10 Theological Tenets for Covenantal Apologetics

10 tenets to keep in mind as you begin to have apologetic conversations with unbelieving friends and neighbors.

Every fact and experience is what it is by virtue of the covenantal all-controlling plan and purpose of God. The facts of the world display God’s glory (Ps. 19:1ff; Rom. 1:20). To take those facts for selfish use is to twist them and pervert them. This is culpable rebellion against God, and it takes place as those in Adam “live and move and have [their] being” in the triune God. So in order for someone to understand one fact properly, that fact needs to be seen in the context of God’s plan and purposes.

 

The prospect of commending the Christian faith is sometimes daunting for seasoned saints and new converts alike. Often what makes believers so nervous is their perceived lack of understanding. While we want to strive well to understand who our great God is and what he has revealed to us, a PhD in biblical interpretation or philosophy is not necessary for us to ably give an account of the hope that is within us. I want to suggest 10 tenets to keep in mind as you begin to have apologetic conversations with unbelieving friends and neighbors. These 10 tenets flow from biblical truth, and find agreement with what many have said in the Reformed tradition.

  1. The faith that we are defending must begin with, and necessarily include, the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—who, as God, condescends to create and redeem. 

In saying we “must begin with” the triune God, we are not arguing that all apologetic discussions must start with an explanation of the triune God; rather, we must never assume that we are defending anything but what God himself—as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—has accomplished in creation and redemption. Generic theism is no part of the Christian faith.

  1. God’s covenantal revelation is authoritative by virtue of what it is, and any covenantal, Christian apologetic will necessarily stand on and utilize that authority in order to defend Christianity. 

We cannot begin our discussion with the assumption that the intellectual, moral, or conversational ground on which we and the unbeliever are standing is the same. The very reason there is a debate between us is that our respective authorities are in conflict. The unbeliever will stand on something in order to debate and discuss, and we will stand on Scripture (which finds its authority inextricably tied to God). We do not seek to establish the authority of God’s Word, only explain it.

  1. It is the truth of God’s revelation, together with the work of the Holy Spirit, that brings about a covenantal change from one who is in Adam to one who is in Christ. 

We are encouraged by this third tenet to communicate the truth of God because it is this truth that the Holy Spirit uses to change hearts. What a privilege it is that we, as believers, can be instruments of the Holy Spirit as he changes minds and hearts!

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