Branch of Christian theology devoted to the intellectual defense of faith. In Protestantism, apologetics is distinguished from polemics, the defense of a particular sect. In Roman Catholicism, apologetics refers to the defense of the whole of Catholic teaching. Apologetics has traditionally argued positively to quell believers' doubts and negatively against opposing beliefs to remove obstacles to conversion. It attempts to take objections to Christianity seriously without giving ground to skepticism. Biblical apologetics defended Christianity as the culmination of Judaism, with Jesus as the Messiah. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries a number of Christian writers defended the faith against the criticisms of Greco-Roman culture, and in the 5th century St. Augustine wrote his monumental City of God as a response to further criticisms of Christianity following the sack of Rome in 410. John Calvin's “natural theology” attempted to establish religious truths by rational argument. The late 18th-century argument that a universe exhibiting design must have a designer continues to be used; apologists have also dealt with the challenges of Darwinism, Marxism, and psychoanalysis. Seealso Apologist.
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Plato (Greek: Πλάτων, Plátōn) (428/427 BC[a] – 348/347 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher, the second of the great trio of ancient Greeks—succeeding Socrates and preceding Aristotle—who between them laid the philosophical foundations of Western culture.
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian, (ca.155–230) was a church leader and was a notable early Christian apologist. He was born, lived and died in Carthage. He was the first great writer of Latin Christianity, thus sometimes known as the "Father of the Latin Church". He introduced the term Trinity (Latin trinitas) to the Christian vocabulary and also probably the formula "three Persons, one Substance" as the Latin "tres Personae, una Substantia" (itself from the Koine Greek "treis Hypostases, Homoousios"), and also the terms vetus testamentum ("old testament") and novum testamentum ("new testament").
In his Apologeticus, he was the first Latin author who qualified Christianity as the 'vera religio' ("true religion"), and symmetrically relegated the classical Empire religion and other accepted cults to the position of mere 'superstitions'.
Early uses of the term (in the first sense) include Plato's Apology (the defense speech of Socrates from his trial) and some works of early Christian apologists, such as St. Justin Martyr's two Apologies addressed to the emperor Marcus Aurelius.
John Henry Cardinal Newman (February 21 1801 – August 11 1890) was an English convert to Roman Catholicism, later made a cardinal, and in 1991 proclaimed 'Venerable'. In early life he was a major figure in the Oxford Movement to bring the Church of England back to its Catholic roots. Eventually his studies in history persuaded him to become a Roman Catholic. When John Henry Newman entitled his spiritual autobiography Apologia Pro Vita Sua in 1864, he was playing upon both this connotation, and the more commonly understood meaning of an expression of contrition or regret.
This Classical Greek term appears in the Koine (i.e. common) Greek of the New Testament. The Apostle Paul employs the term apologia in his trial speech to Festus and Agrippa when he says "I make my defense" (Bible (King James)/Acts#Chapter 26). A cognate term appears in Paul's Letter to the Philippians as he is "defending the gospel" (Bible (King James)/Philippians#Chapter 1:7 & 16), and in Bible (King James)/1 Peter#Chapter 3 believers must be ready to give an "answer" for their faith. The word also appears in the negative in Bible (King James)/Romans#Chapter 1: unbelievers are αναπολόγητοι (anapologētoi) (without excuse, defense, or apology) for rejecting the revelation of God in creation.
The legal nuance of apologetics was reframed in a more specific sense to refer to the study of the defense of a doctrine or belief. In this context it most commonly refers to philosophical reconciliation. Religious apologetics is the effort to show that the preferred faith is not irrational, that believing in it is not against human reason, and that in fact the religion contains values and promotes ways of life more in accord with human nature than other faiths or beliefs.
In the English language, the word apology is derived from the Greek word apologia, but its use has changed; its primary sense now refers to a plea for forgiveness for a bad act. Implicit in this is an admission of guilt, thus turning on its head the "speaking in defense" aspect of the original concept. Secondary but uncommonly, it is used to refer to a speech or writing that defends the speaker or author's position.
