My dad and I have been lovingly debating different apologetic methods for a few years now. We talk, text, email, and direct message about it. I tend to be in the classical apologetics corner, and he in the presuppositional apologetics corner. We have long since exceeded the “12th round” with no clear winner. Although, of course, I’m sure we both think we have won the most rounds.
In brief, the classical school of apologetics uses theistic arguments to establish the existence of God (e.g., the cosmological argument) and then uses historical arguments to establish the truth of Christianity (e.g., the argument for the resurrection). By contrast, the presuppositional school’s method is to show that knowledge and rationality necessarily presuppose or depend upon the existence of the Christian God—and that no other worldview can account for these realities.
Honestly, my dad and I are closer because of these exchanges, which have challenged us to think deeper about and improve our respective positions. And, in the end, it appears our positions aren’t as far apart as we might have thought.
I want to share some things I have learned from “sparring” with my dad about apologetics—most of which we have come to agree on.
Starting Points Matter
Because of our shared theology, my dad and I both believe that apart from Christ, people are spiritually lost, dead, blind, sick, etc. Consequently, we agree that unbelievers’ reasoning capacities are severely impaired by sin—especially concerning spiritual matters. As Paul says, apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, we all “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). So, just as “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3), no one reasons to the correct conclusions about God’s existence and nature except by the Holy Spirit. In other words, we don’t receive or interpret general revelation correctly unless the gospel has first renewed our hearts and minds.