Voddie Baucham’s “Expository Apologetics” Chapter 3: “Why Unbelief”
In a previous post I gave an overview for Baucham’s book “Expository Apologetics.” Here I consider some quotes and ideas from chapter 3 “Why Unbelief,” which I found to be a good reminder of some basic principles we as believers can carry with us into apologetics conversations.
Bauchman wants us to see our conversations with skeptics in light of the biblical truth of Romans 1:18: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” In this, Baucham argues that “Paul makes it clear that our hearers don’t have an information problem; they have a sin problem. Of course, ignorance figures into the equation. However, at a fundamental level, ignorance is not their issue. They “suppress the truth” in their unrighteousness” (p 50). Thus, “[t]he answer to sin is not information, but repentance!” (50). Since this is true, Baucham states “we should never divorce apologetics from gospel proclamation” (51). In other words, be sure we get to the gospel!
Buacham reminds us the biblical truth that everyone actually knows that God exists and our it through sinful unbelief that they reject God (51-56). The information about God is plain to all, the problem is “we want to miss it” (51). These leads to an intellectual foolishness: “The Bible literally says that men who deny God’s existence are morons who are so foolish, they actually think they are wise…We need to know that we are dealing with fools—not in the sense that we look down on people or despise them, but in the sense that we recognize their blindness” (53). At the same time, Baucham argues “[w]e also need to remember that we are dealing with people who believe we are fools. This will disabuse us of all notions of gaining “cool points” in the eyes of fools who think themselves wise as a direct result of their rejection of the one true God” (53).
Buacham states, “it is important to remember that God has informed us of the true condition of our hearers. Men are not as rational as we think. No matter how “intelligent” you think your hearers are, God says they are fools. And they are not only fools; they are deceived fools who think they are wise. They are immoral fools who think they are righteous. Therefore, we must not be intimidated by them” (56).
He also gives a good warning: “Attempting to be loved by the world often leads to compromise. As apologists, we do not wish to be more offensive than necessary. However, we know that there will be offense. We might as well offend with the gospel” (58).
But what do you do when you encounter someone who says they are an atheist? Buacham argues that “there is ultimately no such thing as an atheist” (58) and this is so for 3 reasons: 1. “someone who claims to be an atheist is suppressing the truth he knows;” 2. “anyone who claims to be an atheist is contradicting the God of truth;” 3. “anyone who claims to be an atheist is ignoring his greatest need, and his only hope for its fulfillment” (58-59). Our task then is to “remind people of what they already know” (59), and what they already know is this: there is a God; there is truth; there are objective moral standards; they are not righteous; judgment is necessary; they need a savior (59-61). Further, by “refusing to believe anyone who calls himself an atheist, and reminding people of what they know, we must also refuse to make the fool God’s judge” (61).
Finally, what we can do in all this are the following 3 steps: 1. Answer honest questions; 2. Keep things Simple; 3. Always find a way to get to the gospel (64-65).
In all this, I find Baucham’s reminders very helpful in apologetic conversations.