I am adding a new category to my blog in order to incorporate a new passion of mine. As I wrestle through the truth claims of the Bible, God has really pushed me to learn more about Christian apologetics. I’ve had the opportunity to take a course in apologetics here at Wesley Seminary, and I’ve never been so willing to actually do the reading assignments for a class. In case you’re unfamiliar with the term apologetics, it comes from the Greek term ‘apologia’ which means ‘a defense’ or ‘justification’. So it’s the act of defending and clarifying Christianity in the face of objections or questions.
As I’ve become fairly obsessed with different writings and videos of debates on the existence of God, I’ve started to wonder if the Christian faith is something that can really be argued out to the point that someone can become convinced of its truth. For me the simplest way to answer that is: no, it can’t. But, that doesn’t mean you must abandon reason in order to put faith in Christ.
The other day I sat down with a good friend over some beers. Typically when he and I do this it’s a sure thing that we will end up discussing/debating theology. We started with one of the more simple Christian ideas and talked about the Holy Trinity. I was trying to use my newfound love of apologetics to say that its possible to rationally explain these kinds of issues. He took me to task and by the end of our conversation it was clear that while I still believed it was logical, I could not put into words properly why I believed it.
In the next few days I did some casual searching of different explanations of the Trinity and found some very compelling ones. It occurred to me that even though I believe these explanations have merit and are logical, I’m not sure you can really make someone believe them simply through description. Then, I had a conversation today that really drove the point home. The newest trailer for the upcoming Superman film came out today and I was talking about how excited I am with another friend who is also a fan. The trailer clearly paints Superman as a Christ-figure and seems to be riddled with Biblical themes. They show part of the scene when Superman’s father must send his son to Earth and my friend commented that now that he has a son whenever this idea of a father having to leave his son comes up it really affects him emotionally. I was so struck by that. This friend and I have known Superman’s story since we were both tying towels around our necks and pretending to be Christopher Reeve as 5-year-olds. We’ve also always known the story of God sending Jesus to Earth. We’ve both heard the same words and seen the same movies, but my friend now understands this on a level that I cannot.
One of the metaphors that I have heard used to explain the Trinity is marriage. My wife and I are both separate persons in one unit, one marriage. I can’t explain that with words, but I can look at my marriage and attest to its truth. I think God also uses marriage in another way when it comes to understanding our relationship with Him. I know a lot of people that think marriage is a very scary idea. A lot of them don’t know why they should bother with it when they can look around and see there is no guarantee it will last. How can you know if the person is right for you? How can you know that you will be happy? We ask these same questions about God don’t we? In both cases, our intentions are what will lead to our answers. If you are waiting for proof in order to commit yourself to someone, it will never come. You make both decisions rationally, but in the end it becomes about humility and sacrifice. Once you enter into that relationship, the doubts go away and the questions change. I’m no longer asking whether or not it was the right decision. Now I’m asking how to continue putting both God and my wife before myself, which in turn gives me fulfillment. I’m not sure I could ever put that in words in a way that it would make sense, but I believe it’s rational and logical.
In summary: God has given me enough reason to put my faith in Him, but it will always require trust. Some things we can only understand by being inside relationships.