In the beginning there was a distinction between the Creator and His Creation. Yet at a point in time “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14). The divine second person of the Trinity took up a human nature and manifested Himself to our human senses. This God-Man appointed Apostles to be His eyewitnesses, particularly of His resurrection from the dead. Through this empirical evidence of the Apostolic witnesses we are directed to believe that Jesus is the promised Christ and receive life in His name. Strict apologetics (the scientific validation of Scriptural truth) is quite limited to the knowledge that there is a god who also demands moral behavior. From there, we must quickly move on to the revealed knowledge which tells us who God is, what He has done, and what His will is toward us. Revealed knowledge creates faith in the promise of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Nevertheless, human reason, natural law, logic and philosophy can be employed within the sphere of the senses. Although apologetics and existential proofs for God are valid, the real “search” for God begins with the incarnation. Luther uses the account of Jacob’s ladder(Gen 28) to teach us not to approach heaven by human reason speculating about the divine majesty, instead we are to embrace the incarnated Jesus Christ as presented in the Word. “There is no other God than this Man Jesus Christ”(LW 26:29). John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” The New Testament is a confirmation of the historical Jesus just as it was promised in the Old Testament. “We have the prophetic word confirmed…” (2 Peter 1:19-21).
The individual Christian and the incarnate Christ live in both kingdoms simultaneously. It is within the vocations of the three estates that we see the proper use of apologetics. It is used by parents in teaching and raising children to serve society and the church. If parents employ teachers to help them in their God-given task, then they need to be on guard against those who would deny not only natural knowledge, but revealed knowledge as well. Individual Christians must speak up for the historicity of the Scriptures and the truthfulness of the Word of God. And, yes, we need to beware of philosophy and empty deceit (Col 2:8) and cast down any arguments which exalt themselves beyond its proper sphere(2 Cor 10:4-5). But ultimately we must present the message of the cross of Jesus Christ. The substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins is the only saving message of truth. If the hearer is offended by the cross of Christ or thinks that its message is foolishness, then so be it. There is no other name by which we must be saved.
Handouts 1:The Search for God Begins with the Incarnation.pdf
Handouts 2: Lutheranism-and-the-defense-of-the-Christian-Faith-Montgomery.pdf
Overhead 1: Overheads-Aug-25-2019.pdf
Full document cited in this lesson: