Apologetic Method Question

(Ryan C Melcher) #1

Hello everyone,

I just finished reading a book on five views of apologetic method. The book detailed views on the Classical, Evidential, Cumulative Case, Presuppositional, and Reformed Epistemology apologetic methods.

After reading this book, it seemed to me that the five views are not mutually exclusive. In that an apologist could use any one of the methods they may find advantageous depending on the circumstances. Allow me to present some possible illustrations by what I mean with an imaginary apologist I will call Jack.

Jack decides to use a classical apologetic with a nonbeliever friend he is going to have a medium to long conversation with. Say the Kalam Cosmological argument followed by an argument for the resurrection.

Later Jack runs into a friend at a coffee shop. His friend knows Jack is a Christian and asks him a question. Not having as much time Jack decides to use the evidential method argument say (as mentioned in the book) Gray Habermas’s minimal facts.

Jack and this friend from the coffee shop begin an email correspondence and Jack decides to use a Cumulative Case approach with the ongoing emails over a period of time since it shows that the Christian world view as the best explanation for why reality is the way it is. It also is ideal with email as it is not as formal as the classical or evidential approach.

A few days later Jack is talking to a young Christian who is struggling with understanding the Trinity. His friend is a Christian and believes in the inerrancy of scripture. So Jack decides to use a presuppositional approach and starts with scripture to explain the Trinity.

Finally, Jack goes to a high school reunion. He runs into an old friend who is an empirical evidentualist. As they talk God comes up and as Jack gets a feel for his friends point of view. Jack decides to use a reformed epistemology approach. Since a large part of our acquired knowledge is based on things that cannot be evidenced (the laws of logic, the love of ones spouse, the scientific method, etc.). Jack brings up that the vast majority of what we believe in we never take the time to verify or just lack the skill to verify something. But since our cognitive facilities work properly we believe many such things despite verification evidence. Why not God? The conversation goes from there.

So those are my thoughts in a nutshell. I guess my point is if you can do apologetics why just limit ones self to one method? Five tools are better than one.

Does that make sense?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts you may have.
Cheers and blessings


(SeanO) #2

@RyanMelcher That makes sense to me :slight_smile: I think that both the context of the conversation and the person with whom we are talking should influence the particularly tool we pull out of the tool box to share Christ. I always remember a story David Wood told about when he and Nabeel Qureshi listened to a debate between William Lane Craig and a Muslim scholar. David was convinced that Dr. Craig won the debate because his logic was impeccable. However, David later found out that Nabeel actually was more convinced by the Muslim scholar because of his outward expression of passion. If Dr. Craig really believed, wouldn’t he have been more passionate in the way he expressed himself?

Cross-cultural communication adds another layer we have to consider when sharing Christ. David, being a particular strand of Westerner, looked mainly at the logic of the arguments. Nabeel, coming from his culture, took into account the emotional expressiveness of the speaker.

So I agree that we must become ‘all things to all men’ as we share the Gospel and be equipped with a wide array of tools.

(Geoffrey) #3

very interesting read gents. Obviously we must consider the person we are speaking with when it comes to Apologetics. Cultural context, economic, academic and so on all to be considered for sure. However, while seeking to be well prepared to give an account, we often overlook the most important component. That is, has the person seen a reason to ask why? If apologetics is the defence or explanation of something then firstly one must have generated a reason to be asked. If we lack the inner Joy of the Lord then it is unlikely that people will be asking from genuine curiosity
Don’t misunderstand me, I very much believe in being able to articulate a solid argument/reason as to why I believe in the Lord. I myself like to be well informed and be able to give an intelligent and meaningful response. If I did not I would not have done anything with the RZIM college. It’s just that so much talk of logic and evidence and points of inquiry , while all valid, the Scriptures place emphasis on our Joy as the key to giving an account. A changed life is the most powerful conviction on a soul. Just wonder wheat your thoughts are on that side of things. Regards Geoff

(SeanO) #4

@gnslaser Good point. I think that there are many things that can cause someone to ask ‘why’ - the glory of creation, some struggle or joy in their own life and the testimony of God’s people. May God use us to be that spark in the lives of others so that they start to truly seek God.

(Alexander Csepregi) #5

@RyanMelcher I totally agree with you, I don’t see why we should limit our apologetics to a single method. I would assume, however, that one method may be easier and more natural for someone and so I could see why someone would choose to go with one line of argument he knows best as opposed to trying to use an argument they don’t fully understand themselves.
With that being said, would you care to share what book you took these ideas from? :slight_smile:
This is the first time I heard about these methods but I would love to know more about them.

(Ryan C Melcher) #6

Hi Alex,

The book is Five Views on Aplogetics. By William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas, John Frame, Kelly James Clark and Paul D. Feinberg. Happy reading!

Cheers and blessings,


(Alexander Csepregi) #7


Thank you!