Often, people may ask how to show that Buddhism is false or what’s a good argument against Hinduism or the New Age, etc. But in the end, one doesn’t necessarily have to argue against those worldviews as much as they need to give an argument for the Resurrection of Jesus.
The Resurrection is the central tenet of the Christian faith. The Apostle Paul stated that:
And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
1 Cor 15:14-19
What this means is that the implications of the resurrection weigh greatly upon the Christian worldview.
So what does it mean if Christ was resurrected?
1. God is real
Obviously, if one doesn't believe in God, a man claiming to be God and rising from the dead would seem to indicate that God does exist. However, Jesus has stated that even this wouldn't convince the hardest skeptic. But this does not diminish the strong evidential nature of the resurrection, it only describes the skeptic's state of mind.
2. Christianity is True
If we can be sure from the evidence that Jesus is the son of God, he died on a Roman cross for our sins, and rose from the dead, Christianity follows.
3. All other worldviews are false
The law of non contradiction states that two opposing ideas cannot both be true at the same time and the same way. The statement "all religions are basically the same" or "all religions are equally true" are patently false. However, they could all be false, even Christianity. But, the resurrection would be evidence that the Christian worldview is true and all others would be false given the identity of Jesus being confirmed by the resurrection.
If you can show good, historically reliable evidence for the resurrection (and there is), then you have done most of the work in showing all other worldviews are false and have shown the truth of Christianity as Paul stated so long ago:
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. 1 Cor 15 20-28
Southern Culture can be summed up in one word - Church. The communities in the south are centered around the local Church. During the civil rights era, leaders met at local African American churches and many of the civil rights leaders were pastors.
In the 21st century, it is still the case that the culture in the south is centered around going to church, though this is changing. But this being the case, it may come as a surprise that Apologetics is not something often discussed or taught from the pulpits or the Sunday School classrooms. I have often asked myself why this is the case. As I peruse the schedules of many apologetics speakers, I see dates on the west coast, east coast, and the mid west, but few if any in the southeastern US.
There are many possible reasons for this, but we will talk about just a few. I conducted an very informal poll asking how important the evidence for Christianity was to southern Christians. Overwhelmingly, those polled believed it was very important. So what gives?
The church takes its' marching orders from the top. If members aren't hearing apologetics from the pulpit, they will assume it's not very important or may not even know there is actual evidence for our faith. If a particular pastor doesn't believe apologetics are necessary, the congregation will usually follow suit, which brings us to another point:
Christianity is an historical faith. It is based on a real historical event - the resurrection of Jesus. But many see faith as a blind endeavor. But it becomes obvious that faith isn't blind faith or it wouldn't need the qualifier. Faith comes from the Greek word pistis 'belief' while the verb is pisteo 'believe'. It basically means to be persuaded to trust. Yet most Christians think they are simply to trust without any reasons. Many take the story of Thomas to mean you don't need evidence.
24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” - John 20:24-29
When we read the words of Jesus to Thomas, we often do not read it in its' full context.
A biblical understanding of faith should bring us to realize that we put our trust in Christ based on being persuaded by the evidence, though as J. Warner Wallace has stated, many of us are accidental Christians.
3. Emotional response
The 20th century saw an end to the intellectual leadership of the faith and a beginning to a purely emotional response to Christianity. Think about many of the services we attend. You will hear things like "we just want to feel your Spirit LORD" or "LORD, let us feel your presence". Many of us talk of feeling the LORD moving in our lives. But our faith no longer seems to appeal to our intellect as well. Jesus said to:
"Love the LORD your God with your heart, soul, mind, and strength".
Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias said "What I believe in my heart must make sense in my mind". Christian apologetics is nothing new. The first apologists were students of the apostles and their students. Irenaeus - who was a student of Polycarp - wrote Against Heresies in response to Gnosticism. CS Lewis was stated "Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered". Tertullian wrote in the early 3rd century that Christians were called "haters of mankind". Haters gonna hate, right? It seems there truly is nothing new under the sun - including Christians use of apologetic arguments to deal with objections to the faith. Yet the purely emotional response to our faith has lead to bad and heretical teachings that have become part of the popular Christian book sales we see today.
