Though there are those who have undertaken to apologize on behalf of the entire Christian faith, they either mistake or don't care about the true meaning of apologetics. Apologists sometimes talk about "making an apology," but they aren't talking about asking for forgiveness or saying they're sorry: they're talking about offering a sound defense of biblical Christianity.
Others argue that apologetics are useless. You can't reason someone to God, and all the time spent arguing with intellectuals would be better spent evanglizing. But what happens when the culture around you has largely been evangelized, and rejects the Gospel on philosophical grounds? Is that an appropriate context for apologetics?
And what about all those people who've been convinced that the entire universe is a big accident, that man is the measure of all things, that the supernatural realm doesn't exist, that the resurrection of Jesus was a big hoax? They aren't intellectuals, they're just regular people who've been fed a line since they can remember, and they've bought it because they didn't know better.
These are only two of the audiences targeted by apologists. Not all apologetics are intended to convince someone of the truth of the Gospel and the accuracy of the Bible: sometimes the goal is simply to demonstrate that the claims of Christianity are no more irrational than the claims of secular humanists. In this case, apologetics can be just as useful for those already in the Church as for those outside it.
Because there are different kinds of apologetic tasks and audiences, there are different approaches to "doing" apologetics. The Classical method involves logical arguments for the existence of God, accumulation of evidence, and ethical arguments. Evidential and cumulative case apologetics (not the same thing, but similar) focus on empirical proof that the events of the Bible actually took place.
A method for apologetics that doesn't get near enough attention (and the one to which we hold) is called presuppositionalism, and was made famous by Francis Schaeffer and Greg Bahnsen, both drawing on the work of their predecessor Cornelius Van Til of Westminster Seminary. Presuppositionalism is all about showing people their preconceived notions of the world, and how those ideas inform and affect both their worldview and their life.
Everyone has presuppositions, or attitudes they assume that tell the individual how to think about things and how to act in any given situation. A basic presupposition for Christians is: God exists. A more complex but still foundational Christian presupposition is: God exists and He can be known. Both of these are rooted in acceptance of the Bible as God's written self-revelation.
Humanists of any stripe (empiricists, postmoderns, etc.) like to believe they have no presuppositions, that they approach everything from a completely objective perspective and only make decisions based on observation and reason. This in itself is a presupposition, however, to think that humans are capable of objectivity and that things may be known by them.
Apologists in this tradition often use philosophy to prove or dismantle arguments, but at root their method is rooted entirely in the Word of God. A presuppositionalist will likely be able to interact with Heidegger or Sartre, but when it comes to defending the Gospel or showing the emptiness of secular thought, he'll rely on Scripture and Christ's witness.
Not that a presuppositionalist throws out evidence for the truth of the claims made in the Bible, he just maintains faithfulness to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, that the Bible alone is the final rule for doctrine and practice in the life of the Christian. And this only makes sense: if the Bible really is God's Word, it is supreme and all human ideas and claims are subservient to it.
The books in this section come from a variety of apologetic traditions. We hope that whichever one you're most attracted to you'll also keep the Word of God central. Apologetics aren't primarily about debate or argument (though those are sometimes necessary). Apologetics are about spreading the glory of God to all people, tearing down strongholds and dismantling arguments, and defending the Gospel against all those who by lack of repentance fight it and dishonor our Lord.