This division tends to appeal to God's truth derived either through existential encounter, natural theology and human reason, or God's direct revelation.
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This approach can be refined by the subdivision of the second school into classical apologetics and evidentialism, whilst the third school is also sub-divided into presuppositionalism and reformed apologetics. In Norman Geisler formulated an alternative approach.
On the one hand he dissociates himself from a profound logical breakdown into various categories, on the other hand he recognises that different apologetic methods mutually overlap. He came to a subdivision into five categories, namely classical apologetics, evidentialism, historical apologetics, experiential apologetics and presuppositionalism.
Cowan distanced himself from an analytical approach. In his work one finds a synthetic format to categorise apologetic methods. Striking enough, this synthetic format leads to a similarity in the distribution of apologetic categories, namely the classical method, evidentialism, the cumulative case method, presuppositionalism, and reformed apologetics. The synthetic format of categorising apologetic methods has the advantage that other methods can be added without damage to the central perspective.
In this article the choice has been made to divide the apologetic schools from a synthetic perspective in classical apologetics, evidentialism, revelational apologetics including presuppositionalism and reformed apologetics and fideism. Classic apologetics emphasises reason, evidentialism emphasises facts, revelational apologetics God's revelation, whilst fideism stresses personal faith.
Classical apologetics is centred around the reasonable structure of reality; evidentialism shows that faith suits a reasonable worldview, and that from a scientific worldview sufficient arguments for the Christian faith can be given; revelational apologetics reasons from Scripture; whilst the fideist testifies from his personal relationship with Jesus. Whilst apologetics for the classical apologist functions as the prolegomena for theology; the evidentialist will use apologetics in a polemical way; for the revelational apologist theology and apology belong together; and the fideist has less interest in a completed theological system.
These differences appear in several practical situations and in the attitude towards different disciplines. It is not surprising that Roman Catholic apologists use classical apologetics. Revelational apologists can be of a reformed conviction. Fideism is used by protestants who dislike liberal or orthodox systems of thinking. A comparable division can be made in relation to philosophy and science. Classical apologists are usually positively oriented towards philosophy and science, whilst fideists are characterised by a critical and detached attitude. Revelational apologists accept philosophy and science, but they employ their own Christian philosophical and scientific system, because they are critical towards secular science.
Evidentialists are often less philosophical, but they try to integrate faith and science. With respect to Scripture the following conclusions can be made. Revelational apologists understand Scripture as authoritative concerning the issues of faith and science. Evidentialists seek to prove the historical truths of Scripture and to refer to fulfilled prophecies.
Fideists see Scripture often as a witness of God's acts in which the Self-revelation of God is most important and in which the historical reliability can be relativised. When it comes to the pressing question of evil in history, the revelational apologist will stress God's sovereignty, the evidentialist will wonder whether the amount of evil can be reconciled with God's goodness, the classical apologist argues that God has reasons to accept evil in his creation, whilst the fideist witnesses of his hope in God despite all the evil in history.
What apologetic schools have in common. After sketching the characteristic differences between the different apologetic methods, in this section I will take the opposite direction and explore those convictions which are common in the different apologetic approaches. Every Christian apologist will agree that 'showing' the truth of Christian faith emanates from 'knowing' Craig Christians use apologetics because they are personally assured of the existence of God and Christ by the witness of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.
The personal encounter with the triune God gives the deepest motive to share the gospel with other people that they may participate in the same love, redemption and trust. Every representative of a different apologetic school is convinced that nobody has apologetic motives and abilities without personal faith and personal conviction.
Ultimately, apologetics emanates from the communion with God and can only be practiced in the power of the Holy Spirit. In the apologetic discourse it is not important that one succeed by the power of your arguments, but that the unbeliever is won for God and his service. Practical apologetics must be full of prayer and be characterised by heartfelt compassion for one's fellow human beings. Therefore, the emphasis on a personal relationship with Christ in fideism is not unfamiliar to the representatives of other apologetic schools.
