Apologetics- Where do I begin?

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D. Paul

Puritan Board Sophomore
Don't read presuppositionalist literature.

study arguments for the resurrection of Jesus as opposed to arguments for the existence of God. The latter are not as powerful and as convincing as the former.

I know you're not, but you must be kidding.
Advice to "stay away" from someone as clear-minded as Bahnsen in favor of Molinists?

-----Added 10/23/2009 at 09:42:07 EST-----

Because their arguments are no good.

Assertion with no support. Support, please.
 

AThornquist

Puritan Board Doctor
Ewen: think positive. Remember what Mr. Smiley said a couple weeks ago? "Who's know what would have happened to David [when he fought Goliath] if he didn't believe in himself?"

Megan, I have benefited greatly from Bahnsen's Always Ready, a little pamphlet by Van Til called Why I believe in God, and Pratt's Every Thought Captive so far. There is also Bahnsen's Van Til's Apologetic that I have to read, but the thing is a beast! I highly suggest works from Answers in Genesis and Creation Ministries International. There's a lot of fantastic scientific information between the two. Their books are great :up:
 
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Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
I would say to balance out the presuppositionalists with common sense thinkers. No good presupper is going to deny evidence or common grace just as no common sense apologist is going to deny that our presuppositions play a significant role in the interpretation of evidence.

So yes, read your Bahnsen, Van Til, Plantinga, etc, but also read Aquinas, Anselm, Sproul, and Lewis.

Also be aware that presuppositionalism as such is a peculiarly American Calvinist phenomenon. I am not aware of any British or international apologists who have used the method, though historically it drew from the Dutch neo-Calvinist tradition of Kuyper, etc. as opposed to the common sense realism that dominated American seminaries until Van Til.
 

cih1355

Puritan Board Junior

SolaSaint

Puritan Board Sophomore
Megan,

First I would like to ask why the interest in apologetics? It's important just as a calling to preach or teach. Also I would warn anyone getting into an apologetic ministry to be grounded well in the faith before diving in. Apologetics isn't for the faint of heart. Remember you will be studying up on Satan's weapons and tools and it can cause one to question his/her faith at times, however it also strengthens one's faith as you learn how to defend the faith with scripture and good reason and logic.

I'm currently studying apologetics at Trinity School of Apologetics online. Just do a Google search. It is a tuition free graduate school from India, headed by Dr. Johnson Philip. Very sound biblically and very demanding in the amount of materials and study required. It only costs a minimal amount to enroll and you have 2 years to complete a Masters program. I would challenge you to check it out. God bless.
 

MMasztal

Puritan Board Sophomore
Look for Greg Koukl, he has a series of MP3s on defending the faith.

Also, find some debates between atheists and Christians (I recommend Bahnsen v. Stein and WLC's debates) and listen to/read them. Figure out what the arguments being used to support and critique each position are.
.

:ditto:

I just bought Koukl's new book "Tactics" into my Apologetics class. Koukl says what I've been trying to say, but so much better. His MP3s are excellent. Koukl's website is Stand to Reason: Stand to Reason: Equipping Christian Ambassadors with Knowledge, Wisdom, and Character.

I'd also recommend listening to some of James White's (Alpha & Omega Ministries) talks in his You Tube page. YouTube - DrOakley1689's Channel
 

Megan Mozart

Puritan Board Junior
First I would like to ask why the interest in apologetics?

Honestly, it is mostly a selfish motivation. When I was in high school I just had a strong desire to learn, and apologetics was one of the things that piqued my interest. Now I have a pretty much insatiable desire to understand the Bible. My desire to study apologetics and philosophy isn't as strong, but it's up there. I just want to be able to defend the faith when I talk to family members who aren't saved, alongside knowing Christian truths of course and I hope that God will use that. Another reason is that logic and debate is interesting to me and I want to be a rock of truth amidst people who don't want to think their way through deciding their beliefs, but just pick and choose whatever feels good.

Now the second reason is because I want to know enough about the subject so that when my kids ask me how we can know Christianity is true, and can give them a solid answer. And I want it to be some part of our homeschool curriculum. There's a podcast by a Christian named Randall Niles who ever since he was twelve asked his parents questions about how we know there is a God, etc and they always said "well, you just have to have faith," and nothing more. He ended up becoming an atheist, and only after a several year search of the truth as an adult he ended up converting to Christianity. Now that has been in my mind ever since and I really don't want to make that mistake with my kids.

