Christian Apologetics: A Personal Reflection

Apologetics Helped Me

The study and practice of Christian Apologetics hold a place near and dear to my heart. Apologetics was one of the primary means by which God strengthened my faith and called me into ministry. Like many others, I remember having seemingly countless conversations in college about my Christian faith. I recall discussing many of those tough issues that college students love to spend time talking about.

I also remember being ill-prepared to give an answer for the reason for my hope (1 Peter 3:15). I just “had faith,” whatever that meant. I’m sure I couldn’t have told you even that much. The things we talked about in college were not quite on the level of asking if God could create a stone too heavy for him to lift (Dr. Ronald Nash would later tell me the answer is “no.”). But we did deal with very practical questions about Christianity, especially as it relates to other belief systems. And as I mentioned, I was an unprepared Christian.

A Great Miracle in My Life

God, however, used that to perform one of the great miracles in my life. He used those discussions to get me reading books… those strange and alien things I had worked hard through college avoiding having to read. Yet the questions I remember wrestling with my senior year of college, the ones I had no answers for, really begin to bother me. God used that restlessness to lead me (even compel me) to start reading (of my own accord) for the first time in my life. I first began reading a book on world religions and cults by Josh McDowell. I next remember buying and reading a book on this strange new “thing” called Christian apologetics by a writer I had never heard of called, Norman Geisler.

Thus began my journey and near obsession of reading apologetics, worldview, philosophy, ethics, etc. I started seeing Christianity as a world and life view and not a piecemeal and compartmentalized religion. I started understanding Christianity as actually true and not merely a choice on the buffet table of religious and philosophical selections.

More Work Required on My Part

One of the things I learned in the years that followed was that much of the time, all I really needed to “defend the faith” was simply a better knowledge of what I believed. This moved me to start digging into the study of God’s Word, as well as Christian doctrine and theology. The rest, as they say, is history. God used the study of Christian apologetics (the defense of the Christian faith) in my life to drive me to a deeper understanding of the essential truths of the Christian faith, as well as how to I might learn to communicate those truths more effectively.

I’ve discovered over the last three decades as a pastor that there are very few new questions being asked. Many are simply the same questions that have been asked for millennia but being asked in new and different ways. And each time such a question is asked, it must be taken seriously and answered lovingly, graciously, and winsomely, for it may be the first time the questioner has asked it. There’s no room for condescension in these moments of engagement.

My mentor, Ken Boa, told me while I was in seminary that it’s okay to be asked a tough question by someone and not have the answer with which to reply to them… the first time. However, he reiterated that I should never be asked the same question twice or three times without having an answer. In other words, being “stumped” once is virtually a rite of passage. Being stumped by the same question twice is a no-no. That means, I must do the hard work, study, and be prepared for the next time I hear the question. I have tried to put that principle into practice.

A Foot in the Door

What I’ve tried to do over the years is to use those tough questions as opportunities to get back together with the person who asked me the question, attempt to answer their question, get to know them better, and use the opportunity to share my faith with them if they are not a Christian, or to disciple them if they are. I have learned the hard way that the worst thing one can do when asked a tough question is attempt to bluff an answer.  First of all, it doesn’t work and secondly, folks respect your honesty.

Having said all of that, I need to be clear about something: There are indeed some very hard questions about the Christian faith. There are deep and tough questions that relate to evil, other religions, science, the Bible, just to name a few. By God’s grace I’ve also learned there are some very bright and gifted Christian thinkers who have thought through and prayed long and hard about those questions and what God’s Word has to say about them. These very capable apologists have written extensively on most, if not all of those issues, and many have written helpful books and maintain useful websites.

My Experience

After 30+ years as a pastor serving the local church, I’m still hearing great questions and having wonderful conversations with people who are honest seekers, and who are looking to get to know God and go deeper with him.

I hope to share more in the weeks to come about Christian apologetics. It’s a vast academic discipline and the practice of it by Christians at home, in the workplace, classroom, community, etc., is not only commanded, but much needed in today’s world. Hopefully much of what I share will serve as a help to you as you prepare to give an answer for the reason for the hope you have in Christ.


