Jock McGregor has an excellent introductory lecture on apologetics which can be listened to or downloaded from Christian Heritage website. Near the beginning of this lecture, he outlines the apologetic method used by Jesus in Luke 24:36-45. This passage records one of the resurrection appearances of Jesus Christ. The disciples doubted, taking it to be an apparition.
As McGregor says, our Lord does not merely say to the disciples, ”Just believe.” Instead, he takes time to persuade them. He engages in apologetics. And in doing so, he uses four classic tests of truth:-
1. Appeal to empirical evidence. Jesus says to them, “look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see.”
2. Appeal to reason. Jesus says to them, “a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” There is a logical syllogism here:
- Premise 1: “I have flesh & bones.”
- Premise 2: “Ghosts do not have flesh and bones.”
- Conclusion: “I am not a ghost.”
3. Appeal to pragmatic demonstration. Jesus asks them: “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.” He didn’t do this because he was hungry: he did it in order to convince them that what he had told them actually works in practice.
4. Appeal to legitimate authority. Jesus says to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
Jesus did not expect them, and does not expect us, to believe without adequate reason or evidence. On the contrary, he invites us to use our God-given powers of thinking and investigation and to draw conclusions on that basis.
Ramm (International Standard Bible Encylopedia, art. ‘Apologetics, Biblical’) comments with regard to our Lord’s apologetic method in his controversies with Judaism:-
(1) He appealed to the OT as being on His side rather than that of His opponents;
(2) He argued from logic, e.g., when He demonstrated the logical absurdity in saying that He was in league with the devil in casting out demons (Mt. 12:22-25);
(3) He argued from analogy in His parables and in various sayings; once, e.g., He argued that if it is right for a man to rescue a sheep on the sabbath, it ought to be more than right to heal a man on the sabbath (Mt. 12:9-12);
(4) He appealed to the verifying function of signs (cf. Jn. 2:18-22; Lk. 7:18-23);
(5) He placed great emphasis on the spiritual hearing of the Word of God as a self-authenticating experience (e.g., Jn. 5:24; 10:3; Mt. 11:15).