Key terms that this site uses, this will be a growing list. Definitions are terse, not meant to be a complete reference to subjects. Always verify. Many of the definitions below are from Thinking About Christian Apologetics by James Beilby.
As-practiced objections – engaging in defending the faith in a manner that is not Christ-like (i.e., intellectually sloppy, culturally insensitive, belligerent, condescending, and arrogant).
Global skepticism – it is not possible to know anything at all.
Hard contextualism – that reality itself is constructed, and therefore reference to the fact is impossible. It is determined by one’s linguistic, social, and cultural contexts.
In-principle objections – objections that amount to the claim that apologetics is conceptually problematic and morally objectionable and should cease as a Christian activity.
Local skepticism – applies a skeptical attitude only to particular areas (i.e., a skeptic about subatomic particles).
Postmodernism – a loss of confidence in the current project and its attempt to formulate perfect, indubitable answers to humans’ questions. It does not question the possibility of truth or knowledge; it asks whether our beliefs are inevitable and whether our descriptions of reality are perfect and exhaustive.
Religious relativism – the claim that all religious beliefs are decided either by individuals or communities. Religious beliefs reflect the values and commitments of people or communities; they do not describe reality.
Religious skepticism – it is not possible to know anything about the religious realm.
Soft contextualism – that the descriptive terms we use to describe reality are a product of our social and linguistic contexts.
Academic Apologetics – this form of Apologetics, is almost always written rather than verbal, and, by its nature, operates at a very high level of complexity
Apologetics after theology – Apologetics can only proceed after theological analysis has defined the concepts and beliefs that can be defended and commended to the world
Apologetics before theology – asserting that one must establish fundamental theological facts before theology can proceed
Apologetics with theology – Apologetics comes as part of the theological enterprise because the Christian theologian claims that the theological core of the gospel is neither expendable nor negotiable
Constructive apologetic arguments – seek to support or establish the truthfulness of the Christian worldview
Deconstructive apologetic arguments – the goal is refutation; to not establish the truthfulness of the Christian worldview
External Apologetics – takes place with those outside of or external to Christianity (NOT soteriology)
Internal Apologetics – takes place with those inside of or internal to Christianity (NOT soteriology)
Meta-apologetics – it is a discipline that analyzes another discipline
Political Apologetics – sought to demonstrate the antiquity of Christian beliefs and sought to show that Christians were no threat to political stability.
Private Apologetics – occurs in the context of conversations between individuals or small groups of people
Proactive Apologetics (positive or offensive) – demonstrating that belief in Christianity makes sense
Public Apologetics – is directed at a general audience (public debates, lectures, and sermons)
Rebutting apologetic arguments – responses to an objection designed to support that which is being attacked. Ex: Objection A to Christian belief B is answered by providing reasons to believe B.
Religious Apologetics – the attempt to explain the superiority of Christianity over other religious or philosophical options, primarily Judaism and the various schools of Greek philosophy. Both external and internal focus
Responsive Apologetics (hostile or defensive) – to demonstrate that objections to Christianity are unsuccessful
Undercutting apologetic arguments – responses to an objection designed to show that the objection itself is misguided. Ex: Objection A to Christian belief B is answered by providing reasons to reject A
Meta-apologetic questions – questions about the “methods, concepts, and foundations of apologetic systems and perspectives”
Fideism – Delimits the use of rational arguments in apologetics.
Henry Dodwell – arguments do not provide the level of certainty required for faith
Cornelius Van Til – sinful humans, must accept the authority of Scripture before they can understand arguments for its truthfulness
Rationalism – The assertion that reason is the sole arbiter of truth and that faith is unnecessary when rational arguments are present. – John Locke
Natural theology – A position that places primacy on reason but reserves an essential role for faith to provide certitude for those unable to formulate theistic arguments or provide the boundaries in which reason ought to function. Thomas Aquinas & John Henry Newman
Reformed theology – Reverses the primacy, giving faith the principal role. Augustine & John Calvin held that arguments for the faith are precious, but only for those who have already embraced faith and have received the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit
Synergism – Gives universal primacy to neither reason nor faith. Faith is absolutely reasonable, and utilizing one’s reason is an act of faith in a meaningful sense. Pascal
The correspondence theory of truth – The typical picture of truth
Knowledge – Barth: highly suspicious of using human logic to demonstrate God’s existence and nature. Optimistic: believing that the fact that God created humans to be in relationship with him entails that he would have created humans with the ability to understand certain fundamental things about his nature (goodness, love & existence).
Bernard Ramm – distinguishes 3 “families” of apologetic systems:
(1) systems that stress the uniqueness of the Christian experience of grace,
(2) systems that stress natural theology as the point at which apologetics begins, and
(3) systems that stress revelation as the foundation upon which apologetics must be built does not take into account real & important differences w/in his apologetic families.
Gordon Lewis – distinguishes 6 different “apologetic systems” (epistemologies):
(1) pure empiricism, (2) rational empiricism,
(3) rationalism, (4) biblical authoritarianism,
(5) mysticism, (6) verificationism
(1) appreciating the differences requires a substantial amount of philosophical training
(2) unclear that these philosophical differences mirror differences in apologetic methodology
Evidentialist strategy – emphasizes a variety of rational arguments
Evidentialism – Emphasis on rational arguments and evidence. Claims that one who accepts a belief without basing it on arguments is irrational.
Classical apologetics (two step approach) – the classical apologist argues,
(1) for the existence of God and,
(2) that Christianity is the most reasonable form of theism
Historical apologetics (one step approach) – dispute the necessity of arguing for God’s existence before employing historical arguments from miracles or fulfilled prophecy. Historical pieces of evidence are sufficient to demonstrate the truthfulness of both Christianity and theism.
Cumulative-case apologetics (many step approach) – insist on neither a one-step nor two-step approach. Involves piecing together a series of converging arguments and pieces of evidence that, taken together, form a hypothesis that is superior in explanatory power to any of its competitors.
Presuppositionalist strategy (no step approach) – emphasizes the authoritative testimony of Scripture. Leery of any attempt to appeal to a common ground with the non-Christian. No argumentative steps lead directly to the conclusion of the truthfulness of Christianity since they assume the acceptance of Scripture as their premise.
Revelational presuppositionalism – replaces standard arguments and evidence for Christianity with a transcendental argument designed to show that the biblical God is necessary to all claims of meaning or intelligibility. Presupposition: God exists (reductio ad absurdum).
Rational presuppositionalism – higher value to logical arguments. One must accept Christianity’s starting points or axioms – that “what the Bible says, God has spoken.” Hypotheses are never deduced but are assumed without proof.
Practical presuppositionalism – emphasizing the necessity of starting from fundamental Christian truths rather than arguing. Emphasizes the logical inconsistency of all non-Christian worldviews (unlivable).
Experientialist strategy – emphasizes experience. Holds that the truth of Christianity must be experienced. Experiential one-step approach. “God-shaped hole” in the heart of every human being.
Eclectic apologetics – might prefer one method over the others but will not see their approach as the only viable one.
Edward Carnell – A presuppositionalist who defended a substantial role for theological arguments and evidence. Allowed his approach to be governed by specific situations.
C. Stephen Evans – believes that experience and rational argument are not opposed because while human beings are undoubtedly rational beings, logical arguments can only take one so far. Asserts that logical arguments convince the mind but make little impression upon the heart.
Alvin Plantinga – blends presuppositionalism w/ experientialism. Religious belief need not, and should not, be based solely on arguments. Sensus divinitatis – to form ideas about God in certain circumstances.