Introduction to Apologetics… Part 1
I think there are two main barriers to people consistently sharing their faith, fear of man and lack of knowledge. We will do a series of blog posts to introduce the different schools of Christian apologetics.
[Christian] Apologetics means quite simply a defense of the Christian faith. Broadly speaking, we can use the sports metaphor of offense and defense to categorize the different schools of apologetics (recognizing that all schools have both offensive and defensive elements).
DEFENSIVE – broadly speaking, defensive arguments appeal to reason
Classical Apologetics: Classical apologetics focuses on the rational basis of the Christian faith. It establishes this through several rational arguments for the existence of God (Cosmological, Teleological, and Ontological), and evidences for the reliability of the Bible and miracles.
Evidential Apologetics: In one way, evidential apologetics is a subset of classical apologetics, but in the last century has grown to be a stand alone school. It emphasizes the rational evidences for Christianity, namely, miracles, fulfilled Biblical prophecies, and how our world is incredibly fine-tuned (Teleological Argument aka Argument from Design).
OFFENSIVE – broadly speaking, offensive arguments point to the necessary foundations that precede and make sense of reason
Presuppositional Apologetics: Presuppositional apologetics presupposes the existence of God and the truth of the Scriptures. Presuppositional apologetics seeks not to defend Christianity with rational evidences but rather attacks the false assumptions (presuppositions) of the unbeliever. Say, a non-believer believes that man is inherently good and does not believe in God or His Word… all the evidences in the world will do no good until his incorrect and inconsistent presuppositions are exposed. It also challenges whether rational arguments are any good at all being that all the reason in the world will do no good unless God regenerates their heart.
Pascal: Pascal challenges whether we can reason ourselves into heaven, being that the path to the Kingdom must pass through the heart. For Pascal, ‘the heart has reasons of which the mind knows nothing of.’ For Pascal, faith and reason go together, but ultimately it is evidences that confirm the faith and not the evidences that lead to faith.
If we submit everything to reason our religion will be left with nothing mysterious or supernatural. If we offend the principles of reason our religion will be absurd and ridiculous.
Alvin Plantinga (Reformed Epistemology): Plantinga argues that belief in God is a properly basic belief and therefore requires no justification. He has also defended Christianity against the problem of evil and put forth a modal logic version of ontological argument.
Just for kicks, here is a video of evidentialist William Lane Craig, cross-pollinating a bit, employing some presuppositional tools against scientific naturalism:
Next, we shall take a deeper look at each of the different schools and assess their relative strengths and weaknesses…