-----Added 10/24/2009 at 11:02:45 EST-----

Oh, SolaSaint, if my avatar is worrying you about my grounding in the faith, don't let it. It's just a joke. :lol:
 

Brian Withnell

Puritan Board Junior
I'm going to give you some really strange advice on starting off on apologetics. Start with a good book on discrete mathematics, ignore evidentialists and only read presuppositional apologists (Van Til and company) but only after you have a good foundation for mathematical reasoning. If you are looking for lifelong study, this would be the ideal course of study. The reason I say this is that if you attempt to go the evidentialist route, they are all based on circular reasoning that has presuppositions, but they just don't know where their presuppositions start.

There is no good and logical necessity apart from the axioms of a system that give a foundation. The WCF states:
5. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.
Our confession states that our persuasion of the scripture is from the inward working of the holy spirit ... even if we have all those reasons to find it worthy of our trust, it is an axiomatic position; we accept it without any proof because of the Spirit working within us. In other words, even our acceptance of the Bible is presuppositional (to the extent that the assurance of the truth of it is not, and cannot be, because of outward evidence).

What Kant did was take the logical underpinnings of classical apologetics out from under the house. He did so through logic and reason, and did so well. What he (and no one else can) do is take out the underpinnings of presuppositional apologetics. The presuppositional start is Romans 1:18-21 with a non-believer. I do not attempt to convince someone of the truth of what they already know. What I do is show them the inconsistency of their own system (they borrow from the starting point of the existence of God) and tear down their house of cards. (While it is possible to be logically consistent with not believing in God, it requires being a psychopath/sociopath in order to maintain that consistency, and while there are those that have suppressed the truth in unrighteousness that far, declaring the truth is what we are required to do, not convert souls.)

As to your reasoning, you cannot, by any means of wisdom or skill in parenting (or lack thereof), change whose names were written in the book of life before the foundation of the world. If God blesses you with children, their faith is founded on God's election, not your effectiveness in parenting. Just as God's election is a great comfort and incentive to evangelize those whom we meet, it is also a great comfort and incentive to parent the best we know how trusting God to provide the result. Our trust is that he has promised to be our God, and the God of our children. More we cannot do other than raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Your desire to defend the faith needs to be tempered with a knowledge that no matter how effective you are at logical explanation, you cannot possibly control the outcome. Suppressing the truth that God has made plain to mankind is a moral issue, not a knowledge or reasoning issue. God has shown everyone what is needed to know that he is, and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. It is only through unrighteousness that people suppress that truth. We are not better than God at convincing people of the Lord's existence ... yet evidentialists would seem to imply that if they could just argue a little better, know a little more, reason a little more clearly, people would see their need and repent. Repentance unto life is a saving grace that is given by God and is completely out of our control; we are to obey and trust the result to God who is in control.

Keep your enthusiasm to defend the faith ... it is possible that God will use you as an instrument in his hand to bring someone to faith whose name is written. But remember, it isn't based on your ability. Even at this point, you are capable of defending the faith to the extent that God demands of you at this point. Our study is more for our own edification than for our ability to win others to Christ (in ourselves, we have no ability to win others to Christ, and if the Holy Spirit is working, those whom we testify to will be won to the faith). Study to show yourself approved (to yourself!).
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
Brian,

I appreciate your sentiments, but I am concerned that you are overlooking the ordained means by which the elect are brought into the kingdom. No doubt, Some of those means are indeed through the efforts of proper apologetic "preaching" of the Good News. I don't think anyone who has a proper understanding of apologetics assumes that they can reason a person into the kingdom without the efficacious workings of the Holy Spirit upon the elect. We are commanded to give a defense of that which we believe, which is basically a call to the offensive tactics of apologetics.

AMR
 

JTB

Puritan Board Freshman
If you are interested in specific fields of apologetics (like science), Clark also has several books critiquing non-Christian views of science, history, language (Lord God of Truth address that topic), etc. If you are interested in those titles, I can post a more comprehensive list.


YES. I am definitely interested in the science. Let's hear that list.

Well, there are several ways to go with Clark, because the late John Robbins published some of Clark's works individually, and some as compilations. So, I'll give you both (collections in parenthesis), in case you want to begin with more than one thing at a time.

