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The project of apologetics

December 31, 2011

Along with hashing out various evidences and arguments, apologists talk amongst themselves about the project of apologetics itself. What is it? What is it for? How do we approach it? Here, in a nutshell, is how I see it.

We show how Christianity accords with reason, facts, and experience based upon Christian presuppositions, believing it is the truth and that it can be recognized as such by people who, while attempting to see things consistently from other presuppositions, cannot by virtue of living in God’s world, being made in His image, and having His testimony implanted in their hearts.

When we say that explanations based upon other presuppositions are unreasonable, we do not mean they are unreasonable simply in terms of Christian presuppositions, for that is to be expected (in the same way that the atheist should not expect us to see things the way he does since we begin with Christian presuppositions). We have two possible openings. One, already mentioned, is the facts of the person being made in God’s image and living in God’s world. The other is that, because of this, no other philosophical or religious system can be thoroughly consistent in itself. Thus, we seek to show, for example, how naturalism cannot give a consistent explanation in reason, fact, and experience.

In the New Testament, it seems to have been understood that for one person to give good reasons for believing Christianity true was reason enough for others to believe it, too, and live accordingly (for whatever is true and impinges on one’s life colors one’s actions). It was true and to be believed or false and to be rejected (cf. the reaction of people in Athens in Acts 17:32-34 and that of Agrippa in Acts 26:28).

In the NT, giving a defense was part of the larger project of Christian witness. The question raised among Americans about how to fit apologetics with evangelism would have been an odd one in the early church. It wasn’t simply about proving God exists or that Jesus was divine simply as truths to be acknowledged cognitively but not necessarily “lived in”.

Thus, apologetics is part of the overall project of witness or proclamation in which God’s truth is proclaimed and people are placed in the position of realizing they have to accept it as true–and thus as something to live by–or to reject it (or hold it off to another day).

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From → Apologetics

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