Apologetics

A Reasoned Defense of the Christian Faith

Reformed Apologetic Articles

 

Apologetics is the reasoned defense of the Christian religion. Christianity is a faith which hinges upon reasons for that faith. Faith is not reason. Reason is not faith. But Faith cannot be dislocated from reason or faith ceases to exists. It is the mind’s understanding, and assent to that understanding, that lays the groundwork for the Spirit of God to regenerate the soul and implant faith. As God is rational in His dealing with men, so He made men rational thinking men. That does not mean Christians are to be rationalists, but rather, rational. Apologetics is the Rational Biblical Defense of Jesus Christ and His Word against Satanic philosophies (the cults (like Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses), atheism, agnosticism, Stoicism, Socinianism, Roman Catholicism, false world religions like Islam and Hinduism, etc…) which contest His veracity and His revealed will contained in the Bible.

A Summary of Positions in Apologetics
by Patrick Reilley

Download the PDF chart here.

Classical Apologetics

Evidentialism

Presuppositionalism

Reformed Epistemology

Starting Point:

Reason, especially the classical theistic proofs:
deduction

Empirical data, especially
the Resurrection:
induction

Negatively, the
inconsistency of
alternatives; positively, the
Scriptures as necessary for
even the unbeliever’s
rationality:
presupposition

Belief in God, like other
beliefs (including belief in
the existence of others, the
reliability of the senses,
etc.), is “properly basic.”
That is, one is warranted in
believing in God because
the “sense of God” is
common to everyone.

Main Emphasis

Sound reason will lead to
the truth

Sound investigation will
lead to the truth

Acceptance of the
authority of Scripture will
lead to the truth

Proper function (viz., of
one’s sense of God) will
lead to the truth

The Chief Goal of Apologetics:

To establish the
reasonableness of theism

To establish the
reasonableness of
Christianity

To establish the
sovereignty of God over
human autonomy

To expose the captivity of
demands for evidence as
unwitting capitulations to
modernity

The Chief Philosophical Influences:

Plato, Augustine, Anselm,
Aquinas: Rationalism

Aristotle, Bacon, Locke,
Butler, Scottish “common
sense realism” (Thomas
Reid), B.B. Warfield and
“Old Princeton”:
Empiricism

Hegel, Bradley, and British
“absolute Idealist”
thought, Kuyper, Van Til:
Idealism

Anselm, Calvin, Kuyper,
Bavinck, contemporary
critics of “classical
foundationalism” (e.g., A.
Plantinga, N.
Wolterstorff, W. Alston):
Post-Foundationalism

Arguments Drawn From:

Philosophy

History/Science

Scripture

Philosophy

Typical Criticisms By Rival Schools:

Too deductivistically
rationalistic (says the
“inductivist”
evidentialist); too naive
about the sinfulness of the
fallen mind and heart,
sacrificing God’s
sovereignty by trying to
preserve Enlightenment
autonomy (says the
presuppositionalist); too
committed to classical
foundationalism (says the
“Reformed
epistemologist”).

Too optimistic about the
powers of the senses, since
observation is never
neutral and the
presuppositions which
select, organize, and judge
relevant data are never
suspended so that one
could appeal to a “zero
point” of unbiased
reflection; can only
provide probabilistic
arguments, while faith
requires certainty.

Too pessimistic about the
efficacy of common grace
in providing shared
convictions about
rationality, sense-experience,
and the innate sense of
God; confusing apologetics
(a pre-evangelistic activity
of clearing away objections)
with evangelism (sharing
the Gospel),
presuppositionalism tends
to deny the value of
arguments and is founded
on circular reasoning.

Sense of the divine is
insufficient as it is neither
an argument for
Christianity (says the
evidentialist), nor for the
Scriptures (says the
presuppositionalist).

