Posted on February 12, 2024
By Don Hawkins, D. Min.
“Let me introduce my longtime friend, Dr. Thomas Lewis.” Bob began the evening as three couples met at the home of Bob and Susan for their weekly Bible study. “Last week we had quite a discussion on the subject of worldview, and I felt it would be helpful for all of us as grandparents to get a more in-depth perspective on this issue.”
“I agree that would certainly be helpful,” Phil responded as he and Lisa took their seats in the spacious den. “Our oldest grandson, Tommy, is sixteen, and some of the things he’s hearing in school and elsewhere have certainly given Lisa and me cause for concern -- his parents also.”
Brad and Betty, the third couple, nodded vigorously, and Betty added, “We now have three teenage grandchildren, and lately their attitude toward church and Christian things has really been negative and disturbing.”
“That’s why I invited Thomas to share some things with us tonight about worldview that may help us in dealing with what our grandchildren are being exposed to today.” Bob turned to his guest. “Let me tell you a little more about Dr. Lewis. He’s known as a Christian apologist.”
“’I don’t suppose that mean he specializes in apologizing for being a Christian?” Brad sarcastically asked with a twinkle in his eye.
“Not at all,” Bob replied. “He specializes in providing a logical defense of the Faith. In fact First Peter 3:15 is the basis for what he does. It tells us to be ready always to give an answer, or an apologia, a defense, to anyone who asks a reason for our hope in Christ. Thomas studied at Dallas Seminary under the late Dr. Norm Geisler, and he spent several years working with Josh McDowell, who wrote More Than a Carpenter and Evidence That Demands a Verdict.”
“We know about Josh,” Lisa interjected. “He’s the main speaker on the videos on the GrandCoaching™ course Phil and I enrolled in. It’s an online course to teach grandparents how to use life coaching skills to help head their grandchildren off from some of the cultural dangers today.”
“I’m familiar with it, and I recommend it,” Thomas responded. “Now, Bob if you will open our session in prayer, I’ll be glad to talk a little bit about Christian apologetics.”
Apologetics and Worldview
Dr. Lewis began his discussion with an explanation of the goal of Christian apologists. “They are typically responding to people who don’t accept the Christian faith or the Bible,” he explained. “Their goal is to demonstrate that the Christian worldview is logical, rational, and thus can and should be believed.”
“So what exactly do you mean by worldview?” Betty asked. “I don’t want to sound ignorant, but in all my years of attending a Bible-teaching church, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard that term.”
“I’m glad you asked,” Thomas replied. “Recently I was doing some research on the bible.org website, and I came across the following definition. “A worldview is the sum of a person’s basic assumptions, which they hold consciously or subconsciously, about life and the nature of reality.’”
“Now, I would assume that those of us here hold to a Christian worldview,” Bob responded. “So, how many other worldviews are there, and what are they?”
“I remember Dr. Geisler explaining in class that there were seven worldviews,” Thomas stated, ticking them off his fingers. “Deism, pantheism, Eastern religions such as Hinduism, which are similar to pantheism, finite godism, polytheism, atheism, and the one where the Christian faith fits in—theism.”
“I figured atheism would be in there somewhere,” Brad noted.
Thomas went on. “Some writers see as many as eight worldviews—Christian Theism, deism, naturalism-which is where atheism fits—nihilism, existentialism, Eastern pantheism, and postmodernism.”
“Now I’m really confused,” Betty stated. “I had no idea there were so many worldviews. Is there any way to simplify this?”
Thomas replied, “Actually there is. Recently I was reading a book by C. S. Lewis, A Severe Mercy. In it he reduces the number of worldviews to three-- materialism or atheism, Hinduism or Eastern religion, and Christianity-- and he actually states that Islam is a simplification of the Christian worldview. In a letter to Sheldon Vanauken, Lewis further concluded that the best options could be narrowed down to Hinduism or Eastern religion and Christianity, and from there to Christianity alone, because of the person and work of Christ.”
“I’m familiar with a number of Lewis’s books, and I’ve read Mere Christianity,” Brad stated. “Pretty strong stuff.”
“I’ve spent quite a bit of time studying Lewis and others, like Josh McDowell and William Lane Craig, who have devoted their lives and writings to defending the faith.” Thomas stated. “I would recommend anything those men have written, as well as my seminary professor Dr. Geisler, who is now in heaven, and there are other Christian apologists—maybe I can email each of you a list of recommended authors on the subject.”
GrandCoaching™ and worldview
“Also, I’m glad to hear that Phil and Lisa are taking the online GrandCoaching™ course. I was asked to review it by Dr. Don Hawkins, a seminary classmate of mine, for The Master Life Coach Training Institute team. I was particularly intrigued by the way they incorporated my friend Josh McDowell’s videos on truth with Biblical concepts on discipleship and tools for Christian life coaching. I would recommend it as beneficial for you other couples as well.”
“So, what about Eastern religions—Hinduism, and even the New Age movement?” Bob asked. “Aren’t they really just forms of pantheism—the idea that God is everything and everything is God?”
“I remember Dr. Geisler debunking that one in our apologetics class,” Thomas replied. “His conclusion was that, to say that God and the universe are one says nothing meaningful about God, and in reality is essentially the same as atheism.”
