Apologetic Methodologies

I have been reading up on a book on apologetic methodologies and the book talks about 5 common approaches used, namely classical, evidential, cumulative, presuppositional and Reformed Epistemology. Essentially, the purpose of apologetic is to defend the faith that Christian professes and in the process, strengthens the faith that believers already have. The fact that I have 5 views here means that there is no one way that Christians agree upon on how to approach apologetics.

Just in case you were wondering what these methods were all about, hold on or read up. I will be doing my own critic on apologetic methodologies. But first up, I have to admit here right from the start that I see myself more inclined towards the evidential approach, given my own academic training. Why so? The evidential approach on apologetics sees the usage of evidence as an one-step approach. Most evidential apologists, or the one I read about in the book as represented by Gary Habermas, use evidence, especially historical evidence, to defend the faith and to prove that the bible is a viable and reasonable document to be trusted. Most of them, through the employment of historical evidence, try to prove that the bible is a historically reliable document and the facts recorded in the bible are historically sustainable. Through that, once you can prove the resurrection is not merely a myth, one can therefore determine that Jesus' claim about Himself and God is true and it can thus follow that God does exist.

The classical approach, on the other hand, (I will only be discussing the two approaches in this post) tries to establish the viability of theism before moving on to the bible. It uses natural theology or the establishment of the probability and possibility of miracles (depending who is the classical apologist) as a stepping stone to establish the existence of God before moving on to biblical evidence. Perhaps one can almost smell that there is little difference or difficulty in telling the difference between a classical apologist and an evidential apologist, the only main starking difference is that the evidentialist sought to prove that the bible events were possible based on evidence and use other evidence from science and othere areas to supplement their apologetics while the classical apologist can totally operate outside of the bible when he defends the existence of God. The beauty of the classical approach is that, independent of any biblical criticism, it can still argue intellectually for the existence of God. Yet, the question to me is whether do we really need to establish the existence of God through natural theology. The study of cosmology will yield a God who is all powerful, one who can create something out of nothing. A study of teleology will yield a God who cares much about Earth that He ensures that the universe is designed in such a way that it allows life on Earth to happen. A study of morality will yield a God... who places morals on humanity, that we might live a righteous life, one who is holy. A look into natural theology will yield these conclusions, a God who is not random.

But similarly, I can yield such a conclusion through the study of historical evidence. I can study the historical events of the bible to establish such conclusions without the pre-suppositions that the bible is inerrant and cannot be wrong. By simply applying sound historical methods, I can arrive at a conclusion: that Jesus lived, and died and resurrected, which added credibility to His claims about being Son of God, Son of Man and God Himself.

The debate on apologetic methods, as I read it, will continue to be an issue among apologists. I shall strive to comment on cumulative method, presuppositionalism and Reformed Epistemology in my future post.

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