Christian Apologetics in a Lutheran Ministry, Rev. Michael Berg
Christian Apologetics can be described as “Defending the faith using reason.” The biblical mandate for apologetics comes from 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason (apologia) for the hope that you have.” Yet there is more to the story. Apologetics is a ministry of caring. We care about the doubts of skeptics and believers alike. While Christians cannot produce faith in dead hearts, they can knock down faulty arguments against the Christian message and make a positive argument for the Christian faith. The apologetic task is to make the case for the Christian claim and let the Spirit do the work of faith by presenting the gospel to the skeptic.
The truth is that we are already practicing apologetics. We use reason all the time to make the case for our faith. This includes every Christian. It has been said that all facts are apologetic facts, that is, all things belong to God and can be traced back to God. While we finite people are not capable of doing this, all vocations and disciplines can be involved in apologetics. The educator, the mathematician, the biologist, the parent, and the carpenter all have something to contribute.
Perhaps a more thorough definition of apologetics would then be, “Using the same reason all people use in regular day life to show that the Christian claim and Christian worldview are not only plausible but even probable especially compared to other worldviews. And to do this with charity, love, humility, and winsomeness, with the ultimate goal of presenting the gospel to suffering sinners.”
The reality is, apologetics is necessary discipline in our congregations for two reasons. First, it helps us better prepare our members, especially young members, to face an increasingly secular, anti-Christian culture. Secondly, it helps our members to better share Christ with all those that the Lord of the Church brings into their circle of influence.
This presentation will include:
- discussion on the right use of apologetics
- tactics when carrying out the apologetic task
- an overview of the basic apologetic arguments
We will touch on:
- evidential or historical apologetics (the case for the resurrection of Christ)
- scientific apologetics (how do religion and science fit together)
- the classical arguments (cosmological, anthropological, teleological, and ontological arguments)
- Lutheranism’s unique position to answer the very difficult question called the “problem of evil” (the theology of the cross).
Rev. Michael Berg
Dr. Berg is an assistant professor of theology at Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee, Wis. He teaches a variety of courses including Apologetics, Christian Worship, Pauline Epistles, Life and Thought of Martin Luther, and History of Christianity. Along with Dr. Kerry Kuehn, a physicist, he offers a one-week summer class called “Practical Apologetics” for pastors, teachers, and interested laity. He is married to Amanda, a kindergarten teacher at St. Philip’s Lutheran School in Milwaukee. Together they have three daughters, Abigail, Noelle, and Sophia. Before moving to Milwaukee in 2017, the Bergs spent twelve years in Wood Lake, Minnesota, where Michael served as pastor of St. John’s Lutheran and Amanda served as the parish’s preschool director. Dr. Berg is a graduate of Martin Luther College and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. He is also a graduate and a fellow of the International Academy of Apologetics, Human Rights, and Evangelism where he defended the thesis “Christian Apologetics in the Emerging Postmodern Culture: Brian McLaren’s “A New Kind of Christianity”— or the Theology of the Cross?” In 2018 he earned a Doctor of Ministry from the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University completing a doctrinal project entitled “Masks of God: Vocation as the Proper Setting for Human Flourishing.” He has written for Logia, Gottesdienst, Preach the Word, and Forward in Christ.