Saturday, April 17, 2010

Easter and Apologetics

I've run into probably 3-4 people (none of whom are the same 3-4 who read this blog) who ask about Easter sermons and my take on them.  I think the message of Easter needs to be preached on Easter, resurrection being the core doctrine of our faith.  I heard of one pastor so committed to expositional preaching that he stuck with his series on the book of Genesis and did the little bit about Onan spilling his seed on Easter Sunday.  Bad idea.  And gross.

Here is my Easter sermon every year.  I do some apologetics on the intellectual integrity of believing in the resurrection of Jesus.  Those apologetics don't prove Jesus rose from the dead but make it the most plausible explanation, which is generally the limits of apologetics.  I follow that with some sort of teaching about how if it's intellectually possible, our obstacles in belief are mostly about us.  You can look for this year's Easter sermon below.

But why apologetics at Easter?  Some thoughts...

First, you can be witty and engaging with apologetics regarding the resurrection.  It's not astrophysics and the age of the universe stuff.  That's important because there are people in the congregation who hear maybe one sermon a year.  Having a little levity and humor helps them in some ways, generally speaking.

Second, that same group of people may classify themselves as the honest skeptics.  And they may be right.  This past Easter, I had at least 4 people that I know of who have intellectual issues with the story of Christianity, particularly the resurrection.  What's more, I minister in a place that's heady and values critical thinking, so answering their objections is Kingdom ministry.

Third, by doing some apologetics, you equip your people to answer questions they get around the water cooler in the middle of summer, not just at Easter.  One person said this past Easter, "That was a lot of information but it's going to help me tomorrow."  Isn't that part of why I preach?

Lastly, for those who don't qualify as the honest skeptics, you point out that their objections really aren't objections.  They're hiding behind a straw man.  What they have to deal with is the reality of the resurrection and the hardness of their hearts.

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