LIBERTY BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY LIBERTY UNIVERSITY

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) JACKSONVILLE, FL MARCH 4, 2012

...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................CONTENTS INTRODUCTION .............. 2 SÖREN KIERKEGAARD ................... 3 CRITIQUE OF EXPERIENTIAL APOLOGETICS ...... 2 BLAISE PASCAL ............................... 1 SUPPORTERS OF EXPERIENTIAL APOLOGETICS .................................................................................. 4   ii ................................................................................................................................................................ 3 PAUL TILLICH....................................................... 4 CONCLUSION ......................................

3. . “Apologetics is. 11. This method is quite popular in modern churches as it contains an inherent widespread ability to be performed by most Christians.” In The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. MI: Baker Books. 66. alongside classical. 2011). 2008). generally considered one of the most personal and intimate approaches to apologetics. OR: Harvest House Publishers. 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. the attempt to defend a particular belief or system of beliefs against objections. and presuppositional apologetics. Conversely. Ergun Caner. 1999). ed. IL: InterVarsity Press. though. Types Of. James Bielby.”1 Caner considers experiential apologetics one of the five traditional forms of apologetics. facts.4 Others claim this approach is superior to other more “academic” apologetics. evidential. Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner (Eugene.” In The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. in its simplest possible terms. 2. 2008). Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids. other religions have members with a testimony to share. Thinking about Christian Apologetics: What It Is and Why We Do It (Downers Grove. and reason. Geisler. such as evidential apologetics. Additionally. vice that of logic. a person usually provides an account of their life prior to becoming saved by Jesus Christ. 64-66. 43. historical. Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner (Eugene. this approach encompasses the use of dialogue concerned with the relationship between God and man.3 INTRODUCTION According to Beilby. 4 Norman L. “Apologetics. OR: Harvest House Publishers. Types Of. “Apologetics.3 Utilizing this approach. Kierkegaard contends that providing evidential proof for Christianity is like a lover who must present “three reasons” in 1. all of whom have a testimony to share. ed.2 Experiential apologetics are based on personal testimony of a transformed believer. Ergun Caner. and the resulting change that occurs after their conversion.

85. though. our religion will be absurd and ridiculous. he felt that reason alone could not uphold faith in Jesus Christ. 78. providing a poignant example of a truly transformed live from pre-Christ to post-Christ involvement. 2008). 6 The Holy Bible: New International Version. Blaise. 2008). providing the emphasis on God’s transcendence and intimacy. Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner (Eugene.”10 A balance of both faith and reason must be held.4 order to prove why they love their beloved.8 SUPPORTERS OF EXPERIENTIAL APOLOGETICS BLAISE PASCAL 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.7 A biblical example of this type of testimony comes from Acts 9 with the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. (New York: E.”6 The heart of experiential apologetics is that transformed life of the one providing the testimony. Pensées. 7 Norman L. winning souls for the Kingdom of Christ. Acts 9. 43. since it required proof and reason in the first place. 1996). (Grand Rapids. MI: Zondervan Publishing House.P. MI: Baker Books. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids. 8 The Holy Bible: New International Version. 10 9 Blaise Pascal. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. with no further evidence presented. Geisler. otherwise one may falter in their 5 Sören Kierkegaard. ed. 1996). If we offend the principles of reason. our religion will have no mysterious and supernatural element. . (Grand Rapids. VA: Wilder Publications. whereas it reduces their love to a lower status. according to Geisler. In Pensées he wrote.9 Although a man of reason in his occupation. “If we submit everything to reason. OR: Harvest House Publishers. 1 Pe 3:15. 389-391. MI: Zondervan Publishing House. Ergun Caner. “Pascal. 1999).5 All forms of apologetics have the same end state in mind. 1958). Sickness Unto Death (Radford.” In The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. The Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:15 of the heart of apologetics. Dutton & Company.

