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December 25th, 2011

Apologetics: Its Wider Scope

November 19th, 2015

Chapter 7 of Contend Earnestly For The Faith


Many defenders of the faith fail to see apologetics in its wider scope. They often focus only on one apologetic methodology, neglecting the other methodologies. Though choosing to specialize in only one type of apologetics is often admirable, ignorance of the contributions of the other methodologies is unfortunate.

In this chapter, an attempt will be made to examine the entire spectrum of the apologetic discipline. There are basically eight distinct apologetic methodologies. They are:

  1. Testimonial apologetics,
  2. Presuppositional apologetics,
  3. Psychological apologetics,
  4. Philosophical apologetics,
  5. Historical apologetics,
  6. Scientific apologetics,
  7. Comparative religious apologetics, and
  8. Cultural apologetics.


Dr. Phil FernandesTestimonial apologetics is used when a person defends the faith by appealing to evidence from either his own testimony or that of another person. Testimonial apologetics contends for the truth of Christianity by employing evidences from transformed lives and/or divine intervention in one’s life. Evidence from transformed lives deals with providing to others the information about how Jesus has changed the lives of those who have trusted in Him for salvation.

Divine intervention pertains to documenting how God has intervened in the lives of people. Examples of divine intervention would include answers to prayer and genuine episodes of miraculous healing. Regardless of what position a person takes in reference to the continuance or cessation of the spiritual gifts of healings, most Christians would agree that God does at times still heal in answer to prayer.

Many people who consider themselves opposed to the practice of apologetics unknowingly use testimonial apologetics. When they evangelize others, resistance to the gospel is often countered by utilizing testimonial apologetics. The use of testimonial evidences is as much a part of apologetics as any other evidences.


Presuppositional apologetics denies the validity of all other apologetic approaches. This technique for defending the faith teaches that a believer must assume or presuppose the truth claims of Christianity rather than argue for them. On this point presuppositional apologetics is in agreement with fideism. However, presuppositionalists specialize in tearing down anti-Christian belief systems, something true fideists do not do.

The presuppositional methodology is vital to the apologetic task. Still, presuppositionalists need to appreciate the other forms of apologetic argumentation. Presuppositional apologetics is an effective way to defend the faith, but it is not the only way.


Dr. Phil FernandesPsychological apologetics focuses on man’s psychological need for the God of the Bible. This approach appeals more to the will and the emotions of the person than to his or her intellect. This methodology deals with issues such as the meaningless of life without God. It attempts to explain the dilemma of man (man is both great and cruel).

Psychological apologetics targets the thirst within man to transcend his present earthly experience. This seldom-used approach can be very effective when dealing with modern man. Today’s secular thinkers have generally lost confidence in the power of human reason to find ultimate truth. Yet, modern man has not been able to quench his thirst for meaning.

It is here that Christianity has much to offer. For, the gospel makes sense of life and gives meaning to human existence. Without the God of the Bible, mankind is without any real purpose. However, if one assumes the existence of the God of the Bible, then man has eternal significance. What one does or does not do in this life really does matter. Only Christianity can quench modern man’s thirst for transcendence.


Philosophical apologetics provides rational argumentation for the truth of Christianity. This methodology has been extremely effective in the past. It can also be very successful today among those who have not lost faith in man’s reasoning ability to find answers of ultimate importance.

Philosophical apologetics serves several purposes. It can be utilized in refuting atheism and other anti-Christian world views, providing evidence for God’s existence, proposing solutions to the problem of evil, and establishing the possibility of miracles. Philosophical apologists also argue for the existence of universal moral laws.

Those defenders of the faith who use this apologetic methodology often use both the reasoning processes of the mind and the facts of experience to prove the case for Christianity. Philosophical apologists, when they have completed their task, often move on to historical apologetics.


Historical apologetics provides evidence for the historical claims of the Christian Faith. Evidence is provided for the historical reliability and authenticity of the New Testament manuscripts, Christ’s resurrection and deity, and the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible. Christianity is a religion that makes historical truth claims. The truth of Christianity depends on the reality of these assertions. Therefore, it is essential that evidences from history be used to establish the veracity of these claims.


Dr. Phil FernandesScientific apologetics provides modern scientific evidence that confirms certain truths of Christianity. This method of defending the faith also exposes the weaknesses of the evolutionary model. The Big Bang model, the expansion of the universe, and the second law of
thermodynamics (energy deterioration) are often employed to establish the case for the beginning of the universe and its need for a
supernatural Cause. The highly complex information found in even the most simple life forms is used to prove that the supernatural Cause of the universe must possess intelligence.


