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Josh McDowell
and Apologetic Methods

In the "talk.religion.misc" and other Newsgroups there was a question about Josh McDowell. Someone wanted to know where he gave his "testimony" about first setting out to disprove the Christian faith but ending up becoming a Christian instead. Also, someone said there were "gaping holes" in Josh’s apologetic method.

Below is the post I made in reply to this question and comment.

Josh gives his testimony on pages 363 - 367 of Evidence that Demands a Verdict.

He states:
"My new [Christian] friends challenged me intellectually to examine the claims Jesus Christ is God's Son; that taking on human flesh, He lived among real men and women and died on the cross for the sins of mankind, that He was buried and He arose three days later and could change a person's life in the 20th century....

"But these people challenged me over and over. Finally, I accepted their challenge, but I did it out of pride, to refute them. but I didn't know there were facts. I didn't know there was evidence that a person could evaluate.

"Finally, my mind came to the conclusion that Jesus Christ must have been who He claimed to be. In fact, the background of my first two books was my setting out to refute Christianity. When I couldn't, I ended up becoming a Christian. I have spent 13 yeas documenting why I believe that faith in Jesus is intellectually feasible" (pp. 364,5).

What Josh uses is know as "evidential apologetics." I believe this apologetic has its place. Many people have been convinced that the Christian faith is true as a result of such apologetic methods.

As for myself, my brother gave me a copy of "Evidence" years ago before I had ever read the Bible. I found it "interesting." It did give me sufficient reason to believe that the Bible is generally reliable and worthy of further study. But it did not convince me that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, nor do I believe such a apologetic can prove this.

I personally prefer presuppositional apologetics. The reason being that presuppositions cannot be avoided. If someone starts with the presupposition that God exists and that miracles are possible then Josh's types of arguments may be found to be convincing. However, if you start with the presupposition that God does not exist, or at the very least, miracles are not possible, then such a apologetic will not be convincing.

For more on this line of reasoning I recommend a book I am currently reading, Miracles and the Critical Mind by Colin Brown.

In any case, I am not saying evidential apologetics do not have a place. As I said, they gave reason to continue to investigate the Christian faith. And I believe that they are very helpful in CONFIRMING the faith of one who already believes.

For this reason, there are some articles written from this perspective on my ministry's Web site. Most notably to this discussion is a two-part article recently posted: What Actually Happened in 30 AD? (The Integrity of the Resurrection).

But most of the articles take another approach, namely the above mentioned presuppositional apologetics. In this approach, it is accepted that everyone starts with presuppositions. This simply cannot be avoided.

But then a worldview is built upon those presuppositions and a few question are asked, such as: Do the basic presuppositions, epistemology, and other beliefs "fit" together into a logical whole? Are there any contradictions between the various beliefs?

Second, does the worldview "fit" with the world around us? Third, can a person live consistency with the worldview on a day-by-day basis? Or does he occasionally need to "cheat on his worldview" as Dr. Gordon Lewis, one of my seminary professors, used to put it?

Lastly, does the worldview provide meaning and purpose in life? Can it hold a person up when his life comes crashing down?

In other words, rather than "nit-picking" on one small point in a worldview, try to understand the worldview as a whole, while evaluating using the above or other questions you night come up with.

The "problem" with this method is you have to actually take the time to listen to what the other worldview actually teaches, rather than basing your opinions on rumors or misrepresentations you might already have.

On my Web site, I do my best to present the Christian worldview as a whole. And in evaluating competing belief systems, I try to understand and document as carefully as possible what the other view teaches. This isn't easy and I'm sure I haven't done as good as could at times; but I try my best!

If anyone is interesting in trying to understand what the Christian faith teaches and why, may I suggest you try browsing around the articles and other items posted on my ministry’s Web site. A good place to begin would be with the items listed at: General Theology and Apologetics.

Thank you for your time.

><> Reepicheep <><

Josh McDowell and Apologetic Methods. Copyright 1999 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (www.dtl.org).

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

The above article was posted on this Web site
and in "talk.religion.misc" Newsgroup in May 1997.

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