It seemed appropriate to add a little more about the nature of my approach to apologetics, since what we’ll be doing is a little uncommon.
My basic orientation on apologetics is that it’s all of a piece with theology, evangelism, and culture. Having a gleefully Christian take on everything from anchovy migration patterns to Zulu cooking is an integral part of defending the faith, not to mention a very persuasive witness in itself. Of course, no one person can know about everything, so learning how to construct a Christian approach to the subject at hand is terribly important.
The same attitude applies within apologetics itself. Nobody can keep track of all the evidence needed to refute all the various attacks unbelievers have made on the faith over the last few millennia, but if we have the right orientation, we’ll be prepared to deal with whatever challenges the Lord sets in our path. With that in mind, this is not going to be a facts-and-figures, Christian evidences, Josh McDowell kind of class.
Not that there’s anything wrong with facts and figures; good research is necessary. But what we’re doing here is going to be much more basic. This is about how you approach the facts and figures, and what you do with them. While this will not be a trip through the Christian encyclopedia, it will be a Bible study. The Bible has a great deal to teach us about how to interact with the unbelieving world, so we’ll be immersing ourselves in Scripture every session. If you approach an apologetic encounter from an unbiblical starting point, you can have all the facts and figures, and it won’t help. Apply Scripture correctly, and you’ll be amazed what you can do with just a few facts and figures.
The seeds of this approach lie in Scripture, of course, but it didn’t really come into its own until the early twentieth century. Even today, this approach–known as presuppositional apologetics–is surprisingly uncommon, and very poorly understood even by most of the people who are aware of it. Important names in its history include Cornelius Van Til, Greg Bahnsen, John Frame, and Michael Butler, and unless you’re well-informed indeed, you haven’t heard of them. Aspects of this approach also appear in Francis Schaeffer and C. S. Lewis, although they used other approaches as well.
The core lesson is simple enough: all people, at all times, already know God and are already confronted with more than sufficient evidence. The unbeliever has no excuse. Because he does not like to think about God, he has heaped up piles of self-justification in a vain attempt to bury the evidence, but he lives in God’s world, and so he cannot succeed. Our job is to lovingly expose his hypocrisy for what it is, to show him that he cannot help but acknowledge God even as he denies Him—and then to show him how all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ.
Our study will meet once a week for four weeks. The atmosphere will mostly be informal; the one formality I insist on is that we keep the session to two hours. I’ll make myself available for questions and discussion for anyone who wants to hang around afterwards, but for those of you who have other commitments, I want to honor your time. If you’re local, I hope you’ll join us. You can reach me through the contact form on my About page and I’ll give you the details.