General philosophy/apologetics:
1. A Christian View of Men and Things
2. Three Types of Religious Philosophy (republished as part of Christian Philosophy)
3. Religion, Reason, and Revelation (republished as part of Christian Philosophy)
4. An Introduction to Christian Philosophy (republished as part of Christian Philosophy)

Authority of Scripture/textual criticism/language:
1. God's Hammer: The Bible and its Critics
2. Logical Criticisms of Textual Criticism (republished as part of Commentaries on Paul's Epistles)
3. Lord God of Truth
4. Language and Theology (republished as part of Modern Philosophy)
5. In Defense of Theology

A Christian view of History:
1. Historiography: Secular and Religious

A Christian view of Science/psychology/empiricism:
1. Philosophy of Science and Belief in God (republished as part of Modern Philosophy)
2. Behaviorism and Christianity (republished as part of Modern Philosophy)
3. William James and John Dewey (republished as part of Modern Philosophy)

Clark's defense of his own position:
1. Clark Speaks from the Grave
2. The Philosophy of Gordon Clark, edited by Ronald Nash

Sorry, I couldn't resist posting a more complete list :-D
 

Brian Withnell

Puritan Board Junior
Brian,

I appreciate your sentiments, but I am concerned that you are overlooking the ordained means by which the elect are brought into the kingdom. No doubt, Some of those means are indeed through the efforts of proper apologetic "preaching" of the Good News. I don't think anyone who has a proper understanding of apologetics assumes that they can reason a person into the kingdom without the efficacious workings of the Holy Spirit upon the elect. We are commanded to give a defense of that which we believe, which is basically a call to the offensive tactics of apologetics.

AMR

I am long winded, but I think I did answer this with what I consider the best methodology for apologetics.

Any system of logic must start from the axiomatic truths that are taken without proof. Our system of logic starts with God has revealed (why do you think the WCF starts with "Of the Holy Scripture" instead of God?) While we can know some things about God from general revelation (Rom 1 says so) we can have no ordinary knowledge of salvation without God revealing himself to us (and even general revelation has what God has revealed of himself and no more).

From that basic presupposition, we begin. The best method of apologetics from that point is to show that any other system that is not psychopathic or sociopathic borrows from the world view that has the God of the Bible as creator and sustainer of the universe.

The presuppositional apologist knows that the person that denies God or Christ has inconsistencies in what they believe (at least not the serial killer among us) and so pointing them out will either cause them pause and rethink (if they are elect) or infuriate them because they are being shown to reject God because of their moral defect (rejecting God, when they know God exists).

Simeon Magus could not be converted by the apostles; our later day Simeons will not be converted by us. The people that will come to Christ are those whom he has called. We are the instruments that God has chosen to use, but we must know that we cannot affect salvation for the lost, it is God that saves.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
From that basic presupposition, we begin.

And from that basic presupposition, you lose your audience.

The best method of apologetics from that point is to show that any other system that is not psychopathic or sociopathic borrows from the world view that has the God of the Bible as creator and sustainer of the universe.

With all due respect, I have never heard an apologist prove (or even attempt to prove) the necessary connection between the God of scriptures and these truths. I have heard Bahnsen and others claim that things such as logic and language presuppose God, but I've never seen the presupposition shown--just asserted. We can possibly argue that the axiom of scripture leads to these things, but how do you demonstrate that these things necessarily presuppose the truth of the Scriptures.

All that critiquing another worldview does is to prove the skill and insight of the critic--it does nothing to advance his own worldview. A critique may valid regardless of the coherence/correspondence to reality of the critic's worldview. What the presuppositionalist assumes is that he himself has perfect theology--which he does not.

This is why I would recommend a healthy dose of both presuppositionalism and common sense apologetics--each one has things to offer.
 

Brian Withnell

Puritan Board Junior
From that basic presupposition, we begin.

And from that basic presupposition, you lose your audience.

That may be true for the reprobate, but for the elect, I do not think so.


The best method of apologetics from that point is to show that any other system that is not psychopathic or sociopathic borrows from the world view that has the God of the Bible as creator and sustainer of the universe.

With all due respect, I have never heard an apologist prove (or even attempt to prove) the necessary connection between the God of scriptures and these truths. I have heard Bahnsen and others claim that things such as logic and language presuppose God, but I've never seen the presupposition shown--just asserted. We can possibly argue that the axiom of scripture leads to these things, but how do you demonstrate that these things necessarily presuppose the truth of the Scriptures.

