by Wes Moore*
Sooner or later you’re going to have to use all you learn from apologetics. As I’ve engaged the lost over the years, I’ve picked up a few lessons along the way and formulated them into what I call the “Seven Laws of Apologetics.” Here they are.
1. The other guy doesn’t know as much as you think.
- Most people don’t know what they’re talking about. What they know is what they’ve been told all their lives, what they heard in biology class, or what they saw on some anti-Christian television show. When you get one layer deeper into a subject, you find their knowledge quickly comes to an end.
2. Everybody has faith.
- Some non-Christians, especially those who are science-minded, think you operate by faith but they don’t.
But don’t be fooled—everybody has faith, even the scientist. Science itself is based on assumptions that are faith-based in nature. Here are a few: The reliability of the senses, the laws of logic, and the existence of an objective reality outside of ourselves.[i]
You can’t do science if these three things aren’t true, but you can’t prove these by science. You have to have faith.
3. A contradiction can never be true.
- As you engage the unbelieving world, no law of logic is more important than the law of contradiction. Even if this is a new term to you, you use the principle behind it every day.
This law states that something cannot be both A and non-A at the same time and in the same relationship. It cannot be true that I am Wes Moore the author of this article and I am not Wes Moore the author of this article.
The reason this is so important is that many people today accept this notion when it comes to spiritual things. As an example, non-Christians today (and, sadly, many Christians) think that all religions lead to the same God. But this is the classic case of saying a contradiction can be true.
When you study the major teachings of the world’s religions (on the nature of God, heaven and hell, salvation, man, Jesus, the Bible, etc.), you find they wildly and constantly contradict each other. Therefore, they can’t all be true.
4. Never say, “I don’t know,” twice.
- No matter how experienced you are, or how knowledgeable, you’ll invariably get a question that will stump you. And that’s okay.
Don’t let this fact discourage you. When you get a question you can’t answer, don’t give some half-thought-through answer. Make sure you know what your friend is saying and then say, “I’m not sure about that. But I’ll research it and get back to you.” Then go research the answer and come back later with a solid answer.
5. Verify everything.
- Most people don’t know what they’re talking about (Have I said that before?). When an unbeliever offers some piece of evidence or point of fact you’ve never heard of before, don’t accept it until you’ve had the chance to validate it.
That leads me to an important secondary point where this law is concerned: Read the source for yourself. Non-Christians make claims that have no basis in reality or are only partly true.
Take Asclepius, the Greek god of healing, for example. Some people claim his myth formed part of the basis for the Jesus story, but when I actually read it for myself, I saw how ridiculous the claim really was.
6. You’ve got to have proof.
- Over the years, I’ve talked to some folks who have some wacky (even to non-Christians) ideas about spiritual things.
With these kinds of people, I found myself always trying to show them why I was right and they were wrong (which is still a good strategy), until it dawned on me to turn the tables and put them on the defensive. Now sometimes my strategy is to ask them to prove to me that their crazy theories are true.
If God is a woman, give me your proof. If reincarnation is true, show me some evidence. If I am God and you are God and the trees are God, tell me how I can be sure.
The harsh truth is, in most cases, there is no proof; there’s only wild conjecture by those who write books, supposed authorities who found their ideas on unsubstantiated theories.
7. Never get angry.
- Get ready for it—the lost will tick you off. They’ll say things that are outrageous or completely unfounded, and you’ll want to pounce and destroy your target. But you can’t!
You’ve got to maintain your cool. Here’s why it’s always a bad idea to get angry when discussing issues of faith:
- Anger escalates into arguing and conflict, not conversion.
- Anger keeps you from understanding what the other person is really saying.
- Anger keeps you from responding properly.
The best way I’ve found to control anger is to remember that whatever point we’re debating isn’t personal. It’s about understanding what they really believe and then trying to show them the light.
In fact, you want to hear the strange, outlandish ideas of the lost around you so you can help them see their error and find the truth.
Learning from the 7 Laws
As you engage the lost in the area of apologetics, keep these seven principles in mind. They’ll make you not only more confident, but also more effective as you labor to convert souls to the God of the Bible.
*Wes Moore is a conservative Christian author and speaker, and the founder of Evidence America, an apologetics and evangelism training ministry. Wes is the author of Forcefully Advancing: The Last Hope for America and American Christianity, a book designed to equip the average Christian to engage the lost; The Maker, a futuristic apologetics novel; and The Spiritual Top 50, a non-fiction apologetics book designed to help Christians answer the questions their lost friends are asking. You can learn more about him at www.wesmoorenow.com.
[i] Jason Lisle, The Ultimate Proof of Creation, (Green Forest, AK: Master Books, 2009).
This book is a compilation of several of Dr. Bahnsen’s published works on Christian apologetics, including his Apologetics syllabus, articles on practical apologetic problems (like the problem of evil, the problem of miracles, etc.), and an exposition of Acts 17.
Especially helpful: In part five, Dr. Bahnsen lists 5 of the most often encountered attacks against Christianity and offers some great rebuttals to them using Presuppositional Apologetics.
- The Immorality of Neutrality
- The Nature of Unbelieving Thought
- The Mind of the New Man Rooted in Christ
- The Foolishness of Unbelief
- A Two-Fold Apologetic Procedure
- Answering the Fool
- Worldviews in Collision
- The Ultimate Starting Point: God’s Word
- And many more…
An Online Reviewer:
“Many have observed Bahnsen’s ability to debate, and have seen or heard how he has tackled head-on unbelievers in various venues. This work gives us some of the content of what was going through the mind of this notable apologist, whom even John Frame believed was the best debater for Presuppositionalism.
For the astute and willing student, Bahnsen provides the tools in this book to be equipped in their own apologetics with nonbelievers. As one who’s life goal was to “take it to the streets” in applying apologetics rather than just discussing theory, Bahnsen’s insight has also been tested in real debate situation. For instance, his chapter on the problem of evil will illuminate readers as to why he took the approach he did concerning the problem of “evil” in his famous debate with atheist Gordon Stein. His discussion of the problem of miracle and religious language towards the end of the work are also valuable in the apologist’s arsenal, especially for those who take it seriously to be “always ready”, even with the more philosophically sophisticated unbeliever.
The book also treats the reader with a summary of various logical fallacies to look out for which unbeliever typically make, regardless of their range of intellectual ability. Bahnsen’s strength in many of his debates have been his quickness to identify fallacious reasoning, here in this book one can see what these fallacies are for the readers to be conscious of. In my personal life, working hard in applying the lessons found in this book has resulted in some level of fruitfulness in exposing the folly of unbelief.” — Jimmy Li, 2009