Four Apologetic Methods

Apologetics is the study and use of reasonable arguments to promote and defend ideas. Christian apologetics is interested especially in arguing for the existence of God (theism) and for the rationality of the Christian worldview (the wholistic lenses through which one views the world).

If you have ever tried to delve into apologetics, you may have become overwhelmed by the information available on the subject. In fact, the wide range of subjects involved in apologetics is enough to splash cold water on anyone’s intention to become an apologist. And yet, some swim in the apologetics pool long enough to reach the deep end where methodology and practice come together.

It is one thing to promote an idea, another to argue in defense of it, but it is another thing entirely to understand the various (and often conflicting) methodological paths you might choose to travel in order to make your argument. Here are four of the major approaches to apologetics today.

Evidentialism is the apologetic method that seeks to prove Christianity by pointing to independent facts which suggest their own (right/true) interpretation.

Presuppositionalism is the method that begins with presuppositions, arguing that only the Christian worldview is sufficient for having any productive and coherent conversation about anything. Presuppositionalists argue that there are no independent facts, but everyone argues from a basic foundation of presuppositions.

Reformed epistemology is grounded firmly in John Calvin’s concept of the sensus divinitatis (the innate sense of the divine or sense of God). Rather than appealing to foundational and incorrigible facts that must be known as such, Reformed epistemologists seek to tap into that intuitive awareness by offering secondary arguments in order to simply build onto the inherent base.

Classical apologetics is similar to Evidentialism (sometimes called “two-step” evidentialism) in that both seek to apply the use of reasonable facts in order to prove Christianity. Classical apologetics begins with theistic arguments to prove theism (cosmological, teleological, anthropological, etc.), and then employs historical and theological arguments to prove Christianity.

Transparently, I find myself most drawn to the Classical apologetic method, both in talking with Christians and non-Christians. My attraction is probably due to R.C. Sproul’s influence on me… his impact on my Christian worldview is unparalleled and will likely remain so.

That said, I believe the reasonableness of theism is a strong argument in practice. For my own belief, rational arguments have bolstered my trust in the reality of God. Additionally, I have had many conversations with self-proclaimed agnostics and atheists in which the Classical apologetic approach has served me well.

Whichever method you find to be logically sound, practical to employ, and (above all else) biblically faithful, I hope you’ll open your mouth to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ. This subject is worth every moment you spend on it.

 

For those interested in taking a closer look at apologetics, I suggest the following resources.

Classical Apologetics” by R.C. Sproul, John Gerstner, and Arthur Lindsley

The Consequences of Ideas” by R.C. Sproul

Apologetics to the Glory of God” by John Frame

Mapping Apologetics” by Brian Morley

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