Points of
agreement
among all four
schools:

• Arguments are useful, but are not themselves salvific
• There is common ground of some sort between believers and unbelievers, but not neutral ground
• Sin has so darkened the mind and heart that we all, by nature, suppress the truth
• There is a place for reason, evidences, and Scripture in apologetics
• Only by the proclamation of Christ in the Gospel does one actually come to faith

Pascal’s Wager by Blaise Pascal

Classical Apologetics by John Gerstner, RC Sproul and Arthur Lindsley

Discussions of Philosophical Questions by John Girardeau (1900)

What is a Miracle? by John Girardeau (1888)

Mere Christianity by CS Lewis (PDF)

Manual of Natural Theology by Gerorge Fisher (1827-1909)

Principles of Natural Theology George Hayward Joyce (1923)

The Storyteller and the Scientist by Phillip E. Johnson (Against Richard Dawkins)

Modern Atheism: under its forms of Pantheism, Materialism, Secularism, Development and Natural Laws by James Buchanan (1857)

Revisiting the Reformed Objection to Natural Theology by Michael Sudduth (2013)

Evidences of the Authenticity, Inspiration, Canonical Authority of the Holy Scriptures by A.A. Alexander (1906)

A Reformed Response to “Is Science a Religion by Richard Dawkins” by Jonathan Barlow

The Christian Worldview by Scott Bushey

Theological Lectures: on Subjects Connected with Natural Theology, Evidences of Christianity, the Canon and Inspiration of Scripture by William Cunningham (1878)

The Great Debate: Greg Bahnsen vs. Gordon Stein
The classic debate between Christian, Greg Bahnsen, and Atheist, Gordon Stein. This debate is a must-hear.

A Review of Covenantal Apologetics by K. Scott Oliphant by Jospeh Minich (2014)

Aquinas Reconsidered Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, by Richard Muller

An Introduction to a Rational Defense of the Gospel by A.A. Alexander

Why I Believe in God by Cornelius Van Til

My Credo by Cornelius Van Til

A Survey of Christian Epistolomogy by Cornelius Van Til (PDF)

An Introduction to Gordon H. Clark by John W. Robbins

Jonathan Edwards: Reformed Apologist by Scott Oliphant

Sample Questions for Presbytery Apologetics Exam by Dr. Greg Bahnsen

At War With the Word: The Necessity of Biblical Antithesis by Greg L. Bahnsen

The Resurrection of Thomism by Doug Erlandson

Is Non-Christian Thought Justifiable? Jones vs. Parson

Apologetics by B.B. Warfield

The Transcendental Perspective of Westminster’s Apologetic by Robert D. Knudsen

Evidential Apologetics: The Right Way by Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen

An Apology for my Theology: The inseparable link between Reformed Theology and Presuppositional Apologetics by Bryan Neal Baird

Van Til and the Ligonier Apologetic by John Frame (We do not endorse Frame’s theological views.)

Van Til: the Theologian by John Frame (We do not endorse Frame’s theological views.)

Are Circles Eternal? – by C. Matthew McMahon

Introduction to the Writings of Dr. Gordon Clark – by C. Matthew McMahon

Logic and First Principles – by C. Matthew McMahon

Machen’s Book and Liberalism – by C. Matthew McMahon

Miracles and the Resurrection – by C. Matthew McMahon

New Age Pantheism – by David Clark

Philosophical Thoughts about Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard and the Aesthetic Man – by C. Matthew McMahon

Situational Ethics and WWJD? – by C. Matthew McMahon

The Canon of the New Testament – is it Reliable? – by C. Matthew McMahon

The Resurrection Account Measures Up – by C. Matthew McMahon

The Resurrection of Christ: A Historical Fact – by BB Warfield

The Teleological Suspension of the Ethical – by C. Matthew McMahon

The Tower of Babel Revisited – by C. Matthew McMahon

Turner’s Creed – by Steve Turner

Was the NT Written in Greek? – by C. Matthew McMahon

Will Heaven and Nature Sing for Gilligan’s Professor? – by C. Matthew McMahon

Your World View – by C. Matthew McMahon

A Critique of the Evidentialist Apologetical Method of John Warwick Montgomery by Greg Bahnsen
This paper critiques John Warwick Montgomery’s evidential approach to apologetics and answers his critique of Van Til.

