Basics of Christian Apologetics

Part 1

  1. The English word “apology” comes from a Greek word which basically means “to give a defense.” Christian apologetics, then, is the science of giving a defense of the Christian faith. There are many skeptics who doubt the existence of God and/or attack belief in the God of the Bible. There are many critics who attack the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible. There are many false teachers who promote false doctrines and deny the key truths of the Christian faith. The mission of Christian apologetics is to combat these movements and instead promote the Christian God and Christian truth.
  2. The key verse for Christian apologetics is1 Peter 3:15, “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...” There is no excuse for a Christian to be completely unable to defend his or her faith. Every Christian should be able to give a reasonable presentation of his or her faith in Christ.
  3. Defending the Christian faith with apologetics should never involve being rude, angry, or disrespectful. While practicing Christian apologetics, we should strive to be strong in our defense and at the same time Christ-like in our presentation. If we win a debate but turn a person even further away from Christ by our attitude, we have lost the true purpose of Christian apologetics.
  4. Christian apologetics is simply presenting a reasonable defense of the Christian faith and truth to those who disagree. Christian apologetics is a necessary aspect of the Christian life. We are all commanded to be ready and equipped to proclaim the gospel and defend our faith (Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Peter 3:15). That is the essence of Christian apologetics.
  5. Apologists are people involved in apologetics, a branch of theology concerned with the defense of the faith. An apologist hones his ability to defend the Christian faith by presenting proofs from the Bible, logic, and other empirical and intellectual sources. First Peter 3:15could well be considered an apologist’s theme verse: “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.”
  6. The apostle Paul was a skilled apologist. In Thessalonica, he “went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead” (Acts 17:2–3, emphasis added). Soon after that, Paul was in Athens speaking at the Areopagus with Greek philosophers (Acts 17:22–24). He also defended the gospel before kings, pressing them for a response (Acts 26:26–28).
  7. Apologists must be quite knowledgeable of the Scriptures and Christian doctrines. Some of the respected Christian apologists today are Norman Geisler, Josh McDowell, William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, Daniel B. Wallace, and Ravi Zacharias.
  8. Studies conducted by the Barna Group and USA Today found that nearly 75 percent of Christian young people leave the church after high school. Some of the main reasons for this falling away have to do with intellectual skepticism, attacks upon their faith by godless professors, and relentless peer pressure to enjoy “the things of the world”(1 John 2:15–16). Training in apologetics may help curb some of this spiritual attrition.
  9. It’s not enough for an apologist to have a knowledge of Scripture; he must love people, too. The goal of apologetics is not to win arguments but to lead people to a knowledge of the truth that will set them free (John 8:32). “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:25–26).
  10. Evidential apologetics is a method of Christian apologetics that emphasizes positive evidences in favor of the truth of Christianity. The distinctive feature of evidential apologetics is its one-step approach to establishing Christian theism. Evidentialists will utilize evidence and arguments from several areas including archeology, fulfilled messianic prophecy, and especially from miracles.
  11. Presuppositional apologetics is an approach to apologetics which aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith and defend it against objections by exposing the logical flaws of other worldviews and hence demonstrating that biblical theism is the only worldview which can make consistent sense of reality.
  12. Classical apologetics is a method of apologetics that begins by first employing various theistic arguments to establish the existence of God. Classical apologists will often utilize various forms of the cosmological, teleological (Design), ontological, and moral arguments to prove God's existence. Once God's existence has been established, the classical apologist will then move on to present evidence from fulfilled prophecy, the historical reliability of Scripture, and the bodily resurrection of Jesus to distinguish Christianity from all other competing forms of theism.
  13. A “worldview” refers to a comprehensive conception of the world from a specific standpoint. A “Christian worldview,” then, is a comprehensive conception of the world from a Christian standpoint. An individual’s worldview is his “big picture,” a harmony of all his beliefs about the world. It is his way of understanding reality. One’s worldview is the basis for making daily decisions and is therefore extremely important.
  14. Every worldview, Christian and non-Christian, deals with at least these three questions:Genesis 1:27-28; 2:15). 2) We sinned against God and subjected the whole world to a curse (Genesis 3). 3) God Himself has redeemed the world through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15; Luke 19:10), and will one day restore creation to its former perfect state (Isaiah 65:17-25). A Christian worldview leads us to believe in moral absolutes, miracles, human dignity, and the possibility of redemption.