Comparative religious apologetics specializes in the investigation of opposing religions and cults. Evidence is provided to demonstrate that these other belief systems contradict Christianity on essential issues. The comparative religious apologist will attempt to establish both the truth of Christianity and the falsehood of any non-Christian faiths. Often, the refutation will be based upon an appeal to biblical data. Still, philosophical, historical, or scientific evidences are at times called upon to disprove these false belief systems.


Finally, cultural apologetics attempts to prove the superiority of the Christian world view by pointing out the positive consequences of applying Christian principles to a society, as well as the negative consequences of either rejecting the Christian world view or accepting other belief systems. The impact of different religions (including Christianity) on governments and societies will be examined. I will also argue that the rejection of God by Western Civilization will lead to devastating consequences for the West, and that, apart from repentance, Western Civilization will crumble. The cultural apologetics of Christian thinkers C. S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer will be discussed.


Dr. Phil FernandesDefenders of the faith often suffer from one of two common misconceptions. First, many Christians verbally oppose the entire field of apologetics. However, unknown to themselves, they often do this while making use of one of the lesser known apologetic approaches (usually testimonial, presuppositional, or psychological). Second, many apologists refuse to acknowledge a methodology other than the one they choose to employ. It has rightfully been said that “all truth is God’s truth.” Therefore, evidences for the Christian faith should not be limited to one area of knowledge. Apologetics can draw from the wealth of information in many different fields (philosophy, history, science, psychology, etc.). Apologists from each methodology should respect the efforts of other defenders using different approaches. Christians can never succeed in the apologetic task by arguing among themselves. Many philosophical apologists (i.e., Geisler, Moreland, Craig, etc.) also utilize historical and scientific evidences. This combinational methodology is a healthy approach for the apologist to take.

Battle for the Bible 2

August 26th, 2015

In the 1970’s, leading evangelical thinkers fought the first “battle for the Bible” in modern times. They argued against the idea that the Bible contains historical and scientific errors, and it only speaks truth in spiritual or moral issues. This led to the 1978 International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, which produced the “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.”

The Evangelical Theological Society embraced the Chicago Statement & removed from their ranks any scholars who denied inerrancy. However, in recent years, some leading evangelical thinkers have invented new approaches to interpreting the Bible which allows these scholars to claim to hold to inerrancy (i.e., the Bible is totally without error in all that it teaches), yet deny several Gospel miracles by claiming they are just figurative speech or poetic devices and not genuine historical miracles.

In this lecture, Dr. Fernandes shows that this hermeneutical approach destroys the doctrine of inerrancy.


Did Jesus Really Exist?

June 10th, 2015

Dr. Phil Fernandes refutes the modern rehashing of the claim that Jesus didn’t exist.It is a ridiculous claim refuted more than a hundred years ago, yet it still floats around in popular culture… So Dr. Fernandes prepares us for this by looking at its proponents in popular culture and how modern scholarship has reacted.


Does God Exist?

May 28th, 2015

What evidence is there that a god exists? If a god doesn’t exist, certainly the God of the Bible doesn’t exist. And if the God of the Bible doesn’t exist, why should we behave like he does?

In this video, Dr. Fernandes presents a number of philosophical and scientific reasons that a god must exist. The evidence spans from the thoughts of ancient Greek philosophers to modern scientific discoveries. If you would like a great overview of the modern evidence, this video is a great place to start.

Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?: Phil Fernandes vs Mark Fulton

May 5th, 2015

In his “Did Jesus Really Exist” presentation at the Worldview Apologetics Conference 2015, Dr. Fernandes mentioned this debate as a great example of how the Jesus Myth theory collapses before even basic scholarship. Here is the Summary:

“Institute of Biblical Defense (2014) – Christian philosopher Phil Fernandes and atheist Mark Fulton debate the resurrection of Jesus. Fernandes shows how incredibly radical Fulton’s views are and how out of touch they are with historical reality on Jesus of Nazareth. Fulton represents so many young gullible atheists who would believe anything about Jesus – but no serious scholar or historian would.”


Worldview Apologetics Conference 2015

May 5th, 2015

Worldview Apologetics Conference Bellevue, Washington

Dr. Fernandes was recently invited to speak at the Worldview Apologetics Conference. THis year, it was  held at Westminster Chapel in Bellevue, Washington. Speakers at this prestigious event included (from the website):

” … Dr. Ravi Zacharias, Leader of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, Dr. Doug Geivett, a professor at Talbot School of Theology, BIOLA University, Dr. Norman Geisler, Ph.D, prolific author, veteran professor, apologist, evangelist and theologian and Dr. E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., founder and national Spokesman of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.”

