Five Views on Apologeticsby Steven B. Cowan, William Lane Craig, Gary R. Habermas, John M. Frame, Kelly James Clark, Paul D. Feinberg, William L. Craig Published 07 Feb 2000
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The goal of apologetics is to persuasively answer honest objections that keep people from faith in Jesus Christ. But of several apologetic approaches, which is most effective?Five Views on Apologetics examines the “how-to” of apologetics, putting five prominent views under the microscope: Classical, Evidential, Presuppositional, Reformed Epistemology, and Cumulative Case. Offering a forum for presentation, critique, and defense, this book allows the contributors for the different viewpoints to interact.Like no other book, Five Views on Apologetics lets you compare and contrast different ways of “doing” apologetics. Your own informed conclusions can then guide you as you meet the questions of a needy world with the claims of the gospel.The Counterpoints series provides a forum for comparison and critique of different views on issues important to Christians. Counterpoints books address two categories: Church Life and Bible and Theology. Complete your library with other books in the Counterpoints series.
"Five Views on Apologetics" Reviews
Once upon a time, a fellow Christian young man, age 20 or so, like me, invited me to go witnessing in the downtown area where I live. We ran into a young lady who was reading Neale Donald Walsch's then-popular Conversations with God, some of the worst claptrap ever to proceed from a printing press. I won't give specifics, but as I began to speak my partner began to feel uncomfortable with my approach. Deeper than that, he disagreed with the doctrine behind it. And he felt the necessity to say so. In front of the girl we were witnessing to. I remember the incredulity on her face: "You guys don't even agree on this?"
It's a little disconcerting to see how apparently equally committed and intelligent Christians tear apart each other's justifications of the Christian faith. So a book like this one is a bit sad, in a way. I'll put my cards on the table right here by noting that this disagreement by itself disposes me toward presuppositionalism: if even Christian apologists can't agree on the best strategy for defending and promoting Christian truth, then something deeper must be going on than what the eyes can see. All of these Christians have access to the same divine words and the same divine world. What causes them to come to different conclusions about how to persuade non-Christians to repent and believe the gospel? Presuppositions, I'd think.
Nonetheless, Habermas, Craig, and Feinberg (particularly the first two, for what it's worth) did impress me with their acumen, and I'm glad I have their work at my disposal should I ever need it in apologetic conversations. This, I felt, was another reason to go with Frame: his view does a better job accounting for the value of the other views. A presuppositionalist should be happy to point to data in the world and show how they in turn point to God. Evidentialists, on the other hand, seem to dismiss--at least functionally--the importance of presuppositions in human thinking.
Finally, what conservative Protestant could not stir to hear Frame say in his concluding essay that "the most fundamental point of presuppositionalism is the application of sola scriptura to apologetics"? I'm with Frame in wishing the debate would go away; I don't like disagreeing over evangelistic methodology. But I do feel I have to defend the authority of Scripture.
This book (and I'm sorry I didn't mention Clark: I felt like his essay meandered too much) is an unfortunate necessity. May God use all of our faltering efforts, no matter what our apologetic perspectives, to bring His sheep into the fold.
Three stars earned for an impressive effort and useful citations/footnotes.
Kelly James Clark and William Lane Craig seemed to be operating on a varsity level, while everyone else was playing JV. Habermas was nearly-varsity, though.
I think Frame stumbles in his presentation of Van Tillian Presuppositionalism. I was most sympathetic to his view before picking up the book, and now I’m wondering if I’m not closer to Reformed Epistemology (Clark) or Classical Apologetics (Craig). Frame was perhaps at his best in his concluding statement.
At certain points, it seemed like it was all against Frame, despite his nearly insufferable “winsomeness.” Craig, Habermas, and Clark impressed me as doing “real” philosophical heavy-lifting, even if I didn’t always agree with them. I wish we could see some Van Tillians of their caliber.
Basically, Habermas, Craig, and Feinberg are all huddled together, attacking Frame, while Clark also attacks Frame, but is the weird kid who can't get in with the cool Evidence guys. Poor Frame. Yay Plantinga!
This book is great if you just want to learn about various apologetic methods from some of the best and brightest apologists in each method. The compare and contrast was helpful, and each author was given time to respond to each other method as presented by the expert in that field and also rebut responses to their own method.
This was a great book. I actually appreciate a lot of what every contributor wrote, although I do not agree with each methodological approach. I am more in line with Frame, although I really appreciate a lot (not all) of what I hear from Alvin Plantinga and the other Reformed Epistemologists.
Helpful overall, but suffering from the weakness of these type of "five views on _____" books: at times the authors talk past each other and the areas of genuine disagreement become unclear.