All that critiquing another worldview does is to prove the skill and insight of the critic--it does nothing to advance his own worldview. A critique may valid regardless of the coherence/correspondence to reality of the critic's worldview. What the presuppositionalist assumes is that he himself has perfect theology--which he does not.

This is why I would recommend a healthy dose of both presuppositionalism and common sense apologetics--each one has things to offer.

While I understand you have not heard someone witnessing the truth of the gospel in such a fashion directly, but might I ask how often have you heard anyone witness in any fashion? And even more salient, how many people have you heard?

In one sense, the only thing required of us is to be able to defend the faith, and also to proclaim the gospel. Proclaiming the gospel is much easier in that it requires little more than "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." Defending the faith can be done without words by a Godly life (and without a Godly life, it is impossible to defend). Words in defense of the gospel can be a sword used to incapacitate those that would try to shut the doors to hell again the message of Jesus, or answering the questions of someone that might be elect, but as yet not professing.

My point is we have a distinct advantage in proclaiming the gospel. Those to whom we proclaim it already know God (Rom 1) and his invisible attributes. We proclaim what they know, and call them to turn from where they are to the glorious grace of our Lord.
 

CNJ

Puritan Board Senior
LOL! Pictures of Joyce M., Joel O. and Oprah. Yep! All three need help with apologetics, not to mention theology!
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Megan,

You may find helpful to spend some time studying the Westminster Standards, including their Scripture proofs using The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes by GI Williamson.http://www.cepbookstore.com/p-284-the-westminster-confession-of.aspx

While you will not have great basis for engaging an atheist, it will help much with just about anyone who says they believe in God.

Much engagement, I have found is with nominal Christians- who very often do not know Scripture well or how it fits together.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
In one sense, the only thing required of us is to be able to defend the faith, and also to proclaim the gospel. Proclaiming the gospel is much easier in that it requires little more than "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." Defending the faith can be done without words by a Godly life (and without a Godly life, it is impossible to defend). Words in defense of the gospel can be a sword used to incapacitate those that would try to shut the doors to hell again the message of Jesus, or answering the questions of someone that might be elect, but as yet not professing.

Here I think we agree. However, this is apologetics of the heart, not the head.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Megan,

A lot depends on your background in philosophy. Many of the books suggested can make your head spin worse than Linda Blair in the original Exorcist movie.

I would echo the words of those who recommended an entry point like Pratt or Sproul. We all have our preferences (presuppositional, classical, or evidential apologetics). But, it is important for you to get comfortable with the flatlands of the vocabulary before you try climbing the mountains of the philosophy.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
I feel a burden to study apologetics and epistemology.

Where would you instruct someone to start in the study of apologetics and epistemology? I'm looking for books. I will probably start small but also give more challenging works that I can read soon after I get some basics down. I really want a detailed, lifelong, disciplined study of this, so where would you instruct me to start, and also what goals do you think I should strive for in terms of what monumental works on the subject that I should tackle?

Also, just any personal advice for one who is looking to study this? Any personal goals you think I should consider?

Links are good too but I'm primarily looking for books (I'll take links to online books too).

Thanks!

Apologetics (if you're including polemics) is a huge field, and you have to define what you want to do. The first point is always to have the content of your faith rendered clear and explicit to your own mind, and the reasons for it succinctly apprehended. As such, then, starting with philosophical disputes and apologetic manuals is probably not the best idea.
You'd want to be sure first of all that you had the content of Scripture pretty well down - in other words, if someone says "the Bible says" you know right away whether that's true or not. And then you'd want to make sure that you had in your mind a good summary of the principal parts of what the Bible teaches - the Confession or the Larger Catechism would work for that. Along with that would come a firmly developing grasp on interpretive methods, so that you know how to approach an unfamiliar text. This point, like epistemology, is one where there are enormous differences of opinion, and lot of trash has been written (though there are some good books on hermeneutics and some fine literary criticism). Perhaps with interpretation, as with epistemology, your best bet will be to read Scripture and the Confession with those points in mind. So you would ask, "How does Paul know that he knows this?" "How does Peter get from this text to this conclusion?" "What rule of interpretation led the Westminster Assembly to include this text in proof of this point?" "What epistemology does the exposition of the 10 Commandments require?" And so forth: this should help enable you to answer previously un-heard of questions.
Another large part of knowing how to answer those questions, I think, is going to come in by the foundations of Scriptural and Confessional thinking becoming explicit in your mind. In other words, there are always things that are sort of taken for granted, and are consequently "unspoken"; learning how to "speak" those things gives you a more thorough grasp of your own system, and learning the skill of seeing what is "unspoken" and stating it makes you more able to critique other systems.

With those two skills (of interpretation and seeing what is assumed in what is said) in hand, and the knowledge of Scripture's content and teaching clearly present to your mind (on all four of which, of course, you are going to have to be working constantly), you are ready to tackle any given variety of false teaching. But I would encourage you not to tackle false teaching for no reason. E.g., if you know no Hindus, there is not a lot of reason to explore Hindu views in much depth. But if you have a family member who is a JW, and whom you see routinely, understanding their misinterpretations, and perhaps even more importantly, the ways that their false system enslaves and afflicts its adherents, becomes an attainment of real value. I don't think there's any value to fighting apologetic ghosts - bringing up wrong ideas that aren't live options for anyone you're in contact with. Picking fights for no reason seems to me like an excellent way to puff yourself up with pride, and ultimately fall into the snare of delusion.
 

steven-nemes

Puritan Board Sophomore
If the heretic of all heretics brandishes the greatest argument for the existence of a triune God, then who cares how his theology is?

That's great advice for a new wife. From a young man. Getting good fruit from bad trees.

I'm not sure exactly what this is supposed to mean. She wanted to know what to read, in as far as apologetics/epistemological issues are concerned, and I suggested she look for some philosophically sophisticated arguments/works, regardless of the theology of the writers. That seems reasonable to me.

If you want to learn theology, then you read good theology. If you want to learn philosophy, then you read good philosophy.

And if you think an argument presupposes some bad theology, then either drop it or try to alter it. Easy as that.

Well, yeah, they're not Calvinists, but so what?

If the heretic of all heretics brandishes the greatest argument for the existence of a triune God, then who cares how his theology is?

The point is apologetics and philosophical argumentation, and you don't get that from the presuppositionalists, whereas you do get it from WLC and others.

I think the point is, "What are you apologizing for?" If you have a great argument that leads to salvation by works, what exactly have you accomplished.

CT

I don't know what this means either. Who said anything about salvation by works? I simply said that the theology of the writers she'll read, if she wants to read some philosophy, would be irrelevant.

I disagree theologically with both William Alston and Alvin Plantinga, for example, but I should not disregard their works in philosophy of religion just because of that. They may not be great theologians but they are great philosophers, and when I read philosophy, I'm looking for that--namely, philosophy, and not theology.

I would say that the former makes no sense without the latter.

CT

Not really. If you can show the best explanation of the historical data regarding the origin of Christianity and Jesus' death, etc., is that God rose him from the dead, then who cares about bothering with complex and impractical proofs like the Leibnizian cosmological argument from the PSR? Besides, the evidence for the resurrection is more compelling than the more complicated proofs anyway.

Well, yeah, they're not Calvinists, but so what?

If the heretic of all heretics brandishes the greatest argument for the existence of a triune God, then who cares how his theology is?

The point is apologetics and philosophical argumentation, and you don't get that from the presuppositionalists, whereas you do get it from WLC and others.

Steven, an unbeliever will never be brought to the light of the gospel through philosophy. I could say more, but I would ask you to read Romans 1:16-17, and 1 Corinthians 1:17-2:5 very carefully. The Apostle puts it far better than I ever could. Philosophical arguments will come and go, and woe to those who put their faith and trust in them! Blessed are those who put their trust in Christ and his gospel, and "how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" Those men who spend their time dressing up the gospel with things like philosophy - the wisdom of this world - will (one day) see the error of their ways. I hope they see it sooner rather than later. Can a man who is sent to preach the gospel be counted faithful when he doesn't do it, but rather fills the ears of hearers with more respectable sounding arguments?

I agree with you; no one will believe in Jesus by way of philosophy. Only the Holy Spirit can bring a person to faith. But this was my point: if she wants to learn apologetics and defense of the faith, she ought to learn the good stuff from top of the line philosophers.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
If the heretic of all heretics brandishes the greatest argument for the existence of a triune God, then who cares how his theology is?

That's great advice for a new wife. From a young man. Getting good fruit from bad trees.

I'm not sure exactly what this is supposed to mean. She wanted to know what to read, in as far as apologetics/epistemological issues are concerned, and I suggested she look for some philosophically sophisticated arguments/works, regardless of the theology of the writers. That seems reasonable to me.

