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Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while. Stackhouse Jr. No cover image. Read preview. Synopsis Is it still possible, in an age of religious and cultural pluralism, to engage in Christian apologetics? How can one urge one's faith on others when such a gesture is typically regarded with suspicion, if not outright resentment? In Humble Apologetics John G. Stackhouse brings his wide experience as a historian, philosopher, journalist, and theologian to these important questions and offers surprising--and reassuring--answers.

Stackhouse begins by acknowledging the real impediments to Christian testimony in North America today and to other faiths in modern societies around the world. He shows how pluralism, postmodernism, skepticism about our ability to know the truth, and a host of other factors create a cultural milieu resistant to the Christian message. And he shows how the arrogance or dogmatism of apologists themselves can alienate rather than attract potential converts. Indeed, Stackhouse argues that the crucial experience of conversion cannot be compelled; all the apologist can do is lead another to the point where an actual encounter with Jesus can take place.


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Drawing on the author's personal experience and written with an engaging directness and humility, Humble Apologetics provides sound guidance on how to share Christian faith in a postmodern world. Excerpt In this time of rapidly increasing awareness of religious differences around the world, we need to consider carefully how members of one faith can properly offer what they take to be the blessings of that faith to others. Apologetics is generally said to have three functions, although it should be realised that not all Christian apologists accept that all three functions are valid some would say that we should not try to construct positive arguments for Christian faith but simply focus on refuting accusations against it and there is considerable variation between different schools of apologetics as to what arguments should be used within each function:.

Using philosophical arguments and evidence from science, archaeology and history to show that the Christian faith has greater power than any alternative belief system to explain and interpret the world we live in. Removing objections that are made against Christianity, for example claims of contradictions in the Bible, alternative interpretations of historical and scientific evidence and misconceptions about Christian belief. Focuses not on specific attacks against Christianity but on undermining the foundations of other belief systems.

Some writers add a fourth function, namely persuasion. They claim that apologetics also aims to persuade people to believe in the Christian message. It is probably better to see the task of persuasion as the overarching aim of apologetics, with the three functions above playing different parts within it. This is a helpful reminder of the fact that apologetics alone is not enough — evangelism is also necessary.

Another way to think about the purpose of apologetics is to think about how it relates to those who are believers and those who are non-believers. Apologetics aims both to strengthen the faith of the faithful and to remove obstacles to faith for those who do not believe.

Apologetics is best seen as either pre-evangelism or as part of the process of evangelism. It removes barriers to belief and prepares the ground for the seed of the gospel to be sown. It is vital not to divorce apologetics strictly from evangelism. It is unlikely that people who have intellectual objections to the existence of God or the historicity of Jesus will receive the gospel message, and apologetics will help to remove these obstacles by appealing to intellectual reasoning.

At the same time, a person could be intellectually convinced of the credibility and even the truth of the Christian faith but still not be a Christian. The gospel appeals not only to the mind, it also appeals to the emotions and, most importantly of all, to the will. Conversion occurs when mind, heart and will are surrendered to God in repentance and faith. As such it will often be wise to share the gospel as we engage in apologetic arguments.

There are numerous different ways to approach the task of apologetics and it is not always easy to classify different approaches.

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No one scheme of classification gains universal support. Two possible ways of classifying common approaches are:. Can truth about God be discovered through human reason in response to observations about the world empiricism , through a critical appraisal of the inherent logic of different belief systems rationalism , through Scripture alone Biblical authoritarianism , through personal experience mysticism , or through a combination of these means? The debate over these different means of discovering truth about God depends on our belief about:.

Steven B. William Lane Craig, R. Sproul, Norman Geisler, Stephen T. Davis, Richard Swinburne Aims to establish theism through arguments from nature then to present evidences to prove that Christianity is the correct version of theism. Most proponents of this method claim that there is no point presenting arguments from historical evidence until the person has embraced a theistic worldview as they will always interpret them based on their own worldview.

