The Historical Faith and Central Doctrines
Good arguments have been and continue to be developed in service of major Christian teachings and tenants. The following are but a few essential doctrines.
- The existence, character and nature of God including his power and goodness in permitting suffering and human evil
- The fully deity and full humanity of Christ
- The bodily resurrection of Christ
- Humanity’s fallen state and guilt before God
- Salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Christ, by the substitutionary atonement of Christ
- Belief that Jesus is the promised Messiah - great prophet, high priest, coming king.
- The Scriptures as the Word of God which reveal to us the gospel and the aforementioned doctrines.
Important Contemporary Interactions and Frontiers
In every epoch of church history Christian Apologists must answer the questions and objections of the culture in which they travel. In the second century AD Justin Martyr interacted at great length with the Logos ideology of Greek Philosophy. I have never in my life been asked about this. I have been asked and thought a lot about the following.
- Truth as a category – in times past most believed that truth was real, external to us and discoverable. Today many think we construct our own truths and the universe will adjust and adapt to our whims. Ideas such as epistemic relativism, moral relativism, and cultural relativism must be addressed today.
- Concept of self and identity – modern people think of themselves as constructed by their experiences and environments while Scripture teaches that we are created in the image of God and unique in our personal identity. We have to interact today with a fluid concept of “youness” as many teach “you” are not even real but rather just an electrochemical phenomena working out in a pattern of star dust called the brain.
- Cultural view of authority – God is the author of and owner of our lives. Yeah, Americans love that stuff. Our view of authority is that it’s always suspect and bad. We are calling people to repent and trust Jesus as Lord of life. There are earthquakes that will go down here.
- Our view of history and the future – Do you ever watch any sci fi movies? They hardly, if ever, include anyone who believes in God. Furthermore they are many times morbid, dark and dystopia (a really bad place) views of the future being envisioned by today’s artists and story tellers. We hold that God will reign in the future and the future is bright on the earth. See a difference?
- Science/Scripture – though a strong argument can be made that science was birthed from the Christian point of view, many today want to image a war between science and faith. Additionally, theories of micro and macro evolution and how they fit (or do not fit) with the biblical narrative must be addressed.
- Biotechnology, Technobiology, Artificial Intelligence and Neuroscience – We are working today to engineer and re-engineer life on two fronts. First, we are working in gene manipulation and therapy to heal diseases but the possibility for augmentation looms real. Such work in “wetware” has potential ethical pitfalls and interacts with what it means to be human. Second, we are also working with “hardware” and computer systems to heal and augment using mechanical means. This also raises profound issues related to justice (why do all the rich people have “super brains”) and ethics. How will we understand robot intelligence and ever more interactive machines? Are they “human?” The final issue I’ll raise in this list is in “software” and the creation of artificial intelligence. Neuroscience today can simplistically assume that the brain is a computer and that is all we are. Such mind/brain identity can subvert many aspects of Christian theology and I have already been writing on these fronts.
- Environmental Concerns – Is technology our savior or an out of control evil which will destroy our world? Or both? Popular films like Avatar are wrestling with these issues, as should a good Christian thinker.
- Concerns for Universal Human Rights - what worldview grounds the existence of and the inalienable nature of universal human rights?
Finally, many times issues regarding making a defense for the faith and caring for people times converge. This list is a small sampling we wrestle with today in pastoral ministry and care.
- Sexual ethics – sex without marital trust and commitment, homosexuality, transgenderism, sexual abuse of children, pornography and sexual addiction. We both need to make a biblical case on these matters and defend that case in the public square.
- Medical ethics – abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide are all on the table in public life.
- Reproductive ethics – various forms of birth control, fertility treatments, surrogate motherhood, embryo care and lab based reproductive procedures which by pass fathers or mothers all must be addressed with care and answers.
The church as a whole must constantly do its thinking well to defend the faith and to commend the faith to people interacting with contemporary issues and problems. The above lists are by no means exhaustive but merely reading through them could seem exhausting. Thankfully, there are many in the body of Christ with deep expertise along every line above.
Furthermore, Jesus is the one who promised to build his church and nothing can prevail against it. Every culture has its challenges; every age has ideology that spews against the risen Son of God. It is to be expected and we are called to get on those walls and contend for the faith as we hold out the gospel of life for many more to be saved.
It is great to live today and belong to Jesus. May God raise up many great thinkers and apologists in our day. Maybe you? Maybe me?
 See two papers linked here - http://www.powerofchange.org/blog/2011/4/28/on-human-anthropology.html
 See my thoughts on Avatar here - http://www.powerofchange.org/blog/2009/12/19/a-few-thoughts-on-avatar.html