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Issues and Methods In Apologetics

The preceding survey of the history of apologetics illustrates the wide variety of approaches that have been developed to defend the Christian faith since the first century. Christian apologists have faced different challenges from different quarters and at different times, and they have sought to defend their faith in a variety of ways. This has led to considerable disagreement over such metapologetical issues as the following:

  • the theory of knowledge one assumes in presenting Christianity as truth
  • the value of theistic proofs
  • the degree of certainty that Christianity provides
  • the relationship between faith and reason and between philosophy and Christianity
  • the role of evidences in apologetics
  • the existence and nature of common ground between Christians and non-Christians

Coming to terms with these issues and approaches is the purpose of this book.

Four Types of Apologetic Systems

Until the twentieth century, only a few writers grappled seriously with the issue of apologetic method. As Avery Dulles affirms, this is no longer the case: “The 20th century has seen more clearly than previous periods that apologetics stands or falls with the question of method. In the past few decades apologetical science has merged to an increasing degree with the epistemology of religious knowledge.”1 The reason for this close relationship between apologetic science and religious epistemology is that modern thought since Kant has been in epistemological crisis. How do we know what we think we know? This question has been viewed as especially troublesome for religious knowledge claims, and Christian apologetics has necessarily been forced to deal with it.

Because of the importance of epistemology for modern doubts and denials of the Christian revelation, the most fundamental assumptions that distinguish the apologetic systems that have developed in modern Christian thought are epistemological. Edwin A. Burtt, in his Types of Religious Philosophy, cataloged four principal methods of pursuing theological questions: the rationalistic, the empirical, the authoritarian, and the intuitive.2 Applying Burtt’s typology of religious philosophy to apologetics in particular, we may distinguish four basic approaches to apologetics, which we have called classical apologetics (corresponding to what Burtt calls the rationalistic method), evidentialism (empirical), Reformed apologetics (authoritarian), and fideism (intuitive).3 Each of these four approaches to apologetics, though it had precursors in earlier periods of church history, emerged as a distinct approach to apologetics grounded in an explicit epistemology in the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. We will briefly describe each of these here.

Classical apologetics, as we are using the term in this book, refers to an apologetic approach that emphasizes the use of logical criteria (for example, the law of noncontradiction, self-consistency, comprehensiveness, coherence) in determining the validity of competing religious philosophies. These criteria are used to refute the truth claims of non-Christian worldviews and to establish the existence of God through theistic proofs. The approach in its modern form is characterized by a “two-step” method of apologetics in which one first makes a case for theism (the worldview that affirms the existence of one Creator God) and then presents evidence that this God has revealed himself in Christ and in the Bible. The most famous Christian thinker commonly regarded as paving the way for this approach was the thirteenth-century theologian Thomas Aquinas. In modern evangelical apologetics it is perhaps best represented by Norman L. Geisler. We discuss this approach in Part Two, “Classical Apologetics: It Stands to Reason.”

Evidentialism seeks to ground the Christian faith primarily on empirically and historically verifiable facts. Evidentialists often draw a parallel between the scientific method of testing theories and theological verification. They argue that a high degree of probability can be established in favor of Christianity, and that this is the same kind of credibility as that associated with confirmed scientific laws. The evidence does not necessarily constitute proof, but it is sufficient to answer objections and to show that belief in Christianity is not unreasonable. Rather than a two-step method of first defending theism and then defending Christianity, as in the classical approach, evidentialists consider the evidence for creation, for the inspiration of the Bible, and for the divine identity of Christ (especially based on his resurrection from the dead) as part of an overall case for the reality of the Christian God. Joseph Butler is commonly regarded as the pioneer of this apologetic type, and in recent decades it has been especially associated with the Lutheran scholar John Warwick Montgomery. We discuss this approach in Part Three, “Evidentialist Apologetics: Just the Facts.”

