How Should I Earnestly Contend for the Faith? Part 1

1 Peter 3:1, ESV

In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

The question is how?

Even I, after several years of studying apologetics, began to wrestler over the best method of defending the Faith. I was most familiar with the classical method from the ministries of William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, and Douglas Groothuis. I also read or heard apologists that described themselves as “evidentialists”–but weren’t the classical apologists also arguing from evidence? What was the difference between evidentialists and classicalists? Many of these apologists also said they were building a cumulative case for Christianity, but differentiated their arguments from another school of apologetics known as the the cumulative case method. Still other apologists argued that the biblical method of apologetics was to presuppose the truth of the Bible, and to convince the unbeliever that they already knew the truth of Christianity as well. There were still other Christian apologists that did not seem to fit with any of these methods. All the apologists agreed that the truth of Christianity needed to be defended, but disagreed on the details. They all used similar terms, but seemed to mean different things at times. Of course, every apologist seemed convinced his or her own method was the best.

In order order to weigh the options, I decided to read Five Views on Apologetics.

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Five Views on Apologetics presented five major schools of thought on apologetics in a point/counterpoint format. Each apologist was given a chapter to presented his own view, followed by critiques from the other four apologists. In the last chapter, each apologist was given a chance to respond to the criticisms from the previous chapters.

As the title of the book implies, five views of apologetics were described and critiqued. The classical method was presented by William Lane Craig, evidential apologetics was defended by Gary Habermas, cumulative case apologetics was explained by Paul Feinberg, presuppositional apologetics was promoted by John Frame, and finally Reformed epistemology was expounded by Kelly James Clark. I found the point/counterpoint format very helpful, since all these apologists were brilliant and persuasive. As I read each chapter, I often found myself won over to the method I was reading about until I read the critiques of the method.

In this series I will present a basic summary of each of the five views. I will attempt to be objective at first, presenting the pros and cons of each view in order to inform the reader so they can make up their own minds which method is best. In the last post of the series, I will present my own conclusions.

Based on the Google searches I made, I am apparently the last apologetics nerd to actually read Five Views on Apologetics and blog about it. However, perhaps there are some new students of apologetics who aren’t yet familiar with the book who may find this series helpful.

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