Apologetics is the discipline that deals with a rational defense of Christian faith. It comes from the Greek word apologia which means to give a reason or defense. The most important reason to do apologetics is that God told us to do so. The classic statement is 1 Peter 3:15, which says, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." This verse tells us to be ready. Being ready is not just a matter of having the right information available, it is also an attitude of readiness and eagerness to share the truth of what we believe. The REASON FOR TRUTH. This is essential to both pre-evangelism as well as evangelism in the 21st Post-Modern culture we find ourselves in today. (Norman Geisler, Bakers Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, pg. 37)
Despite the fact that there are various categories of apologetics, they often overlap.
1) CLASSICAL APOLOGETICS: This is the school that speakers of Reason For Truth has been schooled in and hold to.
- Classical apologetics stresses arguments for the existence of God as well as the historical evidence supporting the the truth of Christianity.
- Classical apologetics is characterized by two basic steps: theistic and evidential arguments.
2) EVIDENTIAL APOLOGETICS: stresses the need for evidence in support of the Christian truth claims.
- The evidence can be rational, historical, archaeological, and even experiential.
- Since it is so broad, it understandably overlaps with other types of apologetics.
3) EXPERIENTIAL APOLOGETICS: Some Christians appeal primarily, if not exclusively, to experience as evidence for Christian faith.
- Some appeal to religious experience in general.
- Others appeal to special religious experiences. (Some who focus on mystical experiences and others who identify what they believe are particularly supernatural conversion experiences.)
- There are obviously some significant differences under the broader experiential umbrella-but it is important to note that at best, general experience establishes credibility for belief in a supreme being of some kind (not necessarily a theistic God).
- In the end, the value of general, unspecific religious experience is of limited value for a distinctly Christian apologetics.
4) HISTORICAL APOLOGETICS stresses historical evidence as the basis for demonstrating the truth of Christianity.
- These apologists believe that the truth of Christianity, including the existence of God, can be proven from historical evidence alone.
- In one sense historical apologetics belongs to the broad class of evidential apologetics, but it differs in that it stresses the importance, if not necessity, of beginning with the historical record for the truth of Christianity.
5) PRESUPPOSITIONAL APOLOGETICS affirms that one must defend Christianity from the foundation of certain presuppositions.
- Usually, a presuppositionalist presupposes the basic truth of Christianity and then proceeds to show (in any of several ways) that Christianity alone is true.
(The above definitions are from Dr. Norman's, Baker's Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. pg. 42-44.)