Apologetics comes in several different methods that are utilized to defend one’s faith and also to evangelize. One method of apologetics is Evidentialism, also known as Natural Theology. Evidentialism is probably the most popular form of apologetics, if not the one that leads the field. Our current world demands proof and supporting data and Evidentialism stresses the deliverance of accurate substantiation with the hope of bringing cynics and criticizers to the truths of Christianity. Evidentialism continues to excel in the field of apologetics and does well in confronting the major worldviews with the truths of the Christian faith that can be proven with factual analysis. This review will provide the reader with a summary of the Evidentialist Method, a critique of the Evidentialist Method, and a list of some of the more popular Evidentialists.
Summary of the Evidentialist Method
Apologetics comes from 1 Peter 3:15 and is most properly defined as giving a defense. In his commentary, John Walvoord states, “(apologian, the “defense” which a defendant makes before a judge; (Acts 22:1; 25:16) for their hope in Christ.” It is the impetus for Evidentialist apologetics to follow this call and seek to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Another writer, Dan Story, states, “This is ‘evidential’ apologetics, and it works on the premise that the weight of the evidence will always support Christianity and always refute contradicting beliefs.”
In order for Evidentialism to be effective, it must hold to its premise of dispensing the truths about Christianity by establishing factuality. The Evidentialist is able to take any offered topic and utilize it as evidence as they are stimulated by the antagonist’s desire to deliberate logic and reason. In Acts 19:8, the Apostle Paul was diligently “arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.” Yet, Paul understood completely that there was none other that could open the hearts of men except God (Acts 16:14).
Critique of the Evidentialist Method
The Evidentialist Model for apologetics is a very sensible method to be utilized in evangelism. The world today demands physical, tangible proof and relies only on what can be seen and studied, and the Evidentialist is quite versed in the practicality and effective use of the method to clarify God’s truths. The method accepts the essential foundations of the non-believing doubter and tries to supply purposeful truth to that individual area. This reason-giving model has established its effectiveness in apologetics.
There are a couple of issues of concern when it comes to the application of Evidentialism. One concern that stands out is that it adopts the thought that the fallen man can come to the supposition of Christ as Savior. It is my contention and belief that aside from the Holy Spirit man cannot come to this conclusion. However, I do feel that via the logical evidence presented, God opens the non-believer’s heart. Story clearly shows the “Holy Spirit also convicts and convinces people of the truth through extra-biblical evidences.”
History shows that the method of Evidentialism has been utilized for quite some time. There have been many superior thinkers who have used the method and have contributed greatly to the enhancement of apologetics. Although the list is long, a few of these men merit mention, William Paley (1743-1805), John Locke (1632-1704), and more contemporarily, Norman Geisler, William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, Gary Habermas and Ravi Zacharias. These stellar thinkers have all utilized Evidentialism in furthering apologetics. There is an organization worthy of mention, Answers in Genesis, who employs the use of Evidentialism in explaining creationism to minister the truths of God, which also includes the explanation of the Gospel to many non-believing skeptics that exist within many secular evolutionist groups.
The Great Commission demands that all believers be prepared to defend their faith and be ready to offer a defense for those beliefs. There are many opposing worldviews that stand between men and salvation. When these opposing views are confronted in a loving and practical manner, much misconception can be dispelled in a practical manner. Using Evidentialism, the world that desires substantiation, a method driven apologetic is very successful.
Booth, Anthony Robert. “The Two Faces of Evidentialism.” Erkenntnis 67:3 (2007), http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/docview/195447959 (accessed January 18, 2013).
Story, Dan. Defending Your Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997.
Story, Dan. Engaging the Closed Minded: Presenting Your Faith to the Confirmed Unbeliever. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1999.
Sudduth, Michael. “Reformed epistemology and Christian apologetics.” Religious Studies 39:3 (2003), http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/docview/197230405/abstract?accountid=12085 (accessed January 18, 2013).
Walvoord, John F., Roy B. Zuck, and Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition od the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983.
The Holy Bible: New International Version
[ 1 ]. John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, Il: Victor Books, 1983-), 1Peter 3:15. [ 2 ]. The Holy Bible: New International Version, Biblegateway.com. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1 Peter 3:15&version=NIV (accessed January 18, 2013). [ 3 ]. Dan Story, Engaging the Closed Minded: Presenting Your Faith to the Confirmed Unbeliever (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1999), 64. [ 4 ]. Dan Story, Defending Your Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997), 4.