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.
The original Greek apologia (ἀπολογία, from ἀπολογέομαι, apologeomai, "speak in return, defend oneself") was a formal verbal defense, either in response to accusation or prosecution in a court of law. The defense of Socrates as presented by Plato and Xenophon was an apologia against charges of "corrupting the young, and … not believing in the gods in whom the city believes, but in other daimonia that are novel".
In later use 'apologia' sometimes took a literary form in early Christian discourse as an example of the integration of educated Christians into the cultural life of the Roman Empire, particularly during the "little peace" of the 3rd century, and of their participation in the Greek intellectual movement broadly known as the Second Sophistic. The Christian apologists of the early Church did not reject Greek philosophy, but attempted to show the positive value of Christianity in dynamic relation to the Greek rationalist tradition.
In the 2nd century, apologetics was a defense or explanation of Christianity, addressed to those standing in opposition and those yet to form an opinion, such as emperors and other authority figures, or potential converts. The earliest martyr narrative has the spokesman for the persecuted present a defense in the apologetic mode: Christianity was a rational religion that worshiped only God, and although Christians were law-abiding citizens willing to honor the emperor, their belief in a single divinity prevented them from taking the loyalty oaths that acknowledged the emperor's divinity.
The apologetic historiography in the Acts of the Apostles presented Christianity as a religious movement at home within the Roman Empire and no threat to it and was a model for the first major historian of the Church, Eusebius. Apologetics might also be directed to Christians already within the community explain their beliefs and justify positions. Origen's apologetic Contra Celsum, for instance, provided a defense against the arguments of a critic dead for decades to provide answers to doubting Christians lacking immediate answers to the questions raised. Apologetic literature was an important medium for the formation of early Christian identity.
In addition to Origen and Tertullian, early Christian apologists include Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, and the author of the Epistle to Diognetus. Augustine of Hippo was a significant apologist of the Patristic era. Some scholars regard apologetics as a distinct literary genre exhibiting commonalities of style and form, content, and strategies of argumentation. Others viewed it as a form of discourse characterized by its tone and purpose.
R. C. Sproul, quoting the First Epistle of Peter, writes that "The defense of the faith is not a luxury or intellectual vanity. It is a task appointed by God that you should be able to give a reason for the hope that is in you as you bear witness before the world." The verse quoted here reads in full: "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."
Another passage sometimes used as a biblical basis for Christian apologetics is God's entreaty in the Book of Isaiah: "Come now, let us reason together." Other scriptural passages which have been taken as a basis for Christian apologetics include Psalm 19, which begins "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands," and Romans 1, which reads "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."
One of the first comprehensive attacks on Christianity came from the Greek philosopher Celsus, who wrote The True Word, a polemic criticizing Christians as being unprofitable members of society. In response, the church father Origen published his apologetic treatise Contra Celsum, or Against Celsus, which systematically addressed Celsus's criticisms and helped bring Christianity a level of academic respectability. In the treatise, Origen writes from the perspective of a Platonic philosopher, drawing extensively on the teachings of Plato. Contra Celsum is widely regarded by modern scholars as one of the most important works of early Christian apologetics.
Thomas Aquinas presented five ways, or arguments for God's existence, in the Summa Theologica, while his Summa contra Gentiles was a major apologetic work. Blaise Pascal outlined an approach to apologetics in his Pensées: "Men despise religion; they hate it and fear it is true. To remedy this, we must begin by showing that religion is not contrary to reason; that it is venerable, to inspire respect for it; then we must make it lovable, to make good men hope it is true; finally, we must prove it is true."
Christian apologetics continues in modern times in a wide variety of forms. The Roman Catholics: Bishop Robert Barron, G. K. Chesterton, Ronald Knox, Karl Keating, Michael Voris, Peter Kreeft, Frank Sheed, and Dr. Scott Hahn; the Anglican C. S. Lewis (who popularized the argument now known as Lewis's trilemma); the evangelical Norman Geisler; the Lutheran John Warwick Montgomery; and the Presbyterian Francis Schaeffer were among the most prolific Christian apologists in the 20th century, while Gordon Clark and Cornelius Van Til started a new school of philosophical apologetics called presuppositionalism, which is popular in Calvinist circles.
Others include Douglas Groothuis, Josh McDowell, Ravi Zacharias, Hugh Ross, Lee Strobel, Hugo Anthony Meynell, Timothy J. Keller, R. C. Sproul, Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig, Francis Collins, Vishal Mangalwadi, Richard Bauckham, Craig Evans, Darrell Bock, Gary Habermas, James White, and John Lennox.
There are a variety of Christian apologetic styles and schools of thought. The major types of Christian apologetics include historical and legal evidentialist apologetics, presuppositional apologetics, philosophical apologetics, prophetic apologetics, doctrinal apologetics, biblical apologetics, moral apologetics, and scientific apologetics.
