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Christian apologetics


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Christian apologetics is the defense of the Christian faith through logic/evidence based arguments. The word apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia (from Greek ἀπολογία), which means "speaking in defense." Christian witness to Jesus Christ in an informal spontaneous setting, most often in conversation, is an oral form of Christian apologetics. See 1 Peter 3:15.

Effective apologetics can be based in politics, faith, reason, linguistics, science, experience, and/or history. Atheistic societies or values are notoriously inhumane and hostile to freedom of speech.

Three major schools of Christian apologetics are: classical apologetics, evidential apologetics and presuppositional apologetics. A lessor known school of Christian apologetics is integrated apologetics which is a system of Christian apologetics introduced by Johnson C. Philip. Philip is a Christian apologist from India and he argues that while each school of Christian apologetics contains a part of the truth, they tend to be too narrow to do justice to the broad field of Christian apologetics. He proposes that all these schools of apologetics should be integrated into a harmonious whole.[1]

There are a number of subfields within apologetics. Some apologists specialize in internal biblical consistency (such as JP Holding, owner of the website, others in scientific defenses of the Bible, and still others in historical or philosophical defenses of Christianity (such as Gary Habermas or Lee Strobel). Although some feel that their faith needs no justification, many feel that Christians should be prepared to defend and spread their faith by intellectual means, especially as many people will not accept Christianity without a "rational" reason to do so.

History of Christian Apologetics

Christian apologetics has existed as long as Christianity itself. Jesus himself spent time in the temple and the synagogues, debating and explaining the meaning of the scriptures. The Apostle Peter exhorted early Christians to practice apologetics, writing,

"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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." 1 Peter 3:15-16.

The Apostle Paul also spent time in Athens, debating Stoic and Epicurian philosophers. Acts 17:16.

Great theologians such as Athanasius, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Augustine, and Aquinas continued the tradition of apologetics on a dramatic scale. At the same time, apologetics was practiced by countless individual Christians, explaining and defending their beliefs.[2]


Apologetics has generally been used for two purposes: Efforts to persuade others of the truth of Christianity, and efforts to defend the reasonableness of one's own beliefs, while not seeking to convince others of their truth.

Types of Christian Apologetics

Evidentialist apologetics

Evidential apologetics seeks to defend Christian belief through evidence. This can take the form of:

Philosophical apologetics

William Paley was an advocate of the teleological argument.

One of the most famous statements about the teleological argument using the watchmaker analogy was given by William Paley in his 1802 book Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity.[3]

Philosophical apologetics seeks to defend Christian belief through philosophical argument: primarily arguments for the existence of God. This can take the form of:

  • The Teleological argument: When you find a watch in the sand, you infer that it is designed, even if you do not see the designer, because it is complex, has a definite purpose, and could not have come to be through any known non-intelligent causes. Therefore, when we observe a complex, purposeful universe which could not have come to be through any known non-intelligent cause, it is reasonable to infer the existence of a designer, aka God.
This is connected to the anthropic principle, which is the argument that so much fine-tuning and exact physiological constants allows us to be here, provides evidence in support of an intelligent designer.

In the 20th century, this argument has been strongly supported by science, with the discovery that the universe had a beginning. Prior to the 1920s, it had been widely believed that the universe's existence had been eternal.[7] This verifies the very first three words of the Bible: "In the beginning."

  • The Ontological argument: God is the being than which no greater can be conceived. It is greater to exist than to not exist. Therefore, if you conceive God as not existing, you are not conceiving the being than which no greater can be conceived, and are therefore not conceiving God. Therefore, it is impossible to conceive of God as not existing. Therefore, God exists.
  • The Argument from morality: All humans are born with a natural, moral code. A moral code implies a moral code giver, aka God.

Presuppositional apologetics

Presuppositional Apologetics seek to defend Christian belief by showing that belief in Christian precepts is necessary to make sense of the human experience as a whole.

Growth of Christian apologetics in the world today while atheist apologetics is stagnating

Today, there is a growth of Christian apologetics in the world, while the atheist apologetic community is in a state of stagnation. See: Growth of Christian apologetics

Evidence and arguments for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Dr. Simon Greenleaf is often cited in the field of Christian legal apologetics.

