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Apologetics

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(Redirected from Apologist)

Apologetics is the field of study concerned with the systematic defense of a position. Someone who engages in apologetics is called an apologist. The term comes from the Greek word apologia (Ἀπολογία), meaning the defense of a position against an attack, not from the English word apology, which is exclusively understood as a defensive plea for forgiveness for an action that is open to blame. When John Henry Newman entitled his spiritual autobiography Apologia Pro Vita Sua in 1864, he was playing upon both connotations.

Contents

Colloquial usage

Today the term "apologist" is colloquially applied to groups and individuals systematically promoting causes, justifying orthodoxies or denying certain events, even of crimes. Apologists are often characterized as being deceptive, or "whitewashing" their cause, primarily through omission of negative facts (selective perception) and exaggeration of positive ones, techniques of classical rhetoric. When used in this context, the term often has a pejorative meaning. The neutralized substitution of "spokesperson" for "apologist" in conversation conveys much the same sense of "partisan presenter with a weighted agenda," with less rhetorical freight.

Specific usages

The term apologetics is also used 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. Christian apologetics is the effort to show that the Christian faith is not irrational, that believing in it is not against human reason, and that in fact Christianity contains values and promotes ways of life more in accord with human nature than other faiths or beliefs. Islamic apologists justify the tenets and practices of Islam in comparable ways.

In the first centuries of the Common Era a number of Christian writers undertook the task of proving that Christianity was beneficial for the Roman Empire and for humanity as a whole. Also they wrote to defend their faith against attacks made by other people or to properly explain their faith. Aristides and Quadratus of Athens, writing in the early second century, were two of the first Christians to write apologetics treatises. Other second-century apologetics writings of note included the First Apology and Second Apology of Justin Martyr and the Epistle to Diognetus , a response to the accusation that Christians were a danger to Rome.

About a century after Constantine'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).

Similar traditions of apologetics developed in defense against Judaism, against Protestantism, and against rationalism. Changing modes in apologetics, whether or not they are currently fashionable, are important markers in the history of ideas. Christian apologetics continues to the current day in various forms (for example, the attempt to demonstrate the coherence of empirical cosmology with Biblical creation, known as creationism). The Catholic G. K. Chesterton, the Anglican C. S. Lewis, and the Presbyterian Francis Schaeffer were three of the most prolific Christian apologists in the 20th century.

In recent years, perhaps the most widely read Christian apologists writing in English have been Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel. Another modern apologist is Ravi Zacharias, scholar of world religions from India, and author of The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha which compares Christianity with world religions and other modern movements.

While the USA and England produced a large number of apologists in 1800s and 1900s, India became the focus of anti-atheistic apologetics towards 1970 and after that. This was mainly due to the rise of atheists in India who were countered by Indian Christian apologists. The most notable among them is Dr. Johnson C. Philip, who authored more than 50 books and 2500 articles in defense of the Christian faith. To impart and mentor a continuous stream of Christians who are passionate in preserving and defending the faith, Dr Philip has, with some close associate scholars, formed the Calvin Research Group (CRG). Several institutions, such as the Calvin School of Apologetics and Theology, Trinity School of Apologetics and Theology and the Indus School of Theology are fruits of the CRG.

In a famous speech in 1805, Seneca chief Red Jacket was an apologist for Native American religion, as opposed to Christianity.

In a special application of apologia it means the defense of a position against an attack in a court of law. The English word apology, which is usually understood as a defensive plea for forgiveness for an action that is open to blame, also derives from apologia and is occasionally used to refer to a speech or writing that defends the author's position. Plato's book The Apology was an account of Socrates' defense in court against his accusers.

See also

External links

nl:Apologetiek pl:Apologetyka ru:Апология sv:Apologeterna

Bibliography

Encountering New Religious Movements (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0825428939/qid=1117631242/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/103-8727021-3968629?v=glance&s=books&n=507846)

Humble Apologetics (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0195138074/qid=1117631145/sr=8-1/ref=pd_csp_1/103-8727021-3968629?v=glance&s=books&n=507846)

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