A variety of arguments has been forwarded by legal scholars such as Simon Greenleaf and John Warwick Montgomery, by expert forensic investigators such as cold case homicide detective J. Warner Wallace, and academic historical scholars, such as Edwin M. Yamauchi. These arguments present a case for the historicity of the resurrection of Christ per current legal standards of evidence or undermining the pagan myth hypothesis for the origin of Christianity.
Evidence for the historicity of the A. N. Sherwin-White states:
For Acts, the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. Acts is, in simple terms and judged externally, no less of a propaganda narrative than the Gospels, liable to similar distortions. But any attempt to reject its basic historicity, even in matters of detail, must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted.... The agnostic type of form-criticism would be much more credible if the compilation of the Gospels were much later in time.... Herodotus enables us to test the tempo of myth-making, [showing that] even two generations are too short a span to allow the mythical tendency to prevail over the hard historic core.
C. S. Lewis, Norman Geisler, William Lane Craig and Christians who engage in jurisprudence Christian apologetics have argued that miracles are reasonable and plausible wherever an all-powerful Creator is postulated.
In his book Science Speaks, Peter Stoner argues that only God knows the future and that Biblical prophecies of a compelling nature have been fulfilled. Apologist Josh McDowell documents the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled by Christ, relating to his ancestral line, birthplace, virgin birth, miracles, death, and resurrection. Apologist Blaise Pascal believed that the prophecies are the strongest evidence for Christianity. He notes that Jesus not only foretold, but was foretold, unlike in other religions, and that these prophecies came from a succession of people over a span of four thousand years.
Biblical apologetics include issues concerned with the authorship and date of biblical books, biblical canon, and biblical inerrancy. Christian apologists defend and comment on various books of the Bible. Some scholars who have engaged in the defense of biblical inerrancy include Robert Dick Wilson, Gleason Archer, Norman Geisler and R. C. Sproul. There are several resources that Christians offer defending inerrancy in regard to specific verses. Authors defending the reliability of the Gospels include Craig Blomberg in The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, Mark D. Roberts in Can We Trust the Gospels? Richard Bauckham, Craig Evans and Darrell Bock.
Philosophical apologetics concerns itself primarily with arguments for the existence of God, although they do not exclusively focus on this area. They do not argue for the veracity of Christianity over other religions but merely for the existence of a Creator deity. Omnipotence and omniscience are implied in these arguments to greater or lesser degrees: some argue for an interventionist god, some are equally relevant to a Deist conception of God.
They do not support hard polytheism, but could be used to describe the first god who created many other gods; however, the arguments are only relevant when applied to the first god (the First Cause, Pure Act and Unmoved Mover; it is a contradiction a priori to suppose a plurality of "Pure Acts" or "First Causes" or "Unmoved Movers").
These arguments can be grouped into several categories:
Other philosophical arguments include:
In addition to arguments for the existence of God, Christian apologists have also attempted to respond successfully to arguments against the existence of God. Two very popular arguments against the existence of God are the hiddenness argument and the argument from evil. The hiddenness argument tries to show that a perfectly loving God's existence is incompatible with the existence of nonresistant nonbelievers. The argument from evil tries to show that the existence of evil renders God's existence unlikely or impossible.
Presuppositional apologetics is a Reformed Protestant methodology which claims that presuppositions are essential to any philosophical position and that there are no "neutral" assumptions from which a Christian can reason in common with a non-Christian. There are two main schools of presuppositional apologetics, that of Cornelius Van Til (and his students Greg Bahnsen and John Frame) and that of Gordon Haddon Clark.
Van Til drew upon but did not always agree with, the work of Dutch Calvinist philosophers and theologians such as D. H. Th. Vollenhoven, Herman Dooyeweerd, Hendrik G. Stoker, Herman Bavinck, and Abraham Kuyper. Bahnsen describes Van Til's approach to Christian apologetics as pointing out the difference in ultimate principles between Christians and non-Christians and then showing that the non-Christian principles reduce to absurdity. In practice, this school utilizes what has come to be known as the transcendental argument for the existence of God.
Clark held that the Scriptures constituted the axioms of Christian thought, which could not be questioned, though their consistency could be discussed. A consequence of this position is that God's existence can never be demonstrated, either by empirical means or by philosophical argument. In The Justification of Knowledge, the Calvinist theologian Robert L. Reymond argues that believers should not even attempt such proofs.
Moral apologetics states that real moral obligation is a fact. Catholic apologist Peter Kreeft said, "We are really, truly, objectively obligated to do good and avoid evil." In moral apologetics, the arguments for man's sinfulness and man's need for redemption are stressed. Examples of this type of apologetic would be Jonathan Edwards's sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." The Four Spiritual Laws religious tract (Campus Crusade for Christ) would be another example.
