Christian Apologetics - A Study: Part 03

February 14, 2012 | Pr. Finny Samuel |

(Please note: For better understanding, please read the previous parts of this study before reading this one.) 
Click here to read Part 01 of this study
Click here to read Part 02 of this study 


To effectively deal with an ever-growing array of questions against Christianity, an apologist has to cover a wide range of diverse areas and topics. Based on the hundreds of topics an Apologist has to deal with, Christian Apologetics can be divided into a number of substantially overlapping ad hoc categories by their primary focus, whether it is arguing for the existence of god, special creation, or the compatibility of science and Christian faith. One broad categorization can be as follows:

Philosophical/Theological Apologetics

Philosophical Apologetics seeks to defend Christian beliefs through philosophical arguments. Since these arguments are primarily aimed at the existence of God, this branch is also called Theological Apologetics. Theological Apologist starts with a review of world views and moves on to analyzing non-Christian philosophies as well, to counter erroneous philosophies with right and factual ones. J. P. Moreland in his book "Evangelical Apologetics" defines philosophical Apologetics as "a philosophical activity which has as its goal (or perhaps as its result) the increasing or maintaining of the epistemic justification of a Christian world view in whole or in part.

Major Categories of philosophies against Bible are:

  • Theistic Philosophies: Belief that God exists (or must exist) independent of the teaching or revelation of any particular religion. Groups holding this philosophy include Hinduism (made up of at least six different philosophies), Islam, some branches of Jainism, some branches of Buddhism, Taoism, Shintoism, Sikhism, Bahai, Zoroastrianism, Christian Cults, Non-Christian Religious Cults, and many Occult Cults.
  • Atheistic Philosophies: World views that exclude God. Groups of this nature are: The materialistic philosophy in Hinduism, Some groups in Jainism, Some groups in Buddhism, Rationalism, Atheism, Secular Humanism, Nihilism, Marxism, and Existentialism.
  • Non-Theistic Philosophies: World views that neither affirm nor deny the existence of God. Most Notable groups in this category are Theosophy, Agnosticism, and Nihilism.
  • Occultist Philosophies: A mode of philosophical thought that seeks metaphysical truth hidden (occult) behind the surfaces of the natural, celestial, and divine worlds. Animism, Tantric Philosophies, Ancestor Worship, New Age Movement, Rosicrucianism, many of the Holistic Healing Systems, Satanism, Spiritism, Devil's Church, etc. are followers of this philosophy.


The arguments in philosophic Apologetics include:

  • Cosmological Argument: The existence of the universe demonstrates that God exists.
  • Teleological Argument: There is a purposeful design in the world around us, and design requires a designer.
  • Ontological Argument: The very concept of God demands that there is an actual existent God.
  • Moral Argument: If there are any real objectively valid moral values, then there must be an absolute from which they are derived.
  • Transcendental Argument: All our abilities to think and reason require the existence of God.
  • Pre-suppositional Argument: Show basic beliefs of theists and non-theists require God as a necessary precondition.
  • Since philosophy is not a tangible subject like physical science, the apologetic arguments of this nature can go prolonging. However, many apologists like this area since it’s easier than the scientific or technical type of Apologetics.

Historical/Legal Apologetics

Historical/Legal apologetics is a branch of Christian apologetics that affirms that the available evidence to defend Christianity argues for the veracity of the historical and central claims of Christianity. The modern developments in archeological and historical sciences, which were previously used by critics to attack the Bible, are used in this branch of Apologetics to defend the authenticity and reliability of the Bible. The authenticity of historical events in the bible is of major importance to the survival of the Christian faith. Biblical Archeology, Dating Techniques [used for studying History], Linguistic Studies, and analysis of Ancient Manuscripts are used as tools in Historical Apologetics.

Rational/Scientific Apologetics

With the growth of Science in the last 4 centuries, the common man started to view science as an object of awe, wonder, and even worship. This prompted critics of the Bible to use Science in attacking Christianity. However, Many Christians contended that science and the Bible do not contradict each other and that scientific fact supports Christian apologetics. This paved the path for the branch of Rational or Scientific Apologetics, where the highly tangible nature of scientific information is used to lead discussions between the inquirer and the Apologist.

Interdisciplinary Apologetics

Christian Apologetics is an essential interdisciplinary field of study that has as its goal the defense of the great truths of the Christian faith. Apologetics is grounded in theology, but as historical, cultural, and scientific contexts change, the Christian faith finds itself confronted with new types of questions and challenges to the faith. Hence, a detailed study and understanding of other disciplines such as philosophy, the social and natural sciences, and cultural studies is essential to presenting a convincing intellectual defense of the Christian faith.

  • Legal Apologetics: Legal and logical argument is another part of Historical/Legal Apologetics. Thus legal apologetics is also considered a part of Interdisciplinary Apologetics. This is looking at the evidence from the point of legal investigation of the presented evidence i.e. what would be admissible in a court of law.
  • Relational Apologetics: Sometimes an overlooked point in many discussions is that we tend to gain our understanding about the world around us through experiences we have such as getting to recognize everyday objects. When debating we may be asked to demonstrate scientifically the truth about God but the real answer may lie in the use of personal relationships.
  • God’s Existence: The spiritual nature of God is non-testable and therefore science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God. The use of different types of Apologetics is therefore required.
  • Miracles and Resurrection: With Atheists and Liberals aggressive attempts to dismiss the resurrection of Jesus and other Biblical miracles recorded in the Bible you will need to use different apologetic tools. This subject needs to be addressed through interdisciplinary Apologetics.
  • Bible Text/Language/Canon: The text, language, and canon of the Bible are favorite targets for Bible attackers, and questions asked have to be answered by combining information through other types of apologetics, history, geography, linguistics, and even philosophy.

References
Christian Apologetics by Johnson Philip and Saneesh Cherian
carm.org
bethinking.org

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