At the center of every world view is what might be called the “touchstone proposition” of that world view, a proposition that is held to be the fundamental truth about reality and serves as a criterion to determine which other propositions may or may not count as candidates for belief.
“Apologetics” does not mean saying you’re sorry for being a Christian. Christians are not called on to apologize for believing in God, the trustworthiness of the Bible, the reality of miracles, and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ that saves sinners from final judgment. “The Greek word apologia (from which we derive the English word ‘apologetics') denotes a speech made in defense, a reply (especially in the legal context of a courtroom) made to an accusation. The word originated in the judicial operations of ancient Athens, but the word occurs several times in the New Testament as well."
Some claim that Christians should not be involved in arguments about the Christian faith. Support for this opinion cannot be made by appealing to the Bible. There are numerous accounts in the New Testament where such defenses-arguments-are made, even though there was a high price to pay. The apostles defended the faith and were beaten and imprisoned for their efforts (Acts 4). Stephen defended the faith, and his own countrymen stoned him to death (Acts 7). Paul offered his defense of Christianity before Greek philosophers (Acts 17:22B34), his fellow-Jews (Acts 22B23), and Roman civil officials (Acts 24B26). He was ready and eager to defend the faith before Caesar himself (Acts 25:11, 32).
Christian apologists give reasons as to why they believe what they know is true. The audiences may vary-genuine seekers, skeptics, or hostile unbelievers-but the message and starting point are the same. The apologist’s job, like a lawyer who stands before a judge and jury, is to present sound arguments that testify to the truth. Like the physicist, who assumes the laws of physics to do physics, and the logician, who assumes the laws of logic to do logical analysis, the Christian assumes the existence of God, otherwise there is no way to account for the cosmos and the way it works, including its physical, logical, and moral attributes. This is the biggest problem for atheists. They are working within the confines of a cosmos that they can’t account for. Consequently, they continue to borrow from the Christian worldview to prop up their impossible fairy tale world.
The apologist cannot use himself as the foundational standard or even the supposed expert opinion of others. Furthermore, the Christian apologist must recognize that his opponent is not the final arbiter of truth. We should never entertain the thought that our philosophical foes are the judge and jury in determining whether God is just and His Word is true. Our task is not to present the Christian faith as a debatable hypothesis, a study in probability, or just one religious option among many. We should never say, “You be the judge.”
In a biblical defense of the Christian faith, God is not the one on trial. How can a finite, fallible, and fallen being ever be a competent judge of eternal things? How is it possible that the creature can legitimately question the Creator? God asks Job: “Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves God answer it” (Job 40:1). Job responded, knowing the limitations of his own nature, the only way he could: “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to Thee? I lay my hand on my mouth” (40:4). God asks Job a series of questions that demonstrate how limited he is in knowledge and experience. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth!,” God inquires. “Tell Me, if you have understanding” (38:4). Job was trying to figure out the world and the way it works based on his own limited frame of reference. This is an impossible task.
The Christian apologist is not given the option to adopt a neutral position when defending the faith. (Atheists certainly aren’t neutral.) Neutrality assumes that man and God are on an equal footing. Christians are commanded not to “answer a fool according to his folly.” Why? We’ll be “like him” in his misguided assumptions and be classified a fool (Prov. 26:4). The Bible assumes that worldviews based on premises that are contrary to the Bible are foolishness. This is why Scripture states emphatically, without apology, that the professed atheist is a “fool” (Ps. 14:1; 53:1). How can an insignificant creature who is smaller than an atom when compared to the vastness of the universe be dogmatic about anything? There’s not much maneuvering room here. If we abandon the governing assumptions of the Christian worldview from the start and argue from a supposed neutral starting point, we place ourselves in the same category as the atheist, all in the name of “defending the Christian faith”!
Of course, the unbeliever doesn’t like to hear this. It means that he is not in control and is made out to be dumber than a post. It’s no wonder that Paul explains the reality of unbelieving thought in stark and uncompromising terms:
For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Greeks foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Cor. 1:18-25).
An apologetic methodology that claims a Christian should be “open,” “objective,” and “tolerant” of all opinions when he defends the faith is like a person who hopes to stop a man from committing suicide by taking the hundred-story plunge with him, hoping to convince the lost soul on the way down. No one in his right mind would make such a concession to foolishness. But Christians do it all the time when they adopt the operating presuppositions of unbelieving thought as if they were neutral assumptions about reality.
While the Bible maintains that the Christian apologist is prohibited from adopting the starting point of unbelieving thought, he is encouraged to show the unbeliever the end result of his foolish philosophical principles if they are followed to their consistent end. As defenders of the only true faith, we are to “answer a fool as his folly deserves, lest he be wise in his own eyes” (Prov. 26:5). That is, we are to put the unbeliever’s worldview to the test, showing how absurd it is when followed consistently. A world without God and moral absolutes leads to despair and moral anarchy. For example, Ted Turner, founder of CNN, is a good example of when he said the following about the Ten Commandments: “We’re living with outmoded rules. The rules we’re living under [are] the Ten Commandments, and I bet nobody here even pays much attention to ‘em, because they are too old. . . . Nobody around likes to be commanded.”
Does Ted Turner really believe that laws against theft (the eighth commandment) and murder (the sixth commandment) are “outmoded rules”? I wonder how he would respond if he had been scammed by the Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff. An outdated law, indeed! What if one of his children had been killed by the “Santa Claus” gunman, Bruce Pardo? According to atheists, the evolution of man was made possible by millions of years of intra-species killing. Get rid of the God factor, and there is no way that atheism can account for a commandment that states “You shall not murder.” Commandments aren’t just “outmoded”; there is no way to account for their validity given evolutionary assumptions. When Carl Sagan wrote “The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be," he was making a declaration of faith that makes it impossible to make a claim for any kind of moral obligation or ultimate meaning.
The modern personification of the atheist is Dr. Gregory House, the exceedingly impolite, acerbic, but brilliant diagnostician played by Hugh Laurie on the television series House, M.D. (The character parallels that of Sherlock Holmes: Homes=House, Dr. Wilson=Dr. Watson as his only confidant, masterful diagnostician, uses music to help him think, and drug addict.) Dr. House claims repeatedly that there is no life after death, and life this side of the grave is meaningless, and yet he lives and breathes in a world of laws, cause and effect, and purpose. He craves love and meaning and pursues them in the confines of his self-imposed solitude. The creators of the show have made House a flawed character; he’s not as smart as he thinks he is, especially about things that matter to most people. The same is true about all atheists. They love to attack the notion of God, and yet He “gives to all life and breath and all things” (Acts 17:25). The high-minded atheist can’t account for life, air, or the means to breathe it. Like House, atheists limp through life with a cane and popping Vicodin, all the time denying they are lame and in a perpetual drug-induced haze to hide what they know is true (Rom. 1:18-23).
 William H. Halverson, A Concise Introduction to Philosophy, 4th ed. (New York: Random House, 1981), 414.**
** Greg L. Bahnsen, “The Reformation of Christian Apologetics,” _Foundations of Christian Scholarship_, Gary North, ed. (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1976), 194B95. **** Carl Sagan, _Cosmos_ (New York: Random House, 1980), 4.