See also: Evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is critical to the Christian faith. The Apostle Paul wrote, "if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain" (I Corinthians:15:14).

There is a great amount of compelling evidence from multiple lines of evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ (See: Evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ).

Traditionally, Christianity has believed in a physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.[8] The Christian apologist Michael Horner of CRU has an excellent resource which offers a defense of the resurrection of Jesus Christ entitled Did Jesus really rise from the dead?. In addition, Dr. Gary Habermas offers an online audio library which defends the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In recent history, Dr. Gary Habermas is considered the foremost Christian apologist for defending the resurrection of Jesus.[9][10][11][12][13] Dr. Habermas had a debate against the philosopher Antony Flew regarding the resurrection which was chronicled in the work Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? The Resurrection Debate and the debate had a panel of debate judges. J. Hampton Keathley, III, Th.M. in his essay Evidences for the Resurrection wrote: "The decision of the judges were as follows. The panel of philosophers judging content cast four votes for Habermas who argued for the fact of the resurrection, none for Flew, and one draw. The panel of professional debate judges voted three to two, also in favor of Habermas, this time regarding the method of argumentation technique." [14]

In recent history some notable defenders of the resurrection include: William Lane Craig, Ben Witherington, Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, Edwin M. Yamauchi, N.T. Wright and Michael Horner.[15][16][17][18][19]

Legal scholars, legal authorities, and eminent lawyers such as Simon Greenleaf, John Warwick Montgomery, Lord Darling, John Singleton Copley, Hugo Grotius, Lord Caldecote, J. N. D. Anderson, Lionel Luckhoo, and many others have asserted that western legal standards argue for the resurrection of Christ.[20][21][22][23][24] See: Christian legal apologetics

Christian Apologetic Ministries

There are a number of Internet based Christian apologetic Ministries or Christian apologetics ministries which have an Internet presence. Some of the more notable Christian apologetic ministries are: Reasonable Faith, Ravi Zacharias Ministries, Fixed Point Foundation,[25] Tekton Apologetics Ministries, LeadershipU, Probe Ministries, Christian Answers Network, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, A Christian Thinktank, Answers for Hope, Brace E. Barber and Catholic Answers.[26]

Brace E. Barber leads a Christian Apologetics Ministry. Brace brings a message of hope along with step-by-step instructions to churches, parents and organizations in order retain youth raised in Christian homes in the Christian faith. Brace challenges commonly held assumptions about the shallow nature of Christian youth education. Brace is a West Point graduate and Army Veteran. He brings a military-strategist mindset to the problem of the loss of youth from the Christian Church. He provides insights, analysis and solutions to solve the problem.

Christian websites with a large focus on the topic of atheism

True Freethinker is a Christian apologetics Facebook page run by Ken Ammi which offers many refutations of atheism.
See also: Atheism vs. Christianity

Four of the more notable Christian apologetics which have a large focus on the topic of atheism are: True Freethinker, the Creation Ministries International resources on atheism and the Fixed Point Foundation website.

Christian apologetics clubs on college campuses

Ratio Christi is a global movement that equips university students and faculty to give historical, philosophical, and scientific reasons for following Jesus Christ.

The Christian apologetics organization Stand to Reason wrote:

Ratio Christi, a fairly new apologetics organization that is seeking to change the intellectual atmosphere at universities by bringing Christianity into public, academic discussion. Their goal is to start on-campus apologetics clubs at 500 universities in the next five years. This is where you come in--because it’s also Ratio Christi’s goal to connect each of these clubs with a person who has been trained in apologetics (but who probably has a different day job) to act as chapter director.

Ratio Christi helps each chapter organize one or two campus-wide events a year by connecting them with speakers and debaters like William Lane Craig and Gary Habermas, helping them find the funding, etc. But after the event has come and gone, the lay apologist is still there to lead discussions and interact with the Christians, skeptics, atheists, and seekers who may never have realized that Christianity has a weighty intellectual tradition behind it.[27]

Christianity apologetics and the developing world

See also: Christian apologetics and education

Because of the rapid growth of Christianity in the developing world where people often have modest incomes, there is a large pent up demand for theological/Christian apologetic higher education which has spawned various initiatives such as Trinity Graduate School of Apologetics and Theology which offers free/low cost training in these academic disciplines.[28][29] Trinity has over 40 international, highly qualified, and highly experienced faculty members and mentors.[30] The majority of degrees obtained through Trinity are done so through distance learning over the internet.

