In his seminal book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis, originally an atheist scholar, argued against the contemporary materialism (naturalism) prevalent in Great Britain in his time. Most of the intelligentsia at that time no longer believed in the invisible God of creation as taught in the Bible, but instead had become atheists believing in materialism and that which could be observed scientifically. They believed that the advent of the universe and Man were simply random accidents taking place over billions of years—therefore devoid of any actual meaning. (But then again, if Man was devoid of all meaning—that all his reasoning was the result of “atoms colliding in a skull”—how could he be certain that he in fact was devoid of all meaning?)
However, Lewis eventually came to the conclusion that the material universe by itself could not explain man’s nature and especially his moral stance. It had to be the result of man being created by a Holy God who gave man moral law, that is, what we would call a conscience in his dealing with others.
God and the realm of the spirit are of course invisible and their existence cannot be empirically verified. By contrast, the material universe is visible and its laws eminently verifiable empirically and experimentally. Thus materialism came to dominate especially in the culture of the English-speaking West. Atheism was accepted by many if not most of the intellectually sophisticated.
But C. S. Lewis became a prominent voice arguing not only for the existence of an intelligent and loving Creator, but also for the Son of God Jesus Christ who died and rose for the salvation of all who believe. Through logical arguments—which we call apologetics—Lewis argued convincingly on behalf of the gospel to his contemporaries in the West and to later generations in the West as well.
Now for the gospels and Acts
In the gospels and Acts there is also a crucial dimension which, like the existence of God, cannot be explained by materialism or by science: the many miracles of healing and deliverance (among others) which were done by Jesus and later by his disciples. These miracles were nearly always performed primarily as irrefutable evidence to both Jews and Gentiles that Jesus was the promised Messiah and that He was the only way to the One True God.
In the gospels, because of the astounding claims Jesus made about Himself and the astounding miracles He performed as evidence that He was in fact the Promised Messiah—and therefore not a liar, a lunatic or demon-possessed—many Jews put their faith in Him. Their faith was based on the unprecedented supernatural miracles He performed—and not on the strength of apologetics based on logical reasoning. Apologetics of course did not appear until nearly 2,000 years later when science dominated the culture of the West giving us a very strict materialist view of the universe and man—a view against which C.S. Lewis argued persuasively.
Of course, exactly like the existence of God, the miracles depicted in the gospels and Acts lacked any scientific basis.
Today the Church in the West—where science and technology overwhelmingly dominate the culture—no longer believes that God uses disciples to perform miracles as irrefutable evidence to the unbelieving world that Jesus is the only way to the One True God who created the universe.
But could there be apologetics today to convince the Church in the West that miracles can still take place as they did in the gospels and Acts as evidence to gospel-resistant peoples—especially in the Third World—that our God is the Only True God and that Jesus is the only way to Him?
The answer is yes.
For Third World people groups who live—and strongly believe—in the realm of the invisible and the supernatural through their reliance on idols, sorcery and the like, “apologetics” convincing them to believe in God and Jesus Christ does not and cannot consist of rational, logical argumentation as it does for Westerners. Rather what convinces them is evidence from the realm of the supernatural—in which they live and have put their faith. Just like many Jews in the gospels who put their faith in Jesus as the Messiah only after He performed extraordinary miracles like raising the dead, Third World peoples will also put their faith in whatever power is able to perform unprecedented supernatural miracles.
Westerners of course put their faith in the rational arguments of science and technology. For Christians in the West that includes the logical arguments based on convincing apologetics as espoused by C. S. Lewis.
So how should we bring the gospel to Third World peoples who like the Jews of 2,000 years ago put their faith in the realm of the supernatural?
Irrefutable and unprecedented supernatural miracles done in the name of Jesus Christ by present-day servants of God are the overwhelming argument which convinces Third World peoples that OUR LORD IS GOD. Apart from such “apologetics” geared for Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, idol-worshipers, and those who believe in witchcraft, there will be no mass movement of such peoples to the Lord during these very Last Days when the Great Commission must be fulfilled.
Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations [which include all tribes, all languages, and all peoples], and then the end will come.
There is indeed “apologetics”—a logical and rational argument—for the miraculous in missions. The calling of The Elijah Challenge during these very Last Days is to train indigenous disciples and workers in the Third World how to heal the sick miraculously and cast out demons exactly as Jesus did in the gospels. The resulting unprecedented miracles through such nameless workers are bringing unprecedented numbers of heretofore resistant Third World people groups to Jesus Christ as their only Lord and Savior.
1 Kings 18:38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. 39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”
Malachi 4:5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.
Luke 1:17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”