2 Cor 5:17-21 ESV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
God has given Christians the ministry of reconciliation – not the ministry of introduction as if people have no idea about the true God. Man has a relationship to God already, albeit negative. Reconciliation speaks of restoring a relationship that has been marred, not of starting a new relationship.
Romans 1: 18-21 ESV
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
2 Cor 10:4-5 ESV
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
We are not to appeal to unbelievers as if they have no knowledge of God (to which ignorance, many will appeal). That itself is a denial of what the Bible says. Even at this initial juncture, the unbelieving position is put at odds with what the Bible says – that what they are saying is true, and the Bible is false.
Man already knows of God’s existence but suppresses that knowledge in unrighteousness. Our task is to appeal to what men already know and remove the mask and falsehood that they use to bury that sense of deity present in all humanity and appeal to them with the gospel – the message of reconciliation.
Romans 8:6-8 ESV
For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Without this sense of deity in man, and aside from God’s common grace, our efforts would be futile, but it is only because this sense of deity is maintained by God’s grace, though marred through the fall that we can have any fruitful discussion at all.
This is the significant problem of all other apologetical methods – they do not take scriptures full account of the effect of the fall on the mind of man. Those apologetical methods are not consistent with scripture’s testimony as to the state and capability of the mind of man post-fall. At the heart of the issue, the rebellion is not rooted in a lack of knowledge as we have seen above, nor is it rooted in man’s finitude – as if solving our problem could be overcome by becoming something better and surpass our limitations. Rather the issue is a moral one – that men love darkness rather than light – that man is evil. As scripture says:
John 3:19-21 ESV
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.
Romans 3:10-18 ESV
as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Men suppress & twist the truth they have been given, so that, in principle, the believer and unbeliever have nothing in common. There is no neutral fact of our experience that both parties can go to, given that all of creation is revelation from God about God which men suppress. Everything is interpreted, the question is, will it be interpreted rightly in light of God and His revelation to us through Scripture, or wrongly through attempting to interpret everything in opposition to that revelation? There are only those two options. All things point to God’s existence, but due to the fall, the mind of man wishes to turn all of those signs 180 degrees in the opposite direction because they hate the light. Thus, any fact of our experience that we would point to as evidence for God’s existence would be interpreted differently by the unbeliever, not for rational reasons – as if they only had a higher IQ they could understand or had more information- but fundamentally, for moral reasons. What needs to be done (in an apologetical endevour) is to take those facts of experience that the unbeliever wishes to hold to, and show that they are only made possible by interpreting them in light of what God has revealed. That if they held to the way that they want to interpret the world, it would result in utter confusion and futility and destroy any possibility of making sense of anything. The only way to interpret reality correctly, consistently and coherently is to interpert it according to God’s revelation as to how the world really is.