EXPERIENCIAL APOLOGETICS – A SUMMARY, CRITQUE, AND SUPPORTERS
SUBMITTED TO DR. GERARDO A. ALFARO
IN PARTIAL COMPLETION OF COURSE REQUIREMENTS FOR
INTRODUCTION TO APOLOGETICS (APOL 500-C09)
JASON DION (Student ID 23494458)
MARCH 4, 2012
SUPPORTERS OF EXPERIENTIAL APOLOGETICS2
BLAISE PASCAL 2
SÖREN KIERKEGAARD 3
CRITIQUE OF EXPERIENTIAL APOLOGETICS4
According to Beilby, “Apologetics is, in its simplest possible terms, the attempt to defend a particular belief or system of beliefs against objections.” Caner considers experiential apologetics one of the five traditional forms of apologetics, alongside classical, evidential, historical, and presuppositional apologetics. Experiential apologetics are based on personal testimony of a transformed believer, generally considered one of the most personal and intimate approaches to apologetics. Utilizing this approach, a person usually provides an account of their life prior to becoming saved by Jesus Christ, and the resulting change that occurs after their conversion. Additionally, this approach encompasses the use of dialogue concerned with the relationship between God and man, vice that of logic, facts, and reason. This method is quite popular in modern churches as it contains an inherent widespread ability to be performed by most Christians, all of whom have a testimony to share. Conversely, though, other religions have members with a testimony to share, therefore a testimony alone may be inadequate proof when conversing with a skeptic since a person’s testimony is not able to be proved to another person and is completely subjective. Others claim this approach is superior to other more “academic” apologetics, such as evidential apologetics. Kierkegaard contends that providing evidential proof for Christianity is like a lover who must present “three reasons” in order to prove why they love their beloved, whereas it reduces their love to a lower status, since it required proof and reason in the first place. All forms of apologetics have the same end state in mind, though, winning souls for the Kingdom of Christ. The Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:15 of the heart of apologetics, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” The heart of experiential apologetics is that transformed life of the one providing the testimony, providing the emphasis on God’s transcendence and intimacy, with no further evidence presented, according to Geisler. A biblical example of this type of testimony comes from Acts 9 with the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, providing a poignant example of a truly transformed live from pre-Christ to post-Christ involvement. SUPPORTERS OF EXPERIENTIAL APOLOGETICS
A well-respected physicist and scientist, Blaise Pascal was also a firm believer in Jesus Christ who was frustrated by the deist and humanist movements of his time. Although a man of reason in his occupation, he felt that reason alone could not uphold faith in Jesus Christ. In Pensées he wrote, “If we submit everything to reason, our religion will have no mysterious and supernatural element. If we offend the principles of reason, our religion will be absurd and ridiculous.” A balance of both faith and reason must be held, otherwise one may falter in their faith easily. Due to this, Pascal wrote Pensées in an attempt to provide rational arguments in which to persuade skeptics as to the validity of the Christian faith. In contrast to Pensées, Pascal also wrote The Memorial, in which he wrote his testimony of his conversion and even had a copy sewn into his clothing to keep with him at all times. Pascal openly shared his faith and his personal testimony even led to the conversion of the Duke of Roannez.
Kierkegaard was an...