Apologetics in Sunday School
What type of faith are we supposed to have as Christians? Is it wishful thinking? Is it a leap in the dark, a belief when the evidence is against us? True Biblical faith is based on knowledge, not wishes or blind leaps. Our children need to develop a confidence grounded in evidence. Of course, we as parents can present much of this evidence at home, but our Sunday school classes need to add apologetics to their curriculum. We should use children’s Christian education as a way to build a firm foundation of evidence so when they confront the outside world, they will not be shaken in their beliefs. A basic understanding of apologetics may prevent the rejection of Christianity by those who leave the shelter of the church and confront a skeptical world. As someone once said, “The heart cannot believe that which the mind rejects.”
But how should Christian teachers go about presenting this information? First, they should start with the basics -- what do we believe as Christians? Then, they should answer a key question -- why do we believe these things? Finally, they need to cover problems and questions Christians can expect to encounter in the secular world. Let’s look at these three steps in more detail.
Teaching on the Subject to Kids/Youth/Adults
First, Christian kids need to know the basic tenets of the Christian faith. They probably have heard them in bits and pieces throughout their years in Sunday school, but they need to have a coherent presentation of all the major ideas of Christianity -- the nature of God, the work of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the organization and historical background of the Bible, life after death, heaven and hell, and the way of salvation. Of course, there are many sources available online that can deliver such major concepts in a clear and organized fashion. See one of our resources pages for more info (see links at right). Or visit https://beyondtm.wordpress.com for lesson plans and to learn ways to help kids understand apologetics topics more.
Most Christian kids have heard all this before. What is important is that they understand why Christians believe these things. We must demonstrate that there is great evidence for the existence of God, that Jesus really lived and did what the gospels have recorded, that we can trust the Bible’s reliability, that life after death and the existence of the soul are reasonable beliefs, and that Christianity, of all major religions, best corresponds with what we know about the world and the human race.
Even if we cover both the what and the why of Christianity, we must still anticipate another key area of concern. Many young people have been confronted by skeptical non-Christians who have stumped them with questions that could have been answered with the right training. Such questions deal with the problem of evil, the nature of miracles, the blight of relativism, and the claims of other religions. The good news is that Christian thinkers over the years have also wrestled with these same questions and have come up with good answers. Many of the best responses are found in the web sites and books that follow in the next part of this article.
Helpful Web Sites and Links
Most Christians would agree that the above three steps are important, but they might feel inadequate to cover all that territory. But many good web sites and books are available to help teachers. Let’s start with web sites. Stand to Reason (www.str.org) has terrific resources in areas of ethics, Christianity, and apologetics. Campus Crusade for Christ (www.ccci.org) has some material on apologetics. Answers in Action (www.answers.org) has information on the problem of suffering, the reliability of the Bible, Jesus as the only way, and many other key issues. Alpha and Omega Ministries (www.aomin.org) has apologetic helps, information on cults, and further details on defending the faith. Christian Research Institute, where Hank Hanegraaf is the president, has material on cults and Christianity (www.equip.org). For all areas of apologetics, people can use Leadership University (www.leaderu.com). Another good source is Apologetics Information Ministry (www.apologeticsinfo.org), which deals with doctrine, cults, apologetics, and world religions.
There are many good books available for those interested in teaching these three vital areas of the Christian faith. One favorite is Peter Kreeft’s Handbook of Christian Apologetics because it is simple to understand and organized clearly. Others that deserve attention include any by Josh McDowell, William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith, D. James Kennedy’s Why I Believe, Paul Copan’s True For You, But Not For Me, Francis Beckwith and Greg Koukl’s Relativism, J. P. Moreland’s Scaling the Secular City, and Lee Strobel’s The Case For Christ. Teachers shouldn’t worry about being experts. Instead, they need to realize there are many valuable resources they can use to help provide clear evidence for our faith.
The goal of all this is to create clear-thinking Christian young people who are not afraid to share their faith. They will see that Christianity can hold its own in the marketplace of ideas. We have a faith that is not based on wishful thinking or a leap in the dark. The evidence is there for any who take the time to examine it. Let’s put 1 Peter 3:15 into practice: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”