The subject of apologetics isn’t a favorite of many Christians, and sometimes is a subject of admonition and correction from fellow believers to the apologist. I have often been told that we can’t argue someone into salvation, or that the Bible doesn’t need any defense - just let it do its work. I find such sentiments frustrating, and I am not really sure if my frustration is due to the misunderstanding of the subject, or because the time we spend discussing apologetics would be much better spent doing apologetics. In fact, apologists wholeheartedly agree with these two statements. Firstly, we are not arguing anyone into salvation! In fact, we aren’t arguing at all, if by arguing you mean being argumentative or contentious. Rather we are giving people reason for the hope that is in us, as the Bible instructs us to (1 Peter 3:15). This is not the same thing as evangelism and certainly not the same thing as conversion, which is something only the Holy Spirit can do. We also use apologetics to strengthen the faith of believers and help them to deal with objections to the faith, which they may encounter.
As for the second statement, again it is absolutely correct. The Bible doesn’t need any defense whatsoever! This is not what apologetics is. We engage in apologetics not because we think the Bible is insufficient in any way or because we think God needs our help to reach unbelievers. We do it purely and simply because God tells us to do it.
A third objection I come across is that we shouldn’t argue with people because that is “unchristian.” I have thoroughly dealt with this in the text above. However, it bears repeating. The whole idea of “Christians shouldn’t argue,” even though it might sound nice, couldn’t be more wrong. Arguing with someone doesn’t mean we should be argumentative, or contentious. It simply means we are giving reasons for what we believe. The same text in the Bible, which tells us not to be quarrelsome, also charges us with reproving those who oppose the faith. A believer should “[h]ave nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:23-26).
One of the strategies of the Evil one is to inject his own definition into a Biblical truth. This started in the garden of Eden: “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?” (Genesis 3:1). He tried it with Christ: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,' and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” (Matthew 4:6). That is what is happening here: a word taken from the Bible is given a worldly definition, then imposed back on Christians to follow the world’s definition and even have contempt for the Biblical definition. Satan couldn’t be happier if Christians choose “the path of least resistance,” but we should know better. We have already been told we will be hated (Matthew 10:22, Matthew 24:9 and so on). We are also told we are not hated for ourselves but hated as God’s proxy: “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil” (John 7:7). If Christians stopped following the commands of Christ and stopped testifying to the evil works of the world, they would be loved and even celebrated by the world. But this doesn’t at all mean we need to go out of our way to pick a fight with everyone; rather it means we can’t shy away from the truth.
The only meter, by which a believer is measured, is how faithful to the Word they are. So my advice would be to just do what you are told: be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15). In order to be ready, I would suggest thinking about these issues, reading a good book on the subject, or discussing some aspects which you may find difficult. I can assure you it will be much more profitable than an hour in-front of a TV or a computer screen.
Let me just return to one more point before closing as a reminder of what presuppositional apologetics is not saying. We are not saying unbelievers can’t be moral or can’t know anything. Quite the opposite! What we are saying is that the unbelievers’ worldview is a complete contrast to what they are doing. Unbelievers have the following assumptions: humans have dignity, we have to be reasonable, there is truth to be known, we have to be moral, there is beauty in nature and music, and many other things. However, the worldview they claim goes against all of this! When we come to a discussion with an unbeliever, each of us comes with certain building blocks of their worldview. As a Christian, a key building block of our worldview is a sovereign God, who is not physical, who is all-knowing, the creator and sustainer of the universe, who created everything and created man in his image, and so on. The building blocks of an unbeliever’s worldview on the other hand are one of a few things: either atoms and space, or an impersonal force which somehow made the world, or an unknown being behind the universe. While we both have the same reality, a Christian can make sense of this reality based on their worldview. We believe in a moral standard, because it reflects the nature of God; we believe in absolute universals because God, who is all-knowing, has revealed to us some truth about the world we live in and we know he doesn’t lie or deny Himself. But as for the unbeliever how can you get any moral obligation from atoms in space, or from an impersonal force, or from an unknown being?
Of course unbelievers are moral, rational, and so on. We know they are and we know they can’t not be; that is because they are made in God’s image and can’t function without God as the foundation for everything. Sure they may deny it, sure they may come back saying “we don’t have to believe your worldview and we still can do all these things.” My point isn’t that they can’t, my point is the worldview they are claiming doesn’t sustain what they are doing, that their worldview is inconsistent with what they are doing, and every time they act contrary to their professed worldview they show they already in their heart of hearts know God and they are trying to escape from Him. They might even deceive themselves and believe they believe there is no God, but they can never live in a way consistent with this belief.
Two last resorts are left to unbelievers. First they might ask “what about such and such worldview you haven’t dealt with yet?” and secondly they might say, “well, we don’t want your God and if the price is absurdity, we’ll pay it gladly”. To the first one we say you are admitting defeat by running away looking for another worldview to save you, even an imaginary one that doesn’t exist. It’s like in the book of Revelation when they call the mountains: “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!” (Revelation 6:16). As for the second reaction: we should ask them to speak up, to make it very clear they chose absurdity over submitting to God. But of course if they embrace absurdity, then we could point out that according to their choice, contradiction is allowed, so therefore they both embrace and reject absurdity at the same time! This may sound like insanity, but remember that God can still reach the insane (Matthew 17:14-18).