The event covered a number of popular level apologetics topics. These included (once again from the website):

“They will cover a myriad of topics that concern each of us in light of today’s worldviews from a biblical point of view. Some of the topics will address Apologetics for the 21st Century, Can Atheists Live by Bread Alone?, What is a Wise Christian Understanding of and Response to Climatic Change?, Is the Bible Without Error?, An Ancient Message for Post Modern Times Through Modern Means and more.”

Being part of this event, Dr. Fernandes had had the honor of sharing the stage with apologetics giants like Dr. Ravi Zacharias and Professor Normal Geisler.

Dr. Fernandes with Dr. Zacharias and Dr. Geisler


While at this conference, Dr. Fernandes delivered three powerful presentations.

The first was titled Redating the Gospels. During his short presentation, Dr. Fernandes looks at the evidence for the traditional dating of the gospels. What evidence is there?

Re-Dating the Gospels

The second was titled Depraved New World. In it, Dr. Fernandes looks at how our new enlightened, secular culture is becoming one based on power rather than based on good and pure moral standards as we read in the Bible.

Depraved New World Video

The third was titled Did Jesus Really Exist. Dr. Fernandes delivers an emotional response to the wacky “Jesus Myth” theory that so many youth believe.

Did Jesus Exist Video


Packaged Lecture Series

April 18th, 2015

Many, many people have written the Institute looking for Dr. Fernandes’ lecture notes on one series or another. In response to this, over the past 2 years, the Institute has put together the notes into paperback form. They’ve been formatted for following along with Dr. Fernandes’ lectures.

The Life of ChristThe current series include:


Responding to Bart Ehrman (part 3): The Design Argument

February 18th, 2015

Ehrman’s Agnosticism Concerning God
The Design Argument

For a moment, let us assume that Dr. Ehrman’s view of the universe is correct. The universe exists without divine intervention. It just is. So if we just look around at the universe, taking what we see at face value, what is the universe telling us about ourselves and itself?

The Local UniverseThe universe tells us we are a miracle (in a secular sense, of course). The universe does not exist in chaos, you see, but there exists a grand order to it. Galaxies exist along threads; Stars along webs of matter and energy. Planets spin in stable orbits mimicking the pattern set by the smallest of molecules. The physical forces holding this symphony together are delicate. And those same forces work together to ensure the earth is in just the right place, at just the right time, in just the right way, for life to exist.

The Anthropic Principle

The Anthropic principle states that the universe appears to be fine tuned to allow like on earth. One can think of a grand board covered with over a hundred dials. Each of these dials controls a different aspect of the universe. One controls the distance from the sun, another the weak nuclear force, and another the amount of water on earth. Each of these control dials has been set just right. Even a little variation in a single dial and life on earth will cease to exist.

The Anthropic principle is the basis of a popular Design argument that states:

  • Premise #1: Every design has a designer.
  • Premise #2: The Universe shows evidence of design.
  • Conclusion: The Universe has a designer.

Rather than attempt to refute this argument, Dr. Ehrman has publicly stated during numerous debates with apologists like Dr. Craig Evans and Dr. William Lane Craig that he is not an atheist. He is an agnostic. The Anthropic principle is a contributing factor to this belief. Although the God of the Bible does not exist, in his opinion, the universe certainly is not a random occurrence.

So does this mean Dr. Ehrman is a proponent of Intelligent design? He has never stated his position. Can one logically believe in the anthropic principle and reject intelligent design? Probably not.

Intelligent Design

Dr. Hugh RossIn the last 20 or 30 years, great advances have been made in fields of genetics, physics and astronomy. The more we learn, the most designed it all appears to be. This has led to the modern movement called Intelligent Design.

So let’s begin by assuming, once again, that the universe was not created by God. The universe just is and we are examining it as mere observers. Dr. Hugh Ross, a well-known intelligent design proponent and astronomer, offers some food for thought:

  1. Age of the universe:
    1. If the universe were much older, no solar-type stars in a stable burning phase would exist in the right part of the galaxy.
    2. If the universe were much younger, no solar-type stars in a stable burning phase would have had time to form.
  2. Average distance between galaxies:
    1. If the distance were much larger, insufficient gas would be infused into our galaxy to sustain star formation.
    2. If the distance were much smaller, the sun’s orbit would be too radically disturbed.1

Dr. Ross also gives some of the parameters of the earth itself that makes life possible on earth:

