Not offensive in to offend but the opposite of defense.

Apologetics is not to be thought of as only defensive. We must do more than respond to the unbeliever’s questions. As Paul puts it, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4f.).The battle against principalities requires an offensive measure as well.  We must also prepare ourselves for an attack by unbelievers by their thought and action. Jesus Christ is the mighty ruler of heaven and earth, the invincible warrior on the march to bring in his kingdom, putting down all powers and authorities opposed to him (Col. 2:15). God is not afraid of being confrontational or even antagonistic when it comes to fulfilling his will.

Apologetics is one of Jesus’ tools for putting his opponents under his feet. When Satan or his human associates bring accusations against God, God regularly refuses to answer the charge and brings accusations against his attackers (Gen. 3:17–24; Job 38–42; Matt. 20:1–15; Rom. 3:3f). Jesus did not address questions by authorities that were meant to trap him. Instead, he turns on his critics and asks the right question to establish the condition of their hearts. The state of the querent’s heart on the subject of God is vital to continue a rational discourse. It is foolish to argue with those who abandon reason.

Conversational Strategy (Offensive Apologetic Methods)

Job had wished to have an interview with God, to question him as the interviewer, but God turned this around took the offensive stance to make Job aware of his ignorance of God’s will. Jesus even corrected Nicodemus when Nicodemas met with Jesus. The Rabbi desired a theological discussion, but Jesus flipped the Rabbi’s perceptions. Only by being born again will Nicodemus be able to see the Kingdom of God. This example of conversational strategy is vital to those who argue apologetically. Answering questions that justify historical minutia doesn’t result in the knowledge of God. It merely prepares the hard-hearted for their next attempt in conversation.

The unbeliever always knows something about God. Their unbelief is often intact as it follows the world’s conventional wisdom and allows them to deny the authority of an objective moral God. The unbeliever will have two core stances, idolatry (of the world) and atheism. Sometimes the two stances are conflated, which produces only ambiguity. The result makes either irrationalism or rationalism.

Rationalism and Irrationalism

According to Van Til, all unbelieving systems of thought are both rationalistic and irrationalistic. Vat til also points out that this conflict began in the Garden of Eden. Eve would not take God’s word as her final authority; she looked at God’s words, Satan’s, and her own as though the three were equivalent. But that is to imply that there is no objective truth about anything—irrationalism. Eve claimed the right to decide for herself, against God—autonomous rationalism when required to choose. It is not unusual for modern secularists to claim that all truth is relative while insisting that naturalistic evolution is a proven fact, never conscious of the contradiction they believe.

Once we know this apologetic tool, we might automatically categorize everything in a philosopher’s mind under either the heading of rationalism or irrationalism. But some of his assertions could have an entirely different meaning.

It is important to note that unbelievers do sometimes discover and acknowledge the truth despite themselves. Our analysis of their thought must not routinely cancel out everything they say. Instead, we must be sensitive to distinguish in their formulations between the ideas they have learned from God’s revelation and the concepts they are using to suppress their understanding of the revelation.

Rationalism and irrationalism are parasitic on Christianity. Of course, rationalism and irrationalism are both utterly opposed to Christianity. Yet, they depend on Christianity in some ways for their plausibility. After all, the Christian revelation tells us that human reason has both powers and limitations. Rationalism and irrationalism build on those notions of powers and limitations, respectively, but neither can specify those powers and limitations independently of God.

Categories of Offensive Apologetic Methods

Christian Apologetic Responses

      I cannot reproduce here all the critical insights of Van Til, Schlossberg, Dooyeweerd, Schaeffer, and the others. However, I do recommend their writings to anyone interested in studying further. But let me suggest strategies that cover many cases.

Against Atheistic Relativism

When you find an unbeliever who stresses the atheistic relativist side of unbelief, be persistent in asking these questions:

(1) How can you be sure that relativism is correct when it rules out all assurance?

(2) How can you live as a relativist?

Having no assurance of anything must be a terrible strain, rationally, emotionally, and volitionally. What basis do you have for making decisions? What basis do you have for criticizing how others treat you? How can you say that anything is wrong, unfair, or unjust? What reason do you have for trusting logic—or, for that matter, your mind?

Against Idolatrous Rationalism

When you meet someone who tends to stress the powers, rather than the limits, of independent thought and action, you will likely be dealing with someone in the grip of an idol. Find out what his idol is and aim by asking these questions:

(1) What basis is there for thinking that this idol is absolute?

(2) Does your God do the job of a god? Did it create the world?

Against Atheistic Idolatry

Press the fundamental contradiction in this rationalistic-irrationalistic combination: a proof that there are no proofs, an absolute statement that there are no final statements. Then attack the original rationalistic and irrationalistic elements, as above. It will not be easy. The unbeliever will slide from one position to another, from rationalism to irrationalism and back again. The argument itself will not be enough; God must intervene. Thus, prayer is the ultimate apologetic weapon.[1] You’re now equipped with several methods of offensive apologetic methods.

See also: Knowing God Intimately


              [1] John M. Frame and Joseph E. Torres, Apologetics: A Justification of Christian Belief, Second edition. (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2015).