A Dialogue on the Relationship of Apologetics and Philosophy to Evangelism
by Christopher cone
Biblical apologetics is a form of evangelism (1 Pet 3:15), and not a form of polemics. Also, Biblical apologetics technically has nothing to do with philosophical argument. However, in practice, the term apologetics is traditionally used to refer to principles and arguments for defending the faith. But more precisely, these are two separate categories. The first (Biblical) is simple evangelism, and the second (arguments) is more philosophical.
Of course, I think it is vital that Christians use their brains and do philosophy, but doing philosophy isn’t the same thing as evangelism. Both are needed, but for different reasons and in different contexts.
Where would philosophy come into play, then?
Biblical apologetics = aspects of evangelism
Traditional apologetics = category of philosophy
So, it depends on what you are asking. I would suggest philosophy doesn’t come into play in evangelism, generally (not prohibited, but not part of the gospel message). Now, if one defends – as part of the hope within them – the Biblical worldview, that is certainly not wrong, but it is not the essence of evangelism, nor is it modeled anywhere in Scripture as a part of evangelism.
But with respect to traditional apologetics, as a category of philosophy, I would suggest that we need to do a more comprehensive philosophy than just developing a few lines of argument that favor the Biblical worldview.
Here are two challenges with traditional apologetics: (1) it often claims to be its own discipline and it isn’t (it is part of a larger discipline: philosophy), and (2) it often claims to have a necessary role in evangelism, and it doesn’t (necessarily, though it can).
In practice, where does addressing faulty presuppositions come into play when dealing with a lost person, whatever flavor his lostness has chosen?
Case by case. As long as we acknowledge that a person is not going to be converted by admitting faulty presupposition…
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