That’s not Faith. This is Faith!
“Faith is not the opposite of knowledge,” Doug Groothuis, author and Christian apologist, told the record crowd in the opening plenary session at the 2014 Defend the Faith conference, Jan. 5-10, at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
More than three hundred attended the week-long conference sponsored annually by the Institute of Christian Apologetics, NOBTS, and directed by Robert Stewart, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and theology, and Greer-Heard Chair of Faith and Culture.
Faith is too often defined by today’s culture as “believing something without evidence or pretending to know something you don’t know,” Groothuis said. Instead, faith is “true, rational, and pertinent.”
There is good evidence to support the Christian faith and Christians must learn how to use it, Groothuis said. Believers can with confidence defend the Christian faith as objectively true, supported by evidence and argument, and existentially compelling, Groothuis said.
“Christianity does not call you to deny knowledge for the sake of faith,” Groothuis said.
Groothuis told of Steve Jobs, computer tech entrepreneur and founder of Apple, Inc., who came to his pastor as a young teen disturbed by the horrific famine in West Africa. Did God know ahead of time this would happen? Jobs asked. The pastor said only, “Yes, we can’t understand it, but God did.”
The pastor’s scant answer left Jobs dissatisfied and done with Christianity. Jobs then turned elsewhere for answers.
Groothuis also told of the book A Manual for Creating Atheists by Peter Boghossian, in which non-believers are called upon to demand evidence from Christians and to challenge Christians to give reasons why they believe.
“Boghossian is confident Christians cannot do this,” Groothuis said. “But I submit that we can have solid, compelling, rational arguments for why we believe what we believe.”
Apologetics—explaining and defending the faith—is “not an option for eggheads only,” Groothuis said. Every Christian must know how.
Making the Case for Christianity
Groothuis said the resources and materials in apologetics available to Christians over the last decade is encouraging, but challenged students not to rest on the victories of their apologetic heroes and not simply “to talk to each other.”
“The purpose of this teaching on apologetics is to mobilize you,” Groothuis said.
Groothuis said the first step is learning how to summarize the essential concepts of the Christian worldview. Groothuis offered this:
The universe (originally good, now fallen and awaiting its divine judgment and restoration) was created and sustained by the Triune God, who has revealed himself in nature, humanity, conscience, Scripture, and supremely through the Incarnation for the purpose of salvation and judgment.
The Christian faith and worldview offers the best explanation of ultimate reality, the human condition, and salvation through a cumulative case of evidence, Groothuis said.
Cosmology, biology, and history are three principle lines of evidence that offer support and build a cumulative case that the Christian faith is well-founded, Groothuis said. Here is a brief summary of each line of reasoning.
The Three Circles of Evidence
Physicists overwhelmingly accept that the universe, space and time came into being at The Big Bang. From this single point of beginning (called the singularity), the universe appeared out of nothing and continues to expand outward. Alternative theories have failed. All evidence coincides with the biblical view of creation ex nihilo (from nothing) and of God speaking the universe into existence.
Organisms that once were considered simple are actually quite complex, including the structure of the bacterial flagellum. The flagellum is a “whip-like” tail that is made up of a biological motor attached to the back of a bacterium and has a universal joint, propeller, drive shaft, rotor stator, and bushings. The flagellum was only recently discovered to be a molecular machine and is evidence that it was designed rather than having been produced by the mindless, directionless process of evolution. For more, read about the concept of “irreducible complexity” by Michael Behe [Darwin’s Black Box, 10th anniversary ed. Free Press, 2006, pp. 69-72).
God reveals himself through history (Luke 1:1-4; John 1:14; 1 Corinthians 15) and conventional historical methods support the reliability of the New Testament. There are 6,000 Greek NT manuscripts with little variation between them, far better than what we have for any other ancient text. It is widely accepted that the NT in its entirety was written before 100 A.D., or within 70 years of the resurrection. Matthew, Mark and Luke were written before A.D. 70. There are certain facts that all critics agree to in regards to the resurrection [see the writings of resurrection scholar Gary Habermas for more on this]. The best explanation of the evidence, the simplest one that explains the facts and the radically changed lives of the disciples is that Jesus rose bodily from the dead.
In conclusion, Groothuis said there is evidence and reason enough to support rational belief in the gospel. His final points were:
- Christianity is objectively true, rational, and personally pertinent.
- Christianity is a knowledge tradition. We can know [have a justified true belief] that it is true.
- Christianity is a better explanation of reality than any other worldview.
- We should have confidence to present Christianity in the world of ideas (Romans 1:16-17).
About Douglas Groothuis
Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy, director of the apologetics and ethics M.A., and the director of the Gordon Lewis Center for Christian Thought and Culture, Denver Seminary. Dr. Groothuis is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, Evangelical Philosophical Society, and Society of Christian Philosophers.
Among his publications are these works:
- Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Christian Faith
- Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism
- Unmasking the New Age
- Confronting the New Age
- Revealing the New Age Jesus
- Christianity That Counts
- Deceived by the Light
- Jesus in an Age of Controversy
- The Soul in Cyberspace
- On Pascal
- On Jesus
To learn more, visit his faculty page at Denver Seminary— Click here!