Apologetics is the systematic defense of a position. The term comes from the Greek word apologia (ἀπολογία) which means "the defense of a position against an attack". It should not be confused with the modern word "apology" which, though it derives from the same source, has a different definition. Those who engage in this practice are known as apologists or apologetes.
Christian apologetics can be divided into four categories:
- This method of apologetics relies on philosophical arguments to support the existence of a god and builds upon those foundational arguments with additional arguments designed to support specific Christian claims. An example of Thomistic apologetics is the natural-law argument.
- This method relies on empirical evidence (historical evidence as well as archeology, cosmology, biology and other sciences) to build arguments which attempt to justify belief in God, miracles and other supernatural claims of Christian theology. A good example of evidentalist apologetics is the myriad arguments for a young earth or universe.
- This method asserts that belief in god and the truth of revealed scripture (The Bible) are foundational assumptions. Beginning with those assumptions, the presuppositionalist attempts to rationally justify Christianity, defend Christianity from attack, and attack perceived flaws in other worldviews. An example of presuppositional apologetics is the avoidance of hell argument.
- Natural Revelationists
- This method relies on natural evidence in science to prove ideas about God found in Scripture. It is the most engaging of culture as far as modern Christian apologetics are concerned and tries to take fundamental assumptions of Scripture and conform it to what we know about universe mechanics through science, while holding fast to biblical thematic 'truths' in the text.
- See also: Counter-apologetics
Each type of apologetics has a distinct method of being defeated.
- Since Thomistic/Classical apologetics are based on a philosophical base a strong knowledge of the philosophical thinking related to the different arguments in this category is needed.
- This method requires a knowledge of the science, history, and evidence behind the premises of the argument being used. See Atheist Universe.
- Presuppositional apologetics are the easiest to defeat. All are based on one or several unproven assumptions and until these assumptions are proven the skeptic is allowed to ignore the rest of the argument.