“What is apologetics?” Well, the term comes from the Greek word “apologia”, which simply means “a verbal defense”. Christian apologetics would then be a verbal defense of the Christian faith. The most important passage of scripture pertaining to Christian apologetics is 1 Peter 3:15:
“…but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence,”
There are three basic types of apologetics; classical, evidential, and presuppositional.
Classical apologetics has been called a two-step method. The first step is to prove the existence of God, using various arguments with really long names. Once the existence of God is proven, we can proceed to prove that Christianity is true.
Evidential apologetics does not attempt to prove the existence of God, but jumps straight to proving Christianity is true from various forms of evidence (historical, archeological, biblical).
Presuppositional apologists argue that we must presuppose (assume) the truth of Christianity and show that every other worldview (and religion) is false.
If you are reading this, you might have already concluded that while classical and evidential apologetics are not difficult to understand, you suffered a brain cramp when you got to the presuppositional approach. Perhaps explaining how these approaches apply to sharing our faith with unbelievers can clear things up a bit.
If I am a classical apologist sharing my Christian faith with an unbeliever I would first try and prove the existence of God followed by the truth of Christianity.
If I am an evidential apologist sharing my faith I would try and prove Christianity to be true by using various evidences pointing to its truth (history, archeology, the bible).
If I am a presupposition apologist I would begin with the assumption (presupposition) that what the Bible has to say about anything and everything is true, and allow that to inform personal evangelism.
Let’s use the existence of God as an example.
The Bible tells us in Romans 1:20-21 that all men ‘know’ God, but they suppress the truth they already know). If that’s true, why would I need to ‘prove’ the existence of God to an unbeliever?
The Bible also tells us that the natural man hates the God he knows exists (Rom 8:7-8). If he hates God he hates Christianity, and probably all religions. If that’s true, why would I spend a lot of effort trying to make attractive (Christianity) something the unbeliever absolutely hates? Think Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS). President Trump could tell folks that breathing clean air is good for them, but the TDS afflicted would deny it because Trump said it.
Unfortunately, much, if not most, of today’s evangelism attempts to do just that – make Christianity attractive to the unbelieving ‘seeker’, assuming that they are seeking after someone they hate. Incidentally, the Bible also tells us that no human being seeks God (Rom 3:11). (There’s another presupposition).
So how should we share Christ with unbelievers? Might I suggest the way the Apostle Paul did?
Paul preached Christ crucified for the sins of men and left the rest to the sovereign God who opens human hearts to hear and respond to that simple message. If you want a good example, read the story of Lydia in Acts 16. Call that his ‘marketing campaign for Christianity’ – a far cry from all of today’s marketing campaigns to get unbelievers through the front doors of our evangelical churches.
You could even call Paul’s approach to evangelism ‘Calvinistic’. The TULIP (not invented by Calvin) just might express what the Bible actually teaches.
What we call the ’Arminian’ approach relies on the libertarian freewill of lost men (and women) and their ‘natural’(straight from the womb) ability to respond positively to a gospel message. That gospel message however, must be attractive to the unbeliever, meaning that the ‘offensive’ gospel that Jesus died for sin is a non-starter.
So that’s one old guy’s take on apologetics practically applied to sharing Christ. If you want to get into more detail concerning the three types of apologetics, feel free to do so. We have Goggle!
If you want a demonstration of the presupposition approach to proving the existence of God, go here.