House and Jowers, both professors of theology at Faith Evangelical Seminary in Tacoma, Washington, have written an excellent introduction to Christian apologetics. The book is written in a style that is readable and helpful for a wide audience. It is particularly useful for people of faith seeking understanding, those seeking to understand better the hope found in the gospel.
The authors explain the purpose of the book in this way. “Without attempting to minimize the necessity or the importance of the proclamation of the gospel and the converting work of the Holy Spirit, this volume defends the view that rational argument on Christianity’s behalf has a vital role to play in the life of the contemporary church. For Scripture mandates the use of apologetic arguments to persuade unbelievers to embrace the true religion and supplies numerous precedents for the use of such arguments. . . . The study of apologetics thus bolsters not only the credibility of the church’s witness but also the depth of conviction with which believers themselves hold the truths of the Christian faith” (p. xiv).
In the first of four major sections, “Apologetic Methodologies and Systems,” the authors discuss worldviews and the diversity of apologetic approaches, discuss divine revelation in Scripture and creation, and include a defense of truth and how it can be known. The second section, “Apologetics in Scripture and History,” provides biblical support for apologetics from the Old and New Testaments and from major voices in the Christian tradition. According to these authors, the fact that God “has chosen to make Himself known through the universe that He has created and through His many acts in history” is “evidence of His abiding love for His creatures, and His intent to save from among humanity those who place their trust in Him not only as Creator but also as Savior” (p. 120). This is apologetics in service of soteriology.
The third section discusses “Apologetic Problems,” including the role of philosophy in apologetics, skepticism, postmodernism, the problem of evil, miracles, and the relationship of Christianity and science, among others. This section is a good resource for several key challenges to the claims of Christianity. Of particular interest is the chapter defending the resurrection of Christ as the essence of the gospel. The authors conclude, “The historic Christian faith has consistently and faithfully taught that to deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, or to distort the teaching of the bodily resurrection in any way, is to deny the very basis of eternal salvation. Any attempt to deny or distort the doctrine of Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead would be to destroy it” (pp. 340–41).
A final section, “How to Use Apologetics in Engaging the World,” discusses how Christian apologetics can encounter several other worldviews, in which “the superiority of Christianity to each worldview is demonstrated” (p. 371). Chapters deal with cults, secularism, postmodernism, Islam, and new-age mysticism. Readers will likely wish this section had been expanded, giving more specific information about defending Christianity in a pluralistic world.
As an introduction to Christian apologetics this book is highly recommended. Pastors, students, and others interested in strengthening the faith of Christians and in having responses to challenges to the faith will find it helpful. The authors are to be commended for providing such an accessible, readable, and clear introductory text.
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