Apologetics- Where do I begin?

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cih1355

Puritan Board Junior
If you are interested in the abortion issue, then here is a book that I would recommend that defends the pro-life position. The author of the book was an evangelical Protestant, but later on became a Roman Catholic.

Amazon.com: Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice (9780521691352): Francis J. Beckwith: Books

The following are some books that deal with the relationship between theology and science or discuss the philosophy of science.

Amazon.com: Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach (9781581347319): Vern Sheridan Poythress: Books

Amazon.com: Science & Its Limits: The Natural Sciences in Christian Perspective (9780830815807): Del Ratzsch: Books
 

Brian Withnell

Puritan Board Junior
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.

You are going to love what it does for your understanding of apologetics ... guaranteed! :lol:

While not knowing the abstract reasoning doesn't mean that it is impossible to work through apologetics, it certainly means that a person won't be as well grounded in the thought processes needed to understand them.

One of my favorite mental exercises is going through a classical apologist's arguments and finding the axioms that they so stridently affirm are not there. The only people that don't have axioms are those that don't use logic. Sadly, there are more and more people that are post-modern, anti-logical that it makes *any* kind of apologetics difficult. Of course for them, I declare the word, then let it do its work.

-----Added 10/25/2009 at 10:07:13 EST-----

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?

Paul was reformed before the reformation started. You are reformed if you are orthodox in your beliefs -- the reformation was a return to true orthodox Christian doctrine, and those that hold to true orthodox Christian doctrine are reformed.
 

Osage Bluestem

Puritan Board Junior
Paul was reformed before the reformation started. You are reformed if you are orthodox in your beliefs -- the reformation was a return to true orthodox Christian doctrine, and those that hold to true orthodox Christian doctrine are reformed.

Certainly. But there has been a LOT of water under the bridge since Paul. We need to make sure we know why we are who we are today.
 

Brian Withnell

Puritan Board Junior
It is good to know what went wrong with the mainstream church (RC) in order to know what to avoid. But keeping in touch with the orthodox does not *require* knowing what is false. A person can hold to the truth without ever knowing what gnostic dualism, Arminianism, Arianism, Docetism, modalism, Monophysitism, or any number of other heresies state or how they got started. I'm not saying that it isn't good to know the errors of the past. (Election assures that those that do not study history cannot all be doomed ... if they are elect, they are saved.)
 

Osage Bluestem

Puritan Board Junior
It is good to know what went wrong with the mainstream church (RC) in order to know what to avoid. But keeping in touch with the orthodox does not *require* knowing what is false. A person can hold to the truth without ever knowing what gnostic dualism, Arminianism, Arianism, Docetism, modalism, Monophysitism, or any number of other heresies state or how they got started. I'm not saying that it isn't good to know the errors of the past. (Election assures that those that do not study history cannot all be doomed ... if they are elect, they are saved.)

True, but if one wants to be a good apologist or study apologetics one must know these things.
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
I have determined I'd rather be the father of 10 believers than the most intelligent, able, and wittiest apologist. Bahnsen was a genius, and I am convinced he meant what someone relayed above.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
It is good to know what went wrong with the mainstream church (RC) in order to know what to avoid. But keeping in touch with the orthodox does not *require* knowing what is false. A person can hold to the truth without ever knowing what gnostic dualism, Arminianism, Arianism, Docetism, modalism, Monophysitism, or any number of other heresies state or how they got started. I'm not saying that it isn't good to know the errors of the past. (Election assures that those that do not study history cannot all be doomed ... if they are elect, they are saved.)

I'm not quite sure what you mean here. I think the church owes a great debt to the heretics, because they force the Church to define herself and refocus on scripture. The Church would be poorer without the Nicene Creed, the Institutes, the WCF, and Christianity and Liberalism.
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
You don't need to know what the gnostic heresies involved in order to know that they are false; all that is required is the knowledge that Christianity is true. By operation of disjunction, if Christianity is true, then all other faiths or theologies are false.

For example, I know nothing of Buddhism, but I know that it's false because I know Christianity is true.
 

Osage Bluestem

Puritan Board Junior
I'm not quite sure what you mean here. I think the church owes a great debt to the heretics, because they force the Church to define herself and refocus on scripture. The Church would be poorer without the Nicene Creed, the Institutes, the WCF, and Christianity and Liberalism.