This accent is evident in revelational apologetics. In revelational apologetics personal faith functions as an important pivot point of the worldview. This pivot point is so important in presuppositionalism that it can be said that the unbeliever practices science in a different way. Classical apologists and evidentialists acknowledge the difference between 'showing' and 'knowing'. With this distinction they emphasise that - despite the common ground of reason - the unbeliever thinks on a different wavelength than the believer.
Not only the revelational apologist, but also the classical apologist acknowledge the difference between 'inside internal' and 'outside external' faith. There is a difference in the issue as to how to reach the unbeliever, but there is no difference about the question whether believers operate in another dimension than the unbeliever.
Despite the common ground between believers and unbelievers, classical apologists acknowledge that reason does not give direct access to God. The classical apologist, the revelational apologist, and the fideist underline that one does not come to real knowledge and assurance of God without the witness of the Holy Spirit. Implicitly it looks as if the fideist blames the classical apologist that he understands faith within the realms of reason, but this reproach is unjustified.
Both the fideist and the classical apologist are convinced that natural human beings do not understand the things of the Spirit of God 1 Cor Faith more than reason. Representatives of different apologetic schools have in common the conviction that faith is more than reason. Classical apologists who stress most the use of reasonable arguments do not mean that mysteries such as the trinity, the incarnation or reconciliation can be made understandable for the human mind. The use of reason in classical apologetics is limited to the notion of the existence of God, but is not used to explain God, the knowledge of God and the relation with God.
Because the 'distance' between classical apologetics and fideism is the biggest, I argue about these two apologetic schools. The difference between fideism and classical apologetics does not concern the question whether God and the knowledge of him is within the reach of reason. Concerning God and the knowledge of God, both classical apologists and fideists deny the magisterial use of reason in which reason stands over and above the Word of God as a magistrate to judge the content of God's revelation. An example of this denial is to be found with Martin Luther.
In he held the Disputatio contra scholasticum theologiam [Dispute against scholastic theology]. In the Disputation Heidelbergae habita [Dispute at Heidelberg] in Luther confirms his conviction of the uselessness of philosophy and reason in theology. This did not imply that Luther denied every use of reason. It is remarkable that Luther who supplied the ingredients for fideism acknowledged that natural reason was conscious of God, his justice and his mercy, however, this natural knowledge of God does not know what God thinks of us or how God saves us.
Also for believers Luther acknowledged a certain use of reason. In De Servo Arbitrio [The bondage of will] the reformer accuses Erasmus of not thinking through the revelation of God to come to a systematic and unambiguous understanding of Scripture. The classic principle of Fides quaerens intellectum [Faith seeks understanding] can be recognised here. Also the classic notion that the finite cannot comprehend the infinite is recognisable in this approach.
This means that human beings can have true knowledge of God and can recognise what is true about God and what is false, without comprehending God as God. The difference between fideism and classic apologetics does not concern the issue of whether human beings can embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ by reason. Both fideism and classic apologetics acknowledge the limits of natural reason with respect to the heart of the gospel. The negative attitude of fideism with respect to human reasons seems to be a great contradiction with classical apologetics, but looking deeper into this attitude it appears that both schools acknowledge the limits of reason.
As fideism has possibilities to use the minister-function in contrast to the magister-function of reason with respect to faith, it appears that fideism does not speak merely negatively about the use of reason, but it considers reason relatively unusable in matters of faith. As fideism at the same time is able to honor the use of reason in the unbelievers' acknowledgement of the existence of God, it appears that the distance between fideism and classical apologetics is not as big as it appears.
The great difference in the attitude towards reason has more to do with the object upon which one is focused than with the difference in the appreciation of reason as such. Whilst fideism has the content of the gospel as its object of consideration and classical apologetics the existence of God as object, it is understandable that both schools speak in a different way about reason. Whilst classic apologetics is committed to a reasonable discourse on the existence of God, fideism does not see the usefulness of such a contact.
This means that the difference in judgement about reason concerns more the apologetic approach as such than the judgement about the possibilities of reason as such. Motives for integration of apologetic schools. There are different motivations to achieve an integration of apologetic approaches. In this part of the article I will deal with the theological motivation, the historical motivation and the practical motivation and end with a conclusion.
