Apologetics in the 21st Century
By S. Michael Craven
As I argue in Uncompromised Faith: Overcoming Our Culturalized Christianity, the study of historic Christian apologetics is essential for any person who professes to be a follower of Christ. Without venturing into the debate over classical, presuppositional, and evidential apologetics, let me just say that I believe that elements of each are helpful and not necessarily mutually exclusive. So when I use the term historic Christian apologetics, I am referring to these three primary schools of thought collectively.
For the sake of clarity, classical apologetics “stresses rational arguments for the existence of God and historical evidences supporting the truth of Christianity” (Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002], 154). Presuppositional apologetics differs in that it “defends Christianity from the departure point of certain basic presuppositions” (Geisler, 607)—namely that all persons presuppose or assume certain explanations about reality that arise from their worldview. In presuppositionalism, the Christian apologist presents the truth of Christianity by exposing the fallacy of alternative worldviews, which the skeptic ultimately knows only serve to suppress the truth that in his heart he knows to be true. Finally, evidential apologetics stresses the need to first logically establish the existence of God before arguing for the truth of Christianity. Suffice it to say that these, to one degree or another, are all vital for the Christian to apprehend and be able to communicate.
However, in light of our postmodern condition, I want to emphasize the need for what I call a “cultural” apologetic. (The particulars of this approach are detailed in Uncompromised Faith.) In short, a cultural apologetic applies to two intellectual fronts. The first addresses the ideas or ideological influences common to a given culture. These ideas surreptitiously shape our thinking in an osmotic fashion, like the water in which a fish swims: the fish doesn’t give the water the slightest thought, it simply takes the water for granted…
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Thinking About Christian Apologetics: What It Is and Why We Do It