Christian Apologetics: An Anthology of Primary Sources - eBook
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Publication Date: 2012
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For the first time in over one hundred years, the significant writings of historys most notable Christian apologists are available in one ebook. The Anthology of Christian Apologetics seeks to represent a broad Christian spectrum, ranging from those as early as Saint Paul and Saint Augustine, Saint Teresa of Avila and Blaise Pascal, to more recent and present day apologists such as C. S. Lewis, Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig, Richard Swinburne, and Pope Benedict XVI. Over fifty entries address key issues in the history of Christian apologetics. Introductions provide general overviews and guides to the topical arrangements of these issues. Photographs of the major apologists enliven the work and concise section headings clearly organize the material. Discussion questions, annotated reading lists, a bibliography, and author and subject indexes contribute to the suitability of this anthology as a textbook or supplemental reader. People interested in Christian thought, history, apologetics, philosophy, theology, or religion will find that the scope and depth of this anthology makes it an authoritative reference for key persons, concepts, issues, and approaches in the history of Christian apologetics.
Chad V. Meister (PhD, Marquette University) is professor of philosophy and theology at Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana. He is the author and editor of multiple books and articles including: God Is Great, God Is Good (winner of the Christianity Today Book of the Year); Building Belief; Evil: A Guide for the Perplexed; and Debating Christian Theism (with J. P. Moreland and Khaldoun Sweis). Meister is also editor of the Journal of the International Society of Christian Apologetics, book review editor for Philosophia Christi, and General Editor (with Paul Moser) of the series Cambridge Studies in Religion, Philosophy and Society.
Khaldoun A. Sweis (PhD, University of Hull; MA, Trinity International University) teaches philosophy with the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education in the UK and is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Olive-Harvey College in Chicago, Illinois. His publications include Think : A Journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, the Journal of the International Society of Christian Apologetics, and Debating Christian Theism (Oxford University Press), with J. P. Moreland and Chad Meister.
Eric McCoyHarlingen, TexasAge: 35-44Gender: male5 Stars Out Of 5Valuable collection of Primary SourcesFebruary 23, 2014Eric McCoyHarlingen, TexasAge: 35-44Gender: maleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5This book was a goldmine for me. Primary sources are always needed in research and writing at any educational or professional level. This book is full of them. With writings by some of the finest minds over a number of generations, this anthology will delight you with gems that might otherwise have been easily overlooked in more conventional research.
Abram KJAge: 25-34Gender: male4 Stars Out Of 5A strong collection of primary sourcesOctober 24, 2012Abram KJAge: 25-34Gender: maleQuality: 4Value: 5Meets Expectations: 4Zondervan has just put out a primary source compendium called Christian Apologetics: An Anthology of Primary Sources, edited by Khaldoun A. Sweis and Chad V. Meister.
There are 54 selections divided into 11 parts. Christian Apologetics begins with some methodological considerations in part 1, then moves right into various arguments for the existence of God-cosmological, teleological, ontological, moral, the argument from religious experience, and so on. From there the book narrows to more specific topics like the Trinity, the incarnation, miracles, the resurrection, the problem of evil, and more.
Christian Apologetics claims to be "a sampling of some of the best works written by Christian apologists throughout the centuries," offering "a snapshot of Christian apologetics at its best across the spectrum of time and culture."
The essays in this volume certainly are some of the best in apologetics. There is Paul at the Areopagus in Acts 17, Aquinas on the cosmological argument for God's existence, Anselm and Plantinga with the ontological argument for God, Pascal's wager, Teresa of Avila on experiencing God, Anselm on the incarnation, Swinburne on miracles, John Hick's "Soul Making Theodicy," Augustine on free will, and Marilyn McCord Adams on horrendous evil and the goodness of God. Each of these essays is a classic and makes a valuable contribution to the area of apologetics.
The book spans "the spectrum of time" fairly well, with a higher concentration of 20th century writers. Just a couple of the contributors are women, and the overwhelming majority hail from Western contexts-this latter an admission of the book, but a weakness all the same.
A particularly pleasant surprise to me was the inclusion of an an article by R.T. France, in which he makes the case for the historical reliability of the Gospels, which must, he argues, be understood in their proper literary context as "highly selective" records of Jesus' life with "only a loose chronological framework." This is not due to deficiency of the Gospels; rather, it is how the Gospel writers intended to write:
"The four canonical gospels will not answer all the questions we would like to ask about the founder of Christianity; but, sensitively interpreted, they do give us a rounded portrait of a Jesus who is sufficiently integrated into what we know of first-century Jewish culture to carry historical conviction, but at the same time sufficiently remarkable and distinctive to account for the growth of a new and potentially world-wide religious movement out of his life and teaching."
As I read I appreciated a statement in the book's general introduction:
"But arguments and evidences do not of themselves bring someone into new life in Christ. Here the work of the Holy Spirit is central, and we must be willing to surrender to his leading and his truth and his goodness if we are to truly dwell with the Lord."
I had hoped to hear more in this book about the role of the Holy Spirit in apologetics. There is a short (one paragraph) treatment by James K. Beilby in chapter 3 that asks, "What is the role of the Holy Spirit in apologetics?" He rightly (in my view) sees it as "not a zero-sum game." The apologist should be "significantly involved" yet "still hold that the Holy Spirit will determine the effectiveness of our efforts."
Though the Holy Spirit receives treatment in the section on the Trinity (by Origen, Aquinas, the Creeds, and Thomas V. Morris) and on the Bible (Calvin and canonization), there is never more than Beilby's paragraph treatment about the role of the Holy Spirit in the project of apologetics. Cogent though Beilby is, I would think "a snapshot of Christian apologetics at its best" should make more mention of something like the Wesleyan view of prevenient grace or even the notion that the Holy Spirit witnesses to a person's heart before an apologist does. Only the former can enable the latter. Christian Apologetics is not without the exploration of other methodological considerations; I just would have liked to have seen more of this one.
Several other possible areas for improvement in a future edition could be more on faith and reason and how the two interrelate, as well as arguments for the existence of God that take into account and respond to the varous assertions made by the "new atheism" (anemic though it is).
All in all, though, this is a strong work, and I'm happy for it to sit alongside my old college text, Readings in the Philosophy of Religion. Zondervan's Christian Apologetics is a worthy, if basic, reference guide. I expect it will serve apologists well.
Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy, which I was given for the purposes of review, though without any expectations as to the nature of my review.