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Theology > Church > The Purpose of the Church > Mission > The Question of Evidence


Proclamation of the Truth, as well as Apologetics, does not seek to convince by evidence; it merely affirms the Truth. It is natural for any individual to desire to prove his point, and to marshal evidence in support of his point, thinking that the accumulation of evidence and the correctness of the evidence will convince. While this may be true of natural argument, it does not apply, and is, in fact, improper when it comes to the Gospel.

In torment the rich man who was concerned for his five brothers asked Abraham that someone be sent to warn them. Abraham responded: “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” “No,” said the rich man, “if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” The rich man deeply desired for evidence to be presented to his brothers, thinking that the evidence would convince them. Surely a message from someone resurrected would be sufficient to convince them of the need to repent. In his mind the medium was more important than the message. He thought a miracle would convince his brothers. Abraham replied: “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Lu. 16:27-31). The message already available was sufficient. The presence of Truth, according to Abraham, negates the necessity of miracles; for a miracle is no substitute for Truth. A resurrected corpse does not guarantee conversion.

Evidence is not successful because the natural man does not have the capacity to deal with it properly. In his natural state, before the advent of spiritual life, man knows only himself; he is his own god and creates gods in his own image. His darkened mind reasons improperly, for it cannot reason correctly. His conclusions and evaluations are flawed, flawed because his presuppositions are flawed. All evidence is considered by the natural man from the perspective of his autonomy, his own reason that rejects revealed Truth. He cannot reason properly because he is bound, a captive of his own reason. He begins with himself and ends with himself. He is bound by a position that initially does not even consider the possibility of Theism and absolute Truth. He does not seek God, and there is no fear of God in him (Rom. 3:11, 18). He begins with himself, his own mind, and all the while thinking that he is free and right. He doesn’t even suspect that he is bound; he never even considers that his views are corrupt. He cannot do so because he is corrupt. What a tragic state!

Evidences are not needed because they are not capable of freeing the one who is bound. The one blind does not need the sun before him, but needs his eyes opened; the one deaf does not need to be exposed to the orchestra, but needs his ears made to hear; the one lame does not need to be shown runners at the race track, but his legs need to be made to run. Evidences (sun, orchestra, and runners) cannot remedy the ailment (blindness, deafness, and lameness). Something else is needed, something that is capable of securing the desired results. So it is with the unbeliever who is spiritually blind, deaf, and lame, who is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). Evidences will not help him, evidences such as: proofs for the existence of God, archaeological support for the accuracy of Scripture, accounts of fulfilled prophecy, record of miracles, and all similar lines of reasoning. These are presented by the believer from the perspective of God and His revealed Truth and are offered to the unbeliever who receives and considers them from the perspective of individual autonomy and reason. So why seek to use evidence to convince a mind that is darkened and incapable of seeing the Light? Where is the connection? Where is the common ground? Natural reason cannot be led to revealed Truth, for it does not even think that Truth is an option.

What is needed is something that will change the basic mindset of the unbeliever, something powerful enough to invade the mind and convert the mind. Evidences are incapable; Truth is needed. For it is Truth used by the Spirit that is capable of bringing spiritual life to the spiritually dead; the Truth is capable because it is “living and powerful” (Heb. 4:12). It is through the hearing of the Word that faith is germinated in the life (Rom. 10:17). Life follows Truth. Truth has the capacity within it to create life. To the Jerusalem Council, Peter said: “You know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe” (Acts 15:7). Note the order: “hear” and “believe.” Belief follows hearing; the Word is heard and then it is believed. Without the hearing there is no belief because it is the Word that is used to initiate faith. It is a mysterious work, a supernatural work, a work of grace. It is the Wind blowing (Jo. 3:8). Truth creates life; Truth creates faith. Without Truth there is no faith; and without faith there is no understanding, for the mind of the natural man is darkened (II Cor. 4:4). Only the one whose mind has been transformed can properly comprehend revealed Truth. The Truth needs to be affirmed; it does not need to be argued and debated—it needs to be proclaimed so it can be heard. For it will accomplish its purpose of bringing belief to the unbelieving, even though the unbeliever rejects its very existence. This is grace. (For a discussion on the life that Truth brings, see: Life)

The Apostle Peter says to “always be ready to give a defense (apologia: “verbal defense,” “answer,” or “reply”) to everyone who asks you a reason (logos: “word” or “reason”) for the hope that is in you” (I Pet. 3:15). Apologia (lit.: to talk off from) was a legal term of the courts and was used of an attorney who talked his client off from a charge preferred against him, hence, a verbal defense. Does the call of the Bible to give a “defense” imply that the answer must meet the characteristics of scientific verification or of philosophical reasoning? Must the defense involve proofs and arguments designed to win the debate? Does a defense of Biblical Truth dictate that the Truth be harmonized with current scientific theory? Is individual acceptance of the Christian faith by the unbeliever to be sought by means of proofs? Indeed, can Divine Truth be proven to a humanistic (depraved) mind?

The “defense” is not to be one of defending and proving, but one of explaining and affirming the essential tenets of the Christian faith. By doing so, it will be obvious that the Truth is consistent, unified, reasonable, and adequate (see: Characteristics of Truth). In other words, the arguments for the faith arise from within the teachings of the faith; for within the faith is that which establishes its own credibility. Outside support may be interesting, but it is not necessary. Ultimately the appeal of the faith is given by the Spirit of God, with the appeal anchored in the Truth itself, not in evidential support of the faith from outside the faith. The certainty of the integrity of the affirmation resides in the inner witness of the Holy Spirit that creates and sustains assurance. The best defense is an affirmation that the Truth is true and an explanation of the individual Truth, coupled with the testimony that the Truth has been experienced. Who would question the blind man’s defense: “One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see” (Jo. 9:25)?

See supporting articles:  Starting Point, Two Options, Approach, Methodology, Question of Methodology, and Significance of Truth

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