Right. God has a good purpose for everything, even heresies.
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
It is good to know what went wrong with the mainstream church (RC) in order to know what to avoid. But keeping in touch with the orthodox does not *require* knowing what is false. A person can hold to the truth without ever knowing what gnostic dualism, Arminianism, Arianism, Docetism, modalism, Monophysitism, or any number of other heresies state or how they got started. I'm not saying that it isn't good to know the errors of the past. (Election assures that those that do not study history cannot all be doomed ... if they are elect, they are saved.)

I'm not quite sure what you mean here. I think the church owes a great debt to the heretics, because they force the Church to define herself and refocus on scripture. The Church would be poorer without the Nicene Creed, the Institutes, the WCF, and Christianity and Liberalism.

I disagree. If there were no heretics, there would be no need for those things. If there were no need for those things, it would be because the Church was comprised of faithful believers who confirmed the Word of God. Such a situation would be perfect.

We are sorrier for the heretics. While they cause us to clarify our doctrine, there would be no need to clarify but for them.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
It is good to know what went wrong with the mainstream church (RC) in order to know what to avoid. But keeping in touch with the orthodox does not *require* knowing what is false. A person can hold to the truth without ever knowing what gnostic dualism, Arminianism, Arianism, Docetism, modalism, Monophysitism, or any number of other heresies state or how they got started. I'm not saying that it isn't good to know the errors of the past. (Election assures that those that do not study history cannot all be doomed ... if they are elect, they are saved.)

I'm not quite sure what you mean here. I think the church owes a great debt to the heretics, because they force the Church to define herself and refocus on scripture. The Church would be poorer without the Nicene Creed, the Institutes, the WCF, and Christianity and Liberalism.

I disagree. If there were no heretics, there would be no need for those things. If there were no need for those things, it would be because the Church was comprised of faithful believers who confirmed the Word of God. Such a situation would be perfect.

We are sorrier for the heretics. While they cause us to clarify our doctrine, there would be no need to clarify but for them.

If we were really poorer for it, then they would not exist.

1 Cor. 11:18-19


18For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.

19For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
You're confusing the fact that God uses heretics to established His good purposes with heretics having some sort of positive effect on the church. The positive effect comes from God, not the heretic. The heretic has only a negative effect.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
You're confusing the fact that God uses heretics to established His good purposes with heretics having some sort of positive effect on the church. The positive effect comes from God, not the heretic. The heretic has only a negative effect.

Um no, you are the one confused. God's sovereignty extends to the existence of heretics. God has a purpose for heretics. One part of that purpose is to bring about a deepening of the knowledge of His Church. The way you write, it is as if God looks down and sees heretics and then thinks, "Hey I need to make the best of it."

CT
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
You're confusing the fact that God uses heretics to established His good purposes with heretics having some sort of positive effect on the church. The positive effect comes from God, not the heretic. The heretic has only a negative effect.

Um no, you are the one confused. God's sovereignty extends to the existence of heretics. God has a purpose for heretics. One part of that purpose is to bring about a deepening of the knowledge of His Church. The way you write, it is as if God looks down and sees heretics and then thinks, "Hey I need to make the best of it."

CT

You're presuming to know the way I write and you're reading into it more than is necessarily required.

God purposes heretics to effect His plan. That doesn't mean the church owes a debt to the heretics. The heretic is bad. The good that necessarily flows from their existence comes from God not from the heretic as you seem to be implying by arguing that they're "good for us".
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
It is good to know what went wrong with the mainstream church (RC) in order to know what to avoid. But keeping in touch with the orthodox does not *require* knowing what is false. A person can hold to the truth without ever knowing what gnostic dualism, Arminianism, Arianism, Docetism, modalism, Monophysitism, or any number of other heresies state or how they got started. I'm not saying that it isn't good to know the errors of the past. (Election assures that those that do not study history cannot all be doomed ... if they are elect, they are saved.)

I'm not quite sure what you mean here. I think the church owes a great debt to the heretics, because they force the Church to define herself and refocus on scripture. The Church would be poorer without the Nicene Creed, the Institutes, the WCF, and Christianity and Liberalism.

I disagree. If there were no heretics, there would be no need for those things. If there were no need for those things, it would be because the Church was comprised of faithful believers who confirmed the Word of God. Such a situation would be perfect.