“So, if as you suggest, naturalistic atheism, Eastern mysticism and theism are the basic accepted worldviews of the most accepted, why do we find so much of public education and other influences undermining the Christian worldview?” Phil posed the question, shaking his head, then continued. “My grandson Jerry and I were talking the other day, and it seems like he’s been indoctrinated with the idea that, if you can’t prove it scientifically, it can’t be proven. And as far as he’s concerned, Christianity can’t be proven.”
Two kinds of proof
“That’s something I hear a lot these days,” Thomas replied. “Our kids are being taught that scientific evidence is the only kind that’s valid. But that’s just not the case.
“Every courtroom in America functions on the basis of two kinds of evidence-- scientific and eyewitness. And there’s an important distinction. With scientific evidence, you can take it into a laboratory and test it. DNA testing fits that category; it has resulted in the conviction of many murderers.
“But so has eyewitness testimony. And that’s exactly the kind of evidence we find in Scripture.”
Taking his copy of the Bible, Thomas suggested, “Turn to Second Peter 1.” As each member of the Bible study group opened their copy of Scripture to the passage, Thomas continued, “Now look at verse 15. ‘For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ but were-- and what’s the next word?”
“Eyewitnesses,” each of the group responded with some vigor.
“This is where your grandson Jerry and others have been undermined in terms of their view of the Bible, Phil. It contains valid eyewitness testimony. In fact, Paul bases the truth of the Gospel in First Corinthians 15 on two forms of validation. In verse three he writes ‘Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and he was buried.’ I used to wonder why Paul included that last part. Then I realized that burial was a proof that Christ really died. A man named Hugh Schonfeld wrote a book called The Passover Plot—and I’m not recommending it—in which he asserted that Jesus really didn’t die on the cross. He only passed out, and when they put him in the tomb the cool air revived him, and his followers used that to claim that he rose from the dead. “
“Rank heresy,” Brad interjected.
“Absolutely,” Thomas replied. “The eyewitness evidence of his death recorded in the Gospels, plus His burial, provide clear proof that He died for our sins.
“But in First Corinthians 15 Paul goes on to write ‘And he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,’ and then gives a list of ‘He was seen by…’ eyewitnesses. Peter, Mary Magdalene. The eleven remaining apostles. And Paul cited a group of over 500 believers who saw Jesus alive after his crucifixion, most of whom were still living when Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. The eyewitness evidence for our Christian faith is overwhelming.”
“But I have two questions,” Betty had not spoken, but had been listening intently to Dr. Lewis. “Are there specific proofs we should be aware of for the existence of God? And how do we respond to people who say Jesus was just another man, may be a good moral teacher, but certainly not someone who claimed to be God. I actually heard that the other day in the beauty shop.”
Arguments for the existence of God
“I’m glad you asked, Betty,” Thomas responded with a smile. “I think I have just enough time this evening to briefly respond to both of your questions.
“As I recall from my seminary class, there were four basic arguments for the existence of God.
· Teleological, and
The Ontological argument—sorry for the fifty-cent word! Simplified, this argument states that the fact that there is the idea of the greatest, most perfect, or necessary being infers that such a being exists.
“The cosmological argument, sometimes called the design-designer, states that the complexity of the universe implies a super intelligent being designed and created it. The illustration I like to use is, no one would ever imply that you could take the components of my watch, put them in a blender and blend them for 10,000 years, and they would come out as a timepiece that could be trusted to tell time accurately.
“The teleological argument sees meaning and purpose in the universe and concludes that a great and purposeful Being must have designed it.
“Last but not least, the fourth typical argument the moral argument, argues for the existence of a morally perfect Being based on the existence of a moral code̶— which although typically violated—is present in the human mind and in every social group.
“Now, we have to remember that no one will come to faith in Christ based on these arguments," Thomas concluded. "But if you read and study the writings of people like Josh McDowell, Norman Geisler, and William Lane Craig, you will learn much more about how to use these and other arguments to equip your grandchildren to defend the faith.”
What about Jesus?
“I know we’re almost out of time,” Betty interjected. “But can you give us a brief summary of how to answer what my granddaughter told me her history teacher claimed? She told the class that Jesus was just another religious figure and certainly was not God.”
Thomas replied, “I believe C.S. Lewis probably provided the best response to that question in one of his best-known sayings. Dr. Geisler actually had us memorize it.
“‘You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.’
“To clarify, what Lewis meant was that a person who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said could not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic, a liar, or the Lord himself.”
“Spoken as only Lewis could put it,” Bob concluded, standing to dismiss the study group. “And as I recall, Josh McDowell has used that same statement—called it the ‘trilemma.’”
“He did indeed,” Thomas replied. “And for those of you who haven’t yet signed up for that online Grandcoaching course, you’ll find a lot more to learn from Josh in those lessons. Remember, Pilate asked the question ‘What is truth?’ Jesus’ answer was clear. ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me.’”
Don Hawkins, D. Min. is the Chief Content Officer for the Master Life Coach Training Institute and the President/CEO of Encouragement Communications. He hosts the Saturday evening call-in program “Encouragement Live,” and has authored over 25 books including Master Discipleship Today, Friends in Deed and Never Give Up.