Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., Denver Seminary, August 31, 2004

Defending the Christian Faith





part 2



V.        Two Types of Apologetics


A.        Negative apologetics (two senses)


1.         Find intellectual weaknesses in non-Christian world-views—naturalism, pantheism, deism, etc.


2.         Respond to anti-Christian intellectual assaults on Christian truth made by Muslims, Freudians, pagan feminists, postmodernists, pantheists, etc.


B.        Positive apologetics


1.         Give constructive reasons and evidences for defining Christian truth-claims


·         Arguments for objective truth and morality, the existence of God, reliability of the Bible, supremacy of Jesus, etc.


2.         Give a cumulative case of various rational arguments for Christian truth


C.        Whether something is deemed positive or negative apologetics may depend on the angle at which you look at it


D.        A full-orbed Christian apologetic combines positive and negative apologetics



VI.       Reasons or Justifications for Christian Apologetics


A.        The glory of the one true God (Exodus 20:1 – 7; Matthew 22:37 – 40; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17)


B.        The defense of the Christian faith in order to reach the lost for Christ


1.         Give a reason for our hope in the gospel (1 Peter 3:15 – 17)


2.         Contend for the once-for-all revealed truth of God (Jude 3)


3.         Refute false philosophies (Colossians 2:8 – 9; 2 Corinthians 10:3 – 5; 1 John 4:1 – 4)


4.         Build up believers who doubt (Matthew 11:1 – 11; Jude 22 – 23).  See Douglas Groothuis “Growing Through Doubt” sermon available though Hope for Today (


5.         Encourage holiness in knowing and defending God’s truth (Matthews 22:37 – 40)


6.         Apologetic example:  Paul at Athens (Acts 17:16 – 33)


a.         On this see, D. A. Carson, “Athens Revisited,” in D. A. Carson, ed.  Telling the Truth:  Evangelizing Postmoderns (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 2000),  384-398.


b.         Douglas Groothuis, “Christianity in the Marketplace” (Acts 17:16 – 34) parts I and II, sermons available from Hope for Today:  (


7.         Apologetic example, exemplar:  Jesus (throughout the Gospels)


a.         On this see Douglas Groothuis, On Jesus (Wadsworth/Thompson Learning, 2003), chapters one and three, especially


b.         Douglas Groothuis, “Jesus and the Life of the Mind” sermon available from:  (



VII.     The Spirituality of the Apologist:  Truthful Humility


A.        Humility (see D.  Groothuis, “Apologetics, Truth, and Humility” in syllabus hot link)


1.         Humility by creation:  total dependence (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1 – 3)


·         See Andrew Murray, Humility:  The Heart of Righteousness.  Devotional classic.


2.         Humility by redemption:  you are not your own, you were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20)


3.         Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23)


4.         Hold the truth firmly and humbly (1 Timothy 2:24 – 26)


5.         We know in part and are in process (1 Corinthians 13:12)


6.         Be courageous, but meek; don’t offend unnecessarily (Matthew 5:5; 2 Corinthians 4:7)


B.        Have a spirit of committed dialogue (Paul throughout Acts)


C.        Glory in the gospel, not apologetic prowess; win people to Christ, not just win arguments (Matthew 28:18 – 20)


D.        Passionate, but patient, yearning for the salvation of others (Romans 9:1 – 3; 10:1)


E.         Importance of moral/spiritual character in ministry:  watch your life and doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16)


F.         Reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth (Acts 1:4 – 5; John 16:13)


G.        Importance of individual and corporate prayer for apologetic integrity (Ephesians 6:10 – 18; Colossians 4:2 – 4)


H.        Openness to God’s supernatural work in opening the eyes of unbelievers (Acts 26:17 – 18; Acts 13:1 – 12)