From the writers of the Gospels, through the letters of the New Testament, through various stages of history all the way up till present day Christian philosophers, writers and thinkers have dealt with the question of what is the best way to present the faith to non-Christians. This school of thought is known as apologetics. Paul’s speech to the Athenians in the book of Acts chapter 17 is often looked upon as one of the first examples of Christian apologetics. Early church fathers such as Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria and the Greek Apologist Origen helped to lead the role of the apologetic into the fourth and fifth centuries. Aurelius Augustine with his writings on human culture, philosophy and history spear headed Christianity’s world view with the first complete Pauline view in the faith.
Anselm became well known for his ontological argument in his revolutionary “Proslogion.” In thirteenth century Europe Thomas Aquinas became a major name in Christian philosophy beginning with his challenge on the Aristotelian worldview. Aquinas is well known for his “five ways” or “five arguments” for the existence of God, which has been under debate for over 2 centuries.
The sixteenth century leads to the protestant reformation with the rise of Martin Luther tacking the Ninety-five Theses to the churches door condemning it for their offenses. He wanted the churches’ focus to find its way toward the doctrine of salvation not the selling of indulgences. John Calvin was also a chief player in the reformation. Calvin’s claim was that faith was always reasonable but to men it seemed unreasonable because men were blinded by their sin.
The more modern times brought with it skepticism, the Enlightenment brought greater challenges with even sharper turns from scripture with thinkers like Hume and Kant and Darwin all warming up in Satan’s dugout. Francis Schaeffer, C. Stephen Evans and David Clark are all examples of those within the twentieth century who have picked up the apologetic torch and continue to carry on the timeline of those that have not let it die out.
After reviewing the various approaches to Christian apologetics my preferred approaches is and always has been the classic approach. I am a logic based person. I studied law and political science in college and it comes easy and natural to me to draw on logic. Scripture tells in Hebrews 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” Only God can create faith that’s not man’s job but man can turn a man’s eyes upward where they were once staring down. Only God can soften a man’s heart but a Christian with a heart for the Lord can take a mind and create the spark for God to build the fire.
When dealing with a seeker, a skeptic or an antagonistic I always start with Jesus. Jesus as a man is just as established as any person in history. If someone tries to deny Jesus they have to deny for the sake of our material: Plato, Aristotle,
, ETC. At that point the person usually will admit that a man named Jesus at least lived. If the individual does not admit that Jesus lived, I’ll usually dive into my historical timeline a little deeper. I’ll ask: If Jesus didn’t exist why did the crusades happened? If Jesus didn’t exist why do we have the calendar system we have? If Jesus didn’t exist why do where did all the Christian holidays come from? Constantine
When I finally reach a point where my partner in the conversation concedes to the fact that a man named Jesus 2011 years ago existed I’ll go further. I’ll use the classic approach and say that they only have 3 options: If Jesus existed and He claimed to be the Son of God which history shows to be the case, he was either, crazy, lying or telling truth.
From that point I’ve already gained enough ground where they have conceded that I know a thing or two about history and I’ve earned the credibility in their eyes to speak about the history of miracles and other historical events related to the Gospel message or they will try and shut me down and tell me He was lying.
If they choose to say Christ was lying then I ask what are the chances He would have taken a lie as far as crucifixion? If they still don’t want to give any ground it’s usually at this point I’ll agree to disagree, pray for them and leave them in God’s hands. I have logically answered as many questions as they were coming up with while maintaining control of the topic and not letting it go on a wild tangent of asking irrelevant questions. If the person was sincere in seeking answers chances are either a deeper conversation sparked out of that talk, or they didn’t make to the end themselves. If they were just trying to punch holes in my faith, then I was obedient to God in what He instructed me to do and I leave them in His capable hands. Amen.