The other day at a prayer meeting at church, my pastor gave a brief sermon on the following passage:
Matthew 22:23-31 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”
29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”
Immediately, as you might guess, my mind went to this passage’s concern with apologetics. I was reminded of the times in the past when, while I reasoned with someone who had an objection to Christianity, it appeared as though the most relevant issue was that the objector simply did not know the Scriptures (i.e. what he was objecting to).
In the above passage, the Sadducees, attempting to trip Jesus up on his teachings (as they were wont to do), ask Jesus a question about the Resurrection – one that entails highly-unlikely and near-impossible circumstances. Jesus isn’t fazed. He sidesteps the Sadducees’ misguided and insincere question and exposes their misapprehension: “You do not know the scriptures.” They were evidently agenda-driven, which isn’t a bad thing in itself, but in this case it shrouded their opportunity at a valid objection, granting it were possible. He proceeds to explain to them what is actually the case concerning the Resurrection, in contrast to their misapprehension.
In light of this brief observation, there are a couple points to make:
- More important than knowing argumentation, and more important than understanding logical fallacies or debate tactics in order to “trip up” whomever you’re talking to, is knowing the Scriptures. Know what you believe. Know theology. This point is probably the most-often repeated point on this site. Being ready to give a defense does not entail simply reciting catch-phrases in an effort to appear witty. Those are useful tools, no doubt, but our apologetic should not consist of merely that.
- Sometimes all it takes to answer an objection is to show that the objector is misapplying the Scriptures. Show that their objection isn’t valid, as it doesn’t reflect what the Scriptures actually teach.
I have found that once you’ve sorted out and delineated what’s accurate and what’s not, the only thing unbelievers have is distaste for what the Bible teaches. This is to be expected, and of course, distaste is not an argument. Their rejection of the Bible, if it shows anything, shows once again the Bible is true, according to Romans 1: “they exchanged the truth of God for a lie.” The Scriptures will be your strongest argument. Never part from them for a second.