Apologetics Glossary

This glossary accompanies The Allure of Gentleness, HarperOne, 2015.


Apologetics: A helping ministry of believers, relevant to both the evangelistic and the pastoral role, in which people with existential, concrete problems that hinder their trusting God in Christ are helped to a better view of the truths of God, of redemption and of life in the Kingdom. Bringing information and logic to bear to answer or resolve intellectual or cognitive questions and impasses with respect to the faith of a person or persons.
Argument: A course of reasoning aimed at demonstrating truth or falsehood in an attempt to persuade others by giving reasons for accepting a particular conclusion. An argument is judged from two perspectives: 1) Form, does the argument have all the right parts (premises and conclusion). 2) The contents of the premises are themselves true.
Analogical: Based on an analogy, an analogical argument is not an argument which intends to be deductively valid.
Belief: Readiness to act as if what you believe were true. When your whole being is set to act as if something is so.
The Bible: The unique written Word of God. It is inerrant in its original form and infallible in all of its forms for the purpose of guiding you into a life-saving relationship with God in His kingdom. The Bible contains a body of knowledge without which human beings cannot survive. It reliably fixes the boundaries of everything God will ever say to humankind.
Biblical Apologetic: The best use of our natural faculties of thought in submission to the Holy Spirit to remove doubts and problems that hinder a trustful, energetic participation in a life of personal relationship with God.
Christian Evidences: Efforts to bring proof that the individual teachings of the Christian faith are true.
Commitment: Readiness to act as if something is so, whether you believe it or not.
Conclusion: The deduction or decision that an argument seeks to establish through the premises (the reasons) that are given in an argument.
Deductive: The process of reasoning in which a conclusion follows necessarily from the stated premises; inferences by reasoning from the general to the specific. A deductively valid argument is one in which if the premises are true, it is absolutely necessary that the conclusion should be true.
Faith: A confidence or trust in something
Inductive: A process of reasoning that derives general principles based on particular facts or instances. In an inductive argument, the premises provide reasons supporting the conclusion's probable truth, but they do not offer absolute proof.
Knowledge: Being able to deal with things as they are, on an appropriate basis of thought and experience.
Logic: Logic is the science of a certain set of objective facts, facts which are of the utmost significance for human life. These facts are objective in the sense that they do not vary from person to person. Logic uses reason to evaluate the relations between premises and the conclusions that follow from them in order to discern truth. For example, if “Whales are larger than goldfish” is true, then the sentence, “Goldfish are smaller than whales” must be true, and the sentence “Goldfish are bigger than whales” must be false. Logical truths, like mathematical truths, are not made up by human beings.
Modernism: The idea that all knowledge must come through the sciences or scientific theory: knowledge must be sense perceptible. It is a general philosophical view (now often held uncritically by the general population) which often includes empiricism (all knowledge comes from sense experience), scientism (the sciences are the limits of what we now know), materialism (or physicalism - everything that exists is in space and time), and hedonism (sensate experience, pleasure) as the only guide to what constitutes what is good and bad for humans.
Naturalistic: The belief that everything can be explained through nature and natural causes.
Philosophy: An attempt to think out the best way to live and how it is best to be and to do. It is distinctive of philosophy that it need not call upon revelation. It can, but it need not.
Physicalistic: The belief that everything is physical and there is nothing beyond what we can see and touch.
Post-Modernism: An opening in thought which refuses to reduce everything to science. The life of the spirit can be known without waving your hand at math and physics. It is the idea that knowledge can come from many sources, not just from science and scientific theory. Post-Modernism is a mixed bag. The problem is that when Post-Modernism is pushed in a certain way it is impossible to have any notion of objective truth, and without objective truth, you are just left with political correctness. It represents the cultural withering in confidence in what was known as the scientific worldview (see Modernism). [reference “What Significance Has ‘Post-Modernism’ for Christian Faith”]
Premises: Statements based on an assumption that something is true. In logic, an argument requires at least two premises along with the conclusion.
Profession: A statement or claim that something is so, whether you believe it or not.
Proof: A process by which the possibility of falsity in the judgment to be shown true is eliminated. That possibility eliminated, it is impossible for the judgment to be false. (But certainly nearly everything we count as knowledge does not fall under that kind of strict requirement.)
Reality: What you run into when you’re wrong.

The human ability to see relationship between real or possible facts and other real and possible facts, such that if you have the one, you have the other.

  • Persons are Reasonable in the degree to which they conform their thinking, talk and action to the order of truth and understanding, or at least are committed to doing that so far as is possible. The reasonable person will characteristically endeavor to reason soundly, and be openminded and inquiring about the issues which require a response from them. They will seek the best concepts and classifications, testing those concepts and classifications by relating them to each other and to the world given by their experience and the experiences of others.
  • The Unreasonable person characteristically: contradicts himself, rejects known means to his chosen goals or ends, demands the impossible, refuses to test or consider criticisms of his beliefs, fails to seek better means of ascertaining the truth.

One can be reasonable and still be mistaken, and can be unreasonable and happen to be correct. Still, the reasonable person is far more likely to be correct in her conclusions than the unreasonable person.

Self-Subsistent: Something which doesn’t depend on anything else for its existence: A mind, a will, which has its existence entirely within itself.
Truth: A thought or statement is true provided that what it is about is as the thought or statement holds it to be. All truth is absolute truth. If you believe you have gas in your gas tank, it's either absolutely true or absolutely false.

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