Engaging Culture

I made a point in this post of highlighting our need, as Christians, to know the culture (and the times) in which we live. But what comes next? How do we engage the culture we’ve spent our time learning about? This series by T.M. Moore helps us think through the various aspects of engaging our culture.

T.M. Moore is a wise and godly man who walks closely with the Lord and has much to offer the church today. I have been a part of his online fellowship, The Fellowship of Ailbe, for about seven years. In fact, T.M. has been something of a spiritual friend and mentor over those years and I can attest to his deep commitment to Christ and his Kingdom.

This series, on how Christians ought to understand and engage culture, is a helpful tool for all who want to represent Christ well and reach the world for his sake. These studies work well as either your own personal devotional resource or as study material for your small group… or both.

1.) Repudiate (Engaging Culture, Part 1)

2.) Appropriate (Engaging Culture, Part 2)

3.) Redirect (Engaging Culture, Part3)

4.) Transform (Engaging Culture, Part 4)

5.) Innovate (Engaging the Culture, Part 5)

6.) Three “Legs” (Engaging the Culture, Part 6)

​7.) Three “Braces” (Engaging the Culture, Part 7)

Francis Schaeffer

As many others before me, I was influenced early in my ministry by the books, audio messages, and video recordings of Francis Schaeffer. I never gave in to trying to grow his goatee or dress like him, but from time to time I probably tried to speak like him, as I was finding my own voice. That happens to preachers sometimes… they try to sound like their favorite preacher instead of being who they are – along with their particular gifts and graces.

I used to deeply study philosophy, worldview-thinking, ethics, theology, culture, and apologetics through seminary and well into the first half of my ministry. Francis Schaeffer helped me navigate much of that journey. He helped show me how those subjects were all connected and how understanding such things was essential for practical day-to-day life and ministry. More than that, his biblical, theological, and philosophical convictions compelled him to bear faithful Christian witness to the world in which he lived. In fact, he thought of himself, primarily, as an evangelist.

Reading Schaeffer’s works and learning more about him, his family, and his ministry also led me to discover others who have since impacted my thinking and ministry, such as Jerram BarrsOs Guinness, and Dick Keyes.

Though I have never stopped studying those philosophical and theological disciplines previously mentioned, I have had something of a renewal of interest and focus on them over this last handful of years. Therefore, I thought I might share this post on Schaeffer that I put together shortly after the centennial celebration of Schaeffer’s birth. During that time, I read some great tributes to his life and ministry and thought that I would pass those along, as well as a few helpful websites and ministries that are carrying on Schaeffer’s work today.

I hope something you come across here will bless you.

A few articles about Schaeffer…

Remembering Francis Schaeffer by T.M. Moore (good list of links at the end of the article). In many ways Charles Colson and his various ministries (The Colson CenterBreakPoint, etc., are carrying on in the same spirit as Schaeffer.

100th Anniversary of Francis Schaeffer’s Birth by Nathan Bingham at Ligonier Ministries

Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life (a review by Hunter Baker) at Gospel Coalition

Francis Schaeffer at 100 at Credo Magazine

Covenant Theological Seminary’s magazine issue on Schaeffer

The Need to Read Francis Schaeffer by Todd Kappelman at Probe Ministries

Francis Schaeffer and a World in Desperate Need by Lane Dennis at Crossway

Francis Schaeffer at Wheaton

Review: Duriez on Schaeffer by Donald Williams

How Then Should We Live?: Francis Schaeffer at 100 by Charles Colson

Here are some great websites/ministries serving in the “Schaeffer spirit”…

L’Abri Fellowship -This is the ministry that Schaeffer and his wife founded. It has greatly expanded and continues to do a wonderful job of ministering today. Check out their page on the history of L’Abri.

Francis A. Schaeffer Institute at Covenant Theological Seminary. Jerram Barrs is closely connected to this. Two of his courses, on the early and later years of Schaeffer, are available (for free!!!) at the Covenant website. And HERE

Francis Schaeffer -a new website and ministry launched to celebrate the 100th birthday of Schaeffer. Lots of great resources available.

Francis A. Schaeffer Foundation – The Francis A. Schaeffer Foundation was incorporated in 1988 by Edith SchaefferUdo and Deborah Middelmann and several of their friends as a foundation of ideas.

