Christian Apologetics

Because Jesus told us to turn the other cheek and do good to people who treat us badly, many assume Christianity is a passive religion. Even a lot of Christians think this. They try to be tolerant, avoiding hot topics like hell and sin, especially specific sins. The consequent disappearance of conviction and valuable instruction, ironically, becomes in itself offensive; Christianity is reduced to sweet smiles and vapid stares.

Apologetics isn't the art of asking forgiveness. Instead, an apology (from the Greek apologia) of the Christian faith is the exact opposite of saying "I'm sorry." An apology is the active defense of an idea or belief. It is not a simple guard against attack. Paul said, "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Cor. 10:4-5). This is not passive resistance. It is conscious warfare against every philosophy, religion and idea opposed to the revelation of Jesus Christ. Paul didn't wait for attacks on the Gospel to explain his faith in the triune God, he actively tore down opposing arguments with the truth of the Bible.

The Christian philosopher and apologist Gordon Clark identified three main approaches to apologetics. Rationalists, he said, try to prove the existence of God and the truth of Christianity using reason. They formulate elaborate arguments and appeal to the reasonable nature of Biblical truth, trying to convince people to become Christians. Empiricists (evidentialists) try to prove Christianity by accumulating evidence in its favor. Those who use the Turin shroud to prove Jesus' death and burial are empiricists. Presuppositionalists (or dogmatists) make up the third group. They accept the truth of the Bible prior to the apologetic endeavor. The Bible, they say, is its own best defense.

Contrary to a popular stereotype, a dogmatist is not someone whose mind cannot be changed about anything, no matter how unreasonable or false their beliefs may be. Dogmatism (also called presuppositional apologetics) is built on the presupposition that the Bible is the word of God, and that it provides the only viable defense of the Christian faith. Presuppositionalists don't reject reason or evidence, but they don't use either to defend the faith: instead, they presuppose the existence of the triune Christian God and that He has revealed Himself in Scripture, and defend such belief on the authority of the Bible itself.

While material evidence and reason can be useful, they can by no means be the final standards. Humans will always manipulate physical and intellectual arguments to mean whatever they want them to mean. Only the Bible, preserved by the Holy Spirit for God's people, can consistently resist such misuse. Peter says it is the duty of every Christian to be ready to defend the faith (1 Peter 3:15), and we believe the books here and in our worldview section are helpful in preparing such a defense.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.


Did you find this review helpful?
36 Items found Print
"But Don't All Religions Lead to God?"
by Michael Green
from Baker Books
for 7th-Adult
Art of Apologetics
by Karen Kovaka
from Communicators for Christ
for 9th-12th grade
in Speech & Debate (Location: A1E-RHE)
Battle Belongs to the Lord
by K. Scott Oliphint
from P&R Publishing
for 10th-Adult
C. S. Lewis: The Signature Classics Audio Collection
by C. S. Lewis
from HarperAudio
for 10th-Adult
in Audio Books & Dramas (Location: U)
Case for Christ
by Lee Strobel
N edition stated from HarperCollins
Christian Worldview and Apologetics
by Chris Schlect
from Logos School
for 11th-Adult
in Worldview Curriculum (Location: I-WOR)
Christianity and Liberalism
by J. Gresham Machen
from Eerdmans
Religion/Philosophy for 11th-Adult
Common Sense 101
by Dale Ahlquist
from Ignatius Press
for 9th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: NLIT7-20)
Consequences of Ideas
by R. C. Sproul
from Crossway Books
for 11th-Adult
in Worldview Resources (Location: J6A)
Courage to Stand
by Philip Graham Ryken
from P&R Publishing
for Adult
Don't Check Your Brains At The Door
by Josh McDowel & Bob Hostetler
from Word Publishing
for 7th-10th grade
Every Thought Captive
by Richard Pratt
from P&R Publishing
for 9th-Adult
Evolution 2.0
by Perry Marshall
First Trade Paper Edition
Finding Truth
from David C. Cook
Forensic Faith
Francis Schaeffer
by Bruce Little, ed.
from P&R Publishing
for 10th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: O1A-BIO)
I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist
by Norman L. Geisler, Frank Turek
from Crossway Books
for 9th-Adult
I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist Curriculum
from Apologia Educational Ministries
for 9th-Adult
in Worldview Curriculum (Location: I-WOR)
Jesus Among Other Gods
by Ravi Zacharias
from W Publishing Group
for 10th-Adult
Know What You Believe
by Paul E. Little
5th edition from InterVarsity Press
for 9th-12th grade
Know Why You Believe
by Paul E. Little
4th edition from InterVarsity Press
for 9th-Adult
Lewis Agonistes
by Louis Markos
from Broadman & Holman
for Adult
in Exploring Narnia (Location: E5B-LIT)
Lord Foulgrin's Letters
by Randy Alcorn
from Multnomah Books
for 8th-12th grade
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: FIC-FAN)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Mere Christianity
by C. S. Lewis
from HarperCollins
Religion/Philosophy for 8th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: NLIT7-20)
Mind on Fire: Faith for the Skeptical and Indifferent
by Blaise Pascal
New from David C. Cook
for 9th-Adult
in 17th Century Literature (Location: MLIT4-17)
$10.00 (1 in stock)
More Than a Carpenter
by Josh McDowell, Sean McDowell
Revised from Tyndale House
New Answers Book 1
by Ken Ham, Jonathan Sarfati & Carl Wieland
from Master Books
for 7th-Adult
in Faith & Science (Location: J6B)
New Evidence That Demands a Verdict
by Josh McDowell
from Thomas Nelson Publishers
for Adult
$15.00 (1 in stock)
Pilgrim's Regress
by C. S. Lewis
Reissue from Eerdmans
Allegory for 9th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: NLIT7-20)
by Ted Turnau
from P&R Publishing
for 11th-Adult
Schaeffer on the Christian Life
Theologians on the Christian Life
by William Edgar
from Crossway Books
for 11th-Adult
Screwtape Letters
by C. S. Lewis
Annotated from HarperOne
for 9th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: NLIT7-20)
Snakebite Letters
by Peter Kreeft
2nd edition from Ignatius Press
for 9th grade-Adult
Third Day
by Hank Hanegraaff
from Thomas Nelson Publishers
for 10th-Adult
$2.00 (1 in stock)
True Account of Adam & Eve
by Ken Ham
from Master Books
for Kindergarten-6th grade
Van Til and the Limits of Reason
by R. J. Rushdoony
from Ross House Books
for Adult