  1. Distance of the earth from the sun:
    1. If the distance were even a little further out, our planet would be too cool for a stable water cycle.
    2. If our planet were a little closer, the planet would be too warm for a stable water cycle.
  2. Earth’s axial tilt:
    1. If it were even a little greater, the surface temperature on earth differences would be too great for life.
    2. If it were a little less, the equator would be too hot for life and the polar regions far too hostile.
  3. The earth’s rotation period:
    1. If it were much longer, diurnal temperature differences would make crow growth nearly impossible.
    2. If it were much shorter, atmospheric wind velocities would make life on land nearly impossible.
  4. Age of the earth:
    1. If the earth were much younger, the planet would rotate too rapidly.
    2. If the earth were much older, the planet would rotate too slowly.2

Dr. Ehrman has written many books. He chooses a topic and designs each of the chapters in the book in order to support the main topic he has chosen to write on. The book is the designed creation and Ehrman is the designer behind the design. The contemporary scientific evidence asks no more of Dr. Ehrman concerning the design of the universe than a reader would ask of Ehrman when he writes a book.

Dr. Ehrman should examine the following quotes by highly esteemed astronomers. Maybe then he would publicly endorse intelligent design and, just maybe, give the God of the Bible a second chance.

A superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology …3
– Astronomer, Dr. Fred Hoyle

… the laws [of physics]… seem themselves to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design…. There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature¹s numbers to make the Universe…. The impression of design is overwhelming.4
– Astronomer, Dr. Paul Davies (former atheist)

As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency or, rather, Agency must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?
– Astronomer, George Greenstein,  from his book The Symbiotic Universe.

The medieval theologian who gazed at the night sky through the eyes of Aristotle and saw angels moving the spheres in harmony has become the modern cosmologist who gazes at the same sky through the eyes of Einstein and sees the hand of God not in angels but in the constants of nature…. When confronted with the order and beauty of the universe and the strange coincidences of nature, it¹s very tempting to take the leap of faith from science into religion. I am sure many physicists want to. I only wish they would admit it.
– Theoretical physicist, Dr, Tony Rothman


Dr. Ehrman does not mention or refute the contemporary scientific evidence which shows that the universe had a beginning. He does not disagree with the anthropic principle either. So if he does believe that the universe was created, as this suggests, and therefore the universe had a creator, isn’t the God of the Bible the best qualified for this position?

Tugging on the emotional heart strings of his readers, laying out how bad the world is, does not disprove the God of the Bible. It certainly is not the same thing as answering the powerful scientific arguments for a beginning, and the beginner, of the universe. This all leads into the next part of this series which deals with the Moral Argument. The Moral argument can be used to show the existence of God from our moral sense and experience. It also acts as a foundation in answering Dr. Ehrman’s primary reason why he abandoned the Christian faith: the evil and suffering in the world that this calls into question the existence of the God of the Bible.


1 Hugh Ross The Creator And The Creation 154,155

2 Ibid. 154, 155

3 Ibid. 157

4 Ibid. 157

Responding to Bart Ehrman (part 2): Ehrman’s Agnosticism

December 2nd, 2014

Ehrman’s Agnosticism Concerning God

and the Cosmological Argument

After the brief spiritual biography of Dr. Ehrman given in the last article, it is important to identify the two sets of presuppositions that  he brings to the table. The first set makes presuppositions about the existence of God and the second set about the possibilities of miracles. Each set builds on and reinforces the other in his books. However, since this article only deals with his agnosticism, I’ll begin there.

Dr. Ehrman’s presuppositions about the existence of a “supreme being” are fairly straight forward. Dr. Ehrman considers himself an agnostic when it comes to whether a supreme being exist and the God of the Bible most definitely does not exist. In his mind, all the pain and suffering in the world makes much more sense if there is no supreme being than if there is.

Angelic Star FieldSo a good place to begin responding to Dr. Ehrman’s agnosticism is at the beginning; The beginning of the universe. Unless we are going to invoke magic, Dr. Ehrman needs to address the both philosophical and scientific question: How did the universe get here?

Considering that Dr. Ehrman doesn’t believe in the supernatural, he must appeal only to science, and it is clear from Dr. Ehrman’s writings that he hasn’t really considered what it means that the universe had a beginning. Considering this would lead him to the necessity of a “creator”. Apart from any supernatural assumptions, the scientific disciplines of Cosmology, Physics and Astronomy all agree that the universe had a beginning. And if the universe had a beginning, then it had a cause.

So Dr. Ehrman needs to deal with the scientific evidence for the beginning of the universe whether or not anything supernatural was involved. This evidence can be summarized into 5 major lines of evidence.

First, there are three major scientists, Einstein (1916), Tolma (1922) and Gamov (1946), who all found that the background temperature of the universe is cooling down.2  Right away this tells us that at one point it had a maximum temperature and that the universe can’t be eternal.

