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21 AP301 Apologetics

Course Description

An introduction to the rationale for apologetics and its place in contemporary multi-religious societies.

Students will be introduced to different methodologies and character qualities needed in responding in a Christian and Wesleyan way to questions about the Christian faith, practices, and community. How to discover local questions and sources of opposition and strategies for finding appropriate responses will be developed. Both classical and contemporary issues in apologetics are briefly addressed: the existence of God, the problem of evil and suffering, the authority of the Bible, the supremacy of Christ, the existence and purpose of humanity, current world views such as post-modernism (free thinker/agnostic which is the current western religion), and religions found close to the student. The importance of a good character will be emphasized. The use of visual arts and music as an apologetic tool will be explored.

Course Rational

When Christians dialog with others, many questions are raised. Some come from a moral rejection and some from competing worldviews that challenge the very basis of Christianity. A Christian should not respond from pride by using answers as a weapon to prove they are right. However, the example of Jesus shows us that many people need clear answers to difficult questions so they can consider His claims. Apologetic answers allow a Christian to use the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, etc., to reply with integrity and Christian grace to those who sincerely search for the truth. Respect flowing from holy love for our neighbor must inform all our best responses. At the same time, the positive expression of the arts can be a means of communicating the Christian worldview to contemporary cultures. For example, painting that celebrates beauty and wholeness communicates the goodness of God in creation. Music that penetrates the heart and imagination can change the perspective of a hostile individual. The course may require flexibility and creative teaching methodology. It will be important that students engage in their community.

Program Outcomes

Content

CN-5 Ability to identify and explain the main characteristics of the theological foundations of Christianity.

CN-14 Ability to summarize the sources of theological reflection, its historical development, and its contemporary expressions.

CN-19 Ability to assess relevant resources to respond to the primary concerns and objections to Christianity from a variety of global cultures, religions, and non-theistic positions.

Competency

CP-16 Ability to analyze the validity of arguments and to identify their presuppositions and consequences.

CP-17 Ability to think critically and communicate both gently and clearly the critical rationales of the Christian faith in postmodern, pluralistic, and multi-faith contexts.

Character

CH-5 Ability to demonstrate Christian ethics consistently with integrity in public, decision making, and conducting oneself in today’s world.

Context

CX-1 Ability to identify and describe the events, personalities, social structures, and history that help shape the context in which we minister.

CX-6 Ability to compare between worldviews and values from the Bible, contemporary cultures, and the local context.

CX-7 Ability to respond with a biblical perspective about issues relevant to the Asia-Pacific context including issues like magic, spiritism, demonic possession, ancestral veneration, divine cure.

CX-10 Ability to identify and apply principles of cross-cultural communication.

Activity Outcomes

Continuing Education

CED-1 Develop the mind of Christ through growing closer to God, studying God’s Word, the needs of the cultural context, and ways to help others grow spiritually.

CED-3 Demonstrate how to evaluate and prioritize church and community issues in light of social and environmental aspects in order of urgency. Actively collaborate with local officials, demonstrating an awareness of their roles, and seek to bring appropriate solutions that make the church a positive asset in bringing remedy or relief.

Dealing Biblically with the Spirit World

DBS-1 Model Christ through personal victory over sin and confidence in dealing with the spirit world.

DBS-2 Identify clear Biblical passages appropriate to responding to the spirit world that does not involve proof texting.

DBS-3 Articulate a clear understanding of the role of discernment in a spiritual power encounter. Explain how the Church historically responded biblically to the spirit world and other religions.

DBS-5 Explain how to distinguish between demonic or spirit activity in distinction to physical or psychological phenomena. Explain the most common ways that demonic activities are expressed in your culture / context. Prepare people to train effectively train people to adequately respond to the spirit world while clearly understanding of the role of prayer and fasting.

Disciple

DIS-4 Use the reading of God’s Word to foster spiritual growth and for personal devotions.

DIS-6 Write then share your conversion/spiritual journey narrative.

Evangelize

EVA-1 Demonstrate Christlikeness by bearing witness to salvation in Christ to a non-believer.

EVA-2 Demonstrate passion and urgency for reaching the lost by developing contact points and relationships among the unsaved in the community. Develop holistic approaches that consider the physical and emotional needs within the community.

EVA-3 Explain how to create church outreach models that give room for interaction with not-yet-believers. Build an inventory of felt needs in the community and discover ways the church can be a part of fulfilling those felt needs. Demonstrate how to communicate evangelistically and to be engaged with and equip others in personal and congregational evangelism.

EVA-4 Demonstrate at least 5 culturally and age appropriate patterns for presenting salvation to non-believers in their community. Demonstrate how to tell the stories and theology of the Bible to non-believers using language that is easy to understand and appropriate to all ages.

EVA-5 Demonstrate intentionally building and modeling strong and honest relationships with non-believers; praying for the not yet saved and teaching others to do the same; bringing grace into others’ lives through helping to meet felt needs and being an example of righteous living. Explain how to present Christ’s claims on a person.

Impact Community

ICO-5 Tell the story of historical examples of the interaction of meeting human needs and sharing the gospel and explain how to balance them.

ICO-7 Describe the mutual impact of Christianity and the following; Islam, Buddhism, Tribal / Pagan Religions and Hinduism.

Ministry

MIN-7 Compare and contrast the cultural background and the understanding of the universe presented in the Scripture with the local culture, in the context of ministry and evangelism. Compare and contrast different ministry practices used by local congregations in different cultural contexts.

Prayer

PRA-1 Model the prayers of Christ and His relationship to the Father through a strong passion for a life of prayer shown by devoting time to prayer and keeping a prayer journal, including a list of lost people for whom God has made them responsible.

PRA-3 Explain the difference between a Biblical prayer and prayers from other religions, such as Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and folk religions, etc. Explain speaking in tongues from a Nazarene perspective. Explain various life situation prayers, and be able to list various kinds of historical prayers.

Content 29%
Competency 23%
Character 17%
Context 31%

Course Texts

Bruce, F.F. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? Paperback – April 2, 2003

Cioccolanti, Steve. From Buddha to Jesus: An Insider’s View of Buddhism & Christianity (Comparative World Religions). Steve Cioccolanti. Kindle Edition.

Greeson, Kevin. The Camel: How Muslims Are Coming to Faith in Christ. 2010.

Medearis, Carl. Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism. David C. Cook, 2011.

McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Evidence I & II Fully Updated in One Volume to Answer the Questions Challenging Christians in the 21st Century. Nov 21, 1999

Ramsay, William M. The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament. 1914 (Available on Internet Archive)

Strobel, Lee. Any of the following books or others:

The Case for a Creator. 2004.

The Case for Christ. 2016.

The Case for Faith. 2014.

Truesdale, Al. With Cords of Love: A Wesleyan Response to Religious Pluralism. Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 2006.

Zacharias, Ravi. Walking from East to West: God in the Shadows. 2010.

Zacharias, Ravi. Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message. Or other books. See www.rzim.org.

Course Requirements

  1. The local school’s attendance policy should be placed here.
  2. Bible Reading and Prayer Journal: Students should read through the Bible as designated in the Master Plan for Bible Reading in the Course of Study. For this course, students will read Lamentations 1 – Ezekiel 28 and James 1 – 2 Peter 3. As part of the Scripture reading for each week, students will keep a journal. In this journal, answer these personal questions, “How does God speak to me or my family today through His word? How does this reading help me to love others?” Entries should be made at least weekly for semester courses or daily for intensives. Each entry should be at least one paragraph of 200 words.

(Outcomes CED-1, DBS-1, DIS-4, PRA-1)

  1. Interviews: Survey at least eight people from the following kinds of beliefs (as available): Christian, free-thinker agnostic, and other religions in your area. Ask the following basic questions: “Do you believe God exists? Why or why not?” Write down their responses and reply to each of the responses. Reflect on the interviews and offer a 2 to 3 page reflection on the unique message of the gospel of Jesus Christ and how a Christian could respond to these beliefs.

(Outcomes CN-19, CP-17, CX-10, EVA-1, EVA-2)

  1. Uniqueness of the Bible: Write a one-page (250 words) response to this statement: “The Bible is no different than any other religious book.”

(Outcomes CN-5, CX-1, DBS-2, MIN-7, PRE-4, PRE-11)

  1. Religious Service Report: Attend a religious service from two different religions in your community and write a one-page reflection of your experience. Students may work together in teams of at least two on this experience and report. Interact with at least one person from this service.

(Outcomes CN-19, CX-6, DBS-5, EVA-1, EVA-2, ICO-7, PRA-3)

  1. Church Outreach Model: Develop an outreach model for a local church in your context how to share the gospel to people of other religions of your area. This might be through a special program, compassionate ministry outreach, youth or children’s event, or other way that is culturally appropriate. An interview with a local pastor can be part of this report.

(Outcomes CX-7, CED-3, EVA-3, ICO-2)

  1. Final Exam: Answer the question “Why do you believe what you believe?” Use examples from the course, Bible passages, and other resources to answer this question. This exam can be give also as a take-home exam or separate essay assignment.

(Outcomes CP-16, DBS-2, DBS-3, DBS-5, ICO-5)

Course Evaluation

Journal                                               10 %

Interviews                                           20 %

Uniqueness of the Bible                      20 %

Religious Service Report                    20 %

Church Outreach Model                     10 %

Final Exam                                          20 %

Grading Policy

A         90-100%

B         80-89%

C         70-79%

D         60-69%

45-59%           (Passable for the certificate level and toward the requirements for being ordained in the Church of the Nazarene)

If a student marks a final grade lower than 45% he or she must take the course again for credit at the diploma level

Course Outline

  1. Introduction and Methodology
  2. Origin – where did everything come from?
    1. Christian
    2. Islam
    3. Buddhism
    4. Hindu
    5. Confucianism
    6. Classical Questions of Existence
      1. God
      2. The Universe
      3. Humans
  1. Meaning – why are we here or what is our purpose in life?
  2. Freedom/Deterministic and Materialist Systems
  3. Morality – what is good and evil?
  4. Problem of Evil and Suffering
    1. Why this question is unique to Christianity
    2. The answer of Islam,
    3. The answer of Buddhism
    4. The answer of Hinduism
  5. Biblical Authority and Reliability
  6. Destiny
    1. Christian Hope
    2. Hindu Hope
    3. Muslim Hope
    4. Buddhist Hope
  7. Uniqueness of Christ
  8. Responding other religions questions
  9. Post-modern, agnostic and atheistic objections
  10. Reason and Faith
  11. Contextual Issues
  12. Church Growth Strategies
  13. Conclusion