One of the most common objections to the use of apologetics is that those who practice apologetics replace the Holy Spirit and the Bible with human arguments. This objection is sometimes caused by individuals reading apologetic material designed for unbelievers in which the apologist is seeking to lay a groundwork for belief. The idea is that before a skeptic will accept arguments from the Bible, they need to be willing to accept the Bible as an authority. If a person would read the works of apologists on apologetics itself, he would see that most apologists understand absolute necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Bible. However, I think that there is a legitimate point being made here. Often apologists do at least give the impression that their arguments are more important than the power of the message itself.
Those who seek to bring the doubters and atheists to the Lord and especially those who are seeking to strengthen the faith of floundering believers need to remember the power of the word of God used by the Holy Spirit. God chooses to work through humans, including apologists, and various means, including apologetics; but he does not need to do so. God can certainly take the the simple proclamation of the Gospel applied by the Holy Spirit and use it to bring saving faith to an atheist. Furthermore, the apologist needs to always remember that the object is not to win an argument, but to glorify God winning souls to Jesus and strengthening the faith of believers. Not only so, but anyone who is saved or strengthened is saved and strengthened by the Holy Spirit applying God’s word.
Having so criticized those who are far better than I, I do want to address the critics of apologetics by pointing out that the Holy Spirit works through means as He chooses including apologetics. The Holy Spirit knows each person perfectly and knows what means are best. He brings the proper means to bear to accomplish His purposes to individuals and those means include apologetics. I have already pointed out that there are many who have been influenced by the arguments of apologetics helping them to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ; and, certainly, many have had their faith strengthened by the the efforts of apologists. Furthermore, as I shall attempt to show in a future blog post, Lord willing, God Himself in the Bible uses apologetic methods.
I think that this discussion points to the advantage of my approach to apologetics. In revelational apologetics, apologetics is always seen as secondary pointing to the self-revelation of God. This does not exclude the use of arguments (the laws of logic are, in themselves, a revelation of God) and certainly points to the display of God’s self-revelation while recognizing the importance of an individual’s worldview through which he observes that revelation. We must always remember that God does the work and we are but tools displaying in our lives as well as in our arguments the reality of our God Who reveals Himself.