Believe on the Evidence: Series Introduction
Updated: Jan 5, 2021
Those who believe in Jesus often face challenges from non-believers that question either the credibility or reliability of the Biblical narrative. In response, the field of Christian Apologetics has arisen to rebut these challenges and to provide rational and factual support for the story of the Bible. Apologetics has nothing to do with expressing regret or sorrow for what the Bible says; rather, the name comes from the Greek word apologia meaning “a defense by words or ideas."
An important discipline within Christian Apologetics is the area called Christian Evidences. The evidences considered in this area are taken from fields of
and are used to support, validate and confirm the Biblical narrative. Combined with logic and bolstered by deductive reasoning, Christian Evidences bring the Bible alive in a way that strengthens Christian faith.
Even more, the study of Christian Evidences is aligned with the Biblical imperative to understand the truth and logic behind the Christian faith. Jesus himself was the first to challenge believers to have an evidential basis for their faith:
Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at
least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. - John 14:11
In this case the evidences were the fulfilment of prophecy that Jesus performed through his teaching, healing and care for the poor. The first disciples struggled with belief even in the presence of powerful evidence that Jesus was the Messiah and Son of God:
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. - John 20:29-31
Jesus not only called them to look at the evidence but also dared them to use their common- sense reasoning to process this information:
He said to the crowd: "'When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is.
Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?
Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?"' - Luke 12:54-57
Jesus’ exhortation prodded them to go beyond the superficial circumstances; i.e., authority figures, religious tradition and closed-mindedness, to appreciate the logical nature of his earthly mission:
Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” - John 7:24
After Jesus resurrection and the beginning of the early Church, Christianity continued to develop as a faith based in reason and evidence, not in tradition, mysticism or cultic practices. On Paul’s journeys he established a routine:
As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said. - Acts 17:2-3
Paul extended his use of reason and his understanding of Pagan philosophy to be able to reach non-Jewish believers in whatever way possible:
While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. - Acts 17:16-18
While the message of Jesus’ death on the cross and his following resurrection seemed like nonsense to many non-believers, Paul was able to demonstrate the logical foundation for these events. In his account before Porcius Festus the procurator of Judea, Paul was able to lay out a reasonable argument for his actions on behalf of Jesus, which Festus met with an emotional outburst:
At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”
"I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable." - Acts 26:24-25
Even the believers could fall for worldly thinking, and Paul in his letters would later call them to think rationally, as he knew the believers to be sensible:
I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. - 1 Corinthians 10:15
The message of the Bible, and in particular, the story of Jesus and his sacrifice, is given to us not as an unknowable, unverifiable myth, but rather as a logical, reasonable and evidence-based account of the relationship between God and man. This is why we look for Christian Evidences.
All Bible references from the New International Version (NIV) Art Shirley September, 2020