Common Problems in Apologetics Writing

Problem: Maintaining a disposition of humility and charity

Unfortunately, apologists are often so absorbed in the argument that their writing fails to exhibit Christian humility and grace.  The tone of your writing should be peaceable, friendly, and winsome, assuming the best of anyone with whom you disagree and taking pains to avoid sarcasm and other arrogant comments.  Because your primary goal is to present Christ, an unchristian tone or attitude would discredit your presentation.  Instead you must maintain humility before God, before the difficulties of theological and philosophical questions, and before the author to whom you are responding. 

Problem: Difficulty understanding and applying the transcendental method

For an abbreviated synopsis of the transcendental approach, see The Structure of a Transcendental Argument . For a fuller description of the transcendental approach, see Apologetics Resources .

Problem: Fairly representing an opposing argument

One must always be careful to represent opposing arguments accurately and charitably.  Accurate representation of an opposing argument is important both to the soundness of your own arguments and to your persuasiveness to your reader.  A good test to see whether you have fairly represented the opposing view is to ask, “Would a person who holds this position agree with the way I have presented it?”  If the answer is no, then you have failed to represent the position adequately.  Your representation should be clear and unmixed with critique or argument. 

Problem: Dangerous inferences

Because the presuppositional approach involves assessing the implications and presuppositions of ideas, analysis entails an inferential movement of thought from what a given writer says to the implications of what is said.  Such inference is necessary, but it involves two dangers.

1.  The inference may be wrongly assessed (see Understanding Logical Fallacies ).

2. The inference may be correctly assessed, but the implication is treated as if it had been directly stated by the author.  If this error is made, you may assign to the author ideas, beliefs, or motives that are foreign to the author’s mind.  For example, you may think that an Atheistic worldview fails to provide the ethical grounding for human rights.  But to charge the Atheist author with not caring about human rights may be not only a distortion of his/her position but an uncharitable personal attack.  Your writing should therefore evidence a clear distinction between what ideas an author explicitly says expresses and what you believe must be the implications of your opponent’s ideas.