I noted in a recent post about a fabulous book I’ve been reading on apologetics called, Biblical Apologetics: Advancing and Defending the Gospel of Christ, by Clifford McManis. The deeper I get into his work, the more I am impressed with it and I believe this book will be a necessary read for those who seriously wish to shape their apologetic theology, if we can call it that.
I appreciated his appendix that lays out 41 contrasts between biblical apologetics and traditional classic apologetics. Traditional apologetics is what most Christians are familiar with because it is advocated on radio and in popular level books on the subject.
The list is in a brief, bullet-style format. I thought I would reproduce it with some minor changes for readability. Biblical Apologetics (BA) is listed first, then Traditional Classic Apologetics (TCA) is listed next. Each one of these following contrasts is fleshed out more fully in the main book.
1) BA assumes God exists
TCA tries to prove God probably exists.
2) BA uses the Bible as the ultimate authority for truth.
With TCA human reason and laws of logic are ultimate authority for truth.
3) BA, human reason is subject to biblical scrutiny.
TCA, the Bible is subject to scrutiny of human reason and laws of logic.
4) BA apologetics is a mandate for every Christian.
TCA apologetics is primarily reserved for philosophers (and certified trained apologists).
5) BA, apologetics is in the domain of biblical theology.
TCA apologetics is in the domain of philosophy and metaphysics.
6) BA assumes Christianity is certain/true and other religions are false/evil
TCA assumes Christianity is the most plausible of all the alternatives.
7) BA defends the whole Christian faith and the Gospel.
TCA defends theism and the possibility of miracles.
8) BA believes Scripture is autopistic (self-authenticating)/self-validating.
TCA believes Scripture has to be proven to be true and is not self-validating.
9) BA believes that for today, only Scripture is the Word of God.
TCA believe the Word of God includes more than the Bible.
10) BA sees apologetics beginning with religionists inside the Church.
TCA sees apologetics as being primarily for those outside the Church.
11) BA understands that apologetics is directed equally toward all unbelievers.
TCA sees apologetics as being primarily geared toward atheists and agnostics.
12) BA believes faith results only from hearing God’s Word in Scripture/divine revelation.
TCA belives faith can also result from natural theology and general revelation.
13) BA believes the greatest impediment to belief is personal sin and satanic blindness.
TCA believes the greats impediment to belief is ignorance and intellectual speculations (intellectual roadblocks).
14) BA takes natural revelation as intuitive (immediately known and easily understood by all men everywhere).
TCA understands that natural revelation is learned.
15) BA believes natural revelation is only sufficient to condemn
TCA believes natural revelation can produce faith.
16) BA believes natural revelation is always rejected by unbelievers.
TCA thinks natural revelation is welcomed by unbelievers.
17) BA believes special revelation is essential for true faith.
TCA believes special revelation is not the only source for saving faith.
18) BA says there is no natural theology.
TCA on the other hand thinks natural theology is foundational.
19) BA teaches there is metaphysical common ground.
TCA says common ground is more than metaphysical.
20) BA says no epistemological common ground.
TCA there is epistemological common ground.
21) BA says there is no neutrality with the unbeliever.
TCA says there is neutral ground.
22) BA teaches that all people are innately religious.
TCA says some people are not religious.
23) BA teaches that total depravity has skewed the mind.
TCA understands the fallen mind is neutral.
24) BA says there is common ground in the imago Dei, conscience, and sensus divinitatis.
TCA says there is no sensus divinitatis (for some proponents); the imago Dei is not the basis for common ground.
25) BA says apologetics, preaching, evangelism and theology are all organically interrelated.
TCA separates apologetics from theology, preaching and evangelism.
26) BA understand that Plato and Aristotle were lost pagans.
TCA teach that Plato and Aristotle are models.
27) BA is Calvinistic in anthropology.
TCA is generally Arminian and Rominist in their anthropology.
28) BA believes in the total sufficiency, inspiration and perspicuity of Scripture.
TCA undermines bibiology; usually sufficiency and perspicuity.
29) BA teaches that apologetics is holistic/a lifestyle.
TCA sees apologetics primarily as an intellectual exercise.
30) BA teaches that 1 Peters 3:15 needs to be understood in the biblical context.
TCA does not exegete 1 Peter 3:15 in a biblical context.
31) BA consistently uses grammatical-historical hermeneutics.
TCA utilizes allegorical hermeneutics and the analogy of Scripture.
32) BA says apologia is broad, informal and in reference to the Gospel.
TCA sees apologia is formal, forensic, secular and isolated from the Gospel.
33) BA gives priority to Hebrew/Greek.
TCA has a preference for Latin.
34) BA believes the Testimonium includes the Holy Spirit working with Scripture.
TCA believes the Holy Spirit works apart from Scripture.
35) BA Hamartiology (doctrine of sin) is determinative.
TCA hamartiology is not developed.
36) BA efficacious evidences derive from special revelation.
TCA efficacious evidences derived from natural theology.
37) BA takes theistic arguments as being edifying for the believer and help establish unaffirmability with unbelievers.
TCA see theistic arguments as being positively helpful, establishing undeniability with unbelievers.
38) BA has no prerequisites for evangelism.
TCA requires prerequisites for evangelism.
39) BA sees pre-evangelism including general revelation and the work of the Holy Spirit.
TCA pre-evangelism includes natural theology.
40) BA truth is certain.
TCA truth is probable.
41) BA the hope we defend is the gospel.
TCA the hope we defend is theism.