The term classical apologetics is sometimes used to refer to evidentialism as well as the more rationally-oriented form discussed above. We have chosen to use the term in its narrower sense for two reasons. First, evidentialism is a distinctly modern development that in some respects represents a repudiation of certain key aspects of the traditional, classical approach to apologetics. Second, what we are terming classical apologetics, though it emphasizes rationality in general and deductive reasoning in particular, should not be confused with the modern philosophical tradition known as rationalism, which regards the rational mind as the sole source of knowledge. The more “rational” approach to apologetics typically rejects rationalism in this sense. Other recent publications have also distinguished classical apologetics from evidentialism.4

Reformed apologetics argues that we ought to ground reason and fact on the truth of the Christian faith, rather than trying to prove or defend the faith on the basis of reason or fact.5 Empirical and rational approaches to religious truth are doomed to failure by the moral impairment (though not the technical efficiency) of the human mind fallen in sin; worse, they assume the self-sufficiency of human beings to employ reason and interpret the facts independent of divine revelation. Therefore, apologetic systems based on such epistemologies are both inadequate and inappropriate to defend the faith. The only means of argumentation between the two groups must be indirect, that is, on the level of fundamental assumptions or presuppositions. Most Reformed apologists seek to show that while non-Christian belief systems cannot account for the validity of reason, fact, and truth, Christian theism can. This approach was inspired by the theology of John Calvin; its most influential modern advocate was Cornelius Van Til. We discuss this approach in Part Four, “Reformed Apologetics: God Said It.”

Fideism may be (and has been) defined in a variety of ways. The term derives from the Latin fide, meaning “faith.” It has commonly been used as a pejorative term for the position that one should “just believe” in God or Christ apart from any reasoning or evidence. (Some critics have alleged that Reformed apologetics is fideistic in this sense; as we shall see, this characterization is mistaken.) More broadly, fideism maintains that human knowledge of truth (including, and especially, religious truth) is at bottom a personal matter of the heart or the will rather than of the intellect. Personal, existential experience with God cannot be grounded in rational analysis or scientific and historical evidences, since it is a matter of the heart. Fideists often stress the paradoxical and personal-encounter dimension of Christian truth. They emphasize the transcendence and hiddenness of God and repudiate natural theology and theistic proofs. Fideism argues from humanity’s basic existential needs to the fulfillment of those needs in Christianity. While in many respects fideism has tended to reject apologetics as an intellectual discipline, some Christian apologists have seen value in its emphasis on the personal, subjective dimension in faith and religious commitment. On the Roman Catholic side, Blaise Pascal is often regarded as having anticipated this approach. The Protestant fideist tradition, though, is based in Lutheran pietism and is rooted in significant ways in the thought of Martin Luther himself. (It should be emphasized that neither Pascal nor Luther can properly be described as fideists. Rather, certain elements of their thought anticipated or prepared the way for the eventual emergence of fideism.) The Christian thinker who represents fideism in its purest form is the nineteenth-century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. We discuss the fideist perspective in Part Five, “Apologetics as Persuasion.”

Four Approaches to Apologetics

Classical

Evidentialist

Reformed

Fideist

proof

defense

refutation

persuasion

rational

empirical

authoritarian

intuitive

Thomas Aquinas

Joseph Butler

John Calvin

Martin Luther

Norman Geisler

John W. Montgomery

Cornelius Van Til

Søren Kierkegaard

“Tom”

“Joe”

“Cal”

“Martina”

How would astute advocates of these four approaches respond to the apologetic challenges posed by Sarah and Murali, our two hypothetical non-Christians? Recall that Sarah is a skeptic who has departed from the Christian faith because of its moral demands and who is troubled by the problem of evil, while Murali is a nominal Hindu living in America who believes all religions are basically the same. (See the preface for more detailed profiles of these two characters.) Our four astute apologists, each representing one the four approaches, we have named Tom, Joe, Cal, and Martina (see above chart for their respective approaches). Although we present specifics on how these approaches would be applied in conversations between these imaginary apologists and non-Christians in the remainder of this book, we offer a glimpse here.

Tom’s approach to both Sarah and Murali would follow a two-step method common in classical apologetics. First, he would expose the logical incoherence of their positions. He might explain to Sarah that the concept of evil on which she bases her rejection of God’s existence logically implies an absolute moral standard, which can only come from a transcendent Creator. Tom would probably tell Murali that it is logically impossible for religions that affirm such different worldviews as pantheism (Hinduism) and monotheism (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) all to be true. Second, Tom would offer carefully constructed answers to the non-Christians’ objections, proving that those objections have failed to prove any logical incoherence in the Christian position. He would likely respond to Sarah’s problem of evil by explaining that God has a higher purpose for allowing evil and will eventually overcome evil with good. He would probably also insist that while God has allowed evil, he is not its cause; human beings have caused evil by the exercise of their free will. In response to Murali’s argument that God must approve of different religions if he allowed so many to flourish, Tom would likewise attribute the different religions to the freedom of human beings to go their own way. He would then propose examining the worldview of each religion to determine which of them, if any, offered a coherent view of the world.