About a century after Emperor Constantine I's conversion to Christianity, the Roman Empire began falling to invaders from northern Europe. Some Christian writers sought to explain the decline of Roman culture and power by systematically downplaying the achievements of classical antiquity while emphasizing the persecution of Christians and the positive role of Christianity in society. Paulus Orosius wrote the first book advancing this perspective (History Against the Pagans), though the far more learned and influential work of this type was The City of God by Augustine of Hippo (426).
Several of the early Christian apologists developed arguments from fulfilled prophecy and gospel miracles as proofs of Christ's divinity. Eusebius of Caesarea in his Demonstration of the Gospel attempted to prove the truth of Christianity by fulfilled prophecies from the Old Testament, and by rebutting arguments that the apostles had made up the story of Christ's resurrection.
Theodore Abu-Qurrah, the ninth century bishop of Harran, composed On God and The True Religion. Abu Qurra represents a group of Christian Arabic apologists who argued their case under early Islamic rule.
A highly influential Catholic apologist was Thomas Aquinas who presented five arguments for God's existence in the Summa Theologiae. His approach, which adapted Aristotelian thought, is known as Thomism, and has dominated both Roman Catholic and Protestant approaches.
The Roman Catholic G. K. Chesterton, the Anglican C. S. Lewis (who popularized the Christian trilemma), the Lutheran John Warwick Montgomery, the Roman Catholic Hugo Anthony Meynell and the Presbyterian Francis Schaeffer were among the most prolific Christian apologists in the 20th century. Among the most widely read Christian apologists writing in English have been Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel. Another modern apologist is Ravi Zacharias, author of The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha, who argues for Christianity over other religions and philosophies deemed false or heretical. Frank Morison is also notable, because of his famous defense of the historical Resurrection, Who Moved The Stone?, as is William Lane Craig. Although not primarily an apologist, Douglas John Hall authored Why Christian?: For Those on the Edge of Faith which is written as a series of dialogues with a young doubting inquirer.
Although members of churches within the Latter Day Saint Movement self-identify as Christians, their most vocal critics are frequently orthodox or Biblical Christians. Mormon apologetic Organizations such as the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, a group of scholars at Brigham Young University, and Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research, an independent, not-for-profit group, have formed to defend the doctrines and history of the Latter Day Saint movement in general and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in particular.
However, the criticism has gone both ways. Joseph Smith and Joseph Fielding Smith called all Christian creeds “Abomination”. Bruce R. McConkie said Christian Churches were, “Churches of the devil”. Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt wrote “The whole Christendom is as destitute of Bible Christianity as the idolatrous pagans” and other LDS leaders such as Brigham Young, John Taylor and George Q. Cannon also criticized orthodox Christianity.
Apologists for Islam have defended the Koran using rationalist and empiricist arguments, and using cosmological arguments to prove God's existence. Muslims have actually developed their own form of creationism, Islamic creationism. Islamic apologists have also challenged both Jewish and Christian beliefs. The late South African Islamic scholar, Ahmed Deedat, was a prolific popular writer who debated Christian evangelists by arguing over discrepancies in the Bible, and claiming the Gospel of Barnabas is the only authentic record of Jesus' life.
One of the earliest Buddhist apologetic texts is The Questions of King Milinda, which deals with ethical and intellectual problems. In the British colonial era, Buddhists in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) wrote tracts that challenged and rejected Christianity. In the mid-nineteenth century, encounters between Buddhists and Christians in Japan prompted the formation of a Buddhist Propagation Society. In recent times A. L. De Silva, an Australian convert to Buddhism, has written a text designed to refute the arguments of Christian evangelists. At a sophisticated academic level, Gunapala Dharmasiri has challenged the Christian concept of God from a Theravadan Buddhist perspective.
Hindu apologetics designed to counter Christian missions developed in the British colonial era. Richard Fox Young has collated examples of these early apologetic tracts. Hindus have also developed their creation story and their own form of cosmology.