- Proverbs 26:4-5: Formal contradiction, but profoundly instructive upon reflection
(1) Sometimes we should ignore foolishness so that we don’t give it more credit than it deserves.
(2) Sometimes we should answer fools in ways that expose their folly.
- Wisdom is required to know when to do one or the other.
- Defending the faith is like this; not a blueprint, but a tool belt; know when to use what.
- Today’s lesson: a general method that can be applied in many situations; uses both vv. 4-5.
I. Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit.
- God’s work is more important than ours; rather, our work is part of his work!
- Pray for yourself: that God would open your eyes to where he is already working.
- Pray for the unbeliever: that God would open his/her eyes to the glory of Christ.
- If we really believe what we say we believe about sin, about Holy Spirit, prayer will be instinct.
II. Appeal to the whole person.
- Apologetics is not just about the quality of your arguments, but quality of your character.
- 1 Peter 3:14-17: gentleness, respect, good conscience
- Why does this matter?
(1) The purpose is not to justify yourself (i.e., win an argument).
(2) If you engage without gentleness, respect, you make him/her raise defenses.
- Crucial skill to learn: wise listening.
- Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis has led many KKK members to renounce it by listening.
III. Destabilize unbelief.
- Richard Pratt calls it “argument by folly” (Prov. 26:5)
- Remember two biblical truths about humanity: (1) Knows God; (2) Suppresses truth
- Two steps: (1) Affirm what is good (A beliefs); (2) Challenge what is false (B beliefs)
- These two steps expose fallacies, inconsistencies in unbelieving worldview.
- Acts 17:16-31: Notice what Paul does:
(1) Affirms: You have a religious instinct; quotes their own sources.
(2) Challenges: Your worship practices contradict your true instinctrepent
- Example: “No single religion has the whole truth. All religions lead us to God.”
(1) Affirm: there is one God over all people everywhere, and we all know him on some level.
(2) Challenge: by claiming no perspective has the whole truth, you are saying that you do.
- On what basis can you claim to have a larger perspective than all other religions?
IV. Re-stabilize with the gospel.
- Richard Pratt: “argument by truth” (Prov. 26:4)
- Show how the Christian worldview re-stabilizes what you have de-stabilized.
- Paul: your instinct is good, sources are right, if placed in proper context.
- Back to our example: God is indeed far beyond us, incomprehensible, and that is why we must depend on his revelation. ScriptureJesus Christ.
- Press the claims of Jesus: God’s final Word, only way to the Father, Lord of all.
- This is a binary choice: you either submit to Christ or you don’t.
- Conversation could go any direction; be prepared with your tool belt.
- What is this lesson really about? It’s about evangelism.
- Apologetics is really a particular way of viewing our commission to make disciples.
- We press the claims of Christ, with gentleness, with the goal of making disciples.