Apologetics A-Z

As a youngster I enjoyed reading ABC books. As an elder it is now a joy to read them to my grandchildren. I find that using the alphabetical prompt is also a great writing exercise. Thus in this New Year I will endeavor to define and summarize the major concepts and principles of Christian Apologetics. There are two reasons why I wish to do this. One is to exhort believers to stand firm upon the word of truth and encourage them in building up their understanding and confidence in their ability to share the “reason for the hope you have”. The other reason is to build up my confidence in this ability as well as in the ability to encourage and exhort believers.

It is appropriate that we start with a definition of Apologetics. The word “Apologetic” comes from the Greek “apologia” which means giving a well-reasoned response in defense of a belief or position.  It does not imply an admission of guilt or regret but a desire to explain the foundation for one’s belief or position. It appears many times in the New Testament, particularly in a passage from 1 Peter 3:15.

  “But in your hearts revere 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,”

Christianity is a reasonable faith, as Peter states our hope is built upon reason. In the Forward to the book “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist” by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, David Limbaugh writes

“Nor is the study of apologetics disrespectful to our faith. Rather, it augments it, informs it, bolsters it, and reinvigorates it.”

It is with this understanding that I invite you to join me in a year of prayer, study and practice. Feel free to share your experiences and comments as you embark on this journey.

There are five basic types of Apologetics:

Classical Apologetics:

This is the oldest method of apologetics based upon the classical philosophy of early church leaders. Wikipedia states “ Philosophical Apologetics concerns itself primarily with arguments for the existence of God, although they do not exclusively focus on this area.”  Thomas Aquinas and St Augustine developed the system used by many apologists today. (J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, R.C. Sproul, Norman Geisler, etc)


Apologetics which seeks out historical evidences from both secular and non – secular sources to validate the Christian truth claims. This method brings together research evidence from areas of science, archaeology and history. Many of the evidential apologist will argue evidence for the resurrection and the reliability of scripture to prove the existence of God. (Justin Martyr and Dr. Gary Habermas and Dr. Ken Ham, John W. Montgomer, J.W. Wallace, etc)


 This type of apologetics relies upon personal testimonies of individuals whose lives have been changed by the transforming power of Christ. Many miracles are also described and used to validate the reality of God’s existence and His supernatural attributes.  (Blaise Pascal, Soren Kierkegaard, Emil Brunner, Rudolph Butmann, Karl Bath, etc)


Presupposes the reality of Trinitarian Christianity. The focus of this apologetic is to prove Christianity superior to other religions. Arguments are frequently made that present Christianity as the only faith capable of answering the questions of life reasonably and consistently. Presuppositionalist argue transcendentally that all meaning, fact and logic itself presupposes the God of Scripture. ( Francis Schaeffer,Cornelius Van Til, Gordon Clark)

Cumulative Case:

Seeking to harmonize and use the best of all arguments the Cumulative Case Apologist will generally appeal to reason and the cumulative evidence from all arguments in order to persuade the skeptic. Named by Basil Mitchell, an early proponent of this method, Mitchel explains that it is an informed argument that brings together several types of data into a hypothesis which best supports the argument. (Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, C.S. Lewis, C. Stephen Evans)

Each of these types of Apologetics have strengths and weaknesses thus the approach used in the apologetic defense is oftentimes tailored to the particular individual or circumstance of the discussion. Many apologist will develop arguments which sometime overlap the various types of apologetics described. J.W. Wallace for instance may be considered an Evidential as well as a Cumulative Case Apologist.

I do not intend to delve into each type but will refer you to sources for further study.   Please explore these links for valuable insights into Apologetics and begin your own personal study of these arguments.

An in depth explanation of Apologetics along with valuable charts can be found here:


The chart found in the section “The Dynamic of Apologetic Dialogue” is helpful for determining which apologetic argument is best suited for the particular circumstance or discussion you may find yourself in.

A concern today is that many Christians are politely avoiding the marketplace of ideas and the intellectual debates concerning reality and truth in deference to political correctness. Scripture reminds us that the gospel and the truth is foolishness to those who are perishing.  (1 Cor. 1:18-25)

“The Offense of the Cross” http://timothyjhammons.com/2010/05/09/the-offense-of-the-cross/

Our “Apologetic” is becoming an “Apology”. An apology implies guilt of an offense and usually results in a plea for forgiveness. This is usually accompanied by abandoning one’s position, making doctrinal integrity and honest evangelism impossible.  Typically it will appear as a denomination acknowledging a concern that the fundamental position on a certain moral, social, or doctrinal issue is offensive to a particular group. The next step is that the denomination caves under pressure from these groups and alters their statement of faith and or the doctrinal position to accommodate the group. Hardly ever do you see a concerted effort to instruct the group with the teaching of scripture in regards to the issue in question. The apologetic takes a back seat to the apology.

This capitulation occurs at all levels from the leadership of the denomination to the individual. This is the result of a lack of learning and teaching scripture.

Christ calls each of us to be salt and light and not to lose our saltiness or hide our light under a barrel but to let it infuse a culture and shine into the darkness of deceit. (Matt 5:13-16) We are called to be ambassadors of His grace and redemption, not to apologize for the exclusivity of the gospel, but to call all to repentance with an apologetic of love and reason.  (2 Corintians 5:20)

Sources and Links:

Apologia: http://biblehub.com/greek/627.htm

1 Peter 3:15




“The Offense of the Cross” http://timothyjhammons.com/2010/05/09/the-offense-of-the-cross/

(1 Cor. 1:18-25)


(Matt 5:13-16)

(2 Corintians 5:20)

Other recommended books valuable for individual study:

“Thinking? Answering Life’s Five Biggest Questions” by Andy Steiger

“I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be an Atheist” by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

“Cold Case Christianity” by J.W. Wallace

Websites containing many useful apologetics resources:









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