Theological motivation. Believers live in spiritual communion with Christ. There are several notions in Scripture which show the relation between Christ and creation cf. Wyatt It is significant that the views of Plato could have been used by Paul cf. Van Kooten However, there are several possible explanations - it alludes to the light of Christ that shines on every creature in the world.
There are reasons to assume that the growing corn, the love in marriages and the results at universities have to do with the work of Christ.
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This implies that one should not start your reflections in human beings, their belief or their unbelief, but in the reality of God in Christ. One comes to the same basic patterns if you think from the perspective of creation, sin, redemption and recreation. In recreation the old creation is not discarded, but the old creation is transformed into the new creation.
The new creation is fuller and richer than the old creation, but there is not a complete discontinuity. In God's future a spiritual body will be raised on the day of resurrection. Corporeality is a guarantee for continuity, whilst the spiritual character of the body implies discontinuity.
These notions show one that this creation is destined for recreation. Despite sin God will achieve his aim with his creation. The basic patterns of creations are also fundamental. Despite sin these basic patterns are recognisable, so that one does not live in a house of ghosts with daily unexpected and unwanted surprises.
That there are many patterns in creation and logic is certainly true. This pleads for an ontological continuity before and after the fall into sin. This view is the source of the argument that God is not far from the unbeliever 9 and that believers should therefore not keep themselves separate from them.
Believers and unbelievers move in the same ontological reality which reminds one of the Creator and the Recreator. It is striking that atheist unconsciousness is oriented towards the order of God in creation. Revelational apologetics and fideism remind us that creation and redemption cannot be isolated of each other. At the same time it should be pointed out that it is in accordance with Scripture to distinguish creation and recreation. The first message of Scripture is not to call human beings to faith, but to confront them with God.
Next follows the necessity of reconciliation with Christ. A striking example is found in the strategy of the apostle Paul. Whilst he starts his message in the synagogues with the message about the Messiah, towards unbelievers he begins his message with God and creation. There is also another view that pleads for the integration of apologetic methods. God starts a personal relationship with his sinful creatures.
At the same time he remains the Creator who gives norms for human life and teaches the truth about himself, human beings, creation and history. There are good reasons to dismiss deism. God does not remain at a distance, but he is actively involved in his care for creation. The aspect of the personal relationship is present in fideism. The right of classical apologetics and evidentialism is to be found in their presentation of God's order in the whole of creation, whilst revelational apologetic asserts the message of Scripture that reveals the meaning of creation.
The different ways in which one stand in relation to God justifies different approaches of apologetics.
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Since the one God is central, there is no reason to separate and isolate the different apologetic approaches from one other. Separating apologetic schools would imply that the different relations with God are made absolute. Finally, there is an argument from anthropology to defend the unity of the different apologetic approaches. Human beings are intelligent beings. There are reasons to join this anthropological notion in classical apologetic and evidentialism.
The intellectual orientation of revelational apologetics does justice to this dimension of Christian life. Revelational apologetic appeals rightly to God's transcendent revelation, whilst evidentialism starts with the immanent reality of God.
Beside the human intellect one should also speak about human will, human affections and human intuition. This is the right of fideism. It can also be said that the Holy Spirit effectively influences the different dimensions of the human mind. By the Spirit the human mind is enlightened so that the same facts receive another meaning. The Word of God becomes the great framework of interpretation of human life and human history.
By the Spirit human beings become very willing to be led by the Word and Spirit. These notions underline the desirability of integrated apologetics. Classifying the different apologetic schools makes clear that apologists in history cannot be easily divided. But because of Augustine's distinction between sapientia [wisdom] and scientia [science], it can also be argued that fideism has roots in the thinking of the church father. Aquino is seen as the precursor of classical apologetics and evidentialism Because of the use of deductive logic in the ontological proof of God, Anselm is classified as a classical apologist, however, Karl Barth has argued that Anselm developed his ontological proof from faith and therefore cannot be classified as a classical apologist.
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Since he hated administration and meetings, we never had any departmental meetings but would just chat briefly on the phone to discharge our business. Jan and I grew to be good friends with Stu and Joan during those years. Stu even entertained our two year old daughter Charity while our son John was being born.
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