Joe’s basic approach as an evidentialist would be to present facts that he believes support the Christian position and undermine the non-Christians’ objections. He would probably point out to Sarah the abundant evidence for a good and powerful Creator and argue that this outweighs the evidence of evil against belief in God. The facts Joe adduces might be wide-ranging, but are likely to include scientific evidence for the universe’s beginning and intelligent design as well as historical evidence for the miraculous acts of God in the Bible. Joe would present the same facts to Murali as evidence against nontheistic religions and in support of the claim that the God of the Bible is actually the real God.

Cal’s Reformed approach would preclude making direct appeals to deductive reasoning or empirical facts in the manner of Tom or Joe. In Cal’s estimation, Sarah and Murali are committed to a spiritually jaundiced way of using reason and looking at facts. He would therefore take what he calls an indirect approach, which, like Tom’s, involves two basic steps. First, Cal would argue that both Sarah and Murali presuppose their own self-sufficiency or “autonomy” to judge for themselves what is true and right. Sarah’s judgment that God must not be good if he allows evil presupposes that she is able to determine for herself, from within herself, the standard of goodness to which even God must conform. Murali’s complaint that God should not have allowed so many different religions if he wanted us to believe in only one also presupposes his competency to judge what God should or should not do. Cal would then remind them of what they already know in their hearts: that they are not God and that their arrogant pretensions to autonomy are symptomatic of their fallenness with all mankind in sin. Second, Cal will argue that only on the presupposition that the God of Scripture is real can we even give a coherent account of the concepts of goodness and justice to which Sarah and Murali appeal in their arguments against Christianity. Sarah’s argument from the problem of evil presupposes that there is a standard of goodness against which evil is judged; yet, in denying the existence of God she is left without any rational basis for judging anything to be evil. Murali’s claim that God must accept many different religions since he has allowed them to flourish presupposes that God is just or fair, but this idea cannot be justified except on the basis that God is the personal Creator and Judge spoken of in Scripture.

Our fourth apologist, Martina, would take a very different approach from those of the other three. In her view the direct arguments of Tom and Joe and the indirect argument of Cal are all problematic because they treat God as an object of rational argument rather than as a Person with whom Sarah and Murali need to have a relationship. Martina would focus on relating to them as individuals rather than refuting their arguments. She would get to know them and try to help them see the personal issues underlying their questions and objections. For example, she might try to lead Sarah to realize that she was already questioning God before her philosophy professor gave her intellectual ammunition against Christianity. Was it God that seemed uncaring, or some Christians she knew? Martina would likely emphasize that God’s compassion and love are far greater than any sentimentalism human beings may express. God really wants our good, even when that good can be achieved only through suffering. Martina might ask Murali why, if he thinks all religions are good ways to the same goal, he doesn’t seem to be following any of them seriously. The one thing that nearly every religion insists is necessary is a deep personal commitment, and Murali doesn’t have that. Martina might challenge him to examine the different religions with the question, to which one can he commit himself wholly? For herself, Martina would likely say, she refuses to make an absolute commitment to any philosophy or religion. God—not just the idea of God, but the personal God who speaks and acts and loves us in Jesus—is alone worthy of our absolute commitment and trust.

Issues in Apologetics

These four approaches to apologetics differ in many ways. In this book we will focus on a dozen critical issues that represent in a systematic way the full range of issues facing the apologist.6 These issues are divided into two groups of six issues each. The first group deals with metapologetic issues—foundational questions about the stance apologetics should take toward human knowledge and experience. The second group deals with apologetic issues—the most common questions or objections that non-Christians (or Christians dealing with doubt or confusion) raise to the Christian truth claim.

Metapologetic Questions

Apologetics is a discipline that seeks to defend the Christian view of God, the world, and human life. As such, it relates comprehensively to every area of human knowledge and thought. Apologists understand these relations differently. These differences are typified in the stance taken by apologists toward the following six questions.

1. On what basis do we argue that Christianity is the truth?

On the basis of what understanding of knowledge and truth should the Christian apologist seek to lead non-Christians to the knowledge of Christianity as the truth? As we have seen, this question is at the core of what distinguishes the four approaches discussed in this book. The classical apologist sees reason as the ground of apologetic argument. The evidentialist seeks to build a case for Christianity from the facts. The Reformed apologist contends that God’s revelation of himself in Jesus Christ and in Scripture is the proper ground for all thinking about reason, fact, and human experience. The fideist presents experience of God in Jesus Christ as self-justifying apart from argument. These varying approaches are based on different epistemologies, or theories of knowledge. (Epistemology is concerned with the nature and ground of knowledge—what knowledge is, and how we know what we know—and especially with the justification of knowledge claims.) Thus the classical apologist adheres to a broadly rationalist epistemology, the evidentialist to an empirical or fact-based epistemology, the Reformed apologist to an authoritarian epistemology (with Christ and Scripture the supreme authorities), and the fideist to a subjectivist, experience-based epistemology. Tied up with these epistemologies are varying beliefs about the kind of certainty that can be afforded through apologetic argumentation, the existence and identity of “common ground” or relevant shared truth between Christians and non-Christians, and the relation between faith and reason.

This metapologetic question also relates directly to an apologetic question. Non-Christians object to the absolute truth-claim made by Christians on behalf of the gospel. Most people in our society today do not believe in absolute truth and consider any absolute religious claims particularly onerous. The rise of postmodernism represents the newest wave of assaults on the belief in absolute truth. The responses to this question from the four apologetic approaches will naturally parallel their answers to the question in its metapologetic form. Thus the classical apologist will argue that denials of absolute truth are irrational. The evidentialist will typically argue that while absolute rational certainty for the claims of Christ is unavailable, those claims can be supported by the facts, perhaps beyond reasonable doubt. The Reformed apologist will commonly contend that all people at bottom do believe in absolute truth and even presuppose that belief at every turn. The fideist will generally respond that absolute truth is not a matter of propositional knowledge or factual information anyway, but is a Person who is known in relationship, not in mere words. Fideists are more likely than advocates of other apologetic approaches to find value or points of contact in postmodernism, since that movement eschews the modernist assumption of scientific and rational objectivity and views belief systems primarily as functions of the individual and the community.

2. What is the relationship between apologetics and theology?

This relationship is a primary issue in metapologetics, though its importance is often overlooked. This question is important in two ways.

First, there is significant debate concerning the theological foundation of apologetics. To some extent apologetical methods are related to the way one understands and interprets Christian theology. The close relationship between theology and apologetics is especially evident in Reformed apologetics, because it originated from and is almost completely tied into the Reformed tradition in systematic theology. On the other hand, some Reformed theologians engage in rational and evidential apologetics, although those we are calling Reformed apologists regard these thinkers as inconsistent Calvinists who have slipped into a Thomistic or Arminian apologetic methodology. Thus one cannot avoid theology when considering how to do apologetics. Apologists disagree, for example, about whether God’s revelation in nature can be sufficiently understood by non-Christians to arrive at belief in God. This disagreement is closely tied to a debate over the effects of sin on human reasoning.

Second, apologists hold different views about the relationship of apologetics as a discipline to the discipline of theology (particularly systematic theology). Some apologists view apologetics as a branch of theology (whether major or minor), while others regard it as a preparation for theology. The debate is significant because it affects our understanding of the rules or methods followed in apologetics as well as the purpose and scope of apologetics.

3. Should apologetics engage in a philosophical defense of the Christian faith?

Apologetics is often viewed and practiced almost as if it were synonymous with philosophy of religion—as a discipline that seeks to apply the tools of philosophy to defining and proving certain key beliefs of Christianity. On the other hand, some apologists show great disdain for philosophy, regarding it as the enemy of Christian faith. Historically, some apologists have sought to defend Christianity in terms drawn from the non-Christian philosophies of such thinkers as Plato or Aristotle or Kant. Meanwhile other apologists have regarded such efforts as inevitably compromising the Christian message that is supposedly being defended. This issue must be considered in developing an approach to apologetics.

4. Can science be used to defend the Christian faith?

For many non-Christians today, science poses the most formidable intellectual objections to Christian faith. Yet Christian apologists differ markedly in their view of the proper stance to be taken toward science. Some embrace the findings of science enthusiastically, claiming to find in them direct confirmation of the Christian faith. Others take the opposite position, viewing science in general with suspicion and regarding certain prevailing theories of science as inimical to the Christian faith. Still other apologists view science as irrelevant, since to them the Christian faith deals with issues that transcend the physical world that is the field of scientific inquiry.

5. Can the Christian faith be supported by historical inquiry?

The diversity of views on science among apologists is paralleled by a similar diversity concerning history. Some apologists stake the truth of the Christian message on its historical verifiability. Others, while agreeing that the faith is based on historical events, place little emphasis on historical inquiry or warn against believing that the central events of redemption can be verified “objectively” according to the canons of historical study. Still others regard the faith as in principle not subject to historical inquiry because it deals with the eternal, not the temporal.

