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Posted: June 18, 2010 12:00 a.m.

Parson to Person: Foundations in Apologetics

At Gateway we have been in a series on Sunday nights entitled "Foundations in Apologetics" and produced by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Apologetics does not mean we are apologize for what we believe, but rather that we are defending what we believe. The Bible says, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect," (1 Peter 3:15, NIV). That is what apologetics is.

How does one defend faith? Isn't faith the opposite of reason? A blind leap in the dark? Certainly there are those whose faith flies in the face of evidence; those whose minds are made up and you can't confuse them with the facts so to speak. Such faith is not the faith of the Bible, nor is it the faith of Christianity. Christians are not called to crucify reason on the basis of feeling: Just the opposite, Biblical faith begins with an examination of the evidence that exists, calls us to a decision regarding the object of our trust (we don't have faith in faith alone), and only then moves us to make a personal decision about the faith. In fact, the eyewitnesses to Jesus' life, death, and resurrection wrote, "For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty," (2 Peter 1:16, ESV).

There are those of course who question the Scriptures, denying that they contain any accurate information regarding Jesus. These critics go to great lengths to rewrite those portions of Scriptures that they happen to disagree with. It always amazes me that such people would want to have anything to do with the throughly denuded Christ they seek to present. The modern image they champion is no where near the historical figure they claim to seek. Yet, these modern deconstructionists have the audacity to claim that it is believers who refuse to face facts. The truth of the matter is, there is more evidence for the accuracy and genuineness of the Scriptures than exists for any other ancient book. Yes, I have faith, but it is a reasonable faith.

Perhaps an illustration will help put my argument into perspective. While I cannot vouch for the historical accuracy of the event I am about to describe, I am told that it is in fact a true story. The setting is a burning Chicago apartment building. The building is fully engulfed in flames, the fire-department has not yet arrived on the scene and a group of spectators have gathered to watch in horror as a young boy stands perched on a second story ledge, fire coming from windows on either side of him.

Below stands a large Chicago Police officer trying to coax the boy to jump to the safety of his arms. The building so involved that the wall was showing signs of giving way. But the terrified boy stands plastered to the building's exterior bricks, refusing to budge.

Suddenly through the crowd comes a frail looking bi-speckled man who stands about 5'4" and weighs about 120 pounds. He is dwarfed next to the 6'6" 280 pound officer beside him. But to everyone's amazement, when the little man extends his arms and says, "Jump, I'll catch you," the boy immediately and without hesitation launched himself into the little man's arms.

A reporter observing this, decided to find out why the boy would jump to the smaller man but refuse to budge for the larger policeman. The policeman obviously had the physical ability to rescue the boy, while the smaller man's ability was questionable. The answer soon became clear to the reporter when he discovered that the smaller man was the boy's father.

Faith, led the boy to leap. But it wasn't a blind leap of chance - he proved that he wasn't about to do that by refusing to jump into the officer's arms. Yes, he had faith when he left his perch, but his faith was based upon the facts he knew about his father. He knew his father wouldn't let him down, and based upon what he knew he was willing to step out into what he didn't know with compete confidence.

The same is true for the believer. Yes, ultimately we must make a step of faith - a leap of faith if you prefer. But our leap of faith is far less of a chance than anyone might realize. You see the Father has proven his love for us by sacrificing his Son so that anyone who will put their trust in Jesus, will in fact be rescued from the certain disaster we face. The Bible puts it this way: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us," (Romans 5:8, NIV).

Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. He can be heard Thursdays on the radio on WMVV 90.7 (FM) at 8:30 p.m.

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