Friday, March 16, 2012

Oliphint’s advice on apologetics is helpful for students and parents alike

In his helpful primer on apologetics called The Battle Belongs to the Lord: The Power of Scripture for Defending our Faith, K. Scott Oliphint discusses 2 Corinthians 10:5 where Paul writes about destroying arguments. It reads, "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV). These arguments, states Oliphint, are appeals to authority that adversaries of Christianity use to attack Christianity. These adversaries claimed an authority, perhaps based on their intellectual abilities, and tried to subdue believers. Paul saw the annihilation of these arguments as incredibly important. Oliphint similarly emphasizes that the tearing down of these lofty opinions is crucial,
Paul is pointing out, as well, that these arguments are not just verbal debates. They are arguments that, if believed, will have eternal, and eternally damaging, consequences. Although they carry no authority, they can cleverly lead people to reject the gospel itself. They are dangerous because they are so subtly subversive of the gospel. They are, as a matter of fact, arguments that are raised up against the very knowledge of God itself.
The history of much of the Western intellectual tradition is full of such arguments. This may be one of the reasons why many Christians have chosen to stay well away from that tradition. It can be intimidating and can make us feel intellectually inferior as Christians.
We should recognize two things, however. First, we should understand the seriousness of the arguments themselves. If they are raised up against the knowledge of God, then they can be destructive to any and all who adopt them. Second, we should begin to understand that Christianity does have answers to these arguments. Even if we are unfamiliar with the precise terminology and technicality of the arguments themselves, once we grasp the question that they are designed to answer, our understanding of Scripture can begin to supply the answer. (84-5)
I want to stress how critical these concepts are for young men and women who are entering post-secondary education, particularly those attending or planning to attend secular universities. Their faith will be bombarded with every manner of anti-Christian opinion and argument. And this intellectual blitzkrieg will be systematic and unceasing. I experienced this firsthand. Though I did not lose my faith in university, I left the institution with a bruised and battered confidence in my beliefs. That need not be your experience, or the experience of your children.

Dr. Oliphint is right on both counts; the arguments need to be taken seriously and perhaps more importantly, Christianity has solid, powerful, logical, and truthful answers to these arguments. I was ignorant of the danger that I would face when I entered university. I was not prepared. And it wasn't until after I left university that I came to realize that not only did my worldview have answers to these attacks, it actually had powerfully satisfying answers that demolished the arguments that I had allowed to beat me up.

Don't make the mistakes I made. If you are of the age where you are entering or are enrolled in an institute of higher learning, then you should begin to understand the arguments you are faced with and familiarize yourself with the Bible's response to and arsenal against such ideas. And if you are a parent with children on the road to a university, college, or training institute, begin to train your child for the battle he or she will face.

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