6. How is our knowledge of Christian truth related to our experience?

All human beings process new information and ideas by relating them in some fashion to their own experiences in life. This fact necessitates giving some consideration to how apologetics should relate to experience. Some apologists seek to analyze human experience in terms of universal truths in which the Christian message can be grounded. Others eschew argumentation about experience and instead call on non-Christians to experience God’s love in Christ. Still others view all experience as untrustworthy and argue that it needs to be tested and interpreted in light of the authoritative teaching of Scripture. Some answer to the question of experience must be given, or at least assumed, by every apologist.

How each of the four apologetic approaches answers these six metapologetic questions, and how these answers may be integrated, will be considered in the second chapter of each of the remaining parts of this book (chapters 5, 9, 13, 17, and 21).

Apologetic Questions

In the preface we introduced six common questions or objections to the Christian faith that are commonly brought up by non-Christians. We will comment briefly on each.

1. Why should we believe in the Bible?

All Christian apologists have as part of their “job description” the task of persuading people to accept the Bible as God’s word—as inspired Scripture. Apologists take different approaches to accomplishing this task. Some see the question of the Bible as the conclusion or end point of their apologetic. Typically they seek to demonstrate logically the truth of the biblical worldview, then to defend the truth of the central biblical claims on behalf of Jesus Christ, and only then to present the Bible as God’s word. Other apologists defend the truth and inspiration of the Bible inductively, by treating the Bible as a source and defending the authenticity and accuracy of that source in every major aspect. In contrast to these approaches, some apologists insist that the divine authority of the Bible must be presented as the only viable foundation for all knowledge; for them the inspiration of Scripture is the beginning, not the end, of the argument. Still other apologists focus not on defending the doctrine of biblical inspiration but on leading non-Christians to encounter Jesus Christ personally through the reading of Scripture.

2. Don’t all religions lead to God?

On the assumption that (absolute) truth claims in religion are unjustifiable, many people today argue that all religions are adequate to meet the needs that Christianity does. Apologists employing different methods tend to respond to this belief in different ways. Some try to show that all non-Christian religions are illogical. Others present evidence to support Christianity’s unique status among the religions of the world. Still others cut through the objection by responding that Christianity isn’t a religion at all.

3. How do we know that God exists?

All Christian apologists, of course, are concerned to bring non-Christians to the knowledge of God. However, they differ markedly in what sorts of arguments they regard as viable means of convincing non-Christians that God even exists. Some apologists employ arguments designed to prove conclusively that God exists, while others use arguments claiming only to show that it is not unreasonable to believe that God exists. Still others are critical of traditional arguments for God’s existence, preferring either an indirect argument or no argument at all. Some apologists, in fact, assert that arguments for God’s existence can actually interfere with or impede genuine faith.

4. If God does exist, why does he permit evil?

Ask ten non-Christians at random to give two objections to the Christian faith, and very likely nine of them will mention what is known as the problem of evil: How is it that there is evil in the world created by an all-powerful and all-loving God? Christian apologists respond to this challenge with different argumentative strategies. Some argue for the coherence of the Christian worldview as inclusive of evil and suffering. Others contend that the question is impudent and cannot be rationally answered. As this is probably the number one objection to the Christian faith, apologists must wrestle seriously with this question.

5. Aren’t the miracles of the Bible spiritual myths or legends and not literal fact?

Modern criticism of the Bible has resulted in the widespread belief that the books of the Bible were in general not written when or by whom they have traditionally been understood to have been written. Worse, it is commonly believed that the narratives of the Bible are not historical accounts but later myths or legends that have only tenuous roots in fact. In particular, many people today view the biblical accounts of such foundational miraculous events as the crossing of the Red Sea in the Exodus or the resurrection of Jesus from the dead as symbolic myths teaching perennial spiritual truths rather than as miraculous historical events. Christian apologists approach the biblical miracles in different ways. Some seek to make them credible by first proving the existence of God. Others appeal directly to the historical evidence to show that these events occurred, and actually cite the biblical miracles as evidence of God’s existence. Others, though, view miracles as God’s activity in the world in response to faith and criticize traditional apologetic arguments as seeking to base faith on miracles. Once again, apologists who agree that the biblical miracles occurred have markedly different approaches to defending belief in those miracles.

