Presuppositional Apologetics in Missions: Vern Poythress Explains

Apologetics isn’t just for the Christian talking to the atheist on the street—it’s for the pioneer missionary on the field too.

How should missionaries argue for the Christian faith? If human beings are dead in sin, then they need more than evidence—they need to realize that even their refusal to believe is an act of rebellion and a sin for which Jesus died. To argue this way is to argue using presuppositional apologetics, but how to apply this method in missions isn’t always clear. How can missionaries take this way of presenting truth—used most often in challenging atheism—and apply it to Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or other pagan religions?

Dr. Vern Poythress returns to the show to unpack this important topic. Taught by Cornelius Van Til, the primary theologian credited with advancing presuppositionalism, Dr. Poythress explains that apologetics matters to missions because no one is neutral before God.

Hear our previous interview with Dr. Poythress on the topic of linguistics here.

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Alex Kocman & Scott Dunford

Alex Kocman is the Director of Communications and Engagement for ABWE. He serves as general editor for Message Magazine and co-hosts The Missions Podcast. After earning his M.A. in Communication and B.S. in Biblical Studies, he served as an online apologetics instructor with Liberty University and a youth pastor in Pennsylvania, where he now resides with his wife and three children. Read his blog or follow him on X/Twitter.

Scott Dunford is the pastor of Western Hills Church in San Mateo, Calif. Previously, Scott served as Vice President of Mobilization and Communications for ABWE and as a missionary in East Asia. Scott graduated from Northland International University (B.A. in Pastoral Studies), earned his M.A. in biblical studies from Central Baptist Theological Seminary, his M.B.A. from Cornerstone University, and is currently enrolled in Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s D.Min. program with an emphasis on missions.