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Tuesday
Jun292010

Theological Term of the Week

evidential apologetics
An approach to apologetics that seeks to demonstrate the reasonableness of  the Christian faith from positive evidences drawn from history and experience; a method of apologetics that seeks to show the truth of Christianity by demonstrating its factuality using arguments based on archeology, textual criticism, fulfilled prophesies, miracles and more. Also called evidentialism.

  • An example of an evidential argument:

     A. The Historical Argument (an inductive argument with a posteriori premises).
    1. Historiography, textual criticism, archaeology, etc. demonstrate that the Bible is a reliable history book.
    2. The Bible teaches that Jesus lived, and claimed to be God.
    3. Jesus could only be (l) Lord, (2) a liar, (3) a lunatic
    4. Various parts of the description of Jesus’ conduct and the response to his character rule out his being a lunatic.
    5. Other parts of his conduct and a lack of clear motive rule out his being a liar.
    6. Therefore Jesus was whom he said he was: Lord, and God.

    Additional Steps, tending to add verification to steps 4,5,6
    • Jesus fulfilled prophecy in a way that a liar or lunatic could not
    • Jesus performed miracles in a way that a liar or lunatic could not
    • The historical fact of the empty tomb and the resurrection account cannot be explained if Jesus was a liar or lunatic
    • The phenomenon of the faith, integrity, and sacrifices of the early Church cannot be explained if Jesus was a liar or lunatic
  • From Evidential Apologetics: Faith Founded on Fact:
    Although there are different varieties of evidentialist apologetics, they have several crucial aspects in common. First, evidentialism is primarily inductive, rather than deductive, in its logical form. Inductive arguments reason from as many facts, or data, as can be mustered to a conclusion that is shown to be supported in some way by the facts. By contrast, deductive arguments, such as those favored in classical apologetics, reason from as few facts, or premises, as are needed to a conclusion that is shown to follow from the facts. Evidentialism makes induction, rather than deduction, the primary form of apologetic argumentation. logic and science, and only in the context of faith is a rational and orderly world possible.  …
    Evidential apologists of all stripes hold in common a second crucial aspect: the conclusions of the apologetic arguments they employ are shown to be probable rather than certain. This follows from the inductive nature of the arguments typically employed. Inductive reasoning assembles facts and argues that a particular conclusion offers the best or most probable explanation of the facts. Such reasoning does not absolutely close the door on other possible explanations of the facts, and for that reason inductive arguments do not attain certainty for their conclusions. … 
    The third point on which all evidential apologists agree is that evidentialism seeks to employ methods that are in principle acceptable to non-Christians as a means of convincing them of the truth of Christianity. These methods are modeled on those used by both Christians and non-Christians in various disciplines. The evidentialist goal is to avoid gratuitous or disputable assumptions about the nature of things…

Learn more:

  1. GotQuestions.org: What Is Evidential Apologetics?
  2. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministries: Evidential Apologetics
  3. Bible.org: Evidential Apologetics: Faith Founded on Fact
  4. Dr. Greg Bahnson: The Impropriety of Evidentially Arguing for the Resurrection
  5. Dr. Greg Bahnson: Evidential Apologetics the Right Way
  6. Gordon Clark and David Hoover: Presuppositional or Evidential Apologetics?(mp3)

Related terms:

Filed under Apologetics.

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