Gary R. Habermas, John W. Montgomery, Clark Pinnock, Wolfhart Pannenberg Uses both historical and philosophical arguments but focuses primarily on historical and other evidence for the truth of Christianity. Will argue at the same time both for theism in general and Christianity in particular.

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Paul D. Feinberg, Basil Mitchell, C. Lewis, C. Stephen Evans Rather than approaching the task as a formal logical argument, sees the case for Christianity as more like the brief a lawyer makes in a law court — an informal argument drawing together evidence that together makes a compelling case with which no other hypothesis can compete.

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John M. Frame, Cornelius Van Til, Gordon Clark, Greg Bahnsen, Francis Schaeffer Emphasises the noetic effects of sin to the degree that believers and unbelievers will not share enough common ground for the preceding three methods to accomplish their goal. The apologist must presuppose the truth of Christianity as the proper starting point for apologetics. All experience is interpreted and all truth known through the Christian revelation in the Scriptures.

Although positive arguments in defence of Christianity are not necessarily wrong, belief in God does not need the support of evidence or argument to be rational. The focus, therefore, tends to be more on negative apologetics, defending against challenges to theistic belief. The book Cowan edited, entitled Five Views on Apologetics Zondervan, contains chapters by proponents of each of these five approaches as well as responses to each chapter by the other four contributors. It is a helpful, although fairly technical, attempt to show the commonalities and differences between different approaches.

Bowman, which combines both the epistemology and the approach to constructing arguments. The four methodologies they identify are Classical apologetics, Evidential apologetics, Reformed apologetics and Fideism.


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The following table, adapted from Boa and Bowman, details the characteristics of these four approaches to apologetics: [4]. In practice it is not always easy to place apologists neatly into any one methodology as many use different approaches depending on the question at hand. It is probably best to see these approaches as tools in a toolkit or weapons in an armoury. We can freely draw on different approaches depending on the situation in which we find ourselves. We will return to this idea in the section entitled The dynamic of apologetic dialogue. Christians who are sceptical about the value of apologetics raise a number of different objections, some based on verses from the Bible and others based on limitations of logic and apologetics.

These objections are generally based on misunderstandings of the Bible text or of the purpose of apologetics. In the list of objections that follows I am indebted to Norman Geisler [5] although I have made some changes to his list and have significantly modified his responses:. It is sometimes said that the Bible is like a lion — it does not need to be defended but unleashed.

It is true that Scripture is powerful to change attitudes and challenge hearts, but if someone will not read or listen seriously to it then it cannot do this work.

see url Apologetics can establish the fact that it is reasonable to take the Bible seriously, so opening people to be prepared to listen. Furthermore, if Scripture only needed to be unleashed to do its work then the task of teaching and preaching would also be unnecessary and evangelism would be reduced to merely passing on texts from the Bible.

And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? It is claimed that this means there is no point in trying to get people to accept rational arguments for God. The context of 1 Corinthians 1, however, is not the existence of God but the acceptance of the message of the cross.

That message cannot be accepted by natural reason alone — it only makes sense because of the special revelation of Scripture and as the Spirit enlightens 1 Corinthians Elsewhere, however, Paul writes of evidence in nature pointing to the existence of God and some of His attributes, leaving people without excuse Romans It is argued that there is no point, therefore, in trying to explain them to him.

Non-believers reject the gospel not because it is illogical and they cannot understand what it means but because they refuse to accept its claims over them. In fact, a prayerful approach to apologetics recognises that the work of the Spirit is necessary for people to receive the truth.

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Hebrews clearly states that faith is essential to please God, and some people suggest that this means that reason is displeasing to Him. This claim sets up a false division between faith and reason. Biblical faith is not blind belief in spite of the evidence, but trust in something that has been commended to the person as trustworthy. The gospel is a message from God that claims that He can be trusted, and apologetics provides evidence that supports that claim.