Answering Objections by Greg Bahnsen
An essay about how Christians should answer objections to the Christian Faith.

Apologetics in Practice by Greg Bahnsen
Practical apologetical strategies for defending the faith.

Evangelism and Apologetics by Greg Bahnsen
Teaching on the relationship of evangelism and apologetics.

Letter: Response to John Robbins by Greg Bahnsen
Letter to the editor in which Greg Bahnsen defends Van Til against Gordon Clark’s over-zealous defender, John Robbins.

Letter: Bahnsen Contra Flood/Robbins by Greg Bahnsen
Another letter to the editor concerning the Clark/Van Til controversy.

Awaiting Our Verdict? by Greg Bahnsen
Letter to the editor in which Greg Bahnsen responds to J. W. Montgomery’s critique of Bahnsen’s own article that argued for the impropriety of arguing evidentially for the resurrection.

Machen, Van Til and the Apologetical Tradition of the O.P.C. by Greg Bahnsen
Excellent article arguing for great continuity between the apologetical position of Machen and Van Til.

On Worshipping the Creature Rather Than the Creator by Greg Bahnsen
Romans 1 and unbelieving thought. A must-read.

Prolegomena to Apologetics by Greg Bahnsen
Excerpt of a letter from Bahnsen to a graduate student in philosophy who is being assaulted from every side by unbelief.

Review: A Critique of ‘Classical Apologetics’ by Greg Bahnsen
You’ve read John Frame’s critique of the Sproul/Gerstner/Lindsley book “Classical Apologetics.” Now, read Bahnsen’s critique.

The Heart of the Matter: Knowing and Believing by Greg Bahnsen
Faith? Reason? Belief? How do these relate? This article is a good introduction for beginners in apologetics.

The Impropriety of Evidentially Arguing for the Resurrection by Greg Bahnsen
This article upset quite a few classical apologists. Read it and see what you think.

Tools of Apologetics by Greg Bahnsen
“…An army cannot be expected to wage a successful battle if its soldiers are unfamiliar with the various weapons they have at their disposal for dealing with the enemy. Likewise a builder cannot construct or repair a house if he does not know what kinds of carpenter and plumbing tools are available to him and how to use them. In the same way, Christians who want to defend the faith should prepare for answering the criticisms of unbelievers by familiarizing themselves with the “tools” of reasoning and argumentation that can be enlisted in apologetics.”

The JFK Assassination and Apologetics by Greg Bahnsen
What do JFK’s assassination and apologetics have in common? Read on to find out.

Where the Rubber Hits the Road by Greg Bahnsen
More practical instruction in apologetics.

The Mind/Body Problem in Biblical Perspective by Greg Bahnsen
Is the mind nothing more than the brain? Are humans just ghosts in a machine? Greg Bahnsen discusses this important topic.

Cross-Examination: What Does it Mean to Believe? by Greg Bahnsen

Van Til and Self-Deception by Greg Bahnsen
Bahnsen sees the concept of self-deception as very important to understanding the nature of unbelief and apologetics.

Van Til’s ‘Presuppositionalism’ by Greg Bahnsen
Discusses Van Til’s approach to apologetics.

Van Til’s Challenge to Illegitimate Common Ground by Greg Bahnsen
Discusses Van Til’s approach to the common ground, or “point-of-contact” we have with unbelievers.

Revisionary Immunity by Greg Bahnsen
Technical discussion of attempts to draw the analytic/synthetic distinction and what their failure teaches us about apologetics.

False Antithesis: A Critique of the Notion of Antithesis in Francis Schaeffer’s Apologetic by Greg Bahnsen
Critique of Francis Schaeffer’s approach to the epistemological cleft between believers and unbelievers.

