Students taught to defend faith ‘with gentleness and respect’

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Steven Anderson -- Sam Welbaum, Sean McDowell, Todd Bates and Greg Koukl address apologetics on a panel in Copenbarger Dining Room.

The first annual panel discussion on apologetics in the 21st century entitled, “Convince or Constrain?” was held in the Copenbarger Dining Room on Tuesday, Oct. 11 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The vast amount of attendees caused an overflow into the other part of the room.

The discussion was brought to campus with the support of California Baptist University and Apologetics.com. The speakers on the panel, included: Sam Welbaum from Apologetics.com, Sean McDowell from Worldview Ministries, Todd Bates from CBU and Greg Koukl from Stand to Reason.

Sam Welbaum started with a basic understanding of apologetics from the Bible.

“In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15.

Welbaum drew directly to the middle part of the verse as a definition of apologetics “being prepared to make a defense,” but also to the end as to the way that it should be done “with gentleness and respect.”

“The start of the verse is very important because it is an apologetic mandate for the church and is “captured in an admonition to honor the Christ as holy. If Christ holy character is absence from our apologetics endeavors than quite frankly we are not defending the faith,” Welbaum said.

Instead of doing apologetics in an argumentative fashion, Welbaum suggested seeing the defense of the Gospel as a museum tour guide describing the beauty of a painting.

“As that happens all of a sudden the beauty of that painting becomes prevalent … standing there, they gain the increased knowledge that is pointing out the beauty that already exists,” Welbaum said.

McDowell brought up three roles of apologetics: to strengthen believer’s confidence, to evangelize and to prepare the culture for the Gospel.

Explaining the second role, McDowell told a story. He said, “Five years ago I got tired watching some of my students leave their faith … and I thought how do I prepare my students ahead of time for challenges … Let’s take them to one of the most godless secular places we can and bring in people to challenge their faith, so the past few years I have been taking my students to Berkeley,” McDowell said.

Bates described the impulse of the human to find ultimate meaning, the “notion of human flourishing. Which is developed by a complex of needs, desires and reason. As a matter of fact, it is those needs and desires, and the quest to satisfy them, that impels us to describe what meaning is.”

The basic questions of life that the human mind is compelled to answer.

Showing “the best of the person’s belief, the truth that they hold, the meaning that they claim in life leads to or is most founded in Christ then we are contending for the faith. Which, after all, is the most conducive things for human flourishing,” Bates said.

Mcdowell and Koukl agreed that, “there is not a silver bullet” argument, but the best way is to do apologetics is intellectually humbled and still fervently as reasonable thinkers.

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