Apologetics 101: Positive and Negative Apologetics
by Robie Day
As we move into the various methodologies of Christian apologetics, I think it will be helpful to first identify two general classifications of argumentative methods. Simply put, when engaging other worldviews, one can argue positively or negatively. However, when we say that one can utilize a positive or negative argument, we are not talking about the attitude or demeanor with which they approach the discussion (I addressed this in an earlier post on the biblical approach to apologetics). Below, I have provided two short, simple explanations of positive and negative apologetics:
A positive (or constructive) argument in Christian apologetics is one that seeks to build or construct a case for Christianity. An example of positive apologetics would be gathering all of the information available (both biblical and extra-biblical) to demonstrate that the resurrection of Jesus was a factual, historic event.
A negative argument, on the other hand, seeks to deconstruct an opposing belief or worldview, and can be used in two ways. The first is by deconstructing an opposing worldview by demonstrating it to be logically inaccurate. An example of such an argument would be demonstrating the flawed logic of relativism, which states that there is no absolute truth in the world, but that truth is only relative to the individual. The second form of a negative argument would be when the Christian worldview, or a particular Christian belief, is under attack. This requires a more defensive approach in which the apologist will seek to demonstrate the logical deficiency of the claim being made against Christianity.