Ready to Reason by Greg Bahnsen
Just what is the nature of the apologetical obligation which believers have?

 

Martin/Frame Online Debate over TANG


Michael Martin is a professor of philosophy at Boston University. His books include Atheism: A Philosophical Justification (Temple University Press, 1990) and The Case Against Christianity (Temple University Press, 1991). His most recent attack on the Christian faith comes in his article The Transcendental Argument for the Non Existence of God (Autumn 1996, The New Zealand Rationalist).

Below are responses to the works of Michael Martin.


Martin/Butler Dialogue over TANG


 

Articles by Greg Bahnsen on Apologetics
A huge amount of Bahnsen’s writings online.

PA001- “Revelation, Speculation, and Science“, Presbyterian Guardian 40:1, (December-January, 1970-1971) [Origins not a scientific question]

PA002- “Prolegomena to Apologetics“, Synapse II (Westminster Seminary, January, 1972)

PA003- “The Impropriety of Evidentially Arguing for the Resurrection“, Synapse II (Westminster Seminary, January, 1972

PA005-Letter: “Awaiting Our Verdict?“, Christianity Today XVI:18 (June 9, 1972) [Response to J. W. Montgomery]

PA012-“On Worshiping the Creature Rather Than the Creator“, Journal of Christian Reconstruction I:1 (Summer, 1974) [evolutionary philosophy]

PA013-“Evangelism and Apologetics“, Synapse III (Fall, 1974)

PA016-“A Critique of the Evidentialist Apologetical Method of John Warwick Montgomery“, (1974)

PA017-Review: “Knowledge and Politics (by Roberto Mangabeira Unger)”, The Cambridge Fish (Boston) (Winter, 1975)

PA018-“Revisionary Immunity“, [Technical discussion of attempts to draw the analytic/synthetic distinction and what their failure teaches us about apologetics.] (1975)

PA032-“Modern Materialism: The Disappearance Form of the Mind-Body Identity Thesis”, (Paper delivered to the Evangelical Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA 1976)

PA044-“Science, Subjectivity, and Scripture“, [Are Science and Logic Objective, Neutral, and Invariant?] (1979)

PA045-“The Encounter of Jerusalem with Athens“, Ashland Theological Bulletin XIII:1 (Spring, 1980) 37 pages [Exposition of Acts 17] (Available in book: Always Ready- PA600).

PA053-“Beware of Philosophy!“, The Conqueror, II:2(Nov., 1982) [Col. 2 does not forbid studying philosophy]

PA061-Review: “A Critique of Classical Apologetics“, Presbyterian Journal 44:32 (Dec. 4, 1985) [Response to Gerstner & Sproul in defense of Van Til]

PA062-Letter: “Bahnsen responds to Gerstner“, Presbyterian Journal 44:34 (December 18, 1985)

PA064-“Machen, Van Til and the Apologetical Tradition of the OPC“, Pressing Toward the Mark, ed. C. G. Dennison and R. C. Gamble (Phila. Committee for the Historian of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 1986)

PA065-“225 Sample Questions for Presbytery Apologetics Exam“, 10 pp, (1986)

PA072-Letter: “Response to John Robbins“, Journey 3:1 (Jan-Feb., 1988)

PA078-Letter: “Bahnsen Contra Flood/Robbins“, Journey 3:4-5 (July-October, 1988)

PA079-Letters: Anthony G. Flood

PA083-“At War with the Word: The Necessity of Biblical Antithesis“, Antithesis I:1 (Jan/Feb, 1990)

PA089-“False Antithesis: A Critique of the Notion of Antithesis in Francis Schaeffer’s Apologetic” Antithesis I:3 (May/Jun, 1990)

PA095-“Autonomy is No Ladder to Christ’s Supreme Authority” Penpoint I:1 (October 1990)

 

Apologetic series in The Biblical Worldview (Available in the book: Always Ready PA600.)

