TiO 45 – {Un}Apologetic – Existence

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The Main Idea

Apologetics, reasoned arguments in defence of something, are not just for professional theologians. The ability to have a reason for what you believe is fundamental to belief itself. This week Todd began a series called {un}Apologetic. This week began with the question of existence: Where did we, and everything else, come from? His answer, ultimately, everything came from God.

Warm Up Questions: (Choose 1 or 2)

Q1: It has been said that a cultured person should never talk about religion, politics, or how much money they make. What do you think about that?

Q2: How would you describe the world view (life philosophy) of your parents?

Q3: What is the difference between and apology and a defence?

Dig a Little Deeper

Answers. We all want them. And, when it comes to the fundamental questions of life, we all have them, we just don’t always articulate them very well. Here is what the apostle Peter says about answers:

Read 1 Peter 3:13-17

In this verse is the Greek word apologia, speaking in defence, appears. From this, and from historical circumstance, came a way of thinking and talking that was called apologetics. That is, being prepared to be able to answer the questions that those people outside of Christianity were asking about our ideas, beliefs, and practices.

Q1: In 1 Peter 3:13-17, what is Peter specifically referring to when he talks about being able to “offer a defence”?

It is important to understand that apologetics as a discipline is important, but what overarches any discussion with people who do not share our faith, our world view, or our morality, is the idea that Peter does not tell us to know about science, or philosophy, or have answers to all the objections of humanists and atheists. Instead, what Peter tells us is that we need to be able to talk about why we have hope (1Pet3:15) and to be able to do that with “gentleness and reverence” (1Pet3:16). Those two ideas underpin everything that is going to be taught in this apologetics series. Apologetics is not about winning. It is not even about convincing other people. It is about defending your hope and about doing so in a way that is gentle to others and shows them respect.

It is also important that any defence you give must give the same gentleness and respect to those within your own faith community. Because we do not all believe the same things. Even when the Bible seems to make the answers clear. Let’s take on the first question, “Where did everything come from?”

Read Genesis 1:1-5

For many, this is very straightforward. It is an account of how God created the world. After all, that is how it begins: “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was formless and void ….”

If the Bible is true, and we know that it is, then this must be true. But the debate comes in the question of what this true statement is trying to tell us. Is it trying to tell us that God made the world or how God made the world? Different Christians have different ideas about this.

Q2: Without a huge debate in your group, take a poll. How many of you would say that Genesis is a scientific account of how God made the world and how many would say that Genesis is telling us that God is responsible for (and has authority over) everything in the world?

In any given group of Christians, and probably in your group, there are people who fall on one or the other side of this question and some who would say that both statements are kind of true. That is okay because in the end the answer to this question is not an answer to your hope. Your hope is found in Jesus. And, in all things, in all debates, in all questions, your responsibility is gentleness and respect.

In his sermon, Todd talked about three pieces of evidence that God is the start of all things in the Universe. Here they are:

  • The Universe is an effect (a result). In every other situation that we can observe effects must have causes. If a ball flies through the air we can look to the reason for its movement.
  • The Universe is a fine-tuned machine. If we look at the fundamental forces which bind the Universe together, of any of them were even slightly adjusted, the Universe as we know it would cease to exist (or would never have existed at all).
  • We look around societies and see consistent threads of morality. It makes the most sense that this consistency comes from outside of these societies and was not developed from within them.

There are many other pieces of logical evidence that God exists, but these are three. Just as an aside: these things are not scientific evidence because we cannot test them in a lab to prove our conclusions, so we call them logical evidence, because they make sense to us.

Q3: What do you think of this evidence? Is it sufficient to convince you that God is responsible for everything that exists in the world? What other pieces of evidence do you see of God as creator?

Read Romans 1:16-20 together.

Todd concluded with Romans 1. While science and speculation may be able to answer some of the great questions of the world, it can never answer the question of our reconciliation with God, only the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ can do that.

Next Steps

Apologetics can be intimidating. We feel as though we need all the answers and need to be able to win debates with people.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • It is not about winning and losing, but about listening to the stories that other people would tell you.
  • You need to be able to give an answer to questions of your hope in Jesus not science or philosophy
  • In any conversation with someone who has a different view of the world or a specific topic than you have (even if that view seems crazy) your primary obligation is gentleness and reverence. Because, in the end, that is going to be far more convincing than winning a debate or making them back down.

Q1: Are there aspects to your faith walk where you are unsure of why you believe what you believe? What are they?

Q2: Are there people in your life who you would say about: “I need to change my focus from debate to gentleness and reverence”? Talk about them, if you are comfortable doing that.

Pray together for confidence, wisdom, and for gentleness and reverence with people who you do not agree with.

The Depth (for optional study)

In this section we are providing an in-depth look into the scriptures that the message came out of. There are two critical steps in good interpretation of the Bible. First, we try to understand what the author meant when he wrote the words and how that would have been applied by the original audience. Second, we then take the principles that the original author was trying to get across to his audience and we apply those principles to our own lives. You may want to read some of these passages yourself and/or have people in your group read them together.

1 Peter 3:13-17

Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.

Genesis 1:1-5

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Romans 1:16-20

For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.”

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; ….

Resources

Here are links to some of the videos that were played during the sermon (some of these are the full context of some snippets that were played during the message):

Here are references to some reading material you might find helpful:

An Atheist and a Christian Walk Into a Bar – Dr. Randall Rauser

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