I’ve been preparing for and teaching a class based on Ergun Caner’s “When Worldviews Collide” (Lifeway). He has an interesting overview section on types of apologetics.
1.) Positive apologetics- as practiced by Barnabas (Son of Encouragement)- affirming, encouraging, finding points of agreement.
2.) Negative apologetics- as often practiced by Paul- challenging, pointing out the failings of other faiths’ efforts compared to the way of Christ. Sometimes argumentative and fraught with potential for conflict.
3.) Contextual apologetics- as practiced by Peter (and Jesus)- taking the moment and circumstances at hand and using them to teach the truth. Teaching by parable and exegesis.
I have often taken the second approach (that old battleship approach to conflict response that I learned- blow them out of the water then wonder why they don’t see things the way you do!) But I am learning to read other people’s style better and adapt my style to better conform to theirs.
It’s interesting that Christ recruited and used all three types of individuals in the early church. Since He found all three useful in spreading the gospel in the early church, surely there is a place for all three in today’s world.