One of the methods used in apologetics is the evidentialist apologetic. A few descriptive quotes from Faith Has Its Reasons by Ken Boa sheds light on the specifics of this methodology.
The subjective experience of faith is a response to the objective revelation of God in His revealed history. God chooses to reveal Himself apart from general revelation seen in creation and establishes through His Son a special revelation of Himself. God provides evidence of His existence through His Son Jesus Christ.
Robert Sabath states, “If God exists– the kind of personal creator God… he must exist independent of my subjective experience of him; his existence must therefore be validated by a criterion other than my own personal experience…Christian existential experience is rooted in objective, external works of God himself, fleshing out his life in space and time in the person of Jesus Christ and showing himself to be God by his resurrection from the dead.”
This point to me is very important in our world which values the experience and subjective over the evidential and objective. Mankind has begun to value personal experiences in spirituality even when they are contradictory and unevaluated. Historical proofs for a belief have taken the backseat to feelings and the subjective experiences of the person. However, feelings and experiences must be based on some historical, examinable truth. They do not possess truth by themselves.
God has provided empirical evidence for the truths of the gospel. This unique basis of Christianity stands in stark contrast to those held beliefs of other world religions. God wants us to believe and has seen fit to reveal Himself. Jesus performed many miracles as evidence of His claims. He provided the empirical evidence of His claim to deity. He gave us the empirical but also requires us to exercise faith as well.
The role of the apologist is to present the evidence and to bring non-Christians to the point where they have a credible basis for believing. Boa then states that the subjective experience of this revealed truth comes from the Holy Spirit when a person responds to the evidence and comes to faith.
John Montgomery states, “The Scriptural Gospel is ultimately self-attesting, but the honest inquirer needs objective grounds for trying it, since there are a welter of conflicting religious opinions and one can become psychologically jaded through indiscriminate trials of religious belief. Only the Christian worldview offers objective ground for testing it experientially; therefore Christ deserves to be given first opportunity to make His claims known to the human heart.”
So many religious and spiritualist groups claim that personal experience is the basis for belief. Religious truth for them is solely personal and individual and is not associated at all with verifiable evidence. But if there is no objective reasons or evidence for their claims then they cannot be trusted as sources of any truth. We cannot simply say that a person can believe anything as long as they are sincere in their belief. They can be sincerely wrong! The claims of other world religions must pass the tests for truth and they do not.
God’s Word is full of evidence. It is written by eyewitnesses who were willing to die for what they KNEW to be true. So I see conversion as a combination of an acceptance of the evidence that God has given to us and a leap of faith where the Holy Spirit validates that belief. It is Reasonable Faith.
We as Christians have to be ready to defend our faith. We have to have a reason for the faith within us. The days of simply saying ‘because the Bible says so’ is over. God has provided evidence and I believe He calls us to use it as a way to help lead others to faith. As McDowell stated it in the title of his book, Evidence Demands A Verdict. I will add that it also demands a response.
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1Peter 3:15