No, guys, I am not talking about how to effectively get out of the doghouse with your wife. There is no easy way to do that except to stay out in the first place. Here I am using apology to denote the defense of the faith. The Greek word apologia means “a defense” and is commonly used with reference to defending one’s beliefs. Hence the field of Apologetics, or the study of the defense of the Christian gospel and world view.
There are two schools of Apologetics, the Evidential and the Presuppositional. The Evidential approach assumes that objectivity is possible for believer and unbeliever alike and that we have the common ground of neutrality as our starting point. For the sake of argument we presuppose or assume nothing and let the evidence speak for itself. Evidence in this context usually means physical, scientific, empirical evidence, such as proofs of Christ’s resurrection, fulfilled prophecy as a vindication of the trustworthiness of Scripture, etc. Some popular proponents of the Evidential approach to apologetics are Josh McDowell and Norman Geisler.
Whereas the Evidential approach is based on a Semi-Pelagian or Arminian view of man as retaining a spark of objectivity and thus ability to respond favorable to evidence, the less known Presuppositional approach begins from the biblical doctrine of Total Depravity (Total Inability). Because man in the unregenerate state is dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1), he has no ability to move toward God in faith until quickened, drawn, and regenerated by the Spirit (John 6:44, Acts 16:14). Until God initiates the process the unbeliever will scoff at the message and the messenger. In other words so-called objectivity is a myth–for believer and unbeliever alike. We are not neutral or “objective.” We are not supposed to be, and we need to stop pretending we are and that the unbeliever is or can be. How can you objectively consider the claims of Atheism, for example, when you already know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the God of the Bible exists?!
Once I had two Mormon missionaries challenge me to pray and read that passage in the Book of Mormon which promises that if you sincerely ask God to show you the truth He will give you some kind of burning sensation (emotion) in your bosom to verify the truth of Mormonism. I refused to do this because it is senseless to pray for God to show you if something is true when He has already shown you it is false. They told me I was closed -minded, and I agreed. Why pretend you are neutral or objective? There is no power in such wimpiness. The power of God is in the Gospel message. A Presuppositional approach to defending the Faith proceeds from a closed-minded belief that the Bible is God’s Word, the Gospel is true and effective, and that man in the unregenerate state is totally unable to do anything to effect a positive change in his spiritual condition.
OK, now look at Paul’s situation in Acts 26. He is defending his faith before King Agrippa. Notice he does not try to use an Evidential approach. He does not try to prove the Bible is the Word of God. He offers no proof for the resurrection or six-day creation. He wastes no time trying to fit all those animals on the ark. He does not babble on about how Christians really are pretty cool people–hip and relevant and all that. He simply presents the truth with a straight face: no bells and whistles, no dog and pony show. Just the truth. True, he does not act overbearing or rude. We also know that in social settings he tries to be sensitive to potentially offensive cultural issues (Rom. 14, 1 Cor. 8). But he does not compromise the truth of the gospel in so doing.
As if on cue, Governor Festus who was standing by, resorts to personal attack, accusing Paul of being insane. Of course Paul is not acting mad or irrational in any way. Nor will he be derailed–he stays right on track and on message. He appeals to Agrippa to embrace the Gospel, which he apparently does not do. Paul sincerely would that every sinner were saved, even though he is aware that the salvation of all is not and never has been the sovereign intention of God.
This is how Presuppositional Apologetics functions. You assume the truth of the Gospel. You Present the truth clearly and graciously. You do not assume any responsibility to defend God or His Word, for He does not need it: He is perfectly capable of saving sinners without your help. He has commanded us to present the Gospel to sinners, not to save them. If the unbeliever appears to be receptive this is only because God is working in his heart in the drawing process. It is no credit to your intellectual gymnastics or those of the sinner. If the sinner is receptive you might take him to Romans 1:18ff. and show him that his rejection of the Gospel is a moral rather than intellectual issue and that the evidence of God’s existence abounds through the creation and through conscience. The problem is not a lack of truth but the sinner’s suppression of the truth in unrighteousness.
Dear friend–if you are an unbeliever and you truly wish to know the God of the Bible through Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, this is only because God has implanted this desire in your heart. I urge you to drop to your knees this moment and implore God to give you more light. Then go to my Videos Page and watch the video on How to Know You Have Eternal Life. If after this you have any questions get in touch with me via the contact link.
And you believers zealous to share Christ with others: STOP trying to do what only God can do–namely, convince sinners of the Truth. Instead, present the truth of the Gospel clearly, accurately, and sincerely. Leave the results with God because He alone controls them.