Last time, I noted that the best way of dealing with the issue of people departing from the faith is to create an atmosphere of apologetics within the church, this is not original with me, Ken Ham discussed this in his book Already Gone. But one of the real difficulties in apologetics is getting started. A lot of people think to learn apologetics you have to dedicate yourself to learning long, logical arguments for the faith and be prepared to handle every objection one might raise against the Christian faith. It is true that there are complicated elements in apologetics, just as there are in any course of study. We need specialists – the apologetic equivalent to special forces. Yet there is a difference between creating a culture of apologetics experts in the church and a culture where believers are familiar with certain elements of apologetics. There is no need for a believer to feel he must dive into the deep-end, its ok to start from the shallows.
But where does someone start? This is the tough part. What many people don’t realize is that there are multiple approaches to answering questions, some people see these approaches as “competing” schools of thought, but I tend to view them as complementary. Different approaches to apologetics have different strengths and weaknesses; different approaches will appeal to different people. One possible strength would be the easiness by which someone can start understanding that approach.
Many of the introductory books on apologetics, in my opinion are diving into the depths. I have a great appreciation for William Lane Craig and the “classical” apologists who make the case first that God exists, and then that Christianity is true, but I don’t think this is the best place to start (though I believe it is a great place to grow); the classical approach is moving into the deep end. Instead, I think the easiest place to start is with a school named “Historicist,” or “Evidentialist;” this approach focuses on the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the evidentiary basis of Christianity, because of this, for someone who has been a believer for a while, this builds on familiar ground.
Here are a few works worth looking into to get started:
My own work, The Positive Case for Christ follows the approach laid down from Gary Habermas, which focuses on the minimal facts of Christianity, but I try to make some introductory statements on the value of the gospels overall, as well as a brief discussion of the major heart objection, the question of miracles. This is a work in progress available on Kindle, and it will be free from the 09-22-15 until 9-26-15.
J. Warner Wallace Cold Case Christianity – Wallace is a former atheist, and a cold case detective. While an atheist he began to see glimpses of the gospels and realized the sounded like the eyewitness accounts he used in reconstructing crime. Over a period of time, Wallace came to Christianity, and this book tells his story. This work is not as technically oriented as the others, but it meets people, “where they live.” The book is warm and engaging. He is probably the best “starting” place of all the books I’m listing here.
Lee Strobel The Case for Christ and The Case for the Real Jesus– Strobel, like Wallace was an atheist, but took an interest in Christianity after his wife’s conversion. Strobel was a journalist who applied his research skills to the New Testament. Strobel’s first book The Case for Christ presents the case, focusing on discussions of the source material, the gospels, and their value. The Case for the Historical Jesus fills in details involving objections that grew in popularity sine Strobel’s first book.
Tim Chaffey In Defense of Easter My friend, Tim Chaffey, works for Answers in Genesis, and has a book on the resurrection entitled In Defense of Easter. The previous books were written for unbelievers and believers alike. While Tim’s Chaffey’s book is aimed at both believers and unbelievers alike, where he excels is with preparing believers. He brings forward, in lay language, the essential arguments (with his own refinements) of Gary Habermas in defending the resurrection.
All of these men have additional apologetic works as well. So where does one go after the resurrection? Well that will be a subject for another time, but I would focus on your individual interests.