This is an extremely delicate problem, as many who enter into the preservation of orthodoxy from an apologetic background have a tendency to fight for the preservation of their specific tradition rather than that of all traditions within the scope of orthodox Christianity. These methods are meant to be used within the context of discourse occurring between individuals claiming to be believers in Christ, or Christian.
With the statement above being recognized, here are some general thoughts and methods for an apologetic framework of the preservation of Christian orthodoxy.
Method 1: The Columbo Litmus test
From Greg Koukl’s book Tactics, there is a brief but detailed explanation of the columbo tactic which more or less involves the use of questions to have the person you are engaging with dialogue to lay out the evidence needed to build a case for God/Biblical authenticity/etc…. There is a similar method in the preservation of orthodoxy, by asking questions specific to interpretation of different passages within scripture you are able to gather two important pieces of information: General theological bias, and whether or not that person maintains a consistent theological system, further this method can be used to identify potential areas where heterodox theology may be present, specifically with the Trinity, Doctrine of the Incarnation, and the Personage of the Holy Spirit.
Method 2: The Gospel Method
In order to utilize this method, you need to be familiar with your Bible, it is also helpful if you understand the difference between fundamentals of Christian Faith and non-fundamentals.
What I dub the Gospel Method is similar to the columbo litmus test but it is more fine tuned for testing a person’s understanding of the Gospel, this test is the easiest to use and the one I advocate for people to learn first. It is simply begun by asking the individual to walk you through the Gospel as they understand it, this will help identify if they have a background in any modern cults or if they have developed a heretical theology about the Gospel.
Method 3: The Meaning of the Crucifixion
This line of reasoning may be used within either of the two previous methods and is best utilized if there is a chance that the person may be undervaluing the death of Christ. the reasoning goes as follows:
1. Did Jesus die on the Cross?
2. if answered yes: What does the death of Jesus accomplish, if anything?
3. if answered no: show them the account of his death from the New Testament
any step beyond here has too many variables due to this methods wide range of uses, that being said continue the line of dialogue and do your best to use the columbo tactic to build a case for the necessity of the Death of Christ, be sure to build a case that is supported by all the orthodox understandings of the Atonement, to prevent the discussion from getting lost in the details.
Method 4: Theological Deconstruction
This method is particularly difficult unless you are extremely well versed in Historical theology, exegesis, and philosophy, as such I list it here only out of honor for the ways I have seen it used quite beautifully in practice by some of my mentors.
The process of Theological Deconstruction, makes use of the skill of playing devil\’s advocate to deconstruct or cause the other party to doubt specific aspects of their theology, if done improperly, this can yield a total doubt of all faith, which can be recovered from but can be avoided under the right conditions. Through careful guidance and the use of many different fields of information, one can help the other party see their own theology, in isolated parts, in the different condemned heresies throughout church history. Once this has been accomplished take a step back and offer to do a bible study with them on the basic beliefs of Christianity.
Method 4 is particularly useful with the Christian cults, and as such is the method I aspire to be able to use successfully as I get older and more experienced