What is the Most Powerful Evidence for the Christian Faith?

For the past three years I have been helping my father update his classic book Evidence that Demands a Verdict. There is no doubt that the evidence for Christianity has grown substantially since the book first released in 1972.

Powerful Evidence Christianity

Since I have been working on this book people have been increasingly asking me, “What do you think is the most powerful evidence for the Christian faith?” While I do think the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, the textual evidence for the reliability of the Bible, and the scientific evidence for a designer are persuasive, these are not the most powerful evidences.

So, what is it? At the beginning of Evidence, my father and are clear that we believe there is a more powerful apologetic—a clear, simple presentation of the claims of Christ and who he is, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Here is how my father explains it in the introduction:

For my (Josh’s) philosophical apologetics course at Talbot Theological Seminary, everyone had to write a paper on “The Best Defense of Christianity.” I found myself constantly putting it off and avoiding writing it, not because I didn’t have the material but because I felt I was at odds with what the professor was expecting (an expectation based on the ream of my lecture notes from his class).

Finally, I decided to voice my convictions. I began my paper with the sentence, “Some people say the best offense is a good defense, but I say to you that the best defense is a good offense.” I proceeded by explaining that I felt the best defense of Christianity is a “clear, simple presentation of the claims of Christ and who he is, in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Then I wrote out the “Four Spiritual Laws” and recorded my testimony of how, on December 19, 1959, at 8:30 p.m., during my second year at the university, I placed my trust in Christ as Savior and Lord. I concluded the paper with a presentation of the evidence for the resurrection.

The professor must have agreed with my approach that the best defense of Christianity is a clear and compelling presentation of the gospel, for he gave me an A.

William Tyndale was right in saying that “a ploughboy with the Bible would know more of God that the most learned ecclesiastic who ignored it.” In other words, an Arkansas farm boy sharing the gospel can be more effective in the long run than a Harvard scholar with his intellectual arguments.

Although it may surprise some people, since my father is known for presenting “evidences” for the faith, he has always lived by this principle. I have seen him present the evidence for Christianity on countless occasions, but his goal is always to bring it back to the gospel. After all, it is the gospel that has the power to set people free.

We hope you enjoy the updated Evidence. But just remember: It’s not the evidence alonethat changes lives. Apologetics is one critical tool God can use to draw people to Him. We are to be ready with an answer for our faith (see 1 Peter 3:15). But when it is all said and done, the most powerful apologetic is a clear and compelling presentation of the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, best-selling author, popular speaker, part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit Ministries, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.

 


 

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25 replies
  1. Bob says:

    The most powerful evidence I know of that the Christian God does not exist is in the lives of Christians. I find absolutely no evidence that any Christian I encounter, or have ever encountered, is being led, guided, or controlled by a supernatural being (Holy Spirit). The only way I would be able to conclude that the person standing behind me or in front of me in line at the grocery store, was a bible believer, would be if they said something that a Christian might say (God bless you, I’m praying for you, or, Sure was a good message the pastor delivered Sunday) – otherwise, they would behave and talk in no discernible manner that differs from me, an atheist. This is powerful evidence indeed.

    bob
    r.u.reasonable@gmail.com

    Reply
    • Bud says:

      A Christian is just another sinner like everyone else but they have received Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross for their salvation.
      With out doing that you are bound for Hell.
      That’s the sum total of what a Christian is nothing more but nothing less.
      The biggest proff of the Bible is Isreal. If you know what the Bible says about them.
      A Christian is just a sinner saved by Gods Grace nothing more or less

      Reply
      • Bob says:

        Interesting – so according to what you just stated, the only difference between a person who has not “received Jesus Christ” and a person who has “received Jesus Christ”, is their destination once they die. Your words…”nothing more but nothing less.”
        I am betting there are a lot of Christians who would disagree with you…you know…the whole “transforming power of the Holy Spirit” thing, and “you will know them by their fruits”, etc, etc.
        Since the only benefit to becoming a Christian, according to you, is escaping the biblical hell…shouldn’t apologists spend all of their energy trying to offer even one single bit of evidence that the biblical hell exists?

        r.u.reasonable@gmail.com

        Reply
        • Louie says:

          Bob, no I would not think they would. I would think they would spend all their time validating the authenticity of scripture. Since once you did that, then heaven and hell and everything else in scripture are certain. Being a Christian to get out of hell is a decent enough reason to follow Christianity if hell is anything like the bible describes. However, the preference of the creator is that you’d be a Christian out of love. Much like the relationship of children and their father. If it takes fear for them to obey, that is unfortunate. A father would much rather they obeyed out of love.

