2019 was a busy year for Christian apologetics in Missouri Baptist churches. Not only did the Missouri Baptist Apologetics Network complete its fifth year of service with 16 certified pastors and lay leaders, but I was privileged to speak 65 times in 26 different locations throughout the year – including apologetics events in Florida and California.
Just to be clear, Christian apologetics simply is offering a reasonable defense of the Christian faith. The English word “apologetics” comes from the Greek noun “apologia,” which means “a defense.”
The apostle Paul applies the term to his ministry of defending the gospel (Phil. 1:7, 16), and the apostle Peter broadens its application to all Christians, urging us to be ready at all times to offer a reason for the hope in us – and to do so with gentleness and respect (1 Pet. 3:15-16).
Here is a message from 2 Corinthians 11:4 that I was privileged to deliver at Apolocon 2018, hosted by Immanuel Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo.
News flash: Ireland is now accepting Trump refugees from the U.S.
From our Washington bureau: Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS while secretary of state.
And in sports: The Chicago Cubs win the World Series.
Fake news is everywhere. (Okay, that last story might be true.) And one of the biggest breaking stories of 2016 was the widespread impact of verifiably false news hosted on bogus websites and amplified through social media.
“Yellow journalism” has long been with us — the use of sensationalism and exaggeration to increase a news outlet’s share of the market.
What’s new about today’s fake news is that anyone — not just journalists — can create and disseminate it. Thanks to the Internet and social media, nearly anyone with a smart phone and an imagination can say anything and make it look like reputable journalism.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has announced plans to minimize the fake news running on his social media platform, while some media outlets are redoubling their efforts to more carefully vet stories, even at the expense of being first with the news.
Even so, consumers of today’s news content should view everything with discernment.
This is the second in a two-part series on the whereabouts of Jesus between His death and resurrection.
In the previous column we addressed different views about where Jesus went between His death and resurrection.
Now, we briefly examine five New Testament passages that in some way touch on the subject. Keep in mind the most biblically faithful view: Jesus neither went to hell (Gehenna) nor to Hades (the temporary abode of the dead) but to heaven after His death.
Acts 2:27 – “Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. “(KJV)
In this portion of Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, he quotes from Ps. 16:10, a psalm of David and a Messianic psalm that Peter applies to Jesus.
The word translated “hell” in the King James rendering of Acts 2:27 is the Greek term Hades, which is similar to the Hebrew word Sheol. In both cases, it is a flexible term that most often refers to the temporary abode of the dead but can mean “grave.”
The New International Version (NIV) translates this, “Because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” This is preferable because the context emphasizes that Christ rose bodily from the dead as opposed to David, whose body is still there.
The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) renders this passage, “because you will not leave my soul in Hades, or allow your Holy One to see decay.” This translation acknowledges that David’s soul went to Hades without assigning Jesus’ soul to the same place.
Missionaries to Muslims often report resistance to the gospel message – not because Muslims reject Jesus as a great prophet, but because the Qur’an denies the doctrines of original sin and the atonement.
The idea of natural-born sinners runs counter to the Islamic belief that man is basically good but ignorant of Allah’s will. This may be overcome by repeating the shahada – “There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah” – and by embracing the five pillars of Islam.
In addition, Muslims deny Jesus’ substitutionary death because they cannot believe Allah would allow his second greatest prophet to suffer shame on a Roman cross.
In other words, many Muslims reject the gospel because it does not align with their cultural perspective that stresses shame and honor rather than guilt and innocence.
So, how can Christians, who embrace the doctrines of original sin and the substitutionary death of Jesus, present the gospel cross-culturally? Is it even possible?