This is the part that makes us uneasy. Apologetics requires study. It doesn't necessarily require a Christian to go to seminary (unless the LORD has so called you). There are a plethora of books on apologetics from very great and learned authors designed to help the average Joe Christian understand and navigate the objections they hear from their non Christian friends while strengthening their own faith. But, as will all Christian disciples such as prayer, bible reading, etc. - it requires effort. I have heard many say that it's too hard or they just don't understand that stuff. But most of us didn't understand Math until we went to class and did our homework. We must remember that we are commanded to give a defense of Christianity when asked.
"but 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
It's not an option. We must be prepared to give a defense.
Christianity in the south is slowly becoming a minority as more and more people move south who have very different worldviews. If we as Christian southerners hope to affect the culture for Christ, we will have to begin putting our noses to the grindstone and begin studying. How can we begin doing this?
This year, instead of doing the typical youth conference, invite an apologetics speaker who is gifted in the area of youth such as Sean McDowell or Brett Kunkle.
At this year's women's conference, invite speakers such as Mary Jo Sharp, Alisa Childers, Natasha Crain, or Claudia Kalmikov.
Host an apologetics conference of your own with some great speakers such as J. Warner Wallace, Greg Koukl, Frank Turek, Bobby Conway, Alan Shelmon, Richard Howe, Scott Klusendorf, and a host of others.
There are more available apologetics resources than every before and there are probably gifted people in your local church who would love to head up such a project.
Well, what are you waiting for? Get started!
For most people, tolerance means allowing people to believe whatever they want without fear of persecution or prosecution. This means that if I think a goat from Mars is the god of the universe, I should be able to think that and promote that without being jailed or bullied.
The real question is, does the fact that I have that belief mean my belief is just as true and valid as any other belief?
The logical answer to that is NO.
Now, before we start asking why is this view is true and not that view, let's deal with some basic laws of logic. Logic is not the stuff Mr. Spock talks about on Star Trek (in fact, much of what Spock says is not logical). Logic (from the Greek Logike), deals with valid reasoning but especially in philosophy, science and mathematics.
4 basic laws of logic are:
For example, if I say Tom is both a man and a woman, this statement cannot be true if I mean that Tom is both a gender man and a gender woman. However, if I mean Tom is a gender man but behaves like a woman, then the statement is not contradictory and does not violate The Law of Non-Contradiction.
Keeping this in mind, lets take a look at religious views. While there are many religious views, they cannot all be true. Au Contraire, you might say, all religions teach being good, loving humanity, etc. True, most religions have these basic tenets, but it's the differences that show all religions are not basically the same.
Hinduism is pantheistic - that is, they believe that God and the Universe are one in the same and that there is more of a divine consciousness that we are all a part of. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are theistic - that is, they believe God is a unique person and is separate from His creation.
And in comparing those theistic worldviews, Judaism and Islam teach a works based or law-keeping salvation (and in Islam, being perfect is still no guarantee) as where Christianity teaches a substitutionary atonement for sin based on the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus.
Here, you can see that all of these worldviews cannot be true. So, how does this translate into our pluralistic society and how we approach tolerance?
The problem here is most people do not understand tolerance and what it means. Many assume that tolerance involves not believing your worldview is the true way (or the only true way) and in so believing, you cannot promote your worldview over others. However, this in itself is a worldview and is being promoted as superior over a worldview that believes differently. So, in that definition, a person holding to this view is being intolerant.
Such a worldview is illogical. Even Atheism, in the sense it does not believe all worldviews are equally true, is not illogical on those grounds.
So, is a Christian who tells people that the Christian worldview is the only true worldview and that all others are false being intolerant? No, they are not.
In the US, the Constitution guarantees the right to practice whatever religion you see fit, however, it doesn't guarantee the right to not have your views challenged in the public marketplace of ideas and it doesn't mean the challenge itself is equal to religious intolerance. If you have the belief, you should be able to defend its' validity and then, go have a cup of coffee with those you disagree with.