Part 2

  1. Epistemology deals with the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge. It addresses the questions, "What is knowledge?" "How is knowledge acquired?" "What do people know?" "How do we know what we know?" "Why do we know what we know?"
  2. Epistemology is typically divided into two categories. The first, propositional knowledge, can be thought of "knowledge that" as opposed to "knowledge how." In mathematics, for instance, it is knowledge that 1 + 1 = 2, but there is also knowledge of how to perform mathematics. The second is personal knowledge. Personal knowledge is gained experientially. For example, the theoretical knowledge of the physics involved in maintaining a state of balance when riding a bicycle cannot be substituted for the practical (personal) knowledge gained when practicing cycling.
  3. Fideism is the idea that religious faith and reason are incompatible with each other. It is the view that religious faith is separate from reason and cannot be reconciled with it. According to fideism, faith involves a degree of absolute certainty and personal commitment that goes beyond what can be rationally justified. Therefore, one cannot and should not seek evidence for religious belief.
  4. An epiphany is, generally speaking, a revelation. Beyond that, there are three different definitions for the word epiphany. Capitalized, the word Epiphany refers to a Christian feast day, observed primarily in the Eastern churches (the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, and Northeastern Africa). It occurs on January 6 and commemorates the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child and the revelation of God the Son as a human being.
  5. A second definition of epiphany is “an appearance or manifestation, especially of a divine being.” Theophanies and Christophanies are types of epiphanies. A theophany is a manifestation of God in the Bible that is tangible to the human senses. In its most restrictive sense, it is a visible appearance of God in the Old Testament period, often, but not always, in human form.
  6. A third definition of epiphany is “a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something, or an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking.” It is also defined as “an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure or a revealing scene or moment.”
  7. The Bible never tells us to take a leap of faith into the darkness and hope that there’s somebody out there. The Bible calls us to jump out of the darkness and into the light. That is not a blind leap. The faith that the New Testament calls us to is a faith rooted and grounded in something that God makes clear is the truth.
  8. Proof is objective and persuasion is subjective. People who are hostile to certain ideas may have those ideas proven to them, but in their bias they refuse to be persuaded—even by the soundest of arguments. Apologetics, for this reason, is not merely about winning an argument. It is about winning souls. The old aphorism rings true: “People convinced against their will hold the same opinions still.
  9. Epistemology, or the study of how human knowledge is obtained, is indispensable to the apologetic task.
  10. The Four Principles: Attacked by Atheists, Assumed in Scripture
    1. The Law of Non-Contradiction: “A cannot be “A” and non-A at the same time and in the same sense or relationship.”
    2. The Law of Causality, or the Proposition: “every effect must have a cause,”
    3. Sense Perception: This principle affirms the possibility of being deceived by our senses but nonetheless finds our senses to be essentially trustworthy.
    4. The Analogical Use of Language: The concept simply comes from the word analogy, or the notion that two things can be partly alike and partly different.

Does God Exist?


  1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
  2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
  3. The universe exists.
  4. Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.


  1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.


  1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to physical necessity, chance, or design.
  2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
  3. Therefore, it is due to design.


  1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
  2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
  3. Therefore, God exists.


  1. It is possible that a maximally great being (God) exists.
  2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
  3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
  4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
  5.  Therefore, a maximally great being exists in the actual world.
  6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.
  7. Therefore, God exists.

Is the Bible Reliable?

Using the same criteria by which we judge other historical works, not only is the Bible reliable, it is more reliable than any other comparable writings. Reliability is a question of truthfulness and accurate copying. Writings that are historically and factually correct and that have been faithfully preserved over time would be considered reliable. Higher levels of historical verification and better confidence in transmission make it easier to determine whether an ancient work is worthy of trust. By those measures, we can consider the Bible reliable.

