For the next few weeks, we will introduce you to some of the various types and focuses within apologetics. Think of it as a round of hors d’oeuvres, giving you bite sized samplings to whet your appetite for what’s to come.
Today, my goal is to give you a big picture understanding of the various types of apologetics. Though I must give a slight caveat: there is no set structure distinguishing the various types of apologetics. Each person has a unique take on how the various approaches to apologetics be understood and/or categorized, and those categorizations are neither necessarily mutually exclusive nor exhaustive. That said, I’m going to share three tiers of organization to help set the stage for our future posts.
First, apologetics can be divided according to the approach of the apologist (i.e., what argument is considered primary, what evidence is viewed as more impactful, etc). Here are three examples:
- Classical Apologetics places a higher focus on logic and philosophy and prioritized arguments for God’s existence over other apologetic discussions—after all, if God didn’t exist, would anything else matter?
- Evidential Apologetics focuses more on providing evidence for the validity of Christianity. The type of evidence depends on the need of the question at hand, meaning that Evidential Apologists might equally use philosophy, historical, archaeological, and prophecy they argue the case for Christianity.
- Presuppositional Apologetics presupposes the validity of the Christian faith and focuses more on arguing for Christianity as more consistent than any competing worldview.
Second, apologetics can also be understood according to the functionality of the apologist’s arguments—whether the apologetic is intended to correct, to teach, to improve, etc. This category includes:
- Polemical Apologetics is the confrontational side of apologetics. This is more intended for tasks such as the correction of heresy or the challenging of another person in the form of debate.
- Therapeutic Apologetics is more personal than Polemical. It holds that most people reject Christ and the Christian faith moreso out of personal hurts or bad experiences from Christians or from unmet expectations on whom God should be than from logical arguments. Therapeutic Apologists want to utilize apologetics to address a person’s questions and fears about the existence and nature of God.
- Educational Apologetics is my term for when apologetics’ function is to teach or equip Christians or those seeking answers to faith questions to better understand their belief system.
The final designation (Categorical Apologetics, if you will) is based upon the focal content—such as an apologetic on bio-ethics or science or culture or you name it! The list here is almost endless.
Over the next couple of weeks, we will be posting various introductions to major categorical apologetic discussions. Each thread will then branch out and develop further on its own. Our goal is to not overwhelm you with any single post so that you can follow each thread simultaneously.
Hope you are ready because things are about to get good!