This morning my husband. Mike, and a friend introduced a new adult Sunday School class to our church. Since we moved to Montana, we have made our home in a church that has adult Sunday School classes. We are so excited to have the option since the churches we have attended before never had classes due to schedule or facility. The opportunity to connect with people in our church and learn a bit more has been great! This class is a new concept for the church: Christian Apologetics.
The class description went something like this: Do you want to grow in your ability to graciously defend and articulate your faith? Would you like to study more about why the Christian faith is reasonable and defensible so you can speak confidently about it with your peers at work or in the classroom? Join us in a new discussion-based Sunday School class starting January 12. The class will begin with C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity which will be available to all who commit to participating.
Can you believe that 28 people showed up for that class this morning! We were absolutely amazed to see that many people anxious to learn. We went around the room to see what brought everyone to the class. The answers were as different as the people, but in general they had family, friends, or co-workers they wanted to impact for Christ or they wanted to be able to stand up for their own beliefs. There were people in the class from age 14 to 72!
So many mentioned how they especially wanted to “graciously defend” their faith. The theme verse for the class is 1 Peter 3:15-16, “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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” This captures the essence of apologetics and that gracious defense.
Part of the reason that we moved from Western Washington to a Montana university town was because Mike had grown weary in his old job, but the other reason had to do with apologetics. The study of the defense of the Christian faith is something he had worked into because he enjoyed it, but also because he noticed there was a great need for Christians to think more deeply about their beliefs. He has a heart for those students that leave their Christian homes to go to college and lose their faith because they are fooled into believing that their values are not reasonable.
I share this with you in relation to Public on Purpose because the need and desire in that Sunday School class reflect just how much we need to be building up our children while we have a chance so they can stand their ground.
The 14-year-old that attended the class is in 8th grade and has a boy that is insistent in fiercely challenging her beliefs in front of everyone. She wants to be a good influence, but doesn’t know how to make her case. I wasn’t sure what she would think of a class filled with so many older than her, but she loved it. She was hungry for the skills that were introduced.
Mike talked about the four aspects of Apologetics that we will work to learn in the class. They come from the article titled, “What is Apologetics” by Ken Boa from the Apologetics Study Bible. These are also the things that you can work to impart on your children to prepare them for their journey through public school.
A Positive Case
Through my husband’s journey into Apologetics, I have learned so much myself. I listen to the podcasts and read the books he recommends. I am blown away by the many deep and convincing reasons I have heard that support the Christian world view. I was a raised a Christian and love the Lord with all my heart, but I have not been able to share that effectively with others when they have doubts or are misguided. As I learn more, I can see that there are so many ways to build a foundation with strong philosophical, scientific, and historic reasons to believe.
Make a Defense
Apologetics comes from the word “apologia” in Greek, which means defense. The idea here is that we can clarify what the Christian world view is and show that it is a credible.
People have reasons they stand by their own non-Christian beliefs. We can learn how to show those reasons are not credible. We can discover tactics to graciously refute those arguments.
The ultimate goal we should all have is not to argue for the sake of argument, but in hopes that others would see the beauty of the true Gospel of Christ and apply it to their own lives. The application of the truth is the ultimate goal.
I can’t wait to learn these skills with my new friends in our class! The need is so great. I’m happy that my own 14-year-old daughter is thinking about joining us next week.
Mike has a ton of great resources that he uses to grow deeper in his understanding of the defense of the Christian faith. One that I find easy to follow and very applicable is a podcast by Greg Koukl from Stand to Reason at STR.org. The book I’m currently reading (that Mike recommended) is called “Tactics” by the same guy. There are other great resources out there and if you are interested in specific questions, I’m sure Mike will share where he’s found the best information. Just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.
You’ll likely have work to do to pass these important skills on to your children. Many blessings on your mission!