If you want to learn theology, then you read good theology. If you want to learn philosophy, then you read good philosophy.


And if you think an argument presupposes some bad theology, then either drop it or try to alter it. Easy as that.

Alright, but then why send newbies to those who specialize in presupposing bad theology?

I don't know what this means either. Who said anything about salvation by works? I simply said that the theology of the writers she'll read, if she wants to read some philosophy, would be irrelevant.

You said if a person was "a heretic of heretics" it was alright to go study under them? Salvation by works is pretty common viewpoint and should not be outside the scope of a super heretic. I believe bad theology presupposes bad philosophy and vice versa.

I disagree theologically with both William Alston and Alvin Plantinga, for example, but I should not disregard their works in philosophy of religion just because of that. They may not be great theologians but they are great philosophers, and when I read philosophy, I'm looking for that--namely, philosophy, and not theology.

I would say that I disagree with them when they do bad philosophy. I am not sure why you completely separate philosophy from theology?

Not really. If you can show the best explanation of the historical data regarding the origin of Christianity and Jesus' death, etc., is that God rose him from the dead, then who cares about bothering with complex and impractical proofs like the Leibnizian cosmological argument from the PSR? Besides, the evidence for the resurrection is more compelling than the more complicated proofs anyway.

Who said proofs for God's existence have to be mindblowingly complicated? I did not. Next, if God does not exist, then He cannot resurrect Jesus can He?

CT
 

steven-nemes

Puritan Board Sophomore
Alright, but then why send newbies to those who specialize in presupposing bad theology?

A philosopher can have bad theology and still have some good arguments. Plantinga believes some strange things about hell, namely, he doesn't think that it is such that whoever goes there has no possibility of release whatsoever. That's bad theology, I think. But it is utterly irrelevant to his arguments (for an example or two) for belief in the existence of God as being properly basic and proper function as being the best account of knowledge. His bad theology is not relevant and doesn't come up.

So my point is this: when dealing with some philosophical arguments, the bad theology of the philosophers does not "touch" or "ruin" the arguments thereby.

You said if a person was "a heretic of heretics" it was alright to go study under them? Salvation by works is pretty common viewpoint and should not be outside the scope of a super heretic. I believe bad theology presupposes bad philosophy and vice versa.

I said it was okay to study an argument that is quite good (and leads to a reasonably orthodox conclusion), even if the author is a heretic. Let's say some philosopher, Bob Smith, is a universalist. Let's say he comes up with an unbelievably convincing ontological argument, or whatever. Should we completely disregard his argument, and all the apologetical potential that it has, just because he's a wacko on a few issues? Surely not. We can disagree theologically and be in philosophical agreement with others.

I would say that I disagree with them when they do bad philosophy. I am not sure why you completely separate philosophy from theology?

I don't understand what you're saying here. I'd disagree with them when they do bad philosophy, too.

Philosophy is separated from theology (for the most part) because a lot of philosophical issues are theologically irrelevant.

Who said proofs for God's existence have to be mindblowingly complicated? I did not. Next, if God does not exist, then He cannot resurrect Jesus can He?

The proofs are complex, however. Discussion regarding the PSR, for example, is complex. Discussion regarding whether or not the universe had a beginning in time (and whether this entails its needing a cause) is complex. Daniel Dennett admits as much in this here lecture given by William Lane Craig: click here

I don't think that I have to prove that God exists in order to give good reasons to suppose that he rose Jesus from the dead. The fact of the matter is that naturalistic explanations of the data (the empty tomb, public burial, resurrection appearances, the disciple's new belief in resurrection despite every reason for not holding to such belief) are wholly implausible and not worth believing. If someone comes to realize that, even if I have not given him any reason to suppose God exists, I think it would still pack a punch. Furthermore, you could use the argument from the resurrection as an indirect proof of God: if Jesus is resurrected, then the best explanation of that is that God did it.
 

Skyler

Puritan Board Graduate
Hey guys,

Can we move the discussion of presuppositionalism vs. evidentialism to another thread?

I don't think it's really supporting the thread's original purpose, which was to give some good resources for studying apologetics. You could state your side of the case, and then refer to another thread where that is the express purpose of the thread. But I must admit it's a little confusing trying to read through the thread with the presup vs. evidential debate going on in the background.

