If you think defending the Christian faith is just a small discipline within theology, you might be surprised that there are several styles. These styles come with their own extensive literature. There are four main types of Christian apologetics: Classical, evidential, presuppositional, and fideism.
In this video I would like to look with you at evidential apologetics. This is the last style of apologetics we are going to explore. And like in the other videos about the different styles of apologetics, I am not going into depth, but I would like to explain a bit more about what it is and how we can use it.
Evidential Apologetics in Short
Evidential apologetics is mostly focused on using evidence from history, science, and other fields to support the truth of Christianity. The proponents of this style argue that there is enough evidence to support the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus, and other Christian beliefs. The apologists who use this technic believe that faith and rationality can work together.
We can see some common ground between the evidential and classical apologists. The evidentialist is not against to the use of natural theology. Natural theology are those arguments we talked about in the video about classical apologetics. If you haven’t seen that video, you might want to watch it as well, you’ll find the article here. These arguments are an important weapon in the arsenal of the evidentialist. They might use these arguments to brace up the case for Christianity.
Even though we can see some similarities between the evidentialists and classicalists, there is a big difference as well. Evidentialists just don’t think that these natural arguments must be presented before they start to talk about the evidences for Christianity. They mostly believe that they can argue for theism and Christian theism at the same time, without first laying down a good case for God’s existence.
What I like about evidential apologetics is the fact that is tends to stress the use of evidence from miracles, especially the physical resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. I remember in one of the talks with my first boss, in which he told me about the resurrection. I didn’t really want to believe that it really took place. However, he quoted Paul from 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
Here Paul seems to say that we do not have to believe him, but that we can go and ask those who were among the 500+. Back then, most were still alive, and you could verify whether Paul was talking the truth about Christ’s resurrection.
Some would say that we cannot verify that today. But, I find that to be a very intellectual dishonest attitude. You might not believe that the Bible is God’s word, fine! But to say that people in Paul’s time were too dumb to investigate themselves is a bit haughty. Don’t you think?
Anyway, besides this piece of evidence, evidentialists might also point to many other pieces of evidence to establish the historicity of the appearances of the Lord Jesus after He rose from the grave. They will also point at the discovery of His empty tomb. They might use the fact that it were women who discovered the empty tomb first. Women weren’t very much appreciated as witnesses, and still it got written down that they were the first. I mean, if you wanted to make a nice story in that time, you would not have used women as a source. You would have used men of honour to be the witness. But no, the Bible is an honest piece of work, and it tells you like it was.
Evidential apologists also like to use the argument from prophecy, which argues that the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies about the coming of Jesus is evidence of the truth of Christianity.
But they do not only use supernatural miracles. They also like to refer to, what some would call, natural miracles.
One such example is the argument from design, which argues that the complexity of the universe and the human body are evidence of intelligent design.
Personally, I wouldn’t say that the fine-tuning of the universe is a natural miracle. There is just nothing natural about it. This design is just nothing less than a Supernatural Miracle with capital S and M.
Evidentialists are also very good at refuting the typical naturalistic explanations, people like to use in an attempt to explain away for example the evidence for the resurrection of Christ.
I also think that a typical evidentialist isn’t at all impressed with the naturalistic explanations many secular scientists give for, for example, the discovery of soft tissue in dinosaur bones. An evidentialist will actually use this kind of discoveries to show that dinosaurs aren’t that old as the mainstream scientists want you to believe. For the evidentialist this is just another way to point out that God created all living creatures in a short timespan. They will emphasise that we shouldn’t be surprised to read about huge animals like Behemoth and Leviathan in the book of Job.
Most likely, the evidentialists have the upper hand in the debate about creation and evolution. Many of the Pitbull creationists use evidential apologetics to argue their case.
Evidentialism in the Bible
Examples of an evidential approach to apologetics can be found in Scripture as well.
I would like to argue that even the Lord Jesus used a certain evidential approach when He showed the reality of His own resurrection.
to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God
One of these ‘many infallible proofs’ can be found for example in Luke 24:42-43
And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them.
So, Jesus is eating a fish to demonstrate the physical reality of His resurrected body. And how about letting Thomas touch His wounds from His crucifixion in John 20:24-28.
Strengthen and Equipping
I like this kind of apologetics very much as it helps me to articulate and rationalise my faith in God. In a sense I strongly believe that apologetics is first and foremost a tool to strengthen and equip Christians in their faith.
I also recognise that evidential apologetics can help unbelievers to come closer to a saving faith. However, we should not think that the use the evidential approach is enough to transform the human heart. Saving faith comes from the Father through the Holy Spirit.
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
We might use it to show that Christianity isn’t that strange. But it is also important that we use it wisely and with a prayerful heart. We want to see that people are starting to open up for Christ, and sometimes we need to help them by removing stumbling blocks.
2 Corinthians 10:5
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ
Evidential apologetics can be an amazing tool to march on the kingdom of God and tearing down objections to the Christian faith. This approach can be very beneficial in personal evangelism, especially when we don’t have much time on our hands.
In any case, do let me know what you think in the comments. Maybe you disagree on certain things? Just leave a comment. Remember! I am mostly active on my Odysee channel. You’ll find a link to that channel in the description of this video or on my website. If you like what I am doing you can subscribe to my channel and don’t forget to hit the notification bell if you want to be informed every time I upload a new video!
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God bless you, thank you for watching, and, Lord willing, we’ll see each other in the next video!