As is true with any historical work, not every single detail in the Bible can be directly confirmed. The Bible cannot be called unreliable simply because it contains parts which cannot be confirmed or have not yet been confirmed. What’s reasonable is to expect it to be accurate where it can be checked. This is the primary test of reliability, and here the Bible has a stellar track record. Not only have many of its historical details been confirmed, but certain portions that were once in doubt have been verified by later

For example, archaeological finds in the 1920s confirmed the presence of cities much like Ur, described in
Genesis 11, which some skeptics doubted had existed so early. Engravings discovered in an Egyptian tomb depict the placement of Joseph in high office over Egypt (Genesis 39). Clay tablets dating to 2300 BC have been found in Syria strongly supporting Old Testament stories, vocabulary, and geography. Skeptics doubted the existence of the Hittites (Genesis 15:20; 23:10; 49:29), until a Hittite city, complete with records, was found in Turkey. There are dozens of other Old Testament facts supported by archaeological discovery.

More importantly, no facts presented in the Old or New Testaments have been shown false. This historical reliability is crucial to our trust in other statements made in Scripture.

Even the “miraculous” occurrences of Genesis have evidential basis we can appeal to today. Ancient Babylonian records describe a confusion of language, in accordance with the biblical account of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1–9). These same records describe a worldwide flood, an event present in literally hundreds of forms in cultures all over the world. The sites where Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) once sat have been found, displaying evidence of fiery and violent destruction. Even the plagues of Egypt and the resulting Exodus (Exodus 12:40–41) have archaeological support.

This trend continues in the New Testament, where the names of various cities, political officials, and events have been repeatedly confirmed by historians and archaeologists. Luke, the writer of that gospel and the book of Acts, has been described as a first-rate historian for his attention to detail and accurate reporting. In both the Old and New Testament writings, the Bible proves reliable wherever it can be checked.

Accurate copying is also an important factor in the Bible’s reliability. New Testament writings were composed within a few decades of the events they describe, far too early for legend or myth to overtake actual history. In fact, the basic framework of the gospel can be dated to a formal creed just a few years after the crucifixion of Jesus, according to Paul’s description in1 Corinthians 15:3–8. Historians have access to a tremendous number of manuscripts, proving the New Testament was reliably and quickly copied and distributed. This gives ample confidence that what we read today correctly represents the original writing.

The Old Testament, as well, shows all evidence of being reliably transmitted. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the 1940s, they were 800 years older than any other available manuscripts. Comparing earlier and later manuscripts showed a meticulous approach to transmission, once again adding to our confidence that what we have today represents the original texts.

Those factors all give objective reasons to consider the Bible reliable. At the same time, it’s critically important to examine those same factors in other texts we use to write our history books. The Bible has more empirical support, a shorter time between original writing and surviving copies, and a greater number of source manuscripts than any other ancient work, by far.

For example, there are ten copies of the works of Julius Caesar, the earliest from 1,000 years after he wrote, with no way to know how well those copies represent the originals. There are eight copies of the works of the historian Herodotus, the earliest from 1,400 years after he wrote. Archaeologists have found 643 manuscript copies of the works of Homer, allowing us a 95 percent confidence in the original text.

For the New Testament, there are currently more than 5,000 manuscripts, with most early copies anywhere from 200 to 300 years later, and some less than 100 years later. This gives a better than 99 percent confidence in the contents of the original text.

In short, we not only have objective reasons to claim the Bible is reliable, but we cannot call it unreliable without throwing out almost everything else we know of ancient history. If the Scriptures don’t pass a test for trustworthiness, no records from that era can. The Bible’s reliability is proven in both its historical accuracy and its accurate transmission.

Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?

An investigation of the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus will involve two steps:

First, one must establish what facts are to be explained and,

Second, one must ask whether Jesus’ resurrection is the best explanation of those facts.

There are basically three main purported facts at issue:

1. The discovery of Jesus’ empty tomb by a group of his female followers on the Sunday morning after his crucifixion;

2. Various individuals and groups’ experiencing appearances of Jesus alive after his death; and

3. The origin of the earliest disciples’ belief that God had raised Jesus from the dead. If these three facts can be established as historical, the question will then be whether they are best explained by what I’ll call the “Resurrection Hypothesis”.