Reprinted with permission from Paraklesis (Spring, 2009) courtesy of Baptist Bible College
As Christians today, we face a daunting task. More than ever the people who surround us follow the gods of other religions, materialism and secularism, or the Christian God only nominally. The task of making a case for Christ is greater than ever.
But when we turn to books on defending the faith we wonder at all the disagreement. How can believers who agree on so much doctrine disagree so vehemently over apologetics? We in the ministry have to understand the issues ourselves so we can help our people interact with apologetic writings and defend their Christian faith. If there is a mist in the pulpit, there will certainly be a fog in the pews.
Apologetics is the defense of the Christian faith. But how should we do it? Should we go positive or negative? Negative apologetics refutes charges against our faith, while positive apologetics makes a case for our faith. Should we be hard or soft? Can we prove our case for the faith (hard), or only show it probable (soft)? Consequently, can a person rationally reject Christ (soft), or is he being irrational (hard)? Is apologetics simply evangelism, or can it include “pre-evangelism”—removing obstacles and preparing the way for the gospel? Is apologetics just for unbelievers, or also helpful for believers?
These are a few areas of debate among apologists. If we don’t understand these issues we’ll be lost when we try to interact with books on apologetics. A recent book examines five apologetic strategies (Steven B .Cowan, ed., Five Views on Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), but we can put them in two broad camps: evidentialism and presuppositionalism. Read more...