The Francis Schaeffer Study Center – This is an awesome ministry to students. From their webpage… “The focus of the Study Center curriculum is on equipping high school students with basic biblical knowledge, an understanding of the Christian world-view and an integrated study of the literature, history, and art of western civilization.”

Other helpful resources…

And… what would a post on Schaeffer be without something from the man himself…

A Christian Worldview

2 Corinthians 10:5 – We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

Puzzle Pieces and Movie Scripts

Everyone has a worldview. It may be well thought-out, logical, and coherent or it may be loosely thrown together and disorganized, but everyone has one. Quite simply, a worldview is your philosophy or view of life – a way of looking at the world around you.

Think of the cover of a puzzle box. If you were to dump all the puzzle pieces on the ground without seeing what the picture on the cover looked like, you would have a pretty hard time putting the puzzle together. Similarly, life presents us with thousands of questions and issues which are like pieces to a puzzle. Without the right worldview to follow, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to know where and how all the pieces fit.

Or, think of a worldview as a movie script. The late Francis Schaeffer said that life is like entering a very long movie that has already started and then learning you have to leave before it ends. In such a situation we would be significantly lost without some outside help. Schaeffer suggested that the Bible gives us the script of the whole movie. Therefore, even if we have missed the first part of it, and even though we will have to leave before it is over, we can still see how we fit into the big picture. A faithful Christian will want to have a biblical worldview because that will be the view of life that will most closely correspond to reality.

Elements of a Worldview

What are the key components that comprise a person’s worldview? Let me briefly mention five of the most important elements that shape a person’s view of life.

1.) The first aspect of a worldview is one’s view of God: Does God exist? Is God personal or impersonal? Is there only one God or many? Does God require anything from us? What is the nature of God? It has been rightly observed that a person’s answers to these questions will be the greatest influence on the way a person thinks and lives.

2.) Secondly, a worldview focuses on the issues of purpose, value, and ultimate questions, such as: Are miracles possible? Is the universe all there is? What is the purpose of our existence? Why does something exist rather than nothing? Is there objective meaning to life?

3.) The third area a worldview addresses is the question of knowledge. It seeks to answer how we know what we know. What is the authority upon which a person should base his claim to truth or morality? Is each individual the measure for right and wrong or is there an objective standard? A person lives each day according to the way they view knowledge – whether they recognize it or not.

4.) Fourth is the issue of ethics. How do you make moral decisions? Are you bound by what God has revealed or by cultural convention or laws? Are some acts really wrong or merely based on personal preferences and issues of convenience?

5.) The last major element of a worldview has to do with the nature of humankind. How do you view human beings? Are we basically good? Are we basically sinful? Is there such a thing as sin? Are we grown-up germs caused by evolution or do we have real purpose and design? What happens when we die?

These are the significant elements which make up one’s worldview – and again – we all have a worldview whether or not we are conscious of it.

So What?

A Christian ought to prayerfully and intentionally put together a biblical world and life view. To live a life of love for God and neighbor will require a life that is lived in faithful accordance to that worldview. Furthermore, a follower of Christ will also want to pass that view of life on to the members of their family, as well as to those they are discipling.

I once read that a Christian’s worldview is as practical as potatoes. Far from being purely an academic or philosophical pursuit, a Christian’s view of life has a “real life” shaping effect. Only as a Christian interprets the world around them through the lens of their Christian worldview, will they be better able to see how they ought to live and bear a faithful witness to it. Writer George Barna has written for years on the sad news that there is virtually no difference between Christians and unbelievers in what they believe and how they live their lives. The one exception, he notes, are those believers who consciously hold a biblical worldview. Do you hold such a worldview?

Walking Points

  • Have you ever thought thoroughly about what you believe as a Christian and how it plays out in your daily life?
  • Of the five elements of a Christian’s worldview, which one are you most familiar with? Least familiar with?
  • Talk with one or two fellow Christians this week about the five key elements of a worldview to discover more about how you view life.
  • Then, pray about getting together regularly with these fellow pilgrims so you may grow in your understanding and application of God’s Wordfor it really does apply to every sphere of life.


