Apologetics as a Theological Discipline | Free Essay Example

Apologetics as a Theological Discipline

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Topic: Religion
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Introduction

Apologetics is a discipline of theology that involves the defense of ones’ religious position by systematically reasoning out disputed issues. This has been there since the time of early Christian writers such as Paul, the apostle. Apologists try to explain that their preferred religion is rational, and it promotes positive human life than other religions, as expressed by Apologetics index 1. The evolution of global societies has led to the meeting and interactions of different societies2. This has led to the emergence of apologetics from within these respective societies, each defending their different religions.

History of Apologetics

Apologetics was first deeply evident in the Bible as the apostle Paul expressed in his epistles that Christians should always be ready to defend their faith if challenged to give the reason behind their belief in it. He also warns that this should be done with great humility and respect to avoid invoking negative emotions that may lead to hostility towards them. In Romans 1:19-23 psalms 139:13-14, the acts of apologetic is further encouraged. Other writers such as St. Augustine of Hippo also built up the quest for knowledge in apologetics. Modern Christians have further advanced this quest, and this is evidenced by the huge numbers of authors who have pursued this topic.

Modern Nicolas Thomas Wright and His Approach to Apologetics

Wright is a Christian apologist who, according to his book ‘Why Christianity Makes Sense,’ defends the Christian faith by giving practical explanations that are meant to convince non-believers and to elaborate the faith to the believers. However, he is a classical apologist, as his book provides evidence on the existence of God from a historical perspective. His view on the question is as follows:

Apologetic Questions

Why believe in the Bible?

Wright claims that historical evidence from historical books coordinates with the Bible and therefore proves its validity. He further claims that this cannot be refuted and should be used as the basis for the justification of Christianity and, subsequently, the Bible.

Don’t all religions lead to God?

Wright explains that historical evidence is the only proof of the fact that God is manifested through Christianity. He, therefore, concludes that only Christianity is the true religion. Other religions, according to Wright, are deceiving and are meant to dissuade people from following the right religion.

How do we know that God exists?

Wright claims that the balance of life and the evidence of metaphysical miracles is proof of the existence of God.

If God does exist, why does he permit evil?

Wright explains the existence of evil as a manifestation of God after the counterbalancing of good versus evil is evidenced.

Are Bible miracles spiritual myths or legends?

Wright claims historical facts are proof that miracles did exist, and also modern experiences exhibit the manifestation of the same.

Why believe n Jesus?

Wright explains that the belief in Jesus should be based on the historical facts that characterized his life on earth and the fact that he resurrected.

Apologetic Questions

This is the basis of argument on the validity of Christianity as a faith. Wright bases his argument on historical evidence to prove the validity of Christianity.

The relationship between apologetics and theology in general

The validity of apologetics in the philosophical defense of the Christian faith

He claims that apologetics cannot be mixed with philosophy as these two are totally unrelated fields.

The use of science in apologetics

He highly admonishes the use of science in apologetics, claiming it has no relation to the way God manifests himself.

The use of historical inquiry in apologetics

Wright warns about the use of historical inquiry in apologetics by claiming that although some historical facts provide proof of Christianity, others cannot be expressed as credible references to the same.

The relationship between our knowledge on Christian truth and our experiences

According to Wright, human experiences are related though sometimes remotely to the teachings of the Bible, and he recognizes their relevance in apologetics. He says that this can be used to prove Christian truth applies to our day to day life.

View on Apologetics

The website takes an evidence-based approach to apologetics, and it addresses the following questions:

Apologetic Questions

These are questions on issues raised by non-Christians. Here are some of the questions as expressed by the3

Why believe in the Bible?

Most apologists apply the historical reliability of the Bible to their apologetic approach. They are of the opinion that historical evidence shows the existence of the resurrection of Christ, and therefore, we have to believe in Christ’s teachings. This is then supposed to translate to a belief in the entire Bible and generally, God, thus professing the Christian faith. In this case, classical apologists apply the gospel books and Paul’s epistles as evidence of the resurrection. They also cite fulfilled prophecies as evidence on the validity of the Bible.

Don’t all religions lead to God?

Apologists cite the evidence in the Bible as proof that Christianity is unique from other religions. They, especially evidentialists, affirm that only Christianity leads to God. They claim that other religions are based on intuitive human guesses, and Christianity is the only one that proves God’s direct involvement in humanity through history.

How do we know that God exists?

Though apologists differ on the basis of proving God’s existence, they all agree on the evidence that is the balance and intricate design of life.

