Apologetics

Different Apologetics: Which One is Best?

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Christian Apologetics is not the discipline of apologizing to others. Rather, apologetics is the discipline of defending the faith against objections. Whenever someone brings up a claim of inconsistency or inaccuracy with the Christian faith (e.g., Existence of God), you are automatically engaged in apologetics. There are various methods that we use to answer objections to Christianity. The main approaches can be grouped into five major methodologies of apologetics:

  1. Classical Method
  2. Evidential Method
  3. Cumulative Case Method
  4. Reformed Epistemology Method
  5. Presuppositional Method

The Classical Method of apologetics uses natural theology to prove theism, and subsequently, historical evidences are brought forward to prove the credibility of the Christian faith. The assumption behind this methodology is that Christianity is an inherently rational belief, and so it should be persuasive to those who think logically and rationally.

The Evidential Method can be difficult to separate from the Classical. Within apologetics, the main difference in evidentialism is that it is not necessary to first prove theism. In other words, theism is not a precondition to talking about miracles or other evidences for the Christian faith. Similar to the Classical Method, the evidentialist assumes that the evidence is credible and can persuade a rational individual.

The Cumulative Case Method follows similar reasoning to Classical and Evidential apologetics. But, rather than following a specific argument, this method seeks to informally piece together several points of data into a cumulative argument, claiming to be a better explanation than any alternative argument.

The Reformed Epistemology Method is relatively new to the scene of apologetics. It is largely a reaction against the Enlightenment’s emphasis on having reason for everything. In other words, this methodology states that belief in God is a basic fundamental part of life, and like other basic parts of life, does not require a supporting argument or evidence.

The Presuppositional Method is so named because it presupposes the truth of Christianity and Scripture as the starting point in apologetics. Within apologetics this methodology is unique since it assumes that mankind is not neutral. The presuppositionalist believes that even the unbelievers borrow from a Christian worldview as they live their lives.

Understandably, each methodology carries with it certain assumptions and beliefs about the world and human beings. I would like to briefly submit why I think the Presuppositional Method is most biblical method in apologetics, and why I think it is most pleasing to the Lord.

Human beings are not neutral, waiting to be convinced of God’s existence.

Scripture is clear that mankind is dead in their sins (Eph 2:1), and incapable of understanding the things of God (1 Cor 2:14). Mankind is spiritually dead and is incapable of making themselves alive.

Furthermore, humanity is not dormant in their spiritual deadness. Human beings know God exists (Rom 1:20-21), but they actively suppress the truth about God (Rom 1:18). Thus, apologetics is not a neutral arena where a truly rational individual will bow the knee to Jesus. Rather, mankind is hellbent on resisting God and suppressing His truth. At its core, Presuppositional apologetics operates with this truth in view—that only God can make a dead heart alive, and the role of the apologist is to proclaim God’s truth.

Scripture has to be the ultimate authority for knowing anything.

I have written a separate post on this issue. To summarize, Scripture itself claims to be the ultimate authority. If we allow other authorities to judge Scripture, by definition, those authorities are MORE authoritative than Scripture. Thus, for a presuppositionalist, all authorities and reasonings must be subservient to Scripture.

This is obviously a big issue which I have attempted to concisely summarize. My belief that presuppositionalism is the best apologetic methodology is inherently tied to Scripture’s teaching of man’s depravity, and man’s dependence upon God’s sovereignty for salvation. At the end of the day, the foundational issue is where does one’s theology and biblical exegesis fit into apologetics. As one of my favorite apologists says, “One’s apologetic methodology should flow from one’s theology, not the other way around.”

Peter serves at Shepherd's Theological Seminary in Cary, NC as the professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages. He loves studying the Bible and helping others understand it. He also runs the Bible Sojourner podcast.

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