The Way of Truth

The word apologetics is defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as follows:
As we discussed in the first sermon of this series (Is Truth True?), the Truth always wins in the end. The old saying, “The truth will out” comes to mind. Why, then, do we spend so much time and effort arguing over what is true? One possibility is that we are temporal beings – there’s only so much time you can wait for truth to come to you before the consequences of living a lie take their toll. As Christians, we feel that urgency for those around us, as we are experiencing the freedom that comes from knowing the Truth, and we desire that freedom for everyone.

Knowing and experiencing the truth, however, do not necessarily give us the skills to communicate that truth to others. The primary flaw here is that it is very hard to know something deeply and intimately, yet still retain the ability to shift perspective to other ways of thinking. We’ve seen this problem across the history of science over and over – people hold dogmatically to a paradigm until their theories become deeply convoluted. Eventually, though, the simplicity of the better explanation wins out.

The inability (or unwillingness) to shift perspective is the source of more than just communication issues or discussions of truth; it can lead to ingratitude, self-centeredness, a lack of empathy, and even hatred or fear. In the practice of apologetics, it can lead us to knock the feet out from under our arguments before we’ve even taken two steps.

Consider an example – one person (let’s call him Bob) is a strong believer, while another (let’s call her Jan) is an atheist. Bob says, “How can you not believe in God? Even the demons believe in Him, and shudder.” Jan rolls her eyes and says, “The fact that the imaginary enemies of your imaginary friend believe in him isn’t very convincing.” Here, Bob hasn’t considered Jan’s perspective; she doesn’t believe in supernatural beings, and he relied on their existence in the conversation.

The field of apologetics has many branches. There are arguments about the existence of God, about the creation of the Universe, about whether Jesus was the son of God and the Messiah, about the historicity and validity of the Bible, and many others. Each branch is an attempt to address a specific perspective. What shall we do, then? Are we to throw up our hands and decide that we can’t argue for God without a degree in theology? Absolutely not. Knowing all the arguments isn’t the key. The key is shifting our perspectives. The Holy Spirit works miracles in our minds; He often takes conversations beyond where we could take them on our own. But if we hold tightly to our own perspectives – if we don’t allow ourselves to truly see the person we’re talking with – we can stop a conversation before it gets started.

Earlier this year, many of us participated in a course called DIALOG, in which we explored conversational tactics for defending our faith. We practiced the first step in these conversations over and over. What’s the first step? Asking questions and more questions. Why ask questions? Because the answers show us the other person’s perspective. We ask for their stories, we tell them ours, and out of the relationship that forms, we build trust. Once the relationship is established and we understand their perspective, conversations about faith become less argumentative and more conversational. More than that, we can meet them where they are and give them what they need to understand the truth – and The Truth.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6, NIV

Curious to dive deeper into this topic? View our recent sermon on this topic via the video below. Feel free to leave your own comments and questions as well. We would love to hear from you!

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