Having been an apologist for the last forty years, I could give much more advice. I have only highlighted the need for defenders of the faith to be wise, but innocent, witnesses to Jesus Christ and the Gospel. Without these values, apologetic arguments, no matter how powerful, will sit unused and be ineffective.
Reposted with permission from Proclaim & Defend.
Finding Truth is a relatively recent book (pub. 2015). Others have taken in hand to review it already. For a survey of the main argument of the book, you can see Challies’ review, here. For numerous reviews by readers, see Good Reads, here. In my review, I’d like to focus on ways this book can be useful to train our thinking, correct our own attitudes, and aid in evangelism. No book is without flaws (save the Bible); two stand out to me which I will note in due course.
Justin was a Christian apologist who wrote in the mid-second century. He wrote his First Apology to the Roman Emperor “in behalf of those of all nations who are unjustly hated and wantonly abused, myself being one of them.”1 Justin eventually suffered martyrdom, according to Eusebius, at the hands of Crescens, a Stoic philosopher and apparent blackguard of the vilest sort. Eusebius remarked that, “After Justin had frequently refuted him in public discussions he won by his martyrdom the prize of victory, dying in behalf of the truth which he preached.”2
In this excerpt,3 Justin defends the faith against the pagan slur that Christians were atheists:
Chapter 5: Christians Charged with Atheism
Why, then, should this be? In our case, who pledge ourselves to do no wickedness, nor to hold these atheistic opinions, you do not examine the charges made against us; but, yielding to unreasoning passion, and to the instigation of evil demons, you punish us without consideration or judgment.
For the truth shall be spoken; since of old these evil demons, effecting apparitions of themselves, both defiled women and corrupted boys, and showed such fearful sights to men, that those who did not use their reason in judging of the actions that were done, were struck with terror; and being carried away by fear, and not knowing that these were demons, they called them gods, and gave to each the name which each of the demons chose for himself.
In 2013 K. Scott Oliphint of Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia published a book which he has called Covenantal Apologetics. I reviewed the book here and recommend it. But I expressed reservations about the writer’s agenda of rebranding Van Til’s apologetic teaching in line with the book’s title. Coming as it does from one of the foremost representatives of Van Til’s presuppositional approach, the thesis deserves attention. As I said in my review, by “Covenantal” Oliphint means the “covenants” of covenant theology.
Now nobody is going to disagree that Van Til often spoke about fallen man as a covenant-breaker. And no one will dispute that by that designation he had in mind the theological covenants of Reformed Covenant Theology. You cannot read Van Til very far before running into statements he makes about “the Reformed apologetic.” For example,
All men are either in covenant with Satan or in covenant with God. (Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, 4th edition, edited by K. Scott Oliphint, 300)
This is the kind of thing covenant theologians say (or used to say). Van Til did not refer to his approach as “Covenantal Apologetics,” but I think he might not have minded too much. Still, is it right?
By Jordan Standridge. Reposted from The Cripplegate.
There was a man who thought he was dead. In fact, he told all his family members that he was dead. Finally, after months of being unable to convince him, they dragged him to a doctor. The doctor, also unsuccessful, finally asked him, “Do dead men bleed?” The man responded, “Of course not!” The doctor promptly took out a knife and cut the man’s finger, and as the man watched the blood run down his hand he exclaimed, “Wow! I guess dead men do bleed!”
This man had presuppositions he brought with himself to that doctor’s appointment. He believed that he was dead and no evidence was going to change his mind. In a similar way, every one of our evangelistic encounters happen with someone who has preconceived notions and presuppositions.
Understanding why people don’t believe the gospel is key. Either they lack the evidence and are just waiting for the perfect argument to come along or they are blinded by their sin and need the gospel. As believers, we are called to make a defense. 1 Peter 3:15 gives us our calling. Peter says,
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect
This verse gives us three keys on how to do apologetics that we should apply in our everyday conversations as we “make a defense” with unbelievers.
Many people have maybe heard of what is called presuppositional apologetics but have little idea what it actually is. This situation is made worse because some defenders of the Faith are labeled presuppositional but, in fact, aren’t. So how should I describe it?
The first thing I would say is that although I personally have few problems with it, “presuppositionalism” is not perhaps the best name for the approach. A more preferable title would be something like “theological apologetics.”
Nevertheless, we are stuck with the name so we better understand what we mean by it. In this approach a “presupposition” is not just a prior assumption which one brings to a problem. It is not, e.g., supposing that the Bible is God’s Word and seeing where that gets you. This only makes your presupposition a “hypothetical,” not a necessary stance. But a “presupposition” here means an “ultimate heart commitment” to some interpretation and explanation of reality.