A Westminster apologetics paper requires you to engage a non-Christian position from a Christian presuppositional approach. You are required to represent the opposing viewpoint fairly and charitably, to expose the problems and incompatibilities within the opposing viewpoint, and to demonstrate how the Christian faith answers those problems and incompatibilities.
What is Apologetics?
Apologetics is the reasoned defense and commendation of the faith. It is grounded in the Apostle Peter’s exhortation to the early Christian community:
“Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense [apologia] to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet 3:15 ESV).
Apologetics uses a variety of arguments, including direct appeals to Scripture, dismantling of unbelief on its own grounds, and the witness of history, all within a worldview rooted in God’s nature and revelation.
What is a Presuppositional Approach?
The world is a complex of connections. No portion of reality exists in abstraction but is always joined to the rest of the whole. This inter-connectedness of reality means that consideration of a portion of reality always entails assumptions about the nature of reality as a whole.
A presuppositional (or transcendental) approach to apologetics seeks to uncover the assumptions upon which arguments rest and asks whether there is a legitimate foundation for those assumptions. This approach seeks to evaluate the compatibility between a stated position and the outworking of that position, either philosophically or experientially. It asks,
What assumptions are necessary for this argument to be true?
Are these assumptions consistent with the stated position and lifestyle of the unbeliever?
Where does the position require a foundational presuppostion that it cannot supply?
Every argument against the Christian worldview entails basic assumptions that can only be grounded in the Christian position ("borrowed capital"). A presuppositional approach seeks to demonstrate this incongruity and to use it to commend the truthfulness of the Christian position.
For more on the presuppositional approach to apologetics, listen to Dr. K. Scott Oliphint’s lecture “What is Presuppositional Apologetics?" or consult other apologetics resources. For tools to begin building an apologetics paper, consult the links below.
In this section:
Topic Development and Research
Building Your Argument
Writing the Paper
Becoming a Theological Writer Home