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A survey of Modern and Contemporary Apologetics
March 28, 2013
Christian Apologetics: Past & Present, a Primary Source Reader, vol. 2: from 1500. William Edgar & K. Scott Oliphint, eds. Crossway Books, 2011. 745 pp. $55.00 USD. ISBN 978-1-58134-907-8.
This book is part 2 of a 2 volume set that proposes to introduce the reader to primary source texts, from all eras of Christian thought, that are related to Christian Apologetics. The editors, William Edgar and K. Scott Oliphint, are both professors of apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary. The purpose of this second volume is to introduce the reader to apologetic writings, written by a number of prominent Christian theologians, dating from the 1500s, essentially the beginning of the reformation, to the present day. The book begins with Martin Luther, and concludes with some of the more recent writings of William Lane Craig, Francis Collins and others.
The book is divided into four parts, namely, the Reformation and post-reformation era, the modern era, the post-modern era and contemporary apologetics. The book seems to be designed for use as a textbook in a course dealing with the history of apologetics. As such, each one of the primary sources is followed by a number of suggested questions designed to help the student get more out of the section. The editors introduce each of the four periods of that are outlined in this book, each of the authors, and each of the primary sources, with short biographical and informational sections. Each section finishes by what is called a follow-up section, which seeks to mention some of the authors that, though important, did not earn a chapter in the book. The book is complete with a relatively complete General index, listing important names and subjects, and a scripture index. This book is almost twice the size of the first volume, in spite of the fact that it only covers the last 500 years, compared to a whopping 1500 year covered in the first volume.
The first part of the book opens up with excerpts from Martin Luther's Concerning Christian Liberty, John Calvin's Institutes, Robert Bellarmine's The Mind's Ascent to God by the Ladder of Created Things, and John Owen's Dissertation of Divine Justice. The conclusion for this summary gives honorable mention to Francisco Suarez, Pierre Du Moulin, Francis Turretin, and Juan Luis Vives.
The third part of this book introduces us to the writings of a number of influential thinkers in the 19th and 20th centuries. These centuries saw the publication of a plethora of theological and apologetics works. The selection that we are given include Soren Kierkegaard's The Instant, Abraham Kuyper's Lectures on Calvinism, James Orr's The Christian View of God and the World, B. B. Warfield's Introduction to Francis R. Beattie's Apologetics, Chesterton's Orthodoxy, J. Gresham Machen's well known Christianity and Liberalism, Cornelius Van Til's The Defense of the Faith, C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity, the catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar's Eludications, and Test Everything, Lesslie Newbigin's The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, and Francis Schaeffer's Death in the City.
The fourth part of this book gives us a small selection of some contemporary apologists, including selections from Alvin Plantinga's Warranted Christian Belief, Merold Westphal's Suspicion and Faith: The Religious Uses of Modern Atheism, Os Guinness's Time for Truth, the catholic, Jean-Luc Marion's God without Being, William Lane Craig's Reasonable Faith, and Francis Collins', The Language of God. The contemporary selection surprisingly includes nothing by Norman Geisler, Gary Habermas, Paul Copan, Chuck Colson, and a number of other prominent Christian Apologists.
Though there are some surprising inclusions, and exclusions, the book is a very useful introduction to the works of apologetics that have been published in the last 500 years. It would have been possible to publish a single volume for each of the four sections, and even necessary, if one wished to include all of the important works of apologetics that were written in this short period. As such, the editors have done a wonderful job at giving us a wide variety of apologetics works. As with the first volume there is a noted emphasis on biblical and historical apologetics, and a distinct reformed flavour. Both volumes of this series will be useful in a class concerning the history of apologetics, and a welcome addition to any professors, pastors or lay-man's library.
Wonderful Source Reader every Christian should own
December 9, 2011
In this second volume from Crossway Books we have biographies and writings from Christian Apologists from the 16th century to present day. The book starts with Martin Luther and moves through to modern day Apologists such as Os Guiness.
The editors have put together brief biographies of those writers they are highlighting and then give us either an article they have written or a chapter out of one of their famous works. The intent of the this work is to help every Christian learn more about those writers / theologians who have shaped our thinking in regards to Christianity.
This second volume is over 700 pages, so it is not a quick read, but it is an extensively researched and produced volume that will help everyone who works through it to learn more about the Early Church Fathers up to an including our most modern day thinkers.
Since it is a collection of writings you can pick and choose how you will read through the work. You can first read about your favorites or read about Apologists you have heard about but have never read. So, pick and choose the ones you want to start with, but don't ignore those you don't know, you will be encouraged by all of the depth of knowledge and wisdom these thinkers share with us.
Finally, it is hoped that as you become familiar with these scholars that you will want to read other works that they have penned or the full work from which the articles in this work are taken from.