Apologetics

"I thought it was going to be analyzing a history of Jesus without talking about religious aspects, but it was actually very theological"

Book Review - Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A Primary Source Reader

First Peter 3:15 states, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” Apologetics is the formal study of how we are to “give an answer.”

William Edgar and K. Scott Oliphint, professors of apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary, have done a great service to the Church in compiling a collection of writings from the New Testament era to AD 1500. This collection shows how writers from different eras, facing different challenges, have sought to defend the faith.

The volume here reviewed is the first of what originally was to be a two-volume set, and has 486 pages plus an 11-page index. In communications with someone working on volume two, I learned that the volume had grown to over 1,000 pages, and there is a possibility they will split the material from AD 1500 to the present into two volumes. If the second volume is of the same quality as the first, I hope that no material will be deleted in an attempt to limit the series to two volumes.

Making an anthology is like carving a statue. The editors, like the sculptor, must make many decisions regarding what to include and what to chisel away. In my judgment, Edgar and Oliphint have made very good—and in one case surprisingly good—selections from the material available. This book provides an excellent introduction to how believers have fought for the faith against pagans and atheists as well as against heretics and false religions.

The book begins with an excellent introduction to the overall project, providing both a short review of the state of apologetics today and the criteria for making the selections included. The editors state, “The twentieth century saw both significant development in apologetics and a measure of decline.” (p. 1) They cite the “onslaught of the Enlightenment, followed by Romanticism” (p. 2) as making both reason and faith independent of Scripture, calling for a need to develop new ways to explain our hope to the world around us. In our day, when many now associate taking religion seriously with violence, there are new challenges as well.

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Apologetic Methods: What Are They and Can't We Agree?

Reprinted with permission from Paraklesis (Spring, 2009) courtesy of Baptist Bible College

As Christians today, we face a daunting task. More than ever the people who surround us follow the gods of other religions, materialism and secularism, or the Christian God only nominally. The task of making a case for Christ is greater than ever.

But when we turn to books on defending the faith we wonder at all the disagreement. How can believers who agree on so much doctrine disagree so vehemently over apologetics? We in the ministry have to understand the issues ourselves so we can help our people interact with apologetic writings and defend their Christian faith. If there is a mist in the pulpit, there will certainly be a fog in the pews.

Defining Apologetics

Apologetics is the defense of the Christian faith. But how should we do it? Should we go positive or negative? Negative apologetics refutes charges against our faith, while positive apologetics makes a case for our faith. Should we be hard or soft? Can we prove our case for the faith (hard), or only show it probable (soft)? Consequently, can a person rationally reject Christ (soft), or is he being irrational (hard)? Is apologetics simply evangelism, or can it include “pre-evangelism”—removing obstacles and preparing the way for the gospel? Is apologetics just for unbelievers, or also helpful for believers?

These are a few areas of debate among apologists. If we don’t understand these issues we’ll be lost when we try to interact with books on apologetics. A recent book examines five apologetic strategies (Steven B .Cowan, ed., Five Views on Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), but we can put them in two broad camps: evidentialism and presuppositionalism.

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An Interview with Dr. John C. Whitcomb

On Saturday, November 21, I attended what is something of a rarity these days—a prophecy conference. Dr. John Whitcomb spoke from the book of Daniel, focusing on the prophetic visions of Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel himself. I was there because I wanted to interview Dr. Whitcomb and the conference location was just a few hours from where I live. So the event itself wasn’t the main draw. Like many these days, my attitude toward a prophecy conference tilted noticeably in the “been there, done that” direction.

But I’m delighted to have been there for the conference and to have the opportunity to commend Dr. Whitcomb’s ministry. Even if you are firmly committed to a non-dispensational approach to Scripture or non-premillennial eschatology, I strongly recommend that you go out of your way to hear Dr. Whitcomb speak from the book of Daniel. If you do, you’ll probably discover for yourself what I did.

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"Wilson isn't one of those evasive Christians who mumble apologetically about how some of the Bible stories are really just 'metaphors.' He is willing to maintain very staunchly that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and that his sacrifice redeems..."

Atheist Christopher Hitchens reflects on recent debates. Including one with Douglas Wilson.
HT: 9Marks

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All You Need is Love, but...

Article first appeared on SI November 20, 2006

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
-Jesus of Nazareth (Matt. 22:37–39, KJV)

All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
-The Beatles (“All You Need Is Love”) 1

Were John, Paul, George, and Ringo, 1900 years after Jesus of Nazareth, reiterating His message to a new generation? Is this similarity evidence that the same basic message underlies all world religions and worldviews? That after we strip away all the external, all the ceremonial, all the legal, all the theological and metaphysical considerations, every religion pursues the same basic values, usually including “love”?

That all religions are basically the same is an idea held both by the man on the street and in the halls of academia. Consider what Paul Tillich wrote:

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