This is the first in a series of excerpts from “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available in print and Kindle editions here.
My business card is standard fare. It identifies me and describes my role at the MBC. It also tells how to get in touch with me. That’s what most business cards do: serve as practical, brief, and efficient introductions.
Some people, however, use business cards more creatively. Take Guangbiao Chen, for example, a Chinese tycoon and philanthropist. His business card details illustrious titles and heroic accomplishments:
- Most Influential Person of China
- Most Prominent Philanthropist of China
- China Earthquake Rescue Hero
- Most Well-Loved and Beloved Chinese Role Model
We’re only halfway through Chen’s list, but you get the idea. This may be one of the cheekiest business cards ever produced.
But how would you respond if someone handed you a business card that simply read, “Jude, a slave”? That’s how the author of the Epistle of Jude opens his letter. With profound humility, he models the manner in which followers of Jesus should defend the Christian faith.
Thanks, Missouri Baptists, for defending the Christian faith this year through the MBC’s apologetics ministry. A few metrics in the paragraphs below illustrate the degree to which you have sought to fulfill Peter’s exhortation to “always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you … with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15-16).
In 2015 the MBC released two timely new resources: What Every Christian Should Know about Islam and What Every Christian Should Know about Same-sex Attraction.
These two books have been widely distributed across the state and are still available for personal or group study in 2016. Order print copies here or by calling 800.736.6227, ext. 303. Or visit Amazon.com and order the Kindle editions.
While these unbiblical views from our LDS and JW friends are not surprising, it may come as a shock to hear that some leaders of the Christian Word-Faith movement hold a similar view – and quote the Bible to support it
A case in point: Kenneth Copeland and Isaiah 40:12.
Copeland, perhaps more than any other prosperity preacher, has gone into great detail about God’s alleged bodily existence.
In a letter responding to an inquiry on the subject, Copeland lists a number of God’s bodily attributes, including back parts, a heart, hands, a finger, nostrils, a mouth with lips and a tongue, feet, eyes and eyelids, a voice, breath, ears, hair, head, face, arms, and loins.
Further, says Copeland, he wears clothes, eats, sits on His throne, and walks. Copeland has made the outrageous claim that God lives on a planet, of which the earth is an exact copy, only smaller. Says the televangelist: Earth is “a copy of the mother planet.”
Apologetics simply is a reasonable defense of the Christian faith. The word is derived from the Greek noun apologia and means “a defense.” Apologia and its verb form apologeomai are used nearly 20 times in the New Testament, often in the classic legal sense, but more importantly to describe the call of God to all believers to defend the Christian faith with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15-16).
But how is sound doctrine applied practically? Put another way, what good is Christian apologetics?
Apologetics has at least four practical applications. We may use apologetics to:
Build. There is a positive case to be made for Christianity, and apologetics helps us get there.
The Bible, history, archaeology, and other sources help establish that a real person named Jesus burst onto the scene 2,000 years ago. He claimed deity, performed miracles, spoke the truth, modeled compassion, died on a Roman cross, was buried and rose physically on the third day. His coming to earth was the most important event in human history.
Further, apologetics helps us know who God is; who we are; why there is purpose in life; how we can be restored to a right relationship with our Creator; why we can face death without fear; and what God is doing about evil in the world.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that scientists have zapped an electrical current to people’s brains to erase distressing memories, part of an ambitious quest to better treat ailments such as mental trauma, psychiatric disorders and drug addiction.
Author Gautam Naik explains: “In an experiment, patients were first shown a troubling story, in words and pictures. A week later they were reminded about it and given electroconvulsive therapy [ECT], formerly known as electroshock. That completely wiped out their recall of the distressing narrative” – without erasing other memories.
At least two important questions emerge for Christians. First, if painful memories can be erased, should we seek this therapy? And second, in the afterlife, does God erase our most disturbing recollections?