Previously: What is Apologetics?
Classical Apologetics is the field of apologetics that focuses on making rational arguments for the existence of God or the Christian faith. The classical arguments for the existence of God do not presuppose the truth of Christianity, rather they focus on logical proofs for the existence of God apart from the Bible.
Classical arguments for the validity of Christianity build upon the arguments for the existence of God and use some of the same historical evidence used by historical apologetics, but combined with a rational argument for the reliability of the Bible. In cases where evidence is used, classical apologetics overlaps with evidential apologetics.
Some better known classical apologetic arguments are the Cosmological, Teleological, Ontological and Moral arguments for the existence of God. These kinds of arguments focus on giving rational proofs, through the adherence to logic, for the existence of God.
Evidential Apologetics is the field of apologetics that focuses on evidence for the reliability of the Bible and the existence of God. It differs from classical apologetics in that it focuses on the evidence and uses reason, while classical apologetics focuses more on the rational argument and uses the evidence where appropriate. This field of apologetics uses evidences such as miracles, fulfilled prophecy, and historical evidence to argue for the reliability of the Biblical events and believes that if the resurrection of Jesus can be proven than the existence of God is proven as well.
Presuppositional Apologetics is the field of apologetics that presupposes the existence of God and the validity of Christianity. In other words a presuppositional apologist argues that one can’t help but assume the truth of their worldview and begins the discussion from that point of view. The Christian starts with the authority of God’s word, while the non-Christian starts with some other ultimate authority. You’re probably wondering what a presupposition is…well I’ll tell you!
A presupposition is a belief that someone holds that affects the way they live out their life and interpret information. Everyone has presuppositions. The important thing is to be aware of what your presuppositions are. For example some of my presuppositions are:
- I believe in the existence of God.
- I do not believe that material reality is ultimate. In other words there is room in my worldview for the supernatural. I do not presuppose that all that exists is what can be experienced with the 5 senses.
Being aware of what my presuppositions are allows me to be able to identify whether they are interfering with an argument I’m making or a discussion I’m having. For instance, imagine two people who are unaware of their presuppositions have a conversation about the existence of God. The theist could make a very convincing argument for the existence of God, but it would be completely unconvincing to a naturalist who has the presupposition that all that exists is the natural world that can be experienced through the sense. However being aware of my presuppositions as well as the presuppositions of the person with whom I’m speaking, allows me to back up a step and approach the conversation from a different perspective.
So back to presuppositional apologetics. Presuppositional apologetics assumes the validity of the existence of God and the Biblical record. It takes passages such as Rom 1:16, Rom 1:18-32, and 1 Corinthians 2:14 to mean that attempting to prove the existence of God to a non-believer is impossible due to mankind’s fallen nature. So the presuppositional apologist will first attempt to change the person’s presuppositions before attempting to argue for the existence of God or validity of the Christian worldview.
Historical Apologetics is the field of apologetics which focuses on the historical reliability of the Bible. This type of apologetic argues for the validity of Christianity based on the historical reliability of it’s text believing that if the historical reliability of the resurrection can be established that God’s existence has been proven along side it.
Historical apologetic arguments seek to answer questions about Christianity by showing that the events described in the Bible are historically reliable. These kinds of arguments use things like secular historical records, as well as archaeology. For example, an historical apologist would seek to defend the resurrection by discussing the history associated with the resurrection account. They would bring up points like: the existence of Jesus as an historical person is corroborated by secular historians such as Josephus.
I hope this has been helpful in explaining the various systems or styles of apologetics. Stay tuned! Next time we’ll cover different types of apologetic arguments!