Brian,

While a background in number theory is a great idea for many applications(including apologetics), I don't know that it's absolutely necessary. Certainly, you should at least know propositional logic and the various forms of argument and logical fallacies. However, I think you can learn it just as easily(and perhaps more so for some people, since it's not as abstract) in the context of studying presuppositional apologetics.

Off-topic: I'm taking a discrete mathematics course and loving it. :)

Oh, and don't ignore either side. Both sides have excellent points, but if you want to be a well-rounded apologist, you should be familiar with both.
 

steven-nemes

Puritan Board Sophomore
Well I don't think the discussion is so much presup vs evidentialist, but rather I was just clarifying what I meant in light of some of Hermonta's comments.

-----Added 10/25/2009 at 07:14:10 EST-----

Here's a better example of what I mean, CT: NT Wright is not orthodox in his theology, yet who would suggest we not use his resources on the reliability of the gospels and so on for our apologetics?

If we can use the unorthodox on issues of scriptural scholarship, why not use the unorthodox on issues of philosophy?
 

Osage Bluestem

Puritan Board Junior
Honestly I believe that the Roman Catholics have great apologists and should be the place to start. They really haven't changed much since the council of trent so it is good to study the foundational arguments for Christianity from the Roman Catholic perspective and then move into the Reformed arguments against Roman ecclesiology, soteriology, sacramentology, hagiology, and hagiological intercessory prayer. How can someone really be reformed if they don't understand what they are reforming from?

I also believe it is important to remember we didn't break with the Western Church we reformed it. Thus, we still share the same foundations of tradition, developed theology, and apologetics. We simply disagree on matters of authority and thus have opposing views in some areas.

I recommend that you start with Theology for Beginners by F.J. Sheed. This is a great intrduction to theology and is foundational for all christian apologetics: Amazon.com: Theology for Beginners (9780892831241): Francis Joseph Sheed: Books

I also recommed that you study Thomas Aquinas' Shorter Summa. This has some awesome foundational material in it. It is priceless: Amazon.com: Aquinas's Shorter Summa: Saint Thomas's Own Concise Version of His Summa Theologica (9781928832430): St. Thomas Aquinas: Books

Once you have established a full understanding of the basics by reading the above books then jump into a basic apologetic book by Peter Kreeft and Robert Tacelli This is a great basic apologetic book that is fundamentaly western orthodox based, but takes no sides between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism: Amazon.com: Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions (9780830817740): Peter Kreeft, Ronald K. Tacelli: Books

I then recommend that you compare the major themes of the Westminster Confession of faith Larger Catechism with Luther's small Catechism and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Bible in hand of course. That is a real theological adventure.

With the above information in hand, I would then say that you start to study key points in John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion to get a good idea of why Rome is wrong where they are wrong, (they're not wrong on everything, we can't forget that) This is the copy of the institutes that I have: Amazon.com: Institutes of the Christian Religion (9781598561685): John Calvin, Henry Beveridge: Books

Finally these books are foundational once you have the above information in hand:

Scripture Alone R.C. Sproul: Amazon.com: Scripture Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine (R. C. Sproul Library) (R. C. Sproul Library) (9781596380103): R. C. Sproul, Keith Mathison: Books

The Five Points of Calvinism Steele, Thomas, Quinn: Amazon.com: The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented (9780875528274): David N. Steele, Curtis C. Thomas, S. Lance Quinn: Books

And for the escatological side I recommend Dr. Kim Riddlebarger's A Case for Amillenialism. I believe it conclusively disproved the other alternatives and shows us the biblical reasons why Augustine, Aquinas and all the magisterial Reformers were amillennial: Amazon.com: Case for Amillennialism, A: Understanding the End Times (9780801064357): Kim Riddlebarger: Books

So with all of that information ingested I would say that the best modern apologist by a mile is R.C. Sproul. He is orthodox on target and fundamentally accurate in all of the areas shown above except escatology. He is postmillenial (He must not have read Dr. Riddlebarger's book yet :)) He is really without a peer in the apologetics field today in my opinion and I would say that in any difficult theological or apologetic situation his view be seriously consulted before a final decision is reached. He is legitimate for sure.

His website is Ligonier Ministries Reformed Theology from R.C. Sproul There are many outstanding apologetic and theological videos you can watch on there, plus a lot of articles and documents.

I have many many more books and sources I can recommend as well. Let me know if you want any more.
 
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