We are sorrier for the heretics. While they cause us to clarify our doctrine, there would be no need to clarify but for them.

Clarification can only happen when one has a deeper understanding of what is true. Even if one does not investigate what heretics say, one benefits by having confessional statements that were born in the fire of answering heretics.

CT
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
I'm not quite sure what you mean here. I think the church owes a great debt to the heretics, because they force the Church to define herself and refocus on scripture. The Church would be poorer without the Nicene Creed, the Institutes, the WCF, and Christianity and Liberalism.

I disagree. If there were no heretics, there would be no need for those things. If there were no need for those things, it would be because the Church was comprised of faithful believers who confirmed the Word of God. Such a situation would be perfect.

We are sorrier for the heretics. While they cause us to clarify our doctrine, there would be no need to clarify but for them.

Clarification can only happen when one has a deeper understanding of what is true. Even if one does not investigate what heretics say, one benefits by having confessional statements that were born in the fire of answering heretics.

CT

Confessional statements are not effective because they were born in the fire of heresy, they are effective because they coherently communicate a system of doctrine based on God's Word. You don't need a heresy to respond to for that. See generally the Westminster Confession of Faith.

You're presuming that only under the plague of heresy can the Church formulate and convey orthodox doctrine. This is clearly erroneous.

Is it better to obey than to sacrifice? Yes, because if you obeyed, there would be no need to sacrifice. From this, I conclude it's better to be free of heretics, because without them, we would have no need for endless doctrinal re-clarification.
 

Osage Bluestem

Puritan Board Junior
I perceive it would be better to be free of evil all together yet God permits it for his good purpose. Why is this so, seems to have been the question of the last few millenia as we quickly learn from studying the details of what has transpired in the life of the Church.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
I disagree. If there were no heretics, there would be no need for those things. If there were no need for those things, it would be because the Church was comprised of faithful believers who confirmed the Word of God. Such a situation would be perfect.

We are sorrier for the heretics. While they cause us to clarify our doctrine, there would be no need to clarify but for them.

Clarification can only happen when one has a deeper understanding of what is true. Even if one does not investigate what heretics say, one benefits by having confessional statements that were born in the fire of answering heretics.

CT

Confessional statements are not effective because they were born in the fire of heresy, they are effective because they coherently communicate a system of doctrine based on God's Word. You don't need a heresy to respond to for that. See generally the Westminster Confession of Faith.

You're presuming that only under the plague of heresy can the Church formulate and convey orthodox doctrine. This is clearly erroneous.

Is it better to obey than to sacrifice? Yes, because if you obeyed, there would be no need to sacrifice. From this, I conclude it's better to be free of heretics, because without them, we would have no need for endless doctrinal re-clarification.

They are effective because they communicate the system of doctrine based on God's Word.

I never said you need a new heresy to get a coherent orthodox system. My claim is that heresy promotes a deeper coherent system.

The Apostles Creed is coherent. It is, however, not as deep as Westminster.

As I was saying above one purpose of heretics and heresies is to force the church to go deeper. Another purpose is to pull away the pretenders.

Again clarification is not just some academic event. There is a point/purpose to it.

At the end of the day, what do you think 1 Cor. 11:19 is saying?

CT
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
I would be just repeating myself at this point, and this includes what I think Corinthians says on the issue. Nothing I have said is inconsistent with that verse.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
Is it better to obey than to sacrifice? Yes, because if you obeyed, there would be no need to sacrifice. From this, I conclude it's better to be free of heretics, because without them, we would have no need for endless doctrinal re-clarification.

The point/purpose of the heretics is the endless doctrinal re-clarification. It is not a "oh shucks" more doctrinal re-clarification.

If we agree here, then we have never had a disagreement. We were just talking past each other.

CT
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
Is it better to obey than to sacrifice? Yes, because if you obeyed, there would be no need to sacrifice. From this, I conclude it's better to be free of heretics, because without them, we would have no need for endless doctrinal re-clarification.

The point/purpose of the heretics is the endless doctrinal re-clarification. It is not a "oh shucks" more doctrinal re-clarification.

If we agree here, then we have never had a disagreement. We were just talking past each other.

CT

I've never denied it's the point, but I have also pointed out that they are the ones who also necessitate the need. Without them, there would be no need, just as if we obeyed, there would be no need to sacrifice.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
Is it better to obey than to sacrifice? Yes, because if you obeyed, there would be no need to sacrifice. From this, I conclude it's better to be free of heretics, because without them, we would have no need for endless doctrinal re-clarification.

The point/purpose of the heretics is the endless doctrinal re-clarification. It is not a "oh shucks" more doctrinal re-clarification.

If we agree here, then we have never had a disagreement. We were just talking past each other.

CT

I've never denied it's the point, but I have also pointed out that they are the ones who also necessitate the need. Without them, there would be no need, just as if we obeyed, there would be no need to sacrifice.

Doctrinal reclarification implies growth and depth. That is needed in and of itself. The heretics are just God ordained means.

The need was always there, the only question was how is it going to be brought to reality.

We should always want to know more about God and dig more and more into his revelation. If we did so, the heretics would never have any place to set up shop.

CT
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
The point/purpose of the heretics is the endless doctrinal re-clarification. It is not a "oh shucks" more doctrinal re-clarification.

If we agree here, then we have never had a disagreement. We were just talking past each other.

CT

I've never denied it's the point, but I have also pointed out that they are the ones who also necessitate the need. Without them, there would be no need, just as if we obeyed, there would be no need to sacrifice.

Doctrinal reclarification implies growth and depth. That is needed in and of itself. The heretics are just God ordained means.

The need was always there, the only question was how is it going to be brought to reality.

We should always want to know more about God and dig more and more into his revelation. If we did so, the heretics would never have any place to set up shop.

CT
Without heretics and heresy, there would be no need for doctrinal growth and depth; we would be free of error.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
I've never denied it's the point, but I have also pointed out that they are the ones who also necessitate the need. Without them, there would be no need, just as if we obeyed, there would be no need to sacrifice.

Doctrinal reclarification implies growth and depth. That is needed in and of itself. The heretics are just God ordained means.

The need was always there, the only question was how is it going to be brought to reality.

We should always want to know more about God and dig more and more into his revelation. If we did so, the heretics would never have any place to set up shop.

CT
Without heretics and heresy, there would be no need for doctrinal growth and depth; we would be free of error.

Lack of contradiction does not imply full growth. For example, the only reason that it is good that we have the Westminster confession over the Apostles Creed is so that we can fend off heretics? Or put another way, it is only better to have a deeper and fuller knowledge of God is because a heretic might come to my door?

CT
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
Without heretics and heresy, there would be no need for doctrinal growth and depth; we would be free of error.
You seem to be implying more than we can discern from Scripture. In that God decreed heresy so that the elect can grow from it. Odd.

AMR
 

Megan Mozart

Puritan Board Junior
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.

Well I do want to learn some philosophy too... before I learn some apologetics. I should have asked about that first... :oops: My husband has a minor in philosophy and I'm jealous.

-----Added 10/26/2009 at 10:22:21 EST-----

For someone who dropped out of college, I think I might like learning just for the sake of learning way too much. :lol:
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
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.

In several of Lewis' (relatively) little known journal articles collected and published as God in the Dock, he uses presuppostional questions without labelling his method. I believe Bahnsen is on record somewhere as saying that it was when he read something by Lewis that he realized he had found an approach that would shut unbelievers mouths everytime (or words to that effect.)
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
I wouldn't go so far as Steven did in outright proscribing presuppositionalist literature, but for the most part I must agree with him. I guess the key is that you ought not to take presuppositionalists as gospel. (It's surprisingly effortless to do so.)

So, I would agree with a few others on this thread in that you should not restrict yourself to any particular school of apologetics. Read some of the modern-day evangelical philosophers (Craig, Moreland, et al.), some of the classics, some of the more recent guys (e.g. Reid), and even some of Clark. Clark has some...odd...conclusions, but his arguments are nonetheless worth looking into.

When dealing with people with poor theology, just avoid that. E.g. WLC is a fool when it comes to divine sovereignty and human responsibility, but his other work in philosophy and evidences in excellent.

---------

Steven, the reason it is helpful to prove theism prior to giving evidences for the resurrection is because it gives the hypothesis more prima facie credibility. It is more likely that a resurrection occurred given theism. I'm pretty sure Craig made this point contra Habermas in Five Views on Apologetics, can't remember where exactly though.
 
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