Archive for the ‘Classical Apologetics’ Category
The End of Church Planting? Interesting article that isn’t as provocative as the title. Definitely worth a read and a place at the table for missiological theory of church planting, challenging the dominant paradigm of the entrepreneurial paid pastor/planter.
How to use rewards/frequent-flyer credit cards to create a self-fulfilling profit loop (buy certain gold coins, get rewards/miles, deposit gold in bank, pay off credit card with gold deposited into bank).
Third Millennium Ministries has its own iPhone and Android apps. The content of ThirdMill is truly top shelf. I am of the opinion that Third Mill is probably one of the most important ministries of our time and all on a shoestring budget. If you care at all about the Gospel and the future of the church you ought to donate to them. I am thankful that there are actually some forward thinking strategists that are creating excellent scalable content capable of penetrating that glaring lack of theological training of pastors worldwide.
The Decline of the Nuclear Family. Some pretty staggering statistics and commentary on the status of family in the U.S.
Mayim Bialik (Blossom, Amy Farrah Fowler) of Big Bang Theory is actually a PhD and published in Neuroscience (HT: BL)
Centrist Tom Coburn has an interesting debt proposal – I was definitely not expecting a proposal from one of the ‘Gang of Six’
An interesting piece giving some provocative thoughts regarding the Cosmological Argument
There are several layers of awesome to this Pepsi ad (coming from a staunch Coca-Cola fan):
This is a highly selective list of what I think are both good and useful apologetic works.
1. Apologetics to the Glory of God by John Frame [y, l, e, p, s]
At the end of the day, I think the presuppositionalists have the most Biblical and best defense of Christianity. This is the best of the presuppositional works.
2. Pensees by Blaise Pascal [y, l, e, p, s]
This book should come as no surprise considering the title of this blog. Pascal speaks to the heart and the mind. His analysis of man’s greatness/wretchedness, propensity towards boredom, and love of diversions make so much sense of the human experience in light of the Christian story.
3. Warranted Christian Belief by Alvin Plantinga [p, s]
This is Plantinga’s magnum opus. He presents his epistemology. It is not an easy read, a background in philosophy would be very helpful.
4. Tactics: A Gameplan For Discussing Your Christian Convictions by Gregory Koukl [y, l, e, p, s]
While not necessarily an apologetic work, this is a helpful book for creating discussion about your faith. I included it here because it is so helpful and practical.
5. Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe [l, e, p, s]
See write-up here.
6. The Reason for God by Tim Keller [c, y, l, e, p, s]
Keller presents a third way between pure science/reason and pure faith.
7. Cornelius Van Til: An Analysis of His Thought by John Frame [e, p, s]
If you are seriously interested in presuppositional thought, then this is a good place to dig deeper.
8. Defending Your Faith by R.C. Sproul [y, l, e, p, s]
R.C. has put together a very solid and readable introduction to apologetics. A good first book on the subject.
9. God and Other Minds by Alvin Plantinga [p, s]
Here, Plantinga discusses the classical arguments for/against God. Also, his God, Freedom, and Evil is pretty good. It is not an easy read. A background in philosophy and/or logic is very helpful.
10. Every Thought Captive by Richard Pratt [c, y, l, e, p, s]
This brief book is an accessible and good read for everyone.
(c=children; y=young adult; l=lay leader; e=elder; p=pastor; s=scholar)
I see a place for all the apologetic schools in defense of Christianity. There are some that are firmly entrenched in their particular school or tradition, and for the most part I understand where they are coming from. I happen to think the presuppositionatlists are head and shoulders above the other schools and I happen to agree that their approach is the most Biblical, and therefore the most God glorifying. However, I see a lot of value in the classical and evidentialist schools and I don’t think we should throw the baby out with the bath water. From a personal perspective, intelligent design, the teleological argument, and the ontological argument had a profound impact on my life.
I think the main value of evidences are to bolster pre-existing faith by showing that our faith is not unreasonable, unjustified, or unwarranted. I think the main value of presuppositional apologetics is calling all non-Christian worldviews to task over the fact that they hold mutually exclusive propositions and cannot account for all things.
Perhaps its a silly analogy, but I liken apologetics to the three phases of football: offense, defense, and special teams. The presuppositionalists are on the offensive challenging false notions in other worldviews. The classical and evidentialist apologetists are defending the reasonability of the Christian faith. Then there are guys like Blaise Pascal, and Alvin Plantinga that specialize in kickoffs, punts, PATs, and field goals. Together they present a coherent, consistent, and believable Christianity that makes sense of existence intellectually, emotionally, and experientially.
Again, classical apologetics focuses on the rational basis of the Christian faith. It establishes this through several rational arguments for the existence of God (Cosmological, Teleological, and Ontological), and evidences for the reliability of the Bible and miracles.
Some main characters:
-The Apostle Paul (first century) would sometimes cite the resurrection and fulfillment of miracles in his preaching of the Gospel (Acts 17…).
–Justin Martyr (100-165 ad) focuses much of his attention defending Christianity to the Roman government and arguing against prominent heretics of that day, particularly Marcion. Justin keys in on defending the Incarnation of Jesus as the Divine Logos, emphasizing prophecies fulfilled, and highlighting the reality of Jesus’ Second Coming. [there are some presuppositional veins in Justin Martyr as well – most notably, he thinks God’s existence needs no proof]
–St. Augustine wrote very widely defending Christianity against the heresy of Pelagius as well as positively refining/defining many central elements of orthodox Christianity.
–St. Anselm (1033-1109) is most famous for the original formulation of the Ontological Argument. The ontological argument for the existence of God is exceedingly difficult to understand, requiring heavy thinking to comprehend its brilliance. I happen to think that the ontological argument actually establishes the existence of God. I also happen to think that it is the second best argument behind the presuppositional Transcendental Argument. I think the best formulation of the ontological argument is Alvin Plantinga’s version employing modal logic.
–Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) also wrote very widely, providing much of the foundations for the Roman Catholic tradition up til Vatican II. Aquinas is a central figure in Classical Apologetics for his 5 arguments for the existence of God. The 5 arguments are:
- Many things are moving. Everything that is moved was moved by something. An infinite chain of movers is impossible. Therefore there had to be an unmoved mover. We call this unmoved mover God.
- Many things are caused. Existence is a series of causes and effects. There had to be a beginning, hence there must be a first cause to this chain of causes and effects. We call this unmoved mover God.
- Some things in the Universe may or may not exist, these beings exist contingently. However, it is impossible for everything in the Universe to be contingent, because something exists right now. Therefore, there must be a being whose existence is not contingent but necessary. We call this necessarily existent being God.
- Different perfections of a wide range of degrees can be evidenced in the Universe. These degrees of perfection assume an ultimate standard. The ultimate standard is God.
- All natural bodies work toward a purpose. These objects are unintelligent in an of themselves. Acting towards a purpose is a sign of intelligence. Therefore, there is an intelligent being that guides these natural bodies to those purposes. This intelligent being is God.
Up next, we will take a look at Evidentialist Apologetics.