The Four Functions of Apologetics

by Chad Gross

As I was reading through an article this evening entitled What is Apologetics? by Kenneth Boa, I found these brief paragraphs helpful in addressing the often asked question, “What is the purpose of apologetics?”

Although Boa concedes that not everyone agrees that apologetics involves all four of these functions, I found them helpful in clarifying what one can aim to accomplish using apologetics.

Boa writes:
“The first function of apologetics may be called vindication or proof, and involves marshaling philosophical arguments as well as scientific and historical evidences for the Christian faith. The goal of this function is to develop a positive case for Christianity as a belief system that should be accepted. Philosophically, this means drawing out the logical implications of the Christian worldview so that they can be clearly seen and contrasted with alternate worldviews.

The second function is defense. This function is closest to the NT and early Christian use of the word apologia, defending Christianity against the plethora of attacks made against it in every generation by critics of varying belief systems. This function involves clarifying the Christian position in light of misunderstandings and misrepresentations; answering objections, criticisms, or questions from non-Christians; and in general clearing away intellectual difficulties that nonbelievers claim stand in the way of their coming to faith…

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The Four Functions of Apologetics