Classical Apologetics

by Matt Slick

Classical Apologetics is that style of Christian defense that stresses rational arguments for the existence of God and uses evidence to substantiate biblical claims and miracles.  It is quite similar to evidential apologetics and appeals to human reason and evidence.  Early Classical Apologists include Augustine, Anselm, and Thomas Aquinas.  Contemporary classical apologists are Norman Geisler, William Craig, J. P. Moreland, and R.C. Sproul.

Some of the arguments relied upon for proofs of God's existence are the cosmological argument and the teleological argument.   The cosmological argument attempts to prove that God exists by stating that there has to be an uncaused cause of all things.  That uncaused cause is God.  The teleological argument uses the analogy of design; that is, the universe and life exhibit marks of design.  Therefore, there must be a Designer.  Other times, strict evidence is used to establish Christianity's validity.  Of course, both aspects are also combined in classical apologetics.

An example of the latter might be as follows:

Allen: Can you give me a logical reason why God exists?
Matt:  I will try (simple logic).  The universe exists.  The universe cannot be eternal because if it were eternal, then it would mean that an infinite amount of time has passed in order for us to get to the present.  But you cannot transverse an infinite amount of time.  Therefore the universe is not infinitely old.
Allen:  That is an interesting argument.  Do you have anything else?
Matt:  Sure (Cosmological Argument).  All things that came into existence are caused to exist.  There cannot be an infinite regression of causes because this would mean that there was an infinite amount of time in the past that had to be traversed in order for us to get to the present.  Again, you are not able to cross an infinite amount of time.  Therefore, it is logical to say that there must be a single uncaused cause.  I propose that that uncaused cause is God.

The preceding very simplistic dialogue has strengths and weaknesses, but it demonstrates a way of using evidence and logic as a defense to support the resurrection--a biblical miracle.

A variation on this could focus on prophecies and be as follows:

  1. The Bible claims to be the word of God.
  2. The Bible has been accurately transmitted to us through the copying method.
  3. The Old Testament was written before the New Testament.
  4. The Old Testament contains prophecies of Jesus fulfilled in the New Testament.
  5. Jesus fulfilled the prophecies.
  6. This shows that the Bible is inspired.
  7. Since it is inspired, it is accurate.
  8. It says that God exists.
  9. Therefore, God exists.

No argument is without strengths and weaknesses, and all Classical Apologetic approaches have been tackled by critics.  But, the critics are not left unanswered; and Christians have, in turn, refuted the refutations.  This back-and-forth process of point-counter-point is going to continue until Jesus returns.  Nevertheless, God commands that we do our best to defend the faith, and classical apologetics is one of the means to do that.

Much of the information here on CARM can be used in a classical defense.  There is documentation for biblical manuscript evidence in the Bible section.  There is also a list of prophecies about Jesus in the Bible section and more.  I recommend you go to the Apologetics Dialogues section and read a few of them to see how different subjects can be used.  If you want logical approaches, try some proofs for God in the Atheist section.  Finally, if you really want to test yourself, get on the Internet, find a chat room through AOL Instant Messenger or Yahoo Instant Messenger, and go in and debate with people in religious discussion rooms.  You will learn real fast what you need to know.

Whichever you do, think of apologetics as a mosaic of skills and knowledge that God uses in the believer to bring truth to the world.  At first it is not that easy to do, but it gets easier and easier the more you do it.

 

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