Have you not heard of the madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the marketplace and cried incessantly, "I’m looking for God, I’m looking for God!"
As many of those who did not believe in God were standing together there, he excited considerable laughter. "Why, did he get lost?" said one. "Did he lose his way like a child?" said another. "Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? Or emigrated?" Thus they yelled and laughed.
The madman sprang into their midst and pierced them with his eyes..
I was a lowly student at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California when I first heard what seventeenth century mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal had to say about happiness and the search for happiness. It blew me away and still does. Here's what he said:
All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end... This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves" (Penses, # 425).
This applies to you and me and to every person you will ever talk to about God's existence and the truth of Christianity. In everything we do, happiness is what we're looking for. Something deeper than the superficial happiness of another nice meal or new car. Something deeper than the much more profound happiness of human love. So what is it? And where is it?
In A Defense of Christian Defenses we established (beyond all reasonable doubt, if I may say so) that Christian apologetics is important and worthy of our time and effort. (For those harboring unreasonable doubts, I have no answers.) In this lesson we begin to think about how to do apologetics.
And we begin with a question: When we engage in reasoning about God. When we share our faith with someone who doesn't believe. Who are we talking to?
I don't mean, who specifically are we talking to---is it Fred or is it Ethel?
And I don't mean, who do Fred or Ethel believe themselves to be? If Fred is like many these days, he may have no clue: "Who am I? I'm a guy. I rise in the morning work all day and come home. I try to be a good husband and father. I'm in the third season of Breaking Bad. What are you talking about?" If my good friend Ethel is a thoughtful atheist she may respond, "Well, essentially I'm a product of nature. I'm a highly evolved biochemical machine, the result of impersonal physical laws operating over time in an impersonal material universe. If you like, I'm the forward edge of the sludge of evolution."
No. The question I'm asking here is: who do we as Christians believe Fred and Ethel to be?
Why should you and I care about learning apologetics? Why bother?
To me the answer seems self-evident. After all, it was in reading the works of Christian apologists like C.S. Lewis and Josh McDowell and John Warwick Montgomery that my mind was first opened to the idea that Jesus of Nazareth might have actually been who he claimed to be and that Christianity might actually be true. And I needed to be made open in this way, because I was skeptical.
I remember looking for the first time at McDowell's Evidence that Demands a Verdict---huge wooden cross and judge's gavel on the cover and thinking, What? Christianity being presented as the truth of history and not as mere religion? Could it really be?