See what's coming soon! Coming in October »

Jump directly to the content
magcover

Already a subscriber?

Home > 2012 > October Online Only > A Faith Worth Defending

The recently announced 4th century Coptic papyrus fragment in which "Jesus" refers to "my wife" has generated quite the buzz in the media. The New York Times' provocative headline read "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife." Even David Letterman had a spoof about it on his show. Within a day of this story breaking, a college student in our church messaged me on Facebook wanting to know what I thought about this new discovery (a good reminder of the new media reality that people don't have to go looking for skeptical claims anymore; skeptical claims find them!).

Well, first things first, does this fragment prove that Jesus was married? According to Dallas Theological Seminary New Testament scholar Dan Wallace, "The answer is an emphatic no. At most, it can only tell us what one group of 'Christians' in the middle of the second century thought. But it says nothing about true history, about Jesus of Nazareth." And now there seems to be a growing consensus that the fragment is actually a fake.

While sensational headlines like these can create doubt and confusion for people, they can also create timely opportunities for us as pastors and Christian leaders to remind those we serve of the importance of understanding why we believe what we believe (i.e., apologetics). Let's not let this cultural moment pass us by. Here are five things Christians need to understand when it comes to apologetics.

  • Defending the faith is not optional.The Bible makes this clear: "In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer [apologia] to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" (1 Pet. 3:15; Phil. 1:7). Apologetics involves responding to objections (defense), making a case (offense), and giving hope (Christ-centered). It is part of what it means to be a thoughtful follower of Jesus who seeks to love God with all of your mind (Matt. 22:37)

  • Apologetics is extremely practical. Isn't apologetics only for academics and intellectuals? The short answer is no. Here's why. Everyone has questions—you do, your kids do, your friends and neighbors do, your family does, and our culture certainly does. It's that simple. We will either think carefully or poorly about these questions, but the questions themselves cannot be avoided. Moreover, if Christianity is true, then it speaks to all of life. It doesn't get more practical than that.

  • Christianity rises to the level of being true or false. Priority one is to get Christianity out of the blind faith category and into the reality category. If Christianity does not rise to the level of being true or false then it has been completely removed from the cognitive realm. If something can't be false, then it can't be true either. And rational investigation becomes impossible. Now don't get me wrong, I think there are good reasons to believe Christianity is true (I share some of these reasons in my book Is God Just a Human Invention?). But Christianity is the kind of thing that could be false. So when it comes to Christianity, the most important question we need to help people ask is not will it work for them or help them feel better, but rather is it true?

PreviousFirstPage 1 of 2NextLast

Related Topics:CultureEvangelismMediaPostmodernismTrends
Posted: October 1, 2012

Subscribe to read more

Subscribe Today!

  • Monthly issues on web and iPad
  • Web exclusives and archives on Leadership Journal.net
  • Quarterly print issues

Print subscriber? Activate your online account for complete access.

Join the Conversation

Average User Rating:

Displaying 1–3 of 3 comments

Mark

October 08, 2012  1:15pm

This is a great article to help people navigate the ongoing confusing information presented by the media. It's almost as if the media's only agenda in presenting discoveries like this is to cause confusion and doubt. However little to no explanation is offered as to how the information is to be interpreted. Thankfully their are thoughtful people out there who can gather the info and succinctly present it to the masses in order to shed some light on the media's obvious bias towards Christianity. Thanks Jonathan for this very helpful article!

Report Abuse

Matt

October 02, 2012  1:11pm

Great reminder to why I need to know what I believe, Thanks Jonathan!

Report Abuse

Brian

October 02, 2012  1:06pm

Great article that reinforces the urgency of the questions being asked by our culture. Jonathan is calling us off the sidelines to a equip ourselves and those in our care to engage with an informed response. Indeed, let us not let this cultural moment pass us by.

Report Abuse
Use your Leadership Journal login to easily comment and rate this article.
Not part of the community? Subscribe, or on public pages, register for a free account.
Reader's Pick
The Wandering Gospel

The Wandering Gospel

A reflection on the universal beauty of the body of Christ.
Sister Sites