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Three types of Christian Apologetics
By Joel Furches
"Internal" Apologetics are Apologetic arguments for the sake of the believer. These types of arguments address particular concerns that may be stumbling blocks to the thoughtful believer, causing them to doubt their faith.
In many Christian circles, the importance of Apologetics within the Church is underestimated. Many Christians live in a semi-isolated environment where all of their family, friends, and social activities are largely with other Christians. Consequently, they are unprepared for the aggressive skepticism and vitriolic hatred directed at Christian beliefs, especially from academic circles.
As a result of this, many young people from Christian families who receive secular educations, especially at the college level, fall away from the faith because they do not know that there are answers to these questions, and under the assault of a skeptical world, Christian beliefs seem flimsy at best. A Christian that does not take into account the hard questions about science and the accuracy of the Bible, in the words of Christ, “…has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.”
“Lateral” Apologetics deal with false teachings within the Church that could lead to errors in doctrine, bad practices, and false religion. Such practices are constantly cited by skeptics as evidence of the negative effects of religion on culture. This being the case, it is essential to apologetic work to identify and refute such practices and teachings. Good pastoral leadership and a diligent reading of scripture are the most important tools in this kind of Apologetic.
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External Apologetics focus on evangelism. The primary purpose of Apologetics to those external to the church is to remove intellectual objections to the faith. Christians live in a culture where it is the common belief that “faith” is the opposite of “reason.” It is not surprising, then, that most non-believers think that Christianity is unreasonable. They believe that science answers all the questions of the universe and that religion is for those who need some kind of false hope or comfort.
External Apologetics exist for this kind of person. If it can be shown that not only is Christianity reasonable, but that it is not opposed to science, and is the best model for reality, then this opens the doors for people to accept the truth of Christian belief.
Evangelism is not exclusive to emotional pleas of a person’s testimony or the loving diligence of a believer in the life of an unbeliever (although these things are certainly important and effective). There are plenty of examples of people coming to Christ because of the persuasiveness of a logical, coherent argument for the truthfulness of scripture and the gospel…
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