I have read tons of apologetic books. From age of the earth to atheism, KJV onlyism to Roman Catholicism and now from evidential to presuppositional apologetics, I have read materials that covers basically those topics. But nothing has helped me look at apologetics in a more dissected view to see how it really works. I have been bogged by a jungle of terms and jargons that I didn’t see apologetics in a more understandable way. After picking up the book, Apologetics Made Simple, it dawned to me that I can view and understand apologetics in 5 important components. Recently Delighting Grace connected to Jason Petersen, author of Apologetics Made Simple, and we talked about Christian handling apologetics, the presuppositional approach and his book Apologetics Made Simple.
Delighting Grace: What are the reasons why Christians distance themselves when we talk about apologetics?
Jason Petersen: By the Holy Spirit, we know that faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). I think those who distance themselves mean well, and that they believe that the defense of the Christian faith is incompatible with faith itself. If we look at situations in the Bible that involve the defense of the faith such as Acts 17 and what the Bible says concerning defending the faith in 1 Peter 3:15, we see that the Bible does call us to defend our faith, but we are to do so in faith. We ought to exhibit the character of Yeshua when we defend the faith.
Delighting Grace: How about lack of civility? Can it hinder apologetics? What do you do when you face this kind of situation?
Jason Petersen: We do not have the power to frustrate God’s will, but we are accountable for how we behave. When someone is rude to us, we should not reciprocate. If someone will not listen when we proclaim the truth to them, we are to walk away (Proverbs 14:7, Matthew 10:14).
Delighting Grace: When the word apologetics comes up, we quickly picture it as Christians talking to unbelievers. But how about in church settings when we have talk it to our brethren? Is there a difference in approach?
Jason Petersen: We ought to treat everyone with the same love and respect of Yeshua. With another believer, you both should already agree that the Bible is the foundation for thought. After all, there is no need to convince someone who already believes the Bible is the Word of God that the Bible is the Word of God. The only difference would be the starting point of the person we are talking to.
Delighting Grace: Any personal story that you can share with us that you have applied apologetics?
Jason Petersen: There are many, but an example of the most common type of stories I have involve dealing with unbelievers that seem to think that Science reigns supreme over all. I recently had a discussion with an atheist named Kyle Rutherford, who says he is a scientist (I can’t remember in what field), and I explained to him all of the philosophical problems that involve claiming that the empirical method can allow us to know which propositions are true and which are not. He did not offer any response to my arguments and instead attempted to ridicule me. I departed from him because the Bible teaches us to leave the presence of a fool (Proverbs 14:7).
Delighting Grace: As I have point out previously, your e-mail address reveals you’re a presuppositional apologist. So for the readers can you tell us what’s it all about and how it differs from evidential apologetics?
Jason Petersen: Although I am a presuppositional apologist, I do believe that evidential apologetics does have its place and I have seen it bear fruit. God can use any form of apologetic for his glory so I am not dogmatic concerning how we do apologetics. I will, however, say that I think it is important that we approach our apologetic with a systematic mindset. If we are going to defend the truth of the Bible, we better darn sure be able to show how we know that it is true. This is why I am a presuppositionalist, and in particular, a Clarkian presuppositionalist.
It is hard to define evidential apologetics because there are various approaches and degrees of approaches. Some evidential apologists believe that we can show that the Bible is true apart from using the Bible. While I do think we can point to many things outside of the Bible that are consistent with the truth of the Bible, I do reject the notion that the truth of the Bible can be demonstrated apart from special revelation. It is one thing to point to things that are consistent with the truth of the Bible, but it is another to demonstrate it.
As a Clarkian presuppositionalist, I start with an axiom, “The Bible is the Word of God.” From there, I can, using the verses in the Bible, show that the Bible is true because it is inspired by God and God does not lie (2 Timothy 3:16, Numbers 23:19, Titus 1:2). This may seem strange to some, and perhaps some may be so inclined to reject such a notion as circular reasoning. I would argue that because my axiom is not demonstrable, the line of reasoning is linear, not circular. As a Clarkian presuppositionalist, I believe the only way to know that the Bible is true is if the Holy Spirit dwells within you (Romans 8:16). I also believe that the use of evidence is permissible, but what it can accomplish, as it would be with trying to prove any other position with evidence, is limited. This is a topic that I plan to hash out more in my upcoming book, ‘Clarkian Apologetics.’
Delighting Grace: How do you respond to people who say apologetics is impractical to help someone’s Christian walk?
Jason Petersen: Seeing how Yeshua, the Prophets, and the Apostles all defended the faith, I would probably sarcastically remark that none of them must have gotten the memo.
Delighting Grace: Your book, Apologetics Made Simple is absolutely great. Can you tell us about that book?
Jason Petersen: Thank you. I am glad that you enjoyed it. Ever since I started doing Apologetics, when I would dialogue with unbelievers, I could tell that something was not quite right with the discussion. It seemed like the arguments against the faith of the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob were all rooted in semantics and linguistic gymnastics. Over time, I was able to more precisely point out where the faults were. In 2017, I decided to publish a book that would point out five critical keys to dealing with the tricks that those who oppose the faith that was given to us by God in the days of old that would make any apologetic method unstoppable. The five keys are as follows: dogmatism, systemization, language (and propositional truth), accuracy, and faith. This book is short and only takes about an hour to an hour and a half to read. I wanted the keys shared to be easily digested even by laypeople. Both laypeople and seminary professors have said great things about this book.
Delighting Grace: Can you tell us the process of writing that book?
Jason Petersen: I did an outline of the five keys that I wanted to share, and then I expounded on those keys in every chapter. The way I write is pretty simple. Some will make a thorough outline while others will just write and “let it flow.” I do a combination of both. I do a basic outline, I let it flow, and then I read over it and determine if any changes need to be made or if I need to add to or subtract from what I’ve written. That is the approach that I took with this book.
Delighting Grace: Will you be writing books like that soon? I mean its short enough to understand the subject of apologetics and won’t eat up your time.
Jason Petersen: Apologetics Made Simple, will likely be the shortest book on apologetics that I will ever write. The books on apologetics that I will write in the future will be significantly more detailed. I won’t rule out another book that is as short as this one, but it is unlikely that I will make another Apologetics book that is like Apologetics Made Simple.
Delighting Grace: So Jason please invite our readers to get a copy of your book Apologetics Made Simple and also check out other stuff from you.
Jason Petersen: I would encourage anyone who is interested in apologetics to buy my book, Apologetics Made Simple. I am also an entrepreneur that has been blessed with financial success by God. I wrote another book called, Building Wealth Made Simple, that gives an outline on my philosophy of personal finance and investing. My author website is jasonlpetersen.com.