Apologetics is a reasoned argument in defense or justification for something. In Christian philosophy, apologetics uses intellectual frameworks to uphold the biblical worldview. Though we may not all be skilled debaters, we must be ready to defend our hope in Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:15). In How to Defend the Faith against Logical Fallacies, Part 1, we explored common critiques people have of Christianity and the logical fallacies behind these accusations. And in this blog, we will continue our discussion. But first, if you would like some introductory tools for engaging in apologetics, you can read The Daily Grace Company’s blog, How to Defend Your Faith.
A logical fallacy is a false argument based on faulty logic. Because of sin, we all are prone to making logical fallacies. But, through His saving grace, God restores our minds to know truth and overcome sin’s corruption. When we engage with others who use logical fallacies to critique Christianity, we can do so with humility, recognizing that God is the only One who knows and understands all. In Jesus, we are enlightened to the path of life, but without Him, we are in darkness.
It is important to see that apologetics is based upon and fueled by the gospel. We do not defend a fairy tale, but we defend the fact that the Son of God lived, died for our sin, and rose from the grave so that we could be reconciled to God the Father and live with Him for eternity. We lovingly speak truth not to boast in our knowledge but to point to the Savior who removes shaky structures from beneath our feet and secures us on the solid ground of His salvation.
In Part 1, we addressed the critiques that Christians pick and choose what to follow from the Bible and that Christianity is exclusive. Below is a third common critique of Christianity and a corresponding gospel-centered response.
Christians are Hypocrites
The third critique you may hear is that Christians are hypocrites. Someone might argue Christians don’t truly live out what they believe and, therefore, claim that our faith as a whole is meaningless. This person may cite scandals of famous pastors, abuses within the church, or even ways you have disappointed him or her. The logical fallacy behind this approach is ad hominem, which is attacking a person’s character and using such attacks to diminish the validity of his or her argument.
Gospel Response: First, it is important to recognize and express sorrow over the fallenness of this world. Unfortunately, people throughout history have abused Christianity for personal gain and power. However, if these people sin without repentance, which is turning away from what God says is wrong and clinging to Christ for restoration, then we can infer that such people are not Christians in the first place.
Genuine belief in the gospel transforms a person through the power of Christ’s salvation. Our sins no longer define us, and our sinful nature no longer imprison us; we are new creations in Christ, and our minds are changed from their old ways of thinking (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 12:2).
This truth rests upon the accomplishment of Jesus Christ. Christianity holds that Jesus lived a perfect life on our behalf, died the punishment we deserved, and rose from the grave. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are books of the Bible that serve as primary sources to validate these events. If Jesus is alive, then He truly conquered sin. And, if He has given us His Spirit, then life is possible for us as well.
When we place our faith in Jesus, we, too, conquer sin. We no longer desire to rebel; instead, we desire to please God the Father (Colossians 3:5). We can use the apostle Paul as an example. Paul persecuted Christians; but, when he had an encounter with the risen Savior, Paul became a leading figure in the early church. Though we will still wrestle with lingering sins in this life, the fact of Christ’s resurrection does not change. And we can be confident that the Holy Spirit will continue to work in us until the day when our transformation into the perfect image of Jesus is complete (Philippians 1:6).
If the conversation continues…
Additionally, someone might then claim that arguing no true Christian goes on sinning without genuine repentance is the no true Scotsman fallacy. In this fallacy, the arguer avoids a valid criticism with an appeal to purity. The fallacy goes something like this:
Person A: "No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge."
Person B: "But my uncle Angus is a Scotsman, and he puts sugar on his porridge."
Person A: "But no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge."
The no true Scotsman fallacy is a fallacy because it changes the definition of the subject. In the example above, Person A changes the definition of a Scotsman by relating being a Scotsman to putting sugar on porridge. But, in actuality, being a Scotsman has nothing to do with putting sugar on porridge; it is solely a national identity.
This fallacy is not at play when we say that no true Christian sins without genuine repentance because turning away from what God says is wrong and clinging to Christ for restoration is exactly what it means to be a Christian. Christianity does not claim that believers are sinless; instead, it claims that believers are covered in the sinlessness of Jesus. Even after we fall short, again and again, the Holy Spirit continuously encourages us to deny sin, live like the Savior, and ultimately depend on Him as we do so.