As a missionary who worked abroad for almost a decade in hostile environments, I’ve had opportunities to engage with people from many different backgrounds. And one thing I’ve learned over the years is that our worldviews are complex constructs. What I mean is that losing a loved one can sometimes impact what we’re willing to believe more than anything else. So you might make an elegant and sophisticated case from the Kalam Cosmological Argument that falls on deaf ears because the thing that’s influencing the person’s worldview the most at that moment is the passing of their mother three months ago. You see what I mean?
Worldviews are complex. And worldviews are composed of four necessary components from which they answer life’s questions: 1) origin, 2) meaning, 3) morality, and 4) destiny. And, for any worldview to be truly satisfying, it must pass the three tests for truth: 1) logical consistency, 2) empirical adequacy, and 3) experiential relevance. And, in my experience, it’s the last test upon which most apologetic methods stumble: arguments that rely heavily on scientific evidences have no “experiential relevance” for the vast majority of people’s life. And this is catastrophic because, for most people – though we flatter ourselves as being rational, we’re really not – they’re really just looking for simple answers to the things that matter most to them.
Kingdom case-making always argues for the existence of God (Hebrews 11:6), the authority of his Son (Matthew 28:18), and the hope of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 3:13) because these are the essential Biblical foundations that explain our “origin”, that provide our “purpose”, that establish our “morality”, and that reveal our “destiny”.
My apologetic approach makes these arguments on four levels:
- Spiritual level (i.e. “resurrection”, “revelation”, and “life fruits”)
- Moral level (i.e. “conscience”, “personal / social accountability”, and “justice”)
- Emotional level (i.e. “identity”, “meaning”, and “purpose”)
- Evidential level (i.e. “cosmic fine-tuning”, “galactic and stellar habitability”, “origin of life / DNA”, “molecular machines / irreducible complexity”, and “kalam cosmological argument”)
The “existence of God“, the “authority of his Son“, and the “hope of the Holy Spirit” are spiritual, moral, emotional, and evidential concepts. Put simply they explain our “origin”, provide our “purpose”, establish our “morality”, and reveal our “destiny” on spiritual, moral, emotional, and evidential levels.
We can and should argue for the existence of God on a spiritual level: things like the resurrection, the inspiration of God’s inerrant self-revelation (i.e. the Bible), and the essential intangible qualities of life (i.e. love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) all argue for the existence of God. As they also argue for the authority of the Son, and the hope of the Holy Spirit.
We can and should make our Kingdom case on moral levels: our personal and social sense of justice along with our need for moral standards argue for the existence of God, the authority of the Son, and the hope of the Holy Spirit. Humanity was created in the likeness of God and every person, however fractured their conscience may be, possesses a moral standard, which posits a moral standard-bearer. For our moral standard to prove true, they must be logically consistent, empirically adequate, and experientially relevant. And no moral standard can prove true in this way unless their standard-bearer both possesses those essential attributes of justice and is, himself, above humanity. Put simply, the source of our moral standard must be both “personal” and “divine”. Unless the source is “personal”, the source cannot possess the attributes of justice that form our standard. And, unless the source is divine, the standard that comes from the source is inadequate to judge humanity because it is not above humanity.
Likewise, we can and should make our Kingdom case on emotional and evidential levels: the impact that our origins have on how we understand the meaning of life, on how we conceive of life’s standards, and how we understand our destiny as human beings play out on both emotional and evidential levels. Because we were created in the likeness of God, our identity necessitates correspondence with his attributes. And his order can be observed throughout his creation.
Kingdom case-makers have to remember that the people we engage are first and foremost people. We must never lose the person in the question. We must always “answer the question-er” because every person is the complex sum of their life. They cannot be reduced to “rationalistic characters”. I am advocating here for holistic apologetists who make the Kingdom’s case to the whole person, not just to their mind (nor excluding it), but to their spiritual, emotional, moral, and rational person!