PA098-“Ready to Reason“, (VI:12; December, 1990)

PA099-“The Heart of the Matter: Knowing and Believing“, (VII:1; Jan, 1991)

PA100-“Answering Objections“, (VII:2; Feb, 1991)

PA101-“Tools of Apologetics“, (Part I-VII:4; Apr, 1991)(Part II-VII:7; Jul, 1991)

PA103-“Apologetics in Practice“, [Bertrand Russell as example] (Part I-VII:8; Aug, 1991) (Part II-VII:9; Sep, 1991)

PA105-“The Problem of Evil“, (Part I-VII:10; Oct, 1991) (Part II-VII:12 Dec, 1991)

PA107-“The Problem of Knowing the ‘Super-Natural‘”,(Part I-VII:11; Nov, 1991) (Part II-VIII:1; Jan, 1992) (Part III-VIII:2; Feb, 1992)

PA110-“The Problem of Faith“, (Part I-Vol. VIII:5; May, 1992) (Part II-Vol. VIII:6; Jun, 1992)

PA146-“The Problem of Religious Language”, (Part I-Vol. VIII:9 Sept. 1992) (Part II-Vol. IX:1 Jan. 1993) (Part III-Vol. IX:5 May 1993)

PA165-“The Problem of Miracles“,(Part I-Vol. IX:7 July 1993) (Part II-Vol. IX:9 Sept. 1993)

PA112-“A World Without Religion?“, Penpoint I:2 (December 1990)

PA115-“Dead Wrong“, Penpoint II:2 (April, 1991) [afterlife according to the movies]

PA123-“Dr. Bahnsen Represents Christianity in Dialogue with Islam and Judaism at Orange Coast College“, Penpoint Vol. II:6 (November., 1991)

PA137-“The JFK Assassination and Apologetics“, Penpoint Vol. III:3 (May 1992)

PA142-“Where the Rubber Hits the Road“, Penpoint Vol. III:5 (August 1992)

PA143-“The Mind/Body Problem in Biblical Perspective“, (1972)

PA166-“Cross-Examination: What Does it Mean to Believe?“, The Counsel of Chalcedon Vol. X:5 & 6 (July/August 1993)

PA167-“Reflections on My Russia Trip“, Penpoint Vol. IV:6 (July-August 1993)

PA186-“Dr. Bahnsen Debates Atheist Lawyer“, Penpoint Vol. V:1 (January 1994)

PA191-“Van Til and Self-Deception“, Penpoint Vol. V:8 (Sept. 1994) NOTE: [Reprinted Penpoint Vol. V:10 (December, 1994)]

PA195-“Van Til’s ‘Presuppositionalism‘”, Penpoint Vol. VI:1 (January, 1995)

PA196-“Van Til’s Challenge to Illegitimate Common Ground“, Penpoint Vol. VI:2 (February, 1995)

PA197-“Van Til’s Why I Believe in God“, Penpoint Vol. VI:3 (March, 1995)

PA199-“Van Til’s Call For a Distinctive Christian Mindset”, Penpoint VI:4 (April, 1995)

PA200-“Van Til’s Life and Impact“, Penpoint VI:5 (May 1995)

PA205-“Radical Empiricism Made Foolish“, Penpoint VI:10 (October, 1995)

PA206-“Evidential Apologetics: The Right Way“, Penpoint VI:11 (November 1995)

PA207-“The Crucial Concept of Self-Deception in Presuppositional Apologetics“, Westminster Theological Journal LVII (1995) 1-31

PA208-“Presuppositional Reasoning With False Faiths“, Penpoint VII:2 (Feb/Mar 1996)

PA210-“Presuppositional Procedure“, Penpoint VII:8 (September, 1996)

PA212-“Another Cup of Coffee“, Penpoint VII:10 (November, 1996) 

 

Articles by Gordon Clark on Apologetics

Trinity Foundation

FREE MP3 Series by Clark

The Gordon Clark Papers: Tons of Primary Resources Here

An Introduction to the Writings of Gordon Clark by C. Matthew McMahon

 

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