I began teaching self defense in 1964. I did it because I saw the need to help people gain confidence in their ability to deal with bullies or criminals. I had been the victim of bullying as a child and martial arts gave me the confidence to stand up to people who tried to hurt or intimidate me. 47 years later, I am still teaching people for the same reason. Bullies and criminals are still among us.
I began teaching faith defense in 1971 for a similar reason, except that I was the one who had done the bullying. I was an atheist who used the bully pulpit of a radio talk show to attack anyone who believed in the existence of God. Finding out that God did exist and loved me changed my life forever. From that point on, my desire has been to tell atheists, agnostics and other unbelievers about God and His love for them and to help Christians know how to share Christ with them. That’s the purpose of FaithAndSelfDefense.com – to support and encourage Christians in their ministries and to reach the lost with the wonderful message of God’s love for them.
Talking with atheists and agnostics is more than just a “ministry” that some Christians are called to do (e.g. pastors, evangelists, apologists). For many Christians, talking with atheists and agnostics is what they do every day because members of their family or their neighbors or co-workers are skeptics and scoffers. Having a personal relationship with an atheist or agnostic makes faith defense personal – and that’s the way it should be. Each of us needs to be prepared to give an answer (“defense”) to everyone we know about the spiritual hope we have in Christ. (1 Peter 3:15)
We now come to the part of our study where we look at some of the answers (apologia) we can give atheists and agnostics about why we believe in the existence of God – without quoting from the Bible. I personally believe that sharing God’s Word with atheists and agnostics is vital to their salvation, but you may have to spend time sharing defenses from outside Scripture to help them see the importance of hearing from God Himself. I am not suggesting you don’t talk with unbelievers from the Scriptures, but these are some ways to continue your apologia if they won’t listen to God’s Word. Some of you may have a parent or grandparent or child or aunt or uncle or cousin or spouse who will not listen when you try to prove God’s existence from the Bible. Does that mean you can’t have an important discussion with them about God? No, it just means you may have to change the way you talk with them until they become open to hearing what God says from His Word.
An apologia is the verbal argument belonging to the defense – the one accused. Making an argument in defense of something does not mean you are “arguing” with someone. It means you are presenting verbal evidence and testimony in defense of the one accused. There are many such arguments Christians can share in defense of the existence of God. Here are some examples we’ll cover in upcoming studies. These are some of the arguments shared with me when I was an atheist before I was open to hearing what God had to say from His Word. I pray these are helpful to you as well.
- The Cosmological Argument
- The Teleological Argument
- The Law of Causality
- The Laws of Thermodynamics
- The Moral Law Argument
We will spend several studies looking at these various arguments and how to use them when talking with atheists and agnostics, but I first want to spend a few minutes with you sharing a powerful argument from the Bible. This is to help Christians understand the inner workings of an atheist. Atheists probably won’t listen to this argument – at first – so, it’s just for Christians at this point.
The belief in God is intuitive – “what may be known of God is manifest in them.” Everyone is born with an intuition about God, but it’s often replaced by the futility of heart and mind. Here’s the context of Paul’s statement concerning what people know.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” Romans 1:18-23
That’s atheists, agnostics, pantheists and polytheists in a nutshell. They suppress the truth in the sphere of unrighteousness. The truth is that God does exist as the Supreme Being and the proof of that is through the Creation of the world. God’s invisible attribute are clearly seen through Creation – “being understood by the things that are made.” Those invisible attributes include His eternal power and Godhead. So, why don’t atheists believe? They “became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” And it’s not just atheists and agnostics. It’s also pantheists and polytheists – “professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.”
This is important to remember when you talk with an atheist or agnostic or any other scoffer or skeptic. The truth of God’s existence – His invisible attributes – are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. Just because someone says they do not believe in God does not mean they “cannot” or “will not” believe in God. It just means that at that moment – when you are talking with them – they are suppressing Truth. That means they are very close to knowing the Truth. When I talk with unsaved people, I know how close they are to being saved. They are the ones Jesus came to find – and He is finding many of them. Pray to the God of Creation that He will shine the Light of His Truth on their futile thoughts and foolish hearts and bring them to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
With that Biblical insight from God, we’ll look at some of the extra-biblical arguments Christians can use when sharing with skeptics and scoffers. In our next study, we’ll look at the Cosmological Argument.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”