What is apologetics? From “The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict”

Some forthcoming blogs will be based on the Josh McDowell book, “The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict.” Here is a bit about the book, and what is meant by apologetics:

Apologetics, from the Greek word, apologia, means to give a defense “of what one has done or of truth which one believes.” [1] It is this kind of defense that we as Christians, more increasingly, find ourselves having to make.

To make this defense is Biblical. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to every one who asks you a reason for the hope that is within you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

Josh McDowell, in his book, “The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict,” (Thomas Nelson, 1999), comprehensively examines the questions, doubts and sometimes hostile accusations that skeptics make, and brings conclusive and gentle answers to these issues. At the same time, the book’s answers are intended to help those unaware of the gospel begin to seek the truth. In the book’s preface, McDowell states, “Evidence is not for proving the Word of God, but rather for providing a basis for faith.” [2]

McDowell further illustrates the evangelical intention of Evidence in the book’s introduction. “God often uses apologetics, or evidences, to help clear away obstacles to faith that many people erect, and also to show that faith in Christ is reasonable.” [3]

In the eleventh chapter, McDowell talks about The Bible, and its claims to being the inerrant word of God, and the true meaning of inerrancy. He states, “Inerrancy means that when all the facts are known, the Scriptures in their original autographs, properly interpreted, will be shown to be wholly true in everything they affirm, whether this has to do with doctrine or morality or with the social, physical, or life sciences.” [4]

In its twelfth chapter, the book focuses on a skeptic’s presuppositions, particularly dealing with that of the miraculous. It is, no doubt, considered unscientific and historically irrational take into account those things which defy the known laws of physics. Therefore, many skeptics argue that miracles cannot happen. As McDowell and other apologists have pointed out, a scrutiny into the resurrection story of Jesus (the essential foundation of Christianity, according to the book of 1 Corinthians) from a purely historical perspective leads one to a solid conclusion of the likelihood of the miraculous. McDowell states in this chapter that even the hardest skeptics can’t refute the miracle of the resurrection, yet still doubt based on their personal presuppositions.

It is my reflection that these presuppositions are defended because secular humanism is a religion, of sorts; and those who adhere to it do not want to give it up easily. They have either never heard the truth of the Gospel or when confronted, don’t know what to do about it. Perhaps, like Lucifer, they are their own god and that’s just the way they like it. Yet in spite, God knew that there are others that can be reached through proper apologia. Such defense, which is the best offense as McDowell put it, is essential to the Christian of the 21st Century.


[1] McDowell, “The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict,” Introduction, pg. xxx

[2] McDowell, “The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict,” Preface, pg. xiv

[3] McDowell, “The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict,” Introduction, pg. xxxi

[4] McDowell, “The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict,” pg. 338.

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