If God Does Exist Why Does He Permit Evil

Apologists explain the existence of evil, despite God being all-loving and all-knowing by explaining it as a manifestation of God’s existence as improbable. However, it is a challenge for evidentialists as they seek to find evidence to counterbalance this evil in God’s favor. They argue that there is great evidence of God’s existence that the present evil doesn’t compromise his existence.

Are Bible miracles spiritual myths or legends?

In this case, evidentialists are of the opinion that no evidence could prove the existence or the non-existence of miracles due to their unexplainable nature. However, they explain that the evidence of a miracle is too great for anyone to explain it in any other way, but the existence of God and his manifestation.

Why believe in Jesus?

All apologists are of the opinion that his resurrection is a firm basis of belief in him. Evidentialists also cite his miracles and the fact that he was prophesied in the Bible even before he was born as grounds to believe in him.

Met apologetic questions

The basis of argument on the validity of Christianity as a faith

The theory of knowledge that a Christian chooses to lead a non-believer to accept Christianity as true faith may vary between different groups of apologists. Classical apologists adopt apologetic arguments as their basis for advancing their cause. On the other hand, evidentialists adopt the use of facts to prove the validity of Christianity as true faith, as expressed by Apologetics index4. The reformist apologists profess that God’s power is revealed to mankind through Jesus Christ and through the scripture. They suggest that the Bible is the best reference to reason on facts and common human experiences. The fideism, instead of giving arguments, they justify their faith by presenting the experience of God through his son Jesus.

The relationship between apologetics and theology in general.

Apologetics has its foundation in theology as apologetic is based on one’s understanding and interpretation of Christianity. This is especially evident in the view of reformed apologetics in their use of evidence and rational apologetics.

The Validity Of Apologetics In The Philosophical Defense Of The Christian Faith

Apologetics has sometimes been viewed as an application of philosophical arguments to religion. In a real sense, some of the tools used by apologists are similar to those of philosophers such as Kant, Plato, and Aristotle. Other apologists, on the other hand, describe such tools as highly compromising the message to be defended. This issue has been especially questionable in the Christian approach to apologetics.

The use of science in apologetics

Many people today embrace science as the most formidable source of evidence in their day to day lives. However, apologists are markedly divided on this issue, where one group embraces the evidence presented by science as a direct confirmation of the validity of the Christian faith.

The use of historical inquiry in apologetics

As is the case in the admissibility of scientific evidence in apologetic, so is the division on the use of historical factors in the same. There are those apologists who base the Christian faith on historical facts, and their teachings are inclined towards these historical facts. On the other hand, there are those that agree with the use of historical facts in apologetics but warn against believing the historical events, especially those on the redemption, are proof of Christianity. Lastly, there is the other group of apologetics that claim Christianity is concerned with eternal matters and not temporal matters; hence, history cannot be used as a basis for making apologetic arguments.

The relationship between our knowledge of Christian truth and our experiences.

Past experiences have been cited as vital elements that determine the nature of the decisions that are made by rational actors. In this case, human experience has had to be incorporated into apologetics and apologists are divided on this issue, as some view human experience as a universal truth which Christian messages can be based. On the other hand, there are those apologists who are of the view that human experience must be tested in light of the teachings contained in the Bible. They profess that non-believers must first accept Christianity, and their experiences thereof will be the manifestation of God’s love for them.

Conclusion

Apologetics is the defense of one’s faith or religious belief. Wright approaches apologetics from a classical point of view during the website, Apologetics index5 approaches it from an evident-based point of view. Nicolas Thomas Wright argues apologetic and met-apologetic questions on a strong historical base are citing historical records, both Christian and non-Christian, as evidence of his belief. The website, on the other hand, bases its arguments on evidence that’s both historical and scientific.

Bibliography

Apologetics index. 2011. Apologetics Research Resources on religious movements, cults, sects, world religions and related issues. Web.

Wright, Nicholas Thomas. 2006. Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. New York: Harper San Francisco. Web.

Footnotes

1 Apologetics index 2011. Apologetics Research Resources on religious movements, cults, sects, world religions, and related issues.

2. Wright, N. T., 2006. Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. New York: Harper San Francisco.

3 Apologetics index 2011. Apologetics Research Resources on religious movements, cults, sects, world religions, and related issues.

4 2011. Apologetics Research Resources on religious movements, cults, sects, world religions, and related issues.

5. 2011. Apologetics Research Resources on religious movements, cults, sects, world religions, and related issues.