Apologetic Method

A Short Review of Alvin Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief

By Adam Lloyd Johnson, Ph.D.

It seems to me that Plantinga’s argument in this book is correct but uninteresting. If I understand him right, his argument is that if Christianity is true, then it has warrant. This seems to be only helpful in interacting with those who claim that even if Christianity were true, people still wouldn’t be justified in believing it. I don’t imagine that many people claim such a thing, but I could be wrong. Maybe it’s the case that there are, or have been, some very influential thinkers who have made this argument, possibly even Marx and Freud.

Introduction to Apologetics

What is apologetics? In short, it is giving good reasons and evidence to believe that Christianity is true. Apologetics focuses on some big questions about the truth of Christianity such as the following: Does God exist? Who was Jesus? How do we know Jesus was God? Is the Bible even historically reliable? Questions like these often appear front and center in our culture where skepticism of religious claims is the norm. The lectures below can help prepare you to address these questions in a Biblical manner, giving a "defense for the hope that you have" in Christ "with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15). Follow along with Adam’s Introduction to Apologetics class to learn about the good reasons and evidence for God, Jesus, and the truth of the Scriptures.

Is Apologetics Biblical?

Does the Bible condone the use of apologetics? The intuition found in the first cause, design, and moral arguments for the existence of God seem to be affirmed in Romans 1 and 2. Many cultures concluded that a supreme being exists based on general revelation alone, and this is not a coincidence. This is confirmed by Paul’s speech in Acts 17. Arguing that Jesus is God is also confirmed by the Bible when Jesus tells people to use a “miracle test” and look at His miracles to know if He is really God. In the Old Testament, God gives Moses miracles to prove a message was given to him by God. Moses said to test claims to have messages from God by evaluating the evidence, and the Bible affirms that we should use historical investigation to see if its claims are true. However, some Christians still object to the use of apologetics. Modern philosophy has influenced the church to separate faith from reason and look down on reason and think of faith as uncertainty. Thomas Aquinas used faith and reason together and did particularly well in balancing general and special revelation properly. It can be said that philosophy is the study of general revelation and theology is the study of special revelation. Many verses that Christians use to try to say that the Bible opposes using reason to ascertain truth are not interpreted properly in context. Yes, the Bible is both self-sufficient and self-authenticating, but we must be careful about what we conclude from the meaning of those terms.

Objections to Apologetics

Objections to doing apologetics can come from non-Christians and from Christians alike. Some people say that to claim that your religious faith is objectively true, which implies that other religious are false, is intolerant. However, this assumes an incorrect definition of tolerance. One can do apologetics and be confident about his beliefs while being fair and respectful to other people’s positions. Others claim that religious faith is only a subjective preference; they believe that it can’t be objectively true. The claims of apologetics, however, like so many other fields of study, are claims to objective truth, because they are claims about how reality really is. They don’t just focus on what is “true for me,” but on what actually corresponds to objective reality. Finally, there are some who think that faith and reason can’t or shouldn’t go together – that to have faith is therefore not to be thinking rationally. This view results from many years of Western history where various thinkers separated the roles of faith and reason. However, a premodern understanding shows that faith and reason can actually support and reinforce one another.

What Is Apologetics?

Apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia, which means “to give a defense.” Apologetics, then, is giving a defense using good reasons and evidence for why our faith in Jesus is true. Apologetics is useful for two reasons: to help Christians who may be struggling with doubt about Christianity and to encourage non-Christians to trust in Christ for salvation. It primarily focuses on three areas of study, philosophy, science, and history, that form the basis for evaluating the evidence for Christianity. When doing apologetics, three different methods have developed which various Christians have used. They are the classical approach, the evidential approach, and the presuppositional approach. The classical approach often starts by examining the evidence for the existence of God and connecting that to Jesus. The evidential approach usually emphasizes historical evidence for the Bible and for the resurrection of Jesus. The presuppositional approach reverses these paradigms and argues that God’s existence and the Bible’s truthfulness must be presupposed before we can use our reasoning ability to consider these types of questions.

A Biblical Foundation for My Apologetic Approach

By Adam Lloyd Johnson, Ph.D.

Many people don’t like the type of ministry I do. It may surprise you to hear that a lot of these folks are Christians. The reason they don’t like my ministry is that they believe what I’m doing goes against the Bible. Here is my loving and respectful reply to such individuals.

I believe there is a place for human reason in the sharing of God’s truth with the lost. Of course, there’s some tension in this issue, that is, the relationship between faith and reason. There’s always tension where the human and divine intersect – for example, the incarnation of Christ, the inspiration of Scripture, the doctrine of election, our role and God’s role in evangelism, etc.

Faith and Reason, Augustine and Aquinas

Philosophy presents us with many ultimate questions about life. How do we find the answers to these questions? Thinkers have proposed both faith and reason as ways to answer them. Popular culture today presents faith and reason as if they are incompatible. Some say faith is just the failure of reason by choosing to believe something without evidence. Others say reason is inadequate and that we just need to make a "leap of faith." Is this true? Are faith and reason really in conflict? Two very influential Western thinkers, Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas, would disagree. They both thought faith and reason could work together, that faith and reason worked best when they reinforced each other, not when they were separated. Join Adam as he talks about the ideas of these two great thinkers.

Is Faith Reasonable?

Faith and Reason: Popular culture today presents these two things as if they are incompatible. Many claim that faith "fills in" where reason stops, or faith is just the failure of reason by choosing to believe something without evidence. Is this true? Are faith and reason really in conflict? In this talk, Adam explains the history of how we got to this place and how people have viewed truth throughout the pre-modern, modern, and now post-modern history of Western culture. He shows that, as the pre-modern thinkers thought, faith and reason really aren't enemies; in fact, they work together.

The Thought and Apologetics of Francis Schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer was a very influential theologian and philosopher at the beginning of the era of modern Christian apologetics as it was making a comeback in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. He ran the L’Abri ministry in Switzerland from the mid-1950s until his death in 1984 where he helped many people discover and think through the answers to hard questions about Christian faith. What made Schaeffer so influential and able to engage the culture with the truth of Christianity so effectively? What was Schaeffer’s apologetic methodology and how has it shaped the way we do apologetics today? Adam was interviewed on the “Theology Matters” podcast with Devin Pellew to discuss these and other questions about the thought, apologetics, and life of Francis Schaeffer.

Created to Know: The Epistemologies of Michael Polanyi and Francis Schaeffer

By Adam Lloyd Johnson, Ph.D.

During the mid to latter part of the twentieth century, thinkers from various disciplines spoke out against the epistemological conclusions of Modernism. Some of them thought that the modern view of human knowledge had been a major impetus behind the carnage of World War I, World War II, fascism, and communism. One such thinker, Michael Polanyi (1891-1976), a world-renowned physical chemist, recognized that this incomplete understanding of knowledge had become especially prevalent in the scientific community. He turned to the study of philosophy in order to explore how these ideas came about and to propose a much needed course correction.