Students from developing countries receive a free education from Trinity and students from developed countries pay a nominal registration, but they pay no fees.[31]

Growth of creationist apologetics and its effect on Christendom

Answers in Genesis is a Christian apologetics ministry which offers origins apologetics and other Christian apologetics.

See also: Answers in Genesis and Creation Ministries International and Global creationism and Growth of evangelical Christianity

Dr. Johnson C. Philip & Dr. Saneesh Cherian wrote in their work Introduction To Integrated Christian Apologetics]]:

American evangelical Christians have began to notice in the fifties that compromise is a slow poison that ultimately destroys respect for truth. Some of them came together and started writing aggressively on themes defending the historical and scientific reliability of the Bible. This gave birth to the modern interest in Apologetics and Creationism. At the dawn of the twenty-first century the influence of this revival has spread all over the world, and today more than one hundred and fifty organizations function around the world, devoted solely to apologetics. Their influence has be so strong that a large number of Seminaries all around the world have begun assert the historical and scientific reliability of the Bible...

...with the birth of the modern creationism and apologetics, a revival set in motion among the evangelical Christians. This group became quite vocal and aggressive in the sixties, and by seventies they started exerting significant influence among theologians, thinkers, and the Bible teachers all over the world.

Thousands of apologetic books, hundreds of magazines, and tens of thousands of articles have been produced defending the Bible since. In turn, this has started to diminish the influence of rationalists and radicals on Christians.

From the middle of the nineteenth to the middle of the twentieth century the rationalists had their heyday, snatching away millions of young people from their Christian faith and commitment. The wounds of this loss can been seen in Christendom even today, but at the same time this loss has been greatly minimized now because of the work of Christian apologists.

Today anyone desiring to know about the Bible, and its connection with science, evolution, history, archaeology, has read any number of books on this topic. Literally thousands of titles are available, and he can choose anywhere from the most simple books to the most technically advanced ones. Thus the modern apologetics movement has been able to arrest the way in which rationalists have been bleeding the Christian church.[32]

Recommended books

Ex-atheist Lee Strobel

General Christian apologetics:

Old Testament apologetics:

  • Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable & Relevant?, IVP Academic, 2001, ISBN 0830819754
  • Kenneth Kitchen, On The Reliability of the Old Testament, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006. ISBN 0802803962

Biblical creation apologetics:

History of Christian apologetics books

  • The History of Apologetics: A Biographical and Methodological Introduction, ‎Zondervan Academic (June 16, 2020), ISBN-13: 978-0310559412

Christian apologetics books on atheism

Major Christian apologetics websites and their web traffic

See: Major Christian apologetics websites and their web traffic

See also

External links

See also: Christian apologetics websites and articles and Major Christian apologetics websites and their web traffic

Introduction to Christian apologetics video series

General Christian apologetics websites

Historical and legal apologetics

Historical apologetics:

Christian legal apologetics:

Bible archaeology

Bible archaeology and dating:

Christian worldview/Christian philosophy

Videos on atheism:

Websites, articles and videos focusing on atheism:

Creation science ministries and other resources

Conservapedia articles on evolution and creation science:

Bible prophecy articles and websites

Analysis of Bible prophecy from Christian scholars/apologists

Rebuttal to atheist Steven Carr concerning Bible prophecy:

Biblical inerrancy resources


  1. Integrated Apologetics at CreationWiki.
  2. e.g. Acts 18:25-26; James 5:19-20.
  3. William Paley - William Carey University
  4. Evidences for God From Space—Laws of Science
  5. Thompson, Bert, So Long, Eternal Universe; Hello Beginning, Hello End!, 2001 (Apologetics Press)
  27. Ratio Christi Apologetics Clubs
  28. Global survey documents theological education trends, Anglican Community News Service, September 19, 2013
  29. Why Free Graduate Theology Programs
  30. Trinity International Committee
  31. Why Free Graduate Theology Programs
  32. Introduction To Integrated Christian Apologetics, Dr. Johnson C. Philip & Dr. Saneesh Cherian