Evidential apologetics is a method of Christian apologetics that emphasizes positive evidences in favor of the truth of Christianity. The distinctive feature of evidential apologetics is its one-step approach to establishing Christian theism. Evidentialists will utilize evidence and arguments from several areas including archeology, fulfilled messianic prophecy, and especially from miracles.
In distinction from classical apologetics, the evidential apologist believes that the occurrence of miracles acts as an evidence for God’s very existence. In this way, the evidential apologist does not believe that the philosophical and scientific arguments for God’s existence must logically precede arguments from miracles to establish biblical Christianity. However, the evidential apologist is not opposed to the use of natural theology to help to confirm God’s existence. These arguments are an important weapon in the arsenal of the evidentialist as they help to undergird the case for Christianity by giving further confirmation that God exists and has created and designed our universe. Evidentialists simply do not believe such arguments must be presented prior to moving on to evidence from miracles. In this way, the evidential apologist can argue for theism and Christian theism at the same time without having to first establish God’s existence. Such an approach can be beneficial in personal evangelism where time can be at a minimum.
Evidential apologists characteristically place a heavy emphasis on evidence from miracles, especially the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Evidentialists will appeal to numerous lines of evidence to establish the historicity of the post-mortem appearances of the risen Jesus, as well as the discovery of His empty tomb. Additional emphasis is often placed on refuting naturalistic theories that attempt to explain away the evidence for the resurrection of Christ. Once the resurrection has been established, Jesus’ (and His apostles’) own understanding of this event then becomes the proper interpretive framework through which we understand its significance. Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus said that His forthcoming resurrection would validate His claims (Matthew 12:38-40, 16:1-4). The Apostle Paul declared that the resurrection of Christ was God’s vindication of Christ’s deity (Romans 1:3-4). In the book of Acts, the Apostle Peter claimed that Jesus’ bodily resurrection was God’s endorsement of Jesus’ public ministry (Acts 2:23-32). When taken in this context, the bodily resurrection becomes the primary validation of Jesus’ own radical claims about Himself and the vindication of Jesus’ message of salvation.