Review: Five Views on Apologetics
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
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.