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Imaginative Apologetics