Apologetics Book Reviews
Version Date: December 1, 2009
Apologetics is the study of the evidence, reasons, and arguments for the truth of the Christian faith. One of the principal meanings of apology is defense or explanation. Hence, Sir Philip Sidney's Apology for Poetry is his defense of or argument for it. This page lists and reviews just a few of the many books available. I hope you find something here that interests you.
Note: Below are some of the books I have found valuable and recommend for those interested in apologetics. If you want to find answers to some issue in Christian theology or if you want to explore the rational basis for faith, look at some of these books. Reviews will begin briefly and expand as time permits. Right now these books are not in a particular order.
Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. New York: Riverhead Books, 2008. Amazon.com has it.
This is a great book for the seeker or the curious about Christianity. The first half (seven chapters) provides answers to objections to the faith, and the second half (seven chapters) provides reasons for faith. Thus the structure is answering negative arguments followed by presenting positive arguments. About 300 pages. Recommendation: Excellent choice for those who are wondering about Christianity.Chapters:
For In-Depth Study
J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003. Amazon.com has it.
This book is suitable for upper division or graduate courses in philosophy, apologetics, or the integration of faith and learning. Subject areas include epistemology (rationality, skepticism, truth, postmodernism), metaphysics (ontology, mind-body problem, free will and determinism), philosophy of science (methodology, realism, science and theology), ethics (morality, relativism), and philosophy of religion (existence of God, problem of evil, creation, Christian doctrine). The material is presented as you would expect a textbook to present it--straightforward, detailed, orderly, with terms and concepts at the end of each chapter. Many pages are presented in idea-survey form, describing and critiquing one philosophy after another--again, as textbooks do. As a result, it has tremendous benefit in being thorough, informative, and capable of equipping the reader with deep knowledge. The downside is that there is so much in the 625 plus pages of small type that a reader outside the structure of a university class will need to be disciplined in reading and take the content in over time. The other use of the book is as a reference or research tool, to look up what the authors have to say about, say, the problem of evil, postmodernism, or the mind-body problem. Recommendation: Absolute must for really serious students.
The writing style is formal and academic. Example quotation: "Adoption of presuppositions consonant with or inimical to orthodox Christian theism will have a significant leavening effect throughout that discipline which will, in turn, dispose its practitioners for or against the Christian faith" (3). By necessity there is a substantial amount of philosophical jargon (graded absolutism, highest degree of incumbency, nonepistemic pragmatism, etc.), but the content is rich and deep for those willing to invest the time and effort. And you'll get a great education in Christian and non-Christian philosophical concepts.
Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1999. Amazon.com has it.
As the name implies, the book is organized as an encyclopedia, containing usually short articles on many topics related to apologetics. As a sample, there are half a dozen articles about the Resurrection, covering 25 pages: "Resurrection, Alternate Theories of," "Resurrection of Christ," "Resurrection Claims in Non-Christian Religions," "Resurrection, Evidence for," "Resurrection, Objections to," and "Resurrection, Physical Nature of." Important figures in the apologetics arena are discussed and critiqued, with their positive and negative contributions to the arena pointed out. Figures as disparate as John Dewey, Gordon H. Clark, Plato, Bertrand Russel, Blaise Pasal, Antony Flew, Sigmund Freud, and Ayn Rand all have their entries. For a great beginning point on many topics (determinism, deism, deconstructionism) this is an excellent resource. It's also a good starting point to read about some of those long neglected figures from many years ago: Joseph Butler, Thomas Reid, and Jonathan Edwards. One great thing about this encyclopedia is that just leafing through it, I find article after article I want to read. Recommendation: Great for the serious student's and scholar's library.This would be a great book for reading an article a day as part of one's general Christian education or even part of daily devotions.
Kenneth D. Boa and Robert M. Bowman, Jr. Faith Has Its Reasons: An Integrative Approach to Defending Christianity. An Apologetics Handbook. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2001. Amazon.com has it.
Yes, I read all 550 or so pages of this book. I found it very interesting. It covers the four major types of apologetics systems and an integrative approach that makes use of elements from all four, discusses the main practitioners of each, and evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. Covered are:
(1) The approach using reason and proof (the classical approach), including discussions of the Christian worldview, faith and reason, philosophical arguments, objections such as the problem of evil. Proponents discussed include C. S. Lewis, Norman L. Geisler, Peter Kreeft, and William Lane Craig.
(2) Evidentialism, or the approach emphasizing facts. Appeals to history, science, Scripture. Clark H. Pinnock, John Warwick Montgomery, and Richard Swinburne are discussed proponents.
(3) Reformed Apologetics, emphasizing Biblical authority and belief in God as a basic ontological assumption. Cornelius Van Til, Gordon H. Clark, and Alvin Plantinga are proponents.
(4) Fideism or the emphasis on a faith commitment. The reasons of the heart will bring you to a personal encounter with God in Jesus Christ. Martin Luther, Blaise Pascal, Karl Barth are proponents.
(5) Integrative approach, employed by Francis A. Schaeffer, David K. Clark, and John M. Frame.
The book is very helpful in identifying the various kinds of appeals, arguments, and defenses of the faith that can be mounted. We are also reminded that people differ in what will appeal to them, and they differ at various points in their lives. Each section includes a sample dialog exhibiting how the practitioner of that apologetic style would interact with a nonbeliever.
Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli. Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994. Amazon.com has it.This book is arranged by organized topics (Faith and Reason, Twenty Arguments for the Existence of God) with an emphasis on theological defense (Heaven, Hell, Salvation) more than philosophical concepts. Very interesting book, with stimulating discussions. The section about what happens to those who have never heard the Gospel is quite thought provoking. 400 pages of quick reference articles. Many of the sections are presented with question and answer formats (as the subtitle implies).
My Own Book
Robert Harris, The Integration of Faith and Learning: A Worldview Approach. Eugene, OR: Cascasde Books, 2004. Amazon.com has it.
I wrote this principally for Christian college students, so that they could gain a context for their learning at the college or university they attend. Chapters include Backgrounds to Integration (for example, what is the relationship between knowledge and belief?), Why Integrate Faith and Learning? (a rejection of the two realms view), Where Does Knowledge Come From? (a look at cultural authority and reigning epistemic systems), Political and Social Influences on Knowledge (politics and sociology of knowledge), Worldview Foundations (ontology, assuming or excluding God) and then a presentation of three widespread worldviews: Scientific Naturalism, Postmodernism, and Christianity. The next chapter presents tools for evaluating worldviews (factual adequacy, logical consistency, explanatory power, livability, knowledge claims and ideology, fallacies). Then concluding with three chapters about doing integration: Joining Faith and Learning (general and specific approaches), integrative outcomes; A Taxonomy for Worldview Integration (assumptions, methods, focus); The Christian Touchstone (Christophobia and the needed Renaissance in Christian worldview integration). About 300 pages.