Apologetics (from Greek ἀπολογία, "speaking in defense") is the religious discipline of defending religious doctrines through systematic argumentation and discourse. Early Christian writers (c. 120–220) who defended their beliefs against critics and recommended their faith to outsiders were called Christian apologists. In 21st-century usage, apologetics is often identified with debates over religion and theology.
The term apologetics derives from the Ancient Greek word apologia. In the Classical Greek legal system, two key technical terms were employed: the prosecution delivered the kategoria (κατηγορία), and the defendant replied with an apologia. To deliver an apologia meant making a formal speech or giving an explanation to reply and rebut the charges, as in the case of Socrates' Apologia defense, as chronicled in Plato's Apology (the defense speech of Socrates at his trial). This term appears in the Koine Greek of the New Testament. The Apostle Paul employs the term apologia in his trial speech to Festus and Agrippa when he says "I make my defense" in Acts 26:2. A cognate form appears in Paul's Letter to the Philippians as he is "defending the gospel" in Philippians 1:7, and in "giving an answer" in 1 Peter 3:15.
Although the term apologetics has Western, primarily Christian origins and is most frequently associated with the defense of Christianity, the term is sometimes used referring to the defense of any religion in formal debate involving religion.
Many apologetic books have been written in defence of the history or teachings of the Bahá'í Faith. The religion's founders wrote several books presenting proofs of their religion, among them are the Báb's Seven Proofs and Bahá'u'lláh's Kitáb-i-Íqán. Later Bahá'í authors wrote prominent apologetic texts, such as Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl's The Brilliant Proof and Udo Schaefer et al.'s Making the Crooked Straight;.
One of the earliest Buddhist apologetic texts is The Questions of King Milinda, which deals with the Buddhist metaphysics such as the "no-self" nature of the individual and characteristics such as of wisdom, perception, volition, feeling, consciousness and the soul. In the mid-19th century, encounters between Buddhists and Christians in Japan prompted the formation of a Buddhist Propagation Society. In recent times, A. L. De Silva, an Australian convert to Buddhism, has written a book, Beyond Belief, providing Buddhist apologetic responses and a critique of Christian Fundamentalist doctrine. Gunapala Dharmasiri wrote an apologetic critique of the Christian concept of God from a Theravadan Buddhist perspective.
Christian apologetics combines Christian theology, natural theology, and philosophy to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, to defend the faith against objections and misrepresentation.
Christian apologetics has taken many forms over the centuries. In the Roman Empire, Christians were severely persecuted, and many charges were brought against them. J. David Cassel gives several examples: Tacitus wrote that Nero fabricated charges that Christians started the burning of Rome. Other charges included cannibalism (due to a literal interpretation of the Eucharist) and incest (due to early Christians' practice of addressing each other as "brother" and "sister"). Saul of Tarsus, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and others often defended Christianity against charges that were brought to justify persecution.
Later apologists have focused on providing reasons to accept various aspects of Christian belief. Christian apologists of many traditions, in common with Jews, Muslims, and some others, argue for the existence of a unique and personal God. Theodicy is one important aspect of such arguments, and Alvin Plantinga's arguments have been highly influential in this area. Many prominent Christian apologists are scholarly philosophers or theologians, frequently with additional doctoral work in physics, cosmology, comparative religions, or other fields. Others take a more popular or pastoral approach. Some prominent modern apologists are Douglas Groothuis, Frederick Copleston, John Lennox, Walter R. Martin, Dinesh D'Souza, Douglas Wilson, Cornelius Van Til, Gordon Clark, Francis Schaeffer, Greg Bahnsen, Edward John Carnell, James White, R.C. Sproul, Hank Hanegraaff, Ravi Zacharias, Alister McGrath, Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, Peter Kreeft, G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, William Lane Craig, J. P. Moreland, Hugh Ross, David Bentley Hart, Gary Habermas, Norman Geisler and Scott Hahn.
Notable apologists within the Catholic Church include Bishop Robert Barron, G. K. Chesterton, Dr. Scott Hahn, Patrick Madrid, Kenneth Hensley, Karl Keating, Ronald Knox, Peter Kreeft, and Gus Loyd.
