“…at its core Christianity is rational. That which is irrational or absurd is not worthy of either belief or personal commitment. It is the fool who embraces irrationality. To embrace the absurd is to be engaged not in faith but in credulity.” ~ RC Sproul (“Defending Your Faith: An Introduction”)
In the area of apologetics, there is much debate as to what the best, most God-honoring way to approach giving an answer might be. Wise and godly men argue different methods.
There are several methods to apologetics. However, I will be going over the three most common approaches. These methods of apologetics are: classical, evidential, and presuppositional. It is a good idea to be familiar with each of these methods.
“Classical apologetics is a method of apologetics that begins by first employing various theistic arguments to establish the existence of God. Classical apologists will often utilize various forms of the cosmological, teleological (Design), ontological, and moral arguments to prove God’s existence. Once God’s existence has been established, the classical apologist will then move on to present evidence from fulfilled prophecy, the historical reliability of Scripture, and the bodily resurrection of Jesus to distinguish Christianity from all other competing forms of theism.” (GotQuestions)
Evidential apologetics is similar to classical apologetics but they do not see a need for rational or philosophical arguments for the existence of God. Rather, they place great value on the miracles of the Bible, fulfilled prophecy, historical evidences, Biblical manuscripts, archeological finds, etc.
“Basically, evidential apologetics stresses evidence such as miracles, fulfilled prophecies, etc., and uses reason to support them.” (CARM)
Presuppositional apologists address the presuppositions or assumptions of a person before getting to rational arguments. These apologists argue that the previous two methods of apologetics puts man in the place of judge over God. He is being presented with evidence and he much choose whether God is in the right. The presuppositional apologist doesn’t discount evidence but he/she will not use is as a means of convincing someone of their argument. They will, rather, expose logical fallacies in arguments to show that the non-Christian worldview is illogical and inconsistent.
“Presuppositional apologetics holds that without a theistic worldview there is no consistent basis upon which to assume the possibility of autonomous reason. When the materialist attempts to refute Christianity by appeal to deductive reason, he is, in fact, borrowing from the Christian worldview, hence being inconsistent with his stated presuppositions.” (GotQuestions)
Although there are different approaches, the ultimate goal of apologetics is to convey the message of Christ and bring glory to God. Regardless of the method of apologetics, we are called to be able to give an answer and to do so with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).
- Chabot, Eric. “Comparing Four Apologetic Systems-Classical, Historical, Presuppositional And Cumulative Case Apologetics“. THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM. N.p., 2011. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.
- Derengowski, ThM, Paul. “Methods Of Apologetic Practice | Christian Apologetics Project“. Capro.info. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.
- “Five Apologetics Methods | Apologetics Index“. Apologetics Index. N.p., 2013. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.
- Slick, Matt. “Classical Apologetics“. CARM. N.p., 2008. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.
- Slick, Matt. “Evidential Apologetics“. CARM. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.
- Slick, Matt. “Presuppositional Apologetics“. CARM. N.p., 2008. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.
- Sproul, RC. Defending Your Faith: An Introduction To Apologetics. 1st ed. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.
- “What Is Classical Apologetics?“. GotQuestions.org. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.
- “What Is Presuppositional Apologetics?“. GotQuestions.org. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.