Like many things in life, when it comes to Christian apologetics, there are different schools of thought. The late RC Sproul has explained nuances between what has been termed Presuppositional Apologetics, Evidential Apologetics, and Classical Apologetics (see video below.) In his book, “Classical Apologetics”, RC Sproul along with Arthur Lindsley and John Gerstner not only flesh out what exactly is meant by “Classical Apologetics” but also includes a critique of Presuppositional Apologetics.
“Classical Apologetics” gets started right away with a critique of secularism, particularly in the philosophical vacuum it creates, the corruption of Western value systems, and its false claim to religious tolerance:
“No martyr’s blood is spilled in the secular West – so long as the church knows her place and remains quietly at peace on her modern reservation…But let the church step off the reservation, let her penetrate once more the culture of the day and the Janus-face of secularism will change from a benign smile to a savage snarl.”
From there, he goes on to explain the task of apologetics and then provides a variety of arguments in favor of a rational belief in God. Each chapter is dedicated to a particular argument to help the Christian reader understand the concept and why it’s powerful.
In several places Sproul addresses how the idea of God is threatening to people. For example, after quoting Romans 1:18 he goes on to say, “This bold declaration of the revelation of the wrath of God from heaven is enough in itself to provoke a negative emotional reaction…” He goes on to say:
“For various reasons, God’s presence is severely threatening to people. God manifests a threat to human moral standards, a threat to the quest for autonomy, and a threat to the desire for concealment. God’s revelation represents the invasion of light into the darkness to which people are accustomed.”
The implication is that with some people they have a vested interest in rejecting any logical or reasonable argumentation or evidence for God’s existence. It was a turning point for me in the way I approach apologetics. That is, it’s not that our arguments won’t “work” for some, but that, as Sproul states, “Though people are not always persuaded by sound and sufficient evidence, it does not follow that the evidence is therefore insufficient…”
RC Sproul’s Classical Apologetics is a great read even if you lean more toward Presuppositional Apologetics or Evidential Apologetics. He brings up a lot of great points in this book.
However, it may be a bit of a challenge to read for those who are unfamiliar with basic philosophy as he goes through metaphysics, epistemology, the laws of non-contradiction as well as using, shall we say, “academic” language from time to time.
While I do highly recommend this book as it’s packed with great information and an interesting approach to apologetics, if one is not acquainted with basic philosophy then one should begin there first (“Come, Let us Reason” by Norman Geisler is a good start). You can still pick up the book without a basic understanding of philosophy but it would definitely help.
The video below shows the late RC Sproul explaining the difference between Presuppositional, Evidential, and Classical Apologetics: