Most of the apologetics I see is either about 1) proving God exists to an atheist or non-believer, 2) arguing for the truth of Catholicism vs other Christian denominations or 3) arguing for Christianity vs Judaism or Islam.
What about after a person accepts the idea that there is a God, how does a Catholic Christian argue that the God of Abraham is the one true God, as opposed to Zeus, or Ahura Mazda, or even Hindu gods like Brahma or Vishnu?
Basically, If I come to the conclusion that there is a god, how do I argue for our God?
"the science of apologetics easily falls into three great divisions:
First, the study of religion in general and the grounds of theistic belief;
second, the study of revealed religion and the grounds of Christian belief;
third, the study of the true Church of Christ and the grounds of Catholic belief."
Your question corresponds closely with the second division.
To provide an overview, regarding the first section, the apologetics curriculum discusses the following grounds for religion in general and theistic belief: first (in this section) we prove that there is a God and what His attributes are, especially that He is Omnipotent, Infinite, the Creator, and that He orders the world through Divine Providence. Second (still in the first section though), we show that it makes sense for man to be religious, by showing that we have an immortal soul that will continue to exist after our death and a free will to choose for or against God.
Now, a few of the divine attributes that Christians believe in are already different from the deities that non-Christian religions profess. For example, it is my understanding that Brahma is not considered an intelligent personal being to whom we can relate as persons. And the Greek god Zeus was not considered infinite or omnipotent. (According to the Illiad, if memory serves, Zeus’s brother Poseidon thought he could defeat Zeus in personal combat.) So we’re already diving into some of the Christian distinctives before we’ve even gotten to the second division, the one about why we should accept the Christian revelation. Let’s get to that.
In the second division, which is the one where I think the heart of your question lies, we discuss the following issues: Revelation, Mystery, Faith, Dogma, Miracles, Prophecy. There is good evidence from philosophy that God wants to communicate with us. Evidence includes His providential care for us and the fact that He has endowed us with a rational intellect capable of perceiving Him and a will capable of choosing Him. Then we go on to show that the Bible is God’s revelation. It has characteristics that indicate its origin in God, such as prophecy. There are rational reasons to believe that its prophets really did perform divine acts, especially the resurrection of Jesus, which has objective historical evidence for it.
Moreover, the mysteries proclaimed by Christianity have persuasive power. The mysteries of the Trinity and the Hypostatic Union and the Eucharist are beyond the power of human explanation. Some people might think that means we shouldn’t believe in them, but in fact it is a small argument in their favor: we should expect some divine things to exceed our mental abilities. This is a consequence of God’s infinity. A God who was completely comprehensible would actually not be God, because the unlimited must exceed the limited. So we should expect some Mysteries in the true religion, and we find these in Christianity.
That’s a small argument in their favor. But another argument in their favor (perhaps a stronger argument) is that our Mysteries are demonstrably compatible with reason. If a religion’s dogmas contradict reason, we should reject that religion. But none of ours do. We should expect God to be beyond our comprehension, but not contrary to our reason. He can be a Trinity, but not a square circle. This is because the Trinity is not a self-contradiction, whereas a square circle is. By examining our doctrines, a person can come to understand that they fall exactly where they ought to between two extremes: they are not so human that we can comprehend them fully, but they are not contrary to reason, for then we should reject them. This is a unique feature of Christianity.
So that’s a taste of some of the ideas from this particular apologetics curriculum, but click the link I gave you and dive in deep! This is one of the coolest studies in all apologetics.
…I am purposefully ignorant of most religions… so I would offer the Revelations of Sacred Scriptures, the Apostolic Succession, and Church History…
I would engage the person/s in the study of Scriptures and the two-thousand plus years of Church History…
The very Principles presented by Yahweh God could very well open the mind: I Am Yahweh God; I Alone Am God; I Reveal things to Come; My Word will not Return to Me till everything I have set to do is Accomplished.
…then we would start getting into the meat of things!
If you really want to make the arguments, you will have to learn what these systems mean when they use the word “God” and if they even use it at all. They are radically different. For instance, take Hinduism. Which is God, the Brahman or the Atman? But what about Vishnu and Shiva etc.? Are these really deities, or are they something else? Does Hinduism teach that there is anything like the God the Christian worships? It doesn’t seem so.
Remember that God has no accidental qualities (no quirks, no attitudes, etc., only an eternal will which is temporally realized). Zeus does… He’s a being, below other beings (the Titans), and he is a rather vicious being at that - petty arguments, adultery, and so on. The Trinity is NOT a being, but is rather Being subsisting in itself. This can be a useful tool as well. The cosmological argument (and the related arguments) are directly related.
But the quickest way is through examining the life of Jesus and the reaction to it. Only God can do such and such, this man takes God’s name as his own, etc.
Faith is a gift though… remember that. We don’t argue people into Christian faith, we can only help to dispose them a bit. So prayer should not be an afterthought.
God isn’t one member of a potential class of beings called “gods.” That’s how atheists view it. That’s not orthodox Christianity.
God is the sole cause of the universe, the source of all goodness. There is only one possible referent to the word “God.”
It is no part of orthodox Christianity to say that God was unknown before God revealed himself to Abraham, or that non-Abrahamic faiths know nothing of God. Clearly people knew God before Abraham’s time, and St. Paul acknowledges that Greek philosophers and poets wrote truly (though imperfectly) about God. The early Christian apologists acknowledged the same thing.
The “Zeus” written about by Homer and Hesiod, who is like a human in many respects and comes from older deities, is clearly not what we mean by God.
The “Zeus” written about by Cleanthes is quite a different matter.
Good points…although I think there is a need to be able to explain to an atheist or non-believer why there is a difference. Many non-believers I have seen will try to categorize God with Ra, Zeus, etc. What I get from your post (thank you by the way) is that a solid definition of God is necessary for the conversation.
Right, and we need to be clear that “gods” are not the same thing as “God,” and that we aren’t saying that non-Abrahamic religions know nothing of God. We have to ask of each “deity”: is this a name (however imperfect) for the one God, or is it a created being (real or imaginary) to whom humans have mistakenly given divine honors. And of course there are going to be some fuzzy cases in the middle. Hinduism has a lot of them.