The New Evangelicalism And Apologetics -- By: Rolland D. McCune

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 06:1 (Fall 2001)
Article: The New Evangelicalism And Apologetics
Author: Rolland D. McCune


The New Evangelicalism And Apologetics

Rolland D. McCunea

Apologetics generally has to do with the defense of the truth-claims of Christianity. The word apologetics comes from the Greek apologia, a term from criminal law and the courts meaning to make a speech of defense, a verbal defense, a reply to a formal charge—an answer or a vindication. The word apologia is used as a verb, noun, or adjective twenty times in the New Testament.1

One of the complaints of the new evangelicals, and one of the reasons for the break to form a new evangelical coalition in the 1940s, was fundamentalism’s alleged intellectual deficiency and inability. This dissatisfaction eventually led to the formation of the Fuller Theological Seminary in 1947, one purpose of which was to create an academic center and think tank for evangelical apologetics and philosophy of religion. The new evangelicals were annoyed with what appeared to them to be evangelism carried on by proof-texting and narrations of personal experiences. This was no way, in their opinion, to make the truth-claims of Christianity intellectually respectable and to penetrate the culture for Christ. The plan here is to note some of the various apologetic methodologies, especially noting and analyzing the system championed among early new evangelicals and put forth as sort of the “official” position of the movement.

At the center of any defense and propagation of the truth-claims of Christianity stands the matter of ultimate and absolute authority, an authority for which no greater authorization can be given. This in turn will control the apologetic method from starting point to conclusion, and will have long-range ramifications and wider implications for the

future of the movement it characterizes. It will be seen that the leaders of the new evangelicalism in fifty years have abandoned the sense of an absolute and infallible religious authority, and today the evangelical movement is groping to find some kind of a basis or an authority to meet a rootless, non-absolutist, relativist culture on the culture’s own terms with the claims of the living and true God. On the surface this appears to be an utterly impossible task.

Varieties Of Apologetic Systems

There are different methods of classifying systems of apologetics and how divine authority is arrived at. In addition, there is some disagreement among evangelicals and fundamentalists over exactly what is the role of Christian apologetics. Some would argue that it is in the main, if not only, defensive in character, i.e., how to defend the faith ...

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