Many Christians contend that science and the Bible do not contradict each other and that scientific fact supports Christian apologetics. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that "The question about the origins of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our knowledge... These discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator." The theologian and mathematician Marin Mersenne used celestial mechanics as evidence in his apologetic work, while Matteo Ricci engaged in scientific apologetics in China. In modern times, the theory of the Big Bang has been used in support of Christian apologetics.
Several Christian apologists have sought to reconcile Christianity and science concerning the question of origins. Theistic Evolution claims that classical religious teachings about God are compatible with the modern scientific understanding about biological evolution and that the Creator God uses the process of evolution. Denis Lamoureux, in Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution states that "This view of origins fully embraces both the religious beliefs of biblical Christianity and the scientific theories of cosmological, geological, and biological evolution. It contends that the Creator established and maintains the laws of nature, including the mechanisms of a teleological evolution." The most radical example of a Christian-evolutionary synthesis is the work of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, which was intended as apologetics to the world of science, but which was later condemned by the Catholic Church.
Creation apologetics include young Earth creationism, old Earth creationism, and theistic evolution. Young Earth creationists believe the Bible teaches that the Earth is approximately 6,000 years old, and reject the scientific consensus for the age of the Earth. Young Earth creationists also engage in Biblical apologetics with regard to various parts of the primordial history in Genesis 1–11 – such as the long life spans of people such as Methuselah, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel. Old Earth creationists believe it is possible to harmonize the Bible's six-day account of creation with the scientific evidence that the universe is 13.8 billion-years-old and Earth is 4.54 billion-years-old.
Other old Earth creationists, such as astrophysicist Hugh Ross, see each of the six days of creation as being a long, but finite period of time, based on the multiple meanings of the Hebrew word yom (day light hours/24 hours/age of time) and other Biblical creation passages.
Experiential apologetics is a reference to an appeal "primarily, if not exclusively, to experience as evidence for Christian faith." Also, "they spurn rational arguments or factual evidence in favor of what they believe to be a self-verifying experience." This view stresses experience that other apologists have not made as explicit, and in the end, the concept that the Holy Spirit convinces the heart of truth becomes the central theme of the apologetic argument.
|Biola University||Southern California, US||Christian Apologetics||Certificate, M.A.|||
|Central India Theological Seminary||Itarsi, India||Christian Apologetics||M.Th., Ph.D.|||
|Clarks Summit University||South Abington Township, PA, US||Biblical Apologetics||M.A.|||
|Denver Seminary||Colorado, US||Apologetics and Ethics||M.A., M.Div. with Emphasis|||
|Hong Kong Centre for Christian Apologetics||Hong Kong||Christian Apologetics||Certificate in Christian Apologetics|||
|Houston Baptist University||Houston, TX, US||Christian Apologetics||M.A.A.|||
|New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary||New Orleans, Louisiana||Christian Apologetics||M.A., M.Div., D.Min., Ph.D.|||
|Oklahoma Wesleyan University||Bartlesville, Oklahoma||Christian Apologetics||M.A.|
|Westminster Theological Seminary||Philadelphia, US & London, England||Apologetics||M.Th. at London Campus, Doctoral, Masters, Certificate Programs at Philadelphia Campus|||
|South African Theological Seminary||Johannesburg, South Africa||Apologetics||MTh|||
|Southern Baptist Theological Seminary||Louisville, KY||Apologetics/Apologetics & Worldviews||Ph.D.|||
|Southern Evangelical Seminary||Charlotte, North Carolina||Apologetics/Scientific Apologetics||Certificate, MA, MDiv, DMin|||
|Gimlekollen NLA College||Kristiansand, Norway||Communication, worldview and Christian apologetics||Certificate, Bachelor|||
Apologia Pro Vita Sua (Latin: A defence of one's own life) is John Henry Newman's defence of his religious opinions, published in 1864 in response to Charles Kingsley of the Church of England after Newman quit his position as the Anglican vicar of St. Mary's, Oxford.Apology
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 ChristianityAreopagus sermon
The Areopagus sermon refers to a sermon delivered by Apostle Paul in Athens, at the Areopagus, and recounted in Acts 17:16-34. The Areopagus sermon is the most dramatic and fullest reported speech of the missionary career of Saint Paul and followed a shorter address in Lystra recorded in Acts 14:15-17.Bahira
Bahira (Arabic: بحيرى, Classical Syriac: ܒܚܝܪܐ), or Sergius the Monk to the Latin West, was an Arab Ebionite, Nestorian or possibly Gnostic Nasorean monk who, according to Islamic tradition, foretold to the adolescent Muhammad his future as a prophet. His name derives from the Syriac bḥīrā, meaning “tested (by God) and approved”.Bible and Spade
