Skeptics ask many different questions, and it is hard to know how to respond to each of these questions. That is not because Christianity is incapable of answering them, but rather, it is because no one can be an expert in everything. While we may know the answers to some of the questions, very few people are able to answer all of them without extensive research.
I also believe that having the right answers to the skeptic’s questions does little good for the skeptic asking the questions. The majority of the time, their mind is already made up, and what they are attempting to do, by asking the questions, is to poke holes in your faith. They are not interested in your answers, they are interested in getting you to walk away from Jesus.
The primary value of apologetics, in my opinion, is to provide people of faith with credible reasons for their faith. Sometimes these reasons will convince a nonbeliever about the truth of the Gospel, but most of the time they will help people of faith know that their faith is solid.
In a world full of skeptics, the most important apologetic that we can have, is not having all the answers to their questions, but truly living a life of faith. This is what converted thousands of people from paganism during the first two centuries. Rodney Stark in his book The Rise of Christianity wrote:
Let me state my thesis: Central doctrines of Christianity prompted and sustained attractive, liberating, and effective social relations and organizations.
I believe that it was the religion’s particular doctrines that permitted Christianity to be among the most sweeping and successful revitalization movements in history. And it was the way these doctrines took on actual flesh, the way they directed organizational actions and individual behavior, that led to the rise of Christianity. (p. 211, bold emphasis mine)
The evidence that convinced a skeptical world in the first two centuries was a Church that actually lived out what they said they believed. When Christians put actual flesh on their beliefs it makes all the difference in the world.
I am not saying that we don’t need to know the reasons why faith in Jesus Christ is valid and true. What I am saying is that what is needed to convince most of the world of Christianity are Christians actually living lives of faith, rather than well crafted arguments for God’s existence and the truth of Christianity.
Having spent time reading different atheist blogs and books the last few years, I have become convinced that no matter what proof you offer a skeptic it will never be good enough. Why is that? I think most of the time it comes down to pride. In Luke 18:24-25 Jesus taught that it was difficult for a rich man to be part of the Kingdom because of the pride and trust he had in his wealth. Similarly, it becomes difficult for a man who relies on his intelligence and degrees to enter the Kingdom, because of the pride and trust he takes in what he knows.
In addition to pride there are various other reasons why people reject Jesus and his way of life. C. S. Lewis wrote; “To some, God is discoverable everywhere; to others, nowhere” (The Joyful Christian; p. 6). No amount of evidence will be enough for the person who refuses to acknowledge the possibility of God’s existence and Jesus’ resurrection.
Remember, we will not silence Christianity’s critics with a war of words. We can debate with people until we are blue in the face, but if their only interest is in poking holes in our faith, then all our well reasoned arguments will do little good. I think this is what Jesus meant when he said not to throw pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6).
Ultimately, what will silence Christianity’s critics, and what will truly authenticate the Gospel, are people who are living by faith. This is what Peter tells us to do. It is also the historically proven way to evangelize and defend the way of Jesus.
The very best evidence that Christianity is true is the way Christians live their lives. Consider what your life is saying to a skeptical world.
Questions to consider:
- Have you ever faced a question from a skeptic that you did not know how to answer? What did you do?
- Have you encountered a person who seemed more interested in tearing down your faith than in listening to the reasons why you believe?
- What is the apologetic and evangelistic value of living a life of faith?