6. Why should I believe what Christians claim about Jesus?

Most non-Christians are willing to grant that belief in Jesus can be helpful or meaningful to Christians, but balk at the claim that belief in Jesus is necessary for all people because what Christians believe about Jesus is the truth. In addition, many non-Christians today believe that biblical scholarship has called into question the traditional Christian view of Jesus as the supernatural, risen Savior and Lord. Apologists employ a variety of arguments designed to lead non-Christians to see and accept the truth claims of Jesus. Some reason that Jesus must be what the Bible says he is because no other explanation makes sense. Others present factual evidence for the life, the death, and especially the resurrection of Jesus, maintaining that it is sufficient to refute modern antibiblical theories about Jesus and to establish the Christian truth claims about him. Still other apologists argue, in effect, that Jesus himself is his own best argument: that non-Christians need simply to be confronted with the person of Jesus in the Gospels. They recognize that biblical scholarship does not deliver to us the traditional, biblical Christ, but contend that it could not and indeed should not do so: the Christ of faith transcends the “Jesus of history” and must be found by faith, not by historical inquiry. Thus, on so basic a question as why non-Christians should believe in Jesus, Christian apologists have offered some strikingly different answers.

How each of the four apologetic approaches answers the six apologetic questions raised here, and how these answers may be integrated, will be considered in the third chapter of each of the remaining parts of this book (chapters 6, 10, 14, 18, and 22).

For Further Reading

Cowan, Steven B., ed. Five Views on Apologetics. Counterpoint series. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000. This book contains contributions by William Lane Craig (“The Classical Model”), Gary R. Habermas (“The Evidential Model”), John M. Frame (“The Presuppositional Model”), Kelly James Clark (“The Reformed Epistemology Model”), and Paul D. Feinberg (“The Cumulative Case Model”). The models of Habermas and Feinberg are variations of what we are calling evidentialism, while the models of Frame and Clark are variations of what we are calling Reformed apologetics.

Geisler, Norman L. Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976. See Part One, “Methodology” (13-147), for a classical apologist’s survey of different theories of knowledge as they relate to apologetic method.

Lewis, Gordon R. Testing Christianity’s Truth Claims: Approaches to Christian Apologetics. Chicago: Moody, 1976. Includes chapters on an evidentialist (Buswell), a classical apologist (Hackett), two Reformed apologists (Clark, Van Til), and a fideist (Barrett), followed by four chapters developing and defending Carnell’s approach.

Ramm, Bernard. Varieties of Christian Apologetics: An Introduction to the Christian Philosophy of Religion. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1962. Profiles the life and thought of three thinkers each for three types of systems, stressing subjective immediacy (Pascal, Kierkegaard, Brunner), natural theology (Aquinas, Butler, Tennant), and revelation (Augustine, Calvin, Kuyper). (Ramm’s second type includes what we are calling both classical and evidentialist apologetics.) The first edition, entitled Types of Apologetic Systems (Wheaton, Ill.: Van Kampen Press, 1953), included chapters on Van Til and Carnell instead of Calvin and Kuyper.

See Appendix for more detailed discussion of the books by Cowan, Lewis, and Ramm.


1 Dulles, History of Apologetics (1st ed.), 246.

2 Edwin A. Burtt, Types of Religious Philosophy (New York: Harper & Row, 1939), 448.

3 For a comparison of this classification with that in other books on apologetics, see Appendix.

4 E.g., Five Views on Apologetics, ed. Cowan (see Appendix).

5 The usual name for the most popular form of Reformed apologetics is presuppositionalism, a term that has been used for the apologetic systems developed by Cornelius Van Til and Gordon H. Clark. However, the Reformed apologetical tradition is broader than Clark and Van Til. In particular, the apologetic thought of Alvin Plantinga would not properly be termed a form of presuppositionalism. Hence, we have chosen to use the broader term.

6 For a list of ten questions or issues that overlap somewhat the dozen questions considered here, see Bernard Ramm, Varieties of Christian Apologetics: An Introduction to the Christian Philosophy of Religion (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1962), 17-27. Ramm’s questions deal with philosophy, proofs of God’s existence, truth, sin, revelation, certainty, common ground, faith, evidences, and faith and reason. Seven of these ten questions are also used, apparently independent of Ramm, as focus points in Mayers, Balanced Apologetics, 13, 95-96, 102-103, 116-18, 123-25, 132-33, 214-17.

Related Topics: Apologetics