Is the Best Defense a Good Offense in Apologetic Encounters?

Written by Mark Farnham

On August 4, 2017

Offense_DefenseGuest Post by Jeff Mindler

[Jeff graduated from Lancaster Bible College in 2014 with a B.A. in Biblical Studies, as well as an M.A. in Counseling. He currently works as the Event Coordinator for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals in Lancaster, PA. His wife, Joe’l, and he worship at Grace Baptist Church of Millersville in Millersville, PA where they both serve as members. He enjoys studying several different disciplines including Biblical Studies, Systematic Theology, Apologetics, Church History, and Practical Theology, while having a keen and passionate love for Apologetics and Systematic Theology in particular.]

Biblical apologetics is at its most basic level a defense of the Christian faith, giving a reason for the hope that is within us, just as Peter instructed in 1 Peter 3:15. While knowing what we believe and why we believe it and being able to defend it is critical to our apologetic, it is also important to go on the offensive while engaging in apologetics, challenging the unbeliever to explain what he believes and why. We don’t often think of apologetics as an offensive enterprise, mainly due to the very meaning of the word apologetics, to give a defense but going on the offensive is simply the flip side of the coin of apologetic defense. This does not mean we attack the person we are dialoguing with directly, rather it is challenging them to make sense of the world around us according to their own worldview. We must press the unbeliever to rationally account for things such as logic, morality, and the scientific principle according to what their own worldview says about reality and help them to see how their own worldview and any worldview aside from the Christian worldview cannot account for such things. Jeffrey Johnson helpfully explains this further when he writes,

“Because the Christian worldview is the only system of thought that is cohesively consistent with itself, all other possible worldviews are inherently incoherent. It is not sufficient for an atheist or any other skeptic to simply attack the walls of the Christian worldview. They must also defend their own ground. They must protect their own presuppositions and belief systems.”[1]

One of the best ways to go on the offensive is to ask questions of the unbeliever. By listening carefully and asking good questions to the unbeliever our goal is to help them see that their own worldview cannot give them the very things they want in a worldview. Ask them to show you where human dignity arises from their worldview and press them to be consistent with their own presuppositions and you will quickly find that apart from the God of the Bible, they will not be able to account for such things and will actually borrow from the Christian worldview in order to hold theirs up. For example, when talking with someone who holds to a naturalistic worldview, that all that exists is matter in motion, ask them on their own worldview how things like the immaterial laws of logic can exist. I personally have heard all sorts of answers to this question but at bottom they cannot account for laws of logic in their worldview. Only the Christian worldview can account for these.

This is where the apologetic task becomes so critical, once we have pressed the unbeliever to account for these things and have shown that they cannot in their own worldview, we must not leave them there. How cruel it would be of us if we simply tore down the unbeliever’s worldview and then left them in their despair! We must never leave them in that state but must always give them the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Apologetics and evangelism go hand in hand and must never be separated. We must call the unbeliever to repentance and faith in Christ as that is the only hope for their salvation as well as accounting for logic, morality, and science in this life.

By defending our own position and going on the offensive with the unbeliever, showing them how their own worldview leads to futility, we call people to turn from their sin and trust in Christ as their only means of salvation, trusting that God will call His people to Himself and use His people along the way. May God be glorified in our apologetic!

 

[1] Johnson, Jeffrey, The Absurdity of Unbelief, 11.

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