14 PAUL TILLICH Tillich most prominent works were released during the mid-twentieth century. according to his writings in Works of Love.74. Tillich claimed that “Faith as ultimate concern is an act of the Ergun Caner. 1962). Sören Kierkegaard. 72-76. but instead simply provides a point of reference for the believer. . Pascal also wrote The Memorial. such as the authority of Scripture. In contrast to Pensées. Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner (Eugene. (New York: Harper & Row Publishers. believing that man cannot approach faith solely from a reason-based viewpoint. OR: Harvest House Publishers.5 faith easily. (Princton. 390. the incarnation. NJ: Princeton University Press). 2. he claims that objective reason cannot find objective truth and logical proof either for or against Christianity cannot be determined.13 According to Kierkegaard. 12 13 11 Ibid. “Pascal. Works of Love.12 SÖREN KIERKEGAARD Kierkegaard was an experiential apologist like Pascal.11 Pascal openly shared his faith and his personal testimony even led to the conversion of the Duke of Roannez. Due to this. The most important thing is God’s relationship with humanity and his pure existence that is of true religious importance.” In The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. 14 Sören Kierkegaard. or the infallibility of God is not faith at all. Pascal wrote Pensées in an attempt to provide rational arguments in which to persuade skeptics as to the validity of the Christian faith. ed. a faith in religious facts. Concluding Unscientific Postscript To Philosophical Fragments. 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. 2008). 389-390. In his work entitled Dynamics of Faith. Blaise. In Concluding Unscientific Postscripts.

but instead faith transcends them both. the testimony could fall flat. 78. 51. The strengths of the approach consisting of relational experience sharing with a nonbeliever. it is an nonprovable method.17 Conversely. experiential apologetics tends to be most effective when combined with other apologetic methods . such as evidential apologetics. and the subjective experience it instills in non-believers can be very intriguing to those learning about the faith. Dutton & Company. 5. meaning that other religious believers have a testimony and experience to share. (New York: Perennial. according to Tillich. (New York: E. though. the ease of training believers to share their testimony. since it is a personal feeling or experience the person is describing. Ibid. but if they did not know the believer before they were a believer. Additionally. 2001). Relying solely on the experiential apologetics leaves the apologist open to a myriad of problems with proof and deniability of their testimony. nonprovability. 17 17 . The entire concept of sharing one’s testimony is subjective.P.6 total personality…it participates in the dynamics of personal life. A believer can tell someone about their horrible past. and duplication by other religions.”15 Faith is not contrary to reason and emotion.16 CRITIQUE OF EXPERIENTIAL APOLOGETICS While it is clear that experiential apologetics has a very personal connection between the apologist and the unsaved person receiving the testimony. there is an issue with duplication by other religions. Dynamics of Faith. Finally. not concrete proof. Blaise Pascal. 1958). as well. it is not always the most effective method. 15 16 Paul Tillich. Ideally. Pensées. we must consider the negative issues of subjectivism.

the basic principle still remains valid that a shared experience can help to save a lost soul. as it allows the apologist to provide the experiential perspective (emotions) with the logical proof (reason) that Pascal mentions in his work Pensées. Although experiential apologetics are considered one of the personal and intimate forms of apologetics. This personal experience may come from a testimony of a believer to an unbeliever. it is also considered one of the weakest forms due to its heavy reliance on personal testimony. While several proponents of this method have developed different interpretations of the form over time. combining experiential apologetics with other apologetic methods may aid in the presentation of the Gospel. Therefore. or through direct experience of a non-believer causing them to become a believer. This combination .7 CONCLUSION Experiential apologetics proposes that knowledge of God and his grace has to come from a personal experience which then leads to acceptance of God’s truth expressed in the Scriptures.

Pensées. NJ: Princeton University Press. Norman L. OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2001. 2008. Dutton & Company. Dynamics of Faith. Princeton. 2008. Sören. Hindon. 1999. 1996. Kierkegaard. Paul. Pascal. New York: Perennial. New York: E. Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard. IL: InterVarsity Press. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Downers Grove. MI: Zondervan Publishing House. James. MI: Baker Books. New York: Harper & Row Publishers. The Holy Bible. The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. 1962. Sören. Ergun. Sören. Ed and Caner. Blaise. Grand Rapids. Thinking about Christian Apologetics: What It Is and Why We Do It. VA: Wilder Publications.8 BIBLIOGRAPHY Beilby. Concluding Unscientific Postscript To Philosophical Fragments. Grand Rapids. 2011. 1958. Sickness Unto Death. Geisler. Radford. Works of Love. Tillich.P. 1992. Eugene. .

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