          Reply
          • bob says:

            ” I would think they would spend all their time validating the authenticity of scripture. Since once you did that, then heaven and hell and everything else in scripture are certain.”
            Scripture doesn’t get a pass just because some of it has been validated for authenticity. Just because the bible mentions Jerusalem and the existence of Jerusalem have been validated does not mean that since the bible also mentions heaven and hell, their existence is likewise validated.
            .
            “Being a Christian to get out of hell is a decent enough reason to follow Christianity if hell is anything like the bible describes.”
            But if hell doesn’t exist, which I have never been presented one single scrap of evidence outside of the un-validated and un-authenticated claims in the bible, then anyone who becomes a Christian just so they can escape the eternal confines of this make-believe location has become a Christian using bad reasoning.
            .
            r.u.reasonable@gmail.com

          • Louie says:

            Bob, that is why they should keep validating scripture. The more they validate it, the harder it is to deny it as truth.

    • Rob says:

      Transformation and change in the human nature is not and never is always instant. As someone who has spent life in alcohol, drugs, gangs and many sexual lusts in a young mans heart as we all have human is certainly a long way from where I am today. My conversation was very much instant when it came to the alcohol as that was my biggest issue. The second biggest issue was taken away instantly when I came to faith in Jesus and that was wanting to spend all my time with mates while my wife bought up my kids. As for many other changes including , smoking, anger, fighting against lustful thoughts, back biting and many others took time. Believe you me, no man can change his human nature and sin is the most powerful thing you could ever fight and you will not win without God. When you become a true Christian your desire changes from loving sin to hating sin, especially the ones in your own life. But Christians are being change from glory to glory meaning as we grow closer in relationship to God we do change as he makes the change, for some are quicker then others. Man see’s the outward appearance, God looks on the heart. When or if you come to know Jesus then you will understand our human nature is desperately wicked by Jesus came to forgive and change us into his image. Remember it’s not instant but when we see him we will be like him.

      Reply
      • Bob says:

        (yawn) I don’t care whether the “change” is instant or takes years…my point is that there is no discernible difference in the attitude, behavior, actions…nothing. As I said – The only way I would be able to conclude that the person standing behind me or in front of me in line at the grocery store, was a bible believer, would be if they said something that a Christian might say. In other words – the are pretty much like me…an atheist…except that they believe in God…but that belief (faith) in the God of the bible has no recognizable affect on how they talk, act, react, etc.

        I was a bible believer for 25 years – almost half my life.

        r.u.reasonable@gmail.com

        Reply
    • Susan says:

      I hope you let the love of God dwell richly in you some day Bob. Until then you are merely opining from a lack of personal experience.

      I don’t know why it is so many unbelievers feel compelled to tear down in others what they never experienced to understand themselves but many do.

      We don’t allow the unknowing and unexperienced to opine in many areas of life. Why should we? So why do we to.erate it on spiritual topics. Christ said it. When the blind lead the blind then both land up in a ditch.

      But the godless get away with all kinds of things in faceless cyber space.

      May His Grace Abound to You so you can have peace in your heart and learn to hold your peace on topics that you don’t know intimately.

      God gave us the scriptures to learn of Him but people feel woefully short of that sometimes.

      Apply yourself to Him in prayer and ask for the gift of belief.

      And believe when you ask that you receive your faith. Ask with no wavering and the gift of faith will be given to you just like the Bible says.

      Anything less than that is You playing games with God and God doesn’t have to play games with you or satisfy you. He already did everything for you personally on the Cross.

      Thanks for reading. God Bless.

      Reply
      • Bob says:

        “I don’t know why it is so many unbelievers feel compelled to tear down in others what they never experienced to understand themselves but many do.”
        I am simply responding to the claims of Christians, claims that I consider to be based on faulty reasoning. If believers don’t want non believers to challenge their belief claims, then they should keep their belief claims to them selves…don’t ya think? And perhaps you missed the part where I admitted that I was a bible believer for 25 years…?

        “…the godless get away with all kinds of things in faceless cyber space”
        What the heck…?
        The rest of your reply did not address the discussion in any way – just a sermonette.

        r.u.reasonable@gmail.com

        Reply
    • Louie says:

      Bob, none of what you said is surprising. You cannot judge a book by its cover. A “good” behaving atheist and a “good” behaving Christian would not be discernable to the eye. However, if you talked with them and understood why they are being “good” and where they are getting their standard of “good”, the difference would be apparent. A good Christian gets their rules from biblical sources, while an atheist gets theirs from society maybe? All are human none the less, and all mess up daily like everyone else. So, if you looking for a halo or something to tell a Christian from a non Christian, good luck.

      Reply
    • Agabu says:

      Your most powerful evidence that the Christian God does not exist with regard to the lives of Christians is overly simplistic. That you find absolutely no evidence that any Christian you encounter, or have ever encountered, is being led, guided, or controlled by a supernatural being (Holy Spirit) isn’t all that surprising given that you confuse doing ordinary things like going to a grocery store with evidence of nothing supernatural. You have read the Gospels haven’t you? Jesus pretty much does many ordinary things like eating, drinking, sitting down and talking to people. Going to weddings, attending funerals, having supper, spending time with little children, going to some people’s homes as a guest etc. It is the height of arrogance and prejudice to ascertain things about someone you know nothing about in a grocery store that the mere mention of certain niceties is conclusive proof that they are a Christian or otherwise, or that behaving or talking like any ordinary person is conclusive proof that there’s no God. Is there really a “supernatural” way to say “Hello!” in a way that is distinct from the way an atheist says it? Or is there a difference about how one pays for one’s groceries that is so supernatural? It would seem to me that your most powerful evidence is quite lame and shallow. Powerful evidence? Not by a long shot.

      Reply
  2. John says:

    Probably the best evidence in my view is the lives of early Christians especially the apostles. They went 40 years persecuted and killed because they would not recant. Nobody is willing to die for something they know is not true. They saw what they saw and nobody could make them deny it. I think Chuck Colson nailed it when he said this could not have been a conspiracy to start a new religion. These guys had no motivation other than the power of Jesus’ life. Colson and several others had substantial motivation to hold a conspiracy together in Watergate and they couldn’t keep it up for 3 weeks. The apostles commitment lasted 40 years and never wavered. Impossible to believe if what they said about Jesus was not true.

    Reply
    • Bob says:

      “Probably the best evidence in my view is the lives of early Christians especially the apostles.”
      Sorry, I would rather see some evidence in the lives of the Christians I meet on a daily basis. The ancient traditions of how the apostles lived and died adds little to the conversation – Just like pointing to biblical miracles…in the words of Ingersoll:
      We have heard talk enough. We have listened to all the drowsy, idealess, vapid sermons that we wish to hear. We have read your Bible and the works of your best minds. We have heard your prayers, your solemn groans and your reverential amens. All these amount to less than nothing. We want one fact. We beg at the doors of your churches for just one little fact. We pass our hats along your pews and under your pulpits and implore you for just one fact. We know all about your moldy wonders and your stale miracles. We want a this-year’s-fact. We ask only one. Give us one fact for charity. Your miracles are too ancient. The witnesses have been dead for nearly two thousand years.

      Reply
      • Bob Gwin says:

        Bob, I would give you facts of a changed life that only came through Christ. I would share that with you in a different setting than here, say, phone call or email. Just an offer. I do understand your point, and I too agree that we Christians need to ‘shine’ before all men so as we won’t need words to show we’re Christian. God Bless…Bob G

        Reply
      • Barb Owens says:

        About 10 years ago I learned that the restoration of the State of Israel was prophesied in the Bible. There are verses that talk of the Jews being scattered and then restored as a nation which actually happened in
        1948. Jeremiah 16:14-15 is just one of those verses. The tiny nation is surround by enemies but has survived wars against unbelievable odds, research the 6 day war. The ancient Hebrew language is still in tact, most of us can not decipher Old English but the Jews can read and understand their ancient scriptures. Prophecy is a gift that God included in the scriptures and there are hundreds of examples. Look into it. The Bible says one day there will be a third temple, preparations have been going on for years. Another is that the City of Damascus will be no more, that fact could happen any day. Just remember you will never have absolute 100% proof, because then believing in God would not be a choice, and He wants us all to use our gift of free will to believe. Good luck in your quest for truth.

        Reply
        • Bob says:

          To much to unpack there Barb – why didn’t you mention the return of Jesus?
          .
          “I am coming soon! I am indeed coming soon!”
          Revelation 22:12, 2O
          .
          Perhaps we need to come up with a new definition for the word “soon”. Are you prepared to wait another 2,000 years?
          .
          r.u.reasonable@gmail.com

          Reply
          • Louie says:

            You are correct, soon is the key word. How soon would soon be to a God that was not living in the space time continuum?

  3. Barry says:

    Ok, a Mormon, a Jehovah’s Witness, a liberal Catholic, a fundamentalist Catholic, a Pentecostal, a charismatic, a non-denominational, a Calvinist, an Arminian, a Mennonite and a liberal Christian all come to my house and testify that the historical reliability of the bible and their own respective changed lives in Christ are, in their respective opinions, the most powerful evidence for the truth of Christianity.

    How many collapse-expansion cycles would the universe have to complete before I’d be able to say I’ve studied the issues long enough to figure out which of them has actually been guided by the Holy Spirit?

    Reply
  4. Vincent says:

    Man I’ve been around and seen hundreds of Christians that are different than the world. They live for the Lord in a big way. My oldest daughter is one that is very timid and shy but through Christ has found the courage and strength to go on several missions to love and serve the less fortunate and leads a bible study for young women. She is 19 and is pure and lovely and does not walk in the way of the world.. I know dozens of Christians who’s lives have been transformed supernaturally because of Christ. Very sad that you don’t know a single one.

    Reply

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