According to the Big Bang theory, at some point in the past all the matter and energy in the universe existed as an infinitely tiny point. Where did this come from? What was it made of? That is still the subject of speculation. Regardless, the theory states that suddenly this tiny point of intensely hot energy expanded faster than the speed of light. Immediately following this event, the temperature of the universe was at its maximum. Since then the universe has been in the long process of cooling down.1 

If the Universe had always existed, it would show a constant amount of usable energy (i.e. heat) and thus have a constant temperature. Since the universe is constantly losing usable energy, it can’t be eternal. Thus the universe had a beginning.

Big Bang VisualizationA second line evidence, once again using the Big Bang theory, is that when the tiny point of energy expanded at the beginning, all matter and energy emanated from that point outward. We should then expect to see this expansion.

Space, with all of its galaxies, solar systems, stars and other heavenly bodies is expanding from that original point of the big bang.3 Three of the most important scientists in astronomy discovered this expansion of matter throughout the universe; They were Albert Einstien (1916) Edwin Hubble (1929) and George Gamov (1946). If the universe has always existed, all the matter in the universe would be evenly distributed throughout the universe. It is not.

Penzias and WilsonThe third major line of evidence for the beginning of the universe is the Cosmic Microwave Background (the CMB). This is the original radiation wavelengths from the initial expansion we call the Big Bang.

In 1965 two astronomers, Penzias and Wilson, were listening on a special astronomical instrument designed to detect certain types of energy waves. Right away, they heard static. After an investigation, they decided that it was bird droppings on the instrument causing the static. Yet after they cleaned off their instrument, they still heard the static. Moving the instrument around, believing the source to be terrestrial, it was soon discovered that the static was coming all parts of the universe.

At first, this the microwave radiation was assumed to be the “left overs” from the original Big Bang as predicted by earlier scientists!4 However, it was far too large and too hot. Later discoveries confirmed this. Unfortunately for scientists of the day, it was found that many bodies in the universe give off cosmic microwaves.

It was decades later before satellite data gave scientists what they believe is a picture of the residual cosmic microwaves from the original Big Bang event. If this is true, and the map they created accurate, this confirms both the expansion of the universe and its cooling trend.

If the universe never had a beginning, known sources of microwaves would have accounted for what is measured. If the CMB had been absent, it would have been the end of the Big Bang theory altogether. Another theory would have been needed to replace it.

This was the most important discovery in astronomy in 500 YEARS! It was yet another indication that the universe had a beginning.

Fourthly, if the universe was caused by a Big Bang event, there should be some evidence in the structure of the universe. If the universe has always existed, telescopes should show us a very ancient universe that is almost identical to the present one since all the galaxies, stars, and planets should have existed eternally into the past.5

Dr. Hugh RossIn 1992, the scientific satellite, the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) offered astronomers an important clue about the formation of galaxies. The data seemed to confirm that the energy which came forth from the initial Big Bang explosion was used in the formation of the first galaxies. Hugh Ross, an astronomer, states that this is “perhaps the most concrete Big Bang evidence is that stable orbits and stable stars are possible ONLY in a big bang universe. Physical life would be impossible unless planets orbit with stability, stars burn with stability and stars orbit galaxy cores with stability.”

If galaxies had existed from eternity past, galaxies would look very different  from what we see today. Life may not even be possible in such a universe.

Albert EinsteinThe fifth line of evidence for the beginning of the universe has to do with the scientific work of Albert Einstien. When one takes a bird’s eye view of the entirety of Einstien’s work, especially his theory of Relativity, it is shown that this theory shows that the universe must have had a beginning, and if the universe had a beginning, then it had a beginner. It was Einstien’s work that laid the foundation for the first four lines of evidence cited above to show that the universe had a beginning,

Dr. Ehrman has to account for the existence of the universe. Science has shown that the universe began to exist, that it did not always exist. No contemporary scientist believes that the universe is eternal. Whatever problems Ehrman may have with the God of the Bible and the problem of suffering does not make these 20th century scientific discoveries disappear. He has to refute each of the five lines of scientific evidence that shows that the universe had a beginning and therefore had a beginner. In the next article, it will be shown that the universe and the world shows evidence of having been designed. And if there is evidence that the universe is designed, then it must have a designer.

2 Ibid 4

3 Ibid.5

4 Ibid. 5,6

5 Ibid. 7,10

6 Ibid 7

7 Ibid. 9

8 Ibid. 9-11

9 Ibid. 12

10 Bart Ehrman, God’s Problem 3

Hell Debate: Eternal Conscious Torment or Annihilationism

November 7th, 2014

Christian apologists Chris Date and Dr. Phil Fernandes debate the nature of hell from the scriptures.