This paper was essentially a summary of Dr. House’s chapter in the recently released Reasons for Faith ed. Norman Geisler and Chad Meister. The following is my summary of his paper and reflects my understanding of the points Dr. House made.
The apologetic debate is over whether God intends to use general revelation to bring about salvific belief. The central question is: Do we share any common ground with the unbeliever?
Classical and Evidential apologetics acknowledge that unbelievers can understand some truth. The difference between them is the Classical begins at first principles and Evidential begins anywhere. Presuppostional apologetics deny unbelievers can understand any truth until after regeneration by the Holy Spirit.
A crucial distinction is needed between “believing in” and “believing that.” Evidential apologetics can be used to bring someone to the point of “believing that.” “Believing in” requires regeneration. For example, there have been Jewish scholars who have affirmed that the resurrection of Jesus is a historically verifiable event. But there differ regarding the meaning of the resurrection- whether or not Jesus is the messiah. They believe “that” but not “in.”
Evidence can assist a person to belief in Christ by removing factual obstacles.
The task of apologetics is to show the truth of objective reality. The move to embrace belief in (from belief that) requires the subjective work of the Spirit. The Spirit makes meaning of the historically objective reality.
In Acts, the audience has no familiarity with the Hebrew scriptures- much like where our culture is going today. Paul started with creation: God’s existence and nature, and moved on to what God has done. His framework was provided by his theology found in Romans 1: that “they knew God.” Many people understand with their mind but do not receive in their hearts.
Paul sought common ground with his audience. Instead of wasting time with pointless rabbit trail debates, he pointed out that they both believed in God and kerygma. He moved from what they accepted to what they did not know. Paul also assumed that he was being understood- that those in his audience could follow the logic of his argument (another aspect of common ground).