Bible and Spade is a quarterly magazine published by the inerrantist Associates for Biblical Research, explicitly committed to the use of archaeology to demonstrate the historical veracity of the Old and New Testaments. The magazine concentrates largely on matters relating to archaeology and Bible history, but also touches on general apologetics (especially the relationship between science and evangelical religious belief) and Christian devotion. The editor-in-chief is Bryant G. Wood.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 Evidence Society
The Christian Evidence Society is a UK Christian apologetics organisation founded in 1870. At its financial peak (in 1883) it had slightly over 400 paying members, but this declined to below 300 by 1897. After 1900 its focus shifted from defending against external attacks to addressing doubts from within Christianity.Christian existential apologetics
Christian existential apologetics differs from traditional approaches to Christian apologetics by basing arguments for Christian theism on the satisfaction of existential needs rather than on strictly logical or evidential arguments. Christian existential apologetics may also be distinguished from Christian existentialism and from experiential apologetics. The former is a philosophic outlook concerned with the human condition in general; the latter consists of evidential argumentation based on religious experience.David Wood (Christian apologist)
David Sharpe Wood (born April 7, 1976) is an American evangelical missionary known for making controversial criticisms of Islam. He is head of the Acts 17 Apologetics Ministry. He is a member of the Society of Christian Philosophers and the Evangelical Philosophical Society.Jonathan Sarfati
Jonathan David Sarfati (born 1 October 1964) is a young Earth creationist who writes articles for Creation Ministries International (CMI), a non-profit Christian Apologetics ministry. Sarfati has a PhD in chemistry, and was New Zealand national chess champion in 1987 and 1988.Lewis's trilemma
Lewis's trilemma is an apologetic argument traditionally used to argue for the divinity of Jesus by arguing that the only alternatives were that he was evil or deluded. One version was popularised by University of Oxford literary scholar and writer C. S. Lewis in a BBC radio talk and in his writings. It is sometimes described as the "Lunatic, Liar, or Lord", or "Mad, Bad, or God" argument. It takes the form of a trilemma — a choice among three options, each of which is in some way difficult to accept.
This argument is very popular with Christian apologists, although some theologians and biblical scholars do not view Jesus as having claimed to be God. Some argue that he identified himself as a divine agent, with a unique relationship to Israel's God. Others see him as wanting to direct attention to the divine kingdom he proclaimed.New College, University of New South Wales
New College, University of New South Wales is a residential college, located in the UNSW campus in Sydney. The college is organised around on Anglican principles. About 250 undergraduate students, both local and international and of a variety of backgrounds, live in the original college building, and 315 graduate students are housed in the nearby New College Village. New College is also home to the Centre for Christian Apologetics, Scholarship and Education (CASE) which specialises in Christian apologetics.Nontheism
Nontheism or non-theism is a range of both religious and nonreligious attitudes characterized by the absence of espoused belief in a God or gods. Nontheism has generally been used to describe apathy or silence towards the subject of God and differs from an antithetical, explicit atheism. Nontheism does not necessarily describe atheism or disbelief in God; it has been used as an umbrella term for summarizing various distinct and even mutually exclusive positions, such as agnosticism, ignosticism, ietsism, skepticism, pantheism, atheism, strong or positive atheism, implicit atheism, and apatheism. It is in use in the fields of Christian apologetics and general liberal theology.
Within the scope of nontheistic agnosticism, Philosopher Anthony Kenny distinguishes between agnostics who find the claim "God exists" uncertain and theological noncognitivists who consider all discussion of God to be meaningless. Some agnostics, however, are not nontheists but rather agnostic theists.Other related philosophical opinions about the existence of deities are ignosticism and skepticism. Because of the various definitions of the term God, a person could be an atheist in terms of certain conceptions of gods, while remaining agnostic in terms of others.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.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 badPraeparatio evangelica
Preparation for the Gospel (Greek: Εὐαγγελικὴ προπαρασκευή), commonly known by its Latin title Praeparatio evangelica, was a work of Christian apologetics written by Eusebius in the early part of the fourth century AD. It was begun about the year 313, and attempts to prove the excellence of Christianity over pagan religions and philosophies.Presuppositional 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.The Chesterton Review
The Chesterton Review is the peer-reviewed academic journal of the G.K. Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture (Seton Hall University). It was established in 1974 to promote an interest in all aspects of G. K. Chesterton's life, work, art, and ideas, including his Christian apologetics. The journal includes essays and articles written by Chesterton, and occasionally publishes special issues on particular topics. It also publishes special editions in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Italian. The editor-in-chief is Ian Boyd. The journal is available in both print and electronic formats from the Philosophy Documentation Center.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.