All-wise and all-knowing God, you are the Lord of heaven and earth. Nothing truly makes sense apart from you. Forgive me when I try to live in your world as though you don’t exist. Whether it’s the way I view the universe and my place in it, the moral decisions I make every day, my values that I pass on to others, how I understand where I came from, why I’m here, and where I’m going after death, please help me have your true and eternal perspective on all such matters and not that of the world around me. Let my thinking, speaking, and living be radically out of step with the prevailing culture that surrounds me, but give me greater love for those who are a part of it, so I may reach them with the grace and truth of your Gospel. And Lord, I pray that the things I believe will make a genuine difference in the way I live my life, so that I may be holy, even as you are holy. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

Every Sphere of Life

Matthew 28:18 – And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Philippians 2:9-11 – Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Compartmentalized Living Won’t Do

I remember when I first started using the phrase, “faith for every sphere of life.” It began as I started studying the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It just made sense that if Jesus Christ is the Lord of heaven and earth, then he is Lord of everything. And if he is the Lord of all there is, then I must submit to him in every sphere of my life, or else I should stop calling him Lord. Jesus said as much in Luke 6:46,

Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you? (NRSV)

This notion is in marked contrast to the way many people think and live, including myself in the early days of my faith. I, like plenty of others, had long been an adherent of a compartmentalized faith. Men, you especially know the drill: the Christian faith is fine for Sunday mornings, but it has nothing to do with the rest of your life. It’s embarrassing to admit, but that’s where I was.

Personal, Not Private

Instead, the Christian faith should be understood as a comprehensive view of life. The secular world around us, however, still prefers the church to remain silent about anything not having to do with personal prayers and worship on Sunday mornings. Faith, they say, is private. Sure, you can practice it at home, or even with other Christians on Sunday mornings, but don’t dare bring it into the public square. Jesus, however, doesn’t give us that option. The Christian faith certainly ought to be personal, but it should never be private. To paraphrase the Dutch theologian and statesman, Abraham Kuyper, “there is not a square inch in all the universe about which the Lord Jesus Christ does not declare his own.”

As a United Methodist, I have rejoiced that John Wesley took just such a view of the Christian faith. He called it Scriptural Holiness and said it was his purpose in life to spread such Scriptural Holiness over the land. For Wesley, holiness was inward but also outward. It was personal and it was social. There was no picking and choosing. Faith must permeate every aspect of a Christian’s life – prayer, personal devotions, worship, marriage, parenting, work, economics, politics, education, the arts, personal morality, relationships, civic duty, and serving the community, just to name a few spheres of life.

This Includes Your Life

I encourage you to prayerfully ask yourself what it would mean for you to understand there is not even the smallest corner of your life about which Jesus Christ, as Lord, is unconcerned. How would acknowledging and submitting to that truth change your life? How would it bless your relationship with your family and friends? What consequences would it have for you in your workplace? Can you imagine the possibilities? Christ is calling you to follow him in every sphere of your lives. Do you hear his voice? Will you follow him?

Walking Points

  • Look again at those questions in the last paragraph. They are not rhetorical. They are questions Christ requires we ask ourselves, as well as answer. More than that, we must live out those answers before a world in desperate need of godly men and women.
  • Write down as many “spheres” of your life as you can think of. Which of those spheres are you submitting to the Lord? Which ones are you keeping from him? Why?
  • How would submitting to Christ’s lordship in those spheres of life change the way you are living your life in those areas? Be as specific as possible.
  • Write your answers to each of those questions down in a journal or on an index card. Then pray over them, asking God to lead you to greater faithfulness. Meet with some accountability partners and discuss the questions and your answers and then pray about how each of you can help one another in this pursuit.


Lord of heaven and earth, remind me this day that there is not a square inch in all the universe about which you are unconcerned. While I rejoice that I have seen changes in my life through the gracious work of your Spirit, please show me those areas I am attempting to keep from you. Convict me of my sin and rebellion in those areas and turn my hard heart to flesh and joyful obedience. Please let my life faithfully bear witness to you as I serve as your ambassador to other men who are struggling with handing you the reigns in their lives. Together, may we extend your glorious Kingdom into every sphere of life here on earth, as it already is in heaven. In the name of the King of kings and Lord of lords I pray. Amen.