John Henry Newman (February 21, 1801 – August 11, 1890) was an English convert to Roman Catholicism, later made a cardinal, and beatified in 2010. In early life he was a major figure in the Oxford Movement to bring the Church of England back to its Catholic roots. Eventually his studies in history persuaded him to become a Roman Catholic. When John Henry Newman entitled his spiritual autobiography Apologia Pro Vita Sua in 1864, he was playing upon both this connotation, and the more commonly understood meaning of an expression of contrition or regret.
Christian apologists employ a variety of philosophical and formal approaches, including ontological, cosmological, and teleological arguments. The Christian presuppositionalist approach to apologetics utilizes the transcendental argument for the existence of God.
Tertullian was a notable early Christian apologist. He was born, lived and died in Carthage. He is sometimes known as the "Father of the Latin Church". He introduced the term Trinity (Latin trinitas) to the Christian vocabulary and also probably the formula "three Persons, one Substance" as the Latin "tres Personae, una Substantia" (itself from the Koine Greek "treis Hypostaseis, Homoousios"), and also the terms Vetus Testamentum (Old Testament) and Novum Testamentum (New Testament).
There are notable Latter-day Saint apologists who focus on the defense of Mormonism, including early church leaders such as Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor, B. H. Roberts, James E. Talmage and more modern figures such as Hugh Nibley, Orson Scott Card, and Jeff Lindsay.
Several well-known Mormon apologetic organizations, such as the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (a group of scholars at Brigham Young University) and FairMormon (an independent, Mormon-run, not-for-profit group), have been formed to defend the doctrines and history of the Latter Day Saint movement in general and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in particular.
Deism is a form of theism in which God created the universe and established rationally comprehensible moral and natural laws but no longer intervenes in human affairs. Deism is a natural religion where belief in God is based on application of reason and evidence observed in the designs and laws found in nature. The World Order of Deists maintains a web site presenting deist apologetics that demonstrate the existence of God based on evidence and reason, absent divine revelation.
Hindu apologetics began developing during the British colonial period. A number of Indian intellectuals had become critical of the British tendency to devalue the Hindu religious tradition. As a result, these Indian intellectuals, as well as a handful of British Indologists, were galvanized to examine the roots of the religion as well as to study its vast arcana and corpus in an analytical fashion. This endeavor drove the deciphering and preservation of Sanskrit. Many translations of Hindu texts were produced which made them accessible to a broader reading audience.
A range of Indian philosophers, including Swami Vivekananda and Aurobindo Ghose, have written rational explanations regarding the values of the Hindu religious tradition. More modern proponents such as the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi have also tried to correlate recent developments from quantum physics and consciousness research with Hindu concepts. The late Reverend Pandurang Shastri Athavale has given a plethora of discourses regarding the symbolism and rational basis for many principles in the Vedic tradition. In his book The Cradle of Civilization, David Frawley, an American who has embraced the Vedic tradition, has characterized the ancient texts of the Hindu heritage as being like "pyramids of the spirit". A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada translated over sixty volumes of classic Vedic scriptures including the biography and conclusions of the famous 16th century bhakti scholar Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu; many of these translations and commentaries have been further translated into as many as eighty languages, producing over half a billion books distributed throughout the world. Such individuals have tried to construct an intellectual defense of Hinduism during a phase when the fundamentalistic elements of other faiths have sought to denigrate the ancient religion in an effort to gain converts.
Ilm al-Kalām, literally "science of discourse", usually foreshortened to kalam and sometimes called Islamic scholastic theology, is an Islamic undertaking born out of the need to establish and defend the tenets of Islamic faith against doubters and detractors. A scholar of kalam is referred to as a mutakallim (plural mutakallimūn) as distinguished from philosophers, jurists, and scientists.
Jewish apologetic literature can be traced back as far as Aristobulus of Paneas, though some discern it in the works of Demetrius the chronographer (3rd century BCE) traces of the style of "questions" and "solutions" typical of the genre. Aristobulus was a Jewish philosopher of Alexandria and the author of an apologetic work addressed to Ptolemy VI Philometor. Josephus's Contra Apion is a wide-ranging defense of Judaism against many charges laid against Judaism at that time, as too are some of the works of Philo of Alexandria.
In response to modern Christian missionaries, and congregations that "are designed to appear Jewish, but are actually fundamentalist Christian churches, which use traditional Jewish symbols to lure the most vulnerable of our Jewish people into their ranks", Jews for Judaism is the largest counter-missionary organization in existence, today. Kiruv Organisation, founded by Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi, and Outreach Judaism, founded by Rabbi Tovia Singer, are other prominent international organizations that respond "directly to the issues raised by missionaries and cults, by exploring Judaism in contradistinction to fundamentalist Christianity."
Plato's Apology may be read as both a religious and literary apology; however, more specifically literary examples may be found in the prefaces and dedications, which proceed many Early Modern plays, novels, and poems. Eighteenth century authors such as Colley Cibber, Frances Burney, and William Congreve, to name but a few, prefaced the majority of their poetic work with such apologies. In addition to the desire to defend their work, the apologetic preface often suggests the author's attempt to humble his- or herself before the audience.
Apology, apologise or apologist may refer to:
Apology (act), an expression of remorse or regret
Apologetics, the systematic theological defense of a religious position
Christian apologetics, the defense of ChristianityBYU Studies Quarterly
BYU Studies Quarterly is an academic journal covering a broad array of topics related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon studies). It is published by the church-owned Brigham Young University. The journal is abstracted and indexed in the ATLA Religion Database.Catholic Answers
Catholic Answers, based in El Cajon, California, is the largest lay-run apostolate of Roman Catholic apologetics and evangelization in the United States. It publishes Catholic Answers Magazine, a bimonthly magazine focusing on Catholic outreach, religious formation and apologetics, as well as the website catholic.com. It also produces Catholic Answers Live, a radio show answering callers' questions on a variety of topics related to the doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Catholic Answers Live is syndicated on the EWTN radio network.Catholic Answers operates with the permission of the Diocese of San Diego. It is listed in the current edition of The Official Catholic Directory, the authoritative listing of U.S. Catholic organizations, priests, and bishops.Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry
The Christian Research Ministry is a Calvinist organization in the United States, founded in 1995. Matthew J. Slick is the president, and over thirty writers contribute to the CARM website. The group is registered as a 501(c)3 organization and is located in Meridian, Idaho.Christian Research Institute
The Christian Research Institute (CRI) is an evangelical Christian apologetics ministry. It was established in October 1960 in the state of New Jersey by Walter Martin (1928–1989). In 1974 Martin relocated the ministry to San Juan Capistrano, California. The ministry's office was relocated in the 1990s near Rancho Santa Margarita. In 2005 the organization moved to its present location in Charlotte, North Carolina.Christian apologetics
Christian apologetics (Greek: ἀπολογία, "verbal defence, speech in defence") is a branch of Christian theology that defends Christianity against objections.Christian apologetics has taken many forms over the centuries, starting with Paul the Apostle in the early church and Patristic writers such as Origen, Augustine of Hippo, Justin Martyr and Tertullian, then continuing with writers such as Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, William of Ockham and Anselm of Canterbury during Scholasticism. Blaise Pascal was an active Christian apologist before the Age of Enlightenment, and in the modern period, Christianity was defended through the efforts of many authors such as G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis, as well as G. E. M. Anscombe. In contemporary times Christianity is defended through the work of figures such as Robert Barron, Richard Swinburne, J. P. Moreland, Ravi Zacharias, Rabi Maharaj, Robert Hutchinson, John Lennox, Doug Wilson, Lee Strobel, Francis Collins, Henry M. Morris, Hugh W. Nibley, Alister McGrath, Alvin Plantinga, Hugh Ross, Frank Turek, Greg Koukl, James White, David Wood, Dinesh D’Souza, David Bentley Hart, Nabeel Qureshi, William Lane Craig and Roger Scruton.Cornelius Van Til
Cornelius Van Til (May 3, 1895 – April 17, 1987) was a Dutch Christian philosopher and Reformed theologian, who is credited as being the originator of modern presuppositional apologetics.Criticism of the Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith has had many critics, who have from time to time found fault with many of its teachings and precepts, discovered apparent contradictions and inconsistencies in its history, and even raised controversial questions about specific policies and actions of past and existing administrative bodies.
In recent times, some of the more common of these criticisms have been compiled in books and blogs. Many Bahá'í authors have also given their own responses to these criticisms.FairMormon
FairMormon, formerly known as the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research (FAIR), is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that specializes in Mormon apologetics and responds to criticism of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). FairMormon comprises volunteers who seek to answer questions submitted to its web site. It was founded in November 1997 by a group of Mormons who wanted to defend their faith on AOL message boards. The members of FairMormon are international volunteers. FairMormon holds an annual conference where topics of current apologetic issues are presented. The organization also publishes a monthly electronic newsletter (the FairMormon Journal) and a daily news-clipping service (the FairMormon Front Page).
There is no official connection between FairMormon and the LDS Church.Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies
The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) was an informal collaboration of academics devoted to Latter-day Saint historical scholarship. In 1997, the group became a formal part of Brigham Young University (BYU), which is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). In 2006, the group became a formal part of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, formerly known as the Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts, BYU. FARMS has since been absorbed into the Maxwell Institute's Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies.
FARMS supported and sponsored what it considered to be "faithful scholarship", which includes academic study and research in support of Christianity and Mormonism, and in particular, the official position of the LDS Church. This research primarily concerned the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, the Old Testament, the New Testament, early Christian history, ancient temples, and other related subjects. While allowing some degree of academic freedom to its scholars, FARMS was committed to the conclusion that LDS scriptures are authentic, historical texts written by prophets of God. FARMS has been criticized by scholars and critics who classify it as an apologetics organization that operated under the auspices of the LDS Church.Interpreter (journal)
Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture is a non-profit peer-reviewed educational academic journal published by the Interpreter Foundation covering primarily LDS apologetics as well as Mormon studies. It was established in 2012 by The Interpreter Foundation with Daniel C. Peterson as founding editor-in-chief. Peterson had previously been the founding editor of the journal FARMS Review, which in 2011 had been renamed Mormon Studies Review and soon thereafter re-launched without apologetics as its main focus. The Interpreter Foundation also sponsors debates and discussions. These have included two symposia focused on the relationship between science and MormonismMormon studies
Mormon studies is the interdisciplinary academic study of the beliefs, practices, history and culture of those known by the term Mormon and denominations belonging to the Latter Day Saint movement whose members do not generally go by the term "Mormon". The Latter Day Saint movement includes not only The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) but also the Community of Christ (CoC) and other groups, as well as those falling under the umbrella of Mormon fundamentalism.
Before 1903, writings about Mormons were mostly orthodox documentary histories or anti-Mormon material. The first dissertations on Mormons, published in the 1900s, had a naturalistic style that approached Mormon history from economic, psychological, and philosophical theories. While their position within Mormon studies is debated, Mormon apologetics have a tradition dating back to Parley P. Pratt's response to an anti-Mormon book in 1838.
The amount of scholarship in Mormon studies increased after World War II. From 1972–1982, while Leonard Arrington was a Church Historian in the history department, the LDS Church Archives were open to Mormon and non-Mormon researchers. Researchers wrote detached accounts for Mormon intellectuals in the "New Mormon history" style. Many new publications started to publish history in this style, including Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, BYU Studies Quarterly, and Exponent II. Some general authorities in the church did not like the New Mormon history style, and Arrington and his remaining staff were transferred to Brigham Young University (BYU) in 1982, where they worked in the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History. The institute continued to support scholarship in Mormon history until 2005, when the institute closed and employees transferred to the LDS Church Office Building. In the late 1980s and 1990s, several other incidents made BYU faculty reluctant to voice unorthodox ideas about church history. Around 1990, BYU professors were asked not to contribute to Dialogue or Sunstone. Two historians were excommunicated in 1993, probably for their published unorthodox views. BYU Studies and other LDS church-sponsored publishers published more "faithful" scholarship at this time. Presses outside of Utah started to publish more books in Mormon studies.
Mormon scholars engaging in Mormon studies still feel they must be careful about what they write, especially if they work with material from the Church History Library archives. Non-Mormon scholars are often suspicious of Mormon scholars' work. This is gradually changing as Mormon scholars find employment outside of church-sponsored institutions. Universities without affiliation to the LDS Church have endowed chairs for Mormon studies. Emerging trends in "Newer" Mormon History are an increase in interdisciplinary work and women's history. The LDS Church History Department hired a women's history specialist in 2011 and has recently published books focusing on women's history. Blogs focusing on Mormon history have helped make Mormon history more accessible and provided a safe space for unorthodox ideas, although they may be superficial at times.Norman Geisler
Norman Leo Geisler (born July 21, 1932) is a Christian systematic theologian and philosopher. He is the co-founder of two non-denominational evangelical seminaries (Veritas Evangelical Seminary and Southern Evangelical Seminary). He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Loyola University and has made scholarly contributions to the subjects of classical Christian apologetics, systematic theology, the history of philosophy, philosophy of religion, Calvinism, Roman Catholicism, biblical inerrancy, Bible difficulties, ethics, and more. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of over 90 books and hundreds of articles.Peter Kreeft
Peter John Kreeft (; born 1937) is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and The King's College. He is the author of over a hundred books on Christian philosophy, theology and apologetics. He also formulated, together with Ronald K. Tacelli, "Twenty Arguments for the Existence of God".Positive deconstruction
Positive deconstruction, in relation to Christian apologetics, is a term first used by Nick Pollard in Evangelism Made Slightly Less Difficult (drawing on Dr. David Cook), to describe a methodology for engaging with worldviews in Christian apologetics. The process is one of deconstruction because it involves 'dismantling' the worldview in order to identify areas of conflict with a Christian worldview. It is positive because the intention is not to destroy a person's ideas and belief system, but to build on areas of agreement between the two worldviews in order to argue for the truth of the Christian worldview.
Pollard identifies four key aspects:
Identify the worldview: What beliefs, values and attitudes are being communicated?
Analyse the worldview, primarily in terms of the correspondence, coherence and pragmatic theories of truth
Affirm the truth: what aspects of the worldview are in agreement with a Christian worldview?
Deny the error: what aspects of the worldview are in conflict with a Christian worldview?Tony Watkins develops this in relation to film in Focus: The Art and Soul of Cinema. He aims to make the positive deconstruction process more accessible, and accordingly re-labels the four aspects of the process (pp. 31–45):
Analyse the worldview, in which he suggests a five-part framework for considering worldviews:
What is reality?
What does it mean to be human?
How do we know what the good is?
How do we know anything at all?
What is the fundamental problem confronting all human beings, and what is the solution?
Evaluate the worldview (as with Pollard's second stage, this is terms of correspondence, coherence, pragmatism)
Celebrate the good
Challenge the badPresuppositional apologetics
Presuppositionalism is a school of Christian apologetics that believes the Christian faith is the only basis for rational thought. It presupposes that the Bible is divine revelation and attempts to expose flaws in other worldviews. It claims that apart from presuppositions, one could not make sense of any human experience, and there can be no set of neutral assumptions from which to reason with a non-Christian. Presuppositionalists claim that a Christian cannot consistently declare his belief in the necessary existence of the God of the Bible and simultaneously argue on the basis of a different set of assumptions that God may not exist and Biblical revelation may not be true. Two schools of presuppositionalism exist, based on the different teachings of Cornelius Van Til and Gordon Haddon Clark. Presuppositionalism contrasts with classical apologetics and evidential apologetics.
Presuppositionalists compare their presupposition against other ultimate standards such as reason, empirical experience, and subjective feeling, claiming presupposition in this context is:
a belief that takes precedence over another and therefore serves as a criterion for another. An ultimate presupposition is a belief over which no other takes precedence. For a Christian, the content of Scripture must serve as his ultimate presupposition… This doctrine is merely the outworking of the lordship of God in the area of human thought. It merely applies the doctrine of scriptural infallibility to the realm of knowing.
Critics of presuppositional apologetics claim that it is logically invalid because it begs the question of the truth of Christianity and the non-truth of other worldviews.Robert Sungenis
Robert A. Sungenis (born ca. 1955) is an American Traditionalist Catholic known for his Catholic apologetics and his advocacy of a pseudoscientific belief that the Earth is the center of the universe. He has made statements about Jews and Judaism which have been criticized as being antisemitic, which he denies.Thomas Sherlock
Thomas Sherlock (1678 – 18 July 1761) was a British divine who served as a Church of England bishop for 33 years. He is also noted in church history as an important contributor to Christian apologetics.Watchman Fellowship
The Watchman Fellowship is, according to its website, an independent, nondenominational Christian research and apologetics ministry focusing on new religious movements, cults, the occult and the New Age. It was founded in 1979 and is based in Arlington, Texas with offices in six states and one in Romania.The mission of the Watchman Fellowship has three primary goals: to educate the community, to equip the church, and to evangelize the cults. The Fellowship encourages traditional Christians to gather accurate information about groups that deviate from "essential Christian doctrines." Its president is James Walker.Rather than objecting to paranormal activity on skeptical grounds, the Watchman Fellowship claims that spirits may be real and malevolent.