as if to say, “Come get me if you dare. I belong to Christ.” The bravery of Justin was an experiential apologetic in and of itself.

 

Conclusion

 This paper has evaluated the apologetic methods of Justin Martyr. First, the nature of apologetics was examined and was shown to be multifaceted in his influence. Then, the four apologetic methods used by Justin Martyr were explored. It was shown that Justin Martyr used the philosophical apologetic method. As a philosopher, Justin used philosophy to defend the propositions of faith promoted by Christianity. Also, Justin would defend the reasonability of faith by using the historical apologetic method. Justin demonstrated the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth and the teachings that had impacted the Christians of his day. Justin used the prophetic apologetic method in presenting the Old Testament prophecies that found their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Finally, Justin used the experiential apologetic method in showing that Justin had an encounter with the same Jesus that was being defended. Justin also counted himself among those who were giving their lives for the faith.

The modern Christian is encouraged in this paper to employ the same methods used by Justin Martyr. The demand for apologetics is only going to increase as society becomes more and more secularized and virulent against the Christian worldview. In many ways, the modern culture greatly resembles the syncretistic culture of the Roman Empire: a culture that accepted many religions except the Christian faith. But one may ask; do Christian apologetics work? The answer is found in the final response of Trypho to Justin Martyr,

You see that it was not intentionally that we came to discuss these points. And I confess that I have been particularly pleased with the conference; and I think that these are of quite the same opinion as I myself. For we have found more than we expected, and more than it was possible to have expected. And if we could do this more frequently, we should be much helped in the searching of Scriptures themselves.[42]

It is not known whether Trypho eventually came to faith in Jesus. But, from the response given, Trypho’s life had been greatly impacted by Justin’s apologetic methods. Trypho had been searching for answers and found them in the faith of Justin Martyr. The modern Christian may find that there are Tryphos in the current culture that might be equally pleased with the information provided by the modern apologist.

  Justin_Martyr2

Note: Justin Martyr is called a “martyr” for good reason. In A.D. 165, Justin Martyr was executed by beheading in Rome. Many liturgical denominations recognize Justin Martyr on June 1st. May we all be found with the faith and reasoning capabilities of this giant of the faith: Justin Martyr.

Bibliography

 All Scripture, unless otherwise noted, comes from the New American Standard Bible. La Habra: Lockman, 1995.

Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 3rd Edition. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008.

Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999.

Kreeft, Peter and Ronald K. Tacelli. Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1994.

LaHaye, Tim and Ed Hindson, “Apologetics, Prophetic.” The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics: Surveying the Evidence for the Truth of Christianity. Edited by Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner.  Eugene: Harvest House, 2008.

Litfin, Bryan M. Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2007.

Martyr, Justin. “Dialogue of Justin with Trypho, a Jew.” In The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, Volume 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885.

___________. “The First Apology of Justin.” In The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, Volume 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885.

___________. “The Second Apology of Justin.” In The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus. Volume 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885.

Smith, Fred. “Apologetics, Philosophical.” The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics: Surveying the Evidence for the Truth of Christianity. Edited by Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner. Eugene: Harvest House, 2008.

Sparks, Adam. “Was Justin Martyr a proto-inclusivist?” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 43, 4 (September 1, 2008): 495-510. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost. (Accessed April 12, 2014).

Troxel, A. Craig. “‘All Things to All People:’ Justin Martyr’s Apologetic Method.” Fides Et Historia 27, 2 (June 1, 1995): 23-43. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerial, EBSCOhost. (Accessed April 12, 2014).

 

_____________________________________

[1] Norman L. Geisler, “Justin Martyr,” Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1999), 395.

[2] Ibid.

[3]William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 3rd Edition (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 15.

[4] Justin Martyr, “The First Apology of Justin,” in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe,  (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 163.

[5]Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1994), 23.

[6] Craig, 16-21.

[7] Justin Martyr, “Dialogue of Justin with Trypho, a Jew,” in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, eds (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 194.

[8] Ibid, 194.

[9] Fred Smith, “Apologetics, Philosophical,” The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics: Surveying the Evidence for the Truth of Christianity, Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner, eds (Eugene: Harvest House, 2008), 53.

[10] See Justin Martyr, “Dialogue of Justin with Trypho, a Jew,” 195-196.

[11]A. Craig Troxel, “‘All Things to All People:’ Justin Martyr’s Apologetic Method,” Fides Et Historia 27, 2 (June 1, 1995): 25.

[12]Ibid, 26.

[13] Craig, 23.

[14] Justin Martyr, “Dialogue of Justin with Trypho, a Jew,” 208.

[15] Justin Martyr, “The Second Apology of Justin,” in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, eds(Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 191.

[16] Adam Sparks, “Was Justin Martyr a proto-inclusivist?” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 43, 4 (September 1, 2008): 495.

[17]Ibid, 498.

[18] Justin Martyr, “The Second Apology of Justin,” 193.

[19] Colossians 2:8.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Kreeft and Tacelli, 22.

[22] Ibid, 37.

[23] Geisler, “Historical Apologetics,” Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, 316.

[24] Justin Martyr, “The First Apology of Justin,” 167.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Justin Martyr, “The First Apology of Justin,” 166–167.

[28] Justin Marytr, “Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew,” 264.

[29] Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, “Apologetics, Prophetic,” The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics: Surveying the Evidence for the Truth of Christianity, 55.

 [30] Geisler, 609.

[31] A. Craig Troxel, “‘All Things to All People:’ Justin Martyr’s Apologetic Method,” Fides Et Historia 27, 2 (June 1, 1995): 28.

[32] Liftin, Bryan M, Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2007), 59.

[33] Justin Martyr, “Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew,” 211-212.

[34]Isaiah 40:3.

[35] Justin Martyr, “Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew,” 220.

[36] LaHaye and Hindson, 58.

[37] Geisler, 235.

[38] Ibid, 237.

[39] Justin Martyr, “Dialogue of Justin with Trypho, a Jew,” 198.

[40] Justin Martyr, “The First Apology of Justin,” 165.

[41] Liftin, 60.

[42] Justin Martyr, “Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew,” 270.

Loving God with the Mind: Evaluating Truth Claims with Simple Logic

Love God with mind     When one thinks about loving God, emotional worship is probably the first thing to come to mind. Perhaps it is a view of people shimmying and shaking. Maybe it is a different view. Maybe it is a view of someone giving of themselves to God self-sacrificially. Have you ever considered that you are instructed to love God with your mind? When asked, Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38, NIV). How does one love God with the mind? Well, studying God’s word is the first and most important way. Second to the Bible, it is important for a Christian to know how to think logically. Geisler states, “Logic is correct and clear thinking” (Geiser, “261. Why is Logic So Important,” One Minute Apologist Interview). So, if logic is correct and clear thinking and the Bible is true, then it would be biblical to think logically. While it is fully endorsed that the Christian takes a class in logic if available, one does not need to know all the ins an outs of logic to think logically. Remembering the three key laws of logic will greatly help everyone think more logically.

Law of Identity: (p = p)

The law of identity simply states that something is what it is. This is a classic line from losing football coaches, “It is what it is.” Well, this is the law of identity. If you claim something is a tree, for it to be true, it must actually be a tree. Everything has an identity. You have an identity and that identity is categorized by your name. You have distinct characteristics that no one else in history possesses or ever will possess.

When it comes to Christianity, many misunderstand the God in the Bible. Sometimes, some will see God has having human attributes. In the Bible, there are many anthropomorphisms (adding human characteristics to something not-human). For instance, a writer may speak of the “hands of God” or the “eyes of God.” Jesus tells us that God is spirit, so God could not possess those finite attributes. This does not mean that the Bible is wrong, it just means that the analogy is not to be taken literally. Many unbelievers misunderstand God. They see God as a “God of the gaps” or a kind of explanation as the gods of Greek and Norse folklore were. However, they do not understand that God is a necessary being for all things to exist. For the Christian, it is most important to get an accurate view and understanding of God. Doctrines like the Person of God, the Trinity, the Person and work of Jesus Christ, the Person of the Holy Spirit, salvation, the resurrection of Christ, and other issues must be understood historically and biblically. Spiritual principles like the promises of God and the church’s place in Christ needs to be understood. When one does, it will be found that God is far greater than one could ever imagine and their purpose is far more important than they could ever imagine.

This is also important in identifying truth claims in opposing worldviews. One classic blunder of atheists is that many atheists do not claim that their belief system is a “belief” or a “religion.” However, it is funny that many atheists will create clubs…and even some atheist churches…to promote their agenda. But, in the end, they are promoting a “belief”…something that they hold true. The law of identity can come in handy in helping one understand their own belief system and the belief systems of others.

Law of Non-Contradiction: (p = p) ≠ (p = ~p)

The law of non-contradiction simply states that something cannot both be and not be. For instance, one cannot claim, “The old tree is a bird.” Well, it is easy to see that this statement is nonsensical. A tree cannot be a bird. Either the thing is a bird or it is a tree, but it cannot be both. In professional wrestling, there is a phrase that is used that is nonsensical “the squared circle.” Well, which is it? Is it a square or is it a circle?

It is important for the believer to have a firm grasp on the essentials of the faith to prevent contradictory claims to enter in their belief system. Unfortunately, many times believers adhere more to community, family, or personal traditions more than they do the truth. For instance, I once heard a person who adamantly holds to the King James Version say, “The King James Version is the Bible that Paul read.” This is a HUGE blunder of EPIC proportions. For one, the King James Version did not come about until 1611 A.D. The Apostle Paul was executed in 67 A.D. Subtracting the latter from the former leaves one with a difference of 1,544 years. Furthermore, Paul wrote many of the letters contained in the New Testament. So, how could Paul have originally read a letter that he is purported to write in a language that he did now speak. Even worse, English had not come about in the first century. Like Jesus before him, Paul would have spoken and wrote in Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek. The New Testament was written in Greek. The Hebrew Bible was originally written in Hebrew and translated into Greek for the Septuagint (or LXX) which Paul, like many apostles, read and quoted. So, can you begin to see the contradiction? Nothing against the King James Version, but the claim that the King James Bible is the only Bible is a contradictory claim and must be avoided by those who seek to stand for the truth.

A firm understanding of the second law of logic can make a Christian dangerous to opposing worldviews. As Norman Geisler said, “You get your life cleaned up…and your mind cleared up…and you’re dangerous” (Geisler, “261. Why is Logic So Important,” One Minute Apologist). This is so mainly because the intellectual Christian will be able to diagnose truth claims. Many self-refuting statements exist in our day and time. One such claim is, “There is no truth.” The problem with the statement is that the statement is a truth claim. The person is claiming as truth that there is no truth. Well, if truth does not exist, then the statement must be false. Or if there is truth, then the statement is still false because truth does exist. Or what about the claim, “It’s all relative.” Really? Well, the proponent of that claim is objectively stating that everything is relative. It does not work. Or what about the claim used by a recent commentator, “You guys shouldn’t judge Miley Cyrus!” Well, the commentator is guilty of the same crime that he is accusing others. He is judging others for judging Miley Cyrus. It doesn’t work. Lawrence Krauss has committed a philosophical error in logic by proclaiming that nothing brought forth something. However, Krauss’ “nothing” is not really “nothing.” His “nothing” consists of vacuums, particles, and the like. But, vacuums, particles, and the like are not “nothings,” they are “somethings.” Do you see the picture?

Law of Excluded Middle: p V ~p

The law of excluded middle states that something must either be or not be and it must be one or the other. You must make a decision according to the truth. I am not one who enjoys conflict. I am a peacemaker. I had rather see peace than war. However, when it comes to matters of truth, ethics, and the like, a firm stance must be taken. A choice must be made.

For instance, consider the following conundrums: a student wishes to take biology and sociology for her final class in college. Biology and history are the only two courses available to her and there is one spot left. She signed up for sociology but needs biology to graduate. She must make a decision as she only needs one more accredited course and both classes are at the same time slot. No other classes for the courses are available, so she must make a decision: take biology and graduate OR take sociology and delay her graduation. Which is it? She cannot take sociology and claim that she took biology. No decision will be a decision in favor of sociology and a delayed graduation.

Or consider a man who lives on the mainland, but had to take a ferry to an island to get some medicine for his ailing wife. He desperately needs to get to the mainland to take the medication to his ailing wife. The last ferry leaves in 10 minutes. He either buys a ticket and steps on the ferry or he does not. There are consequences to his actions either way, but he must make a choice.

Many Christians seek to take an ecumenical view for world religions. Some will claim, “All religions are the same.” But is this true? Some religions are theistic (believe in a God), others are atheistic (do not believe in God). Can they all be true? If the theistic religions are true, then the atheistic religions are not…and vice versa. What about Jesus? Is He God incarnate? If Jesus is the Son of God, then Christianity is true. If He isn’t, then Christianity is not true. It must be one or the other. If Jesus is the Son of God, then claims that He is not are deemed false. One must make a decision, but don’t hand down this poppycock about all world religions being true. It is not possible. Just as it is not true that all worldviews are essentially true.

for god so love the world

Conclusion:

Is it important to love God with the mind? Absolutely! If one stands upon the truth of Jesus Christ, one has a firm foundation on which to stand. If, however, one stands upon the foundation of human and community traditions and perceptions, one may find that the ground is not so stable. The truth may not win a person many friends. You may be viewed as “that old know-it-all.” If so, you are in good company. The Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles were ostracized for standing for the truth.

Understand however, that such a logic and understanding comes with a huge responsibility. One must be humble and loving whilst standing for the truth. No greater example can be found than in the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus was loving, kind, approachable, and compassionate. Yet, He did not back down from proclaiming the truth. For it was Jesus who said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32, NIV).

Bibliography

All scripture, unless otherwise noted, comes from The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011.

Geisler, Norman. “261. Why is Logic So Important.” Video. The One Minute Apologist. Edited and hosted by Bobby Conway. http://oneminuteapologist.com/searchpage#philosophy. Accessed November 11, 2013.