I have spoken a lot about evangelism. In my view, we often over-complicate it. For the most part, if you know the gospel and you’ve got lips and a tongue, you’re pretty much good to go. Share your story, point people to the saviour you know, tell people why you love Jesus and why you find the gospel compelling. Most of that is just your opinion about what you have come to believe. And most of us don’t need much training in spouting our opinions off about almost anything.
But there is one apologetic question I think it pays to have in your arsenal. The reason being, almost every other apologetic question comes back to it in the end. It doesn’t really matter whether somebody is asking you about the Trinity, justification by faith alone, how God can allow evil and suffering, or almost any other thorny question you might get asked; all of them ultimately end up at this one in the end. Whatever you are asked, it boils down to this: why believe the Bible?
What do we know about God? Ultimately, what he has revealed about himself in scripture and nature. What do we know about the human condition? Fundamentally, what the Bible tells us. What do we know about the end of all things? What God has given us to know in the Bible. On and on we could go. But underlying every question about the Christian faith is this, what does the Bible say and why believe it?
The ultimate apologetic question is, why believe the bible? If you can trust the Bible, and there are good reasons to believe what it says is true, just about every other apologetic question becomes moot. If the Bible is a believable, true and accurate record that uniquely tells us about God and how he is to be worshipped by his creation, every question can be answered with, ‘because that’s what the Bible tells me and there are good reasons to believe it is true.’
In our discussions with Muslim friends, the trinity frequently becomes a topic of conversation. And I’m more than happy answering questions about the Trinity. But, in the end, the reason I believe in the Trinity isn’t specifically because it makes sense (though, I think it does) but because that is how God has revealed himself in the scriptures and I believe the Bible is true. If the Bible is true and accurate, it doesn’t matter whether I can make sense of the Trinity or not. What matters is that this is how God has revealed himself to us.
The same is true for the question of evil and suffering. It doesn’t matter if I can offer philosophically sophisticated arguments for how a good God can allow these things (though I think such things do exist). What matters is that the Bible tells me why God allows these things and, if it is a true and accurate record that can be believed, it doesn’t matter whether I find the philosophical arguments credible or not. What matters is that the Bible, which is true and trustworthy, tells me it is so.
Now, don’t mishear me. I am not suggesting that apologetics is a waste of time. I am not saying no other apologetic questions matter. All I am saying is that you don’t necessarily need to know all those answers to give compelling reasons for what you believe because most of them come back to this one: can I trust the Bible? Is the Bible true? If the answer to those questions is ‘yes’, then we merely need to appeal to what it says for something to be true. And, if we’re honest, the reason most of us believe the things we do about God and the gospel is because the Bible says they are so. Our belief is founded on the fact that what the Bible tells us is true, with all its implications regarding what it says about God, the human condition and the person of Jesus.
So, if you only bother getting to grips with one apologetic question, I’d suggest making it that one. Can I trust the Bible? If the Bible isn’t true, everything we believe may not be true. But if it is, nothing else really matters except what is says and acting upon it. And so there seems to me to be few more important questions than this one: why should I believe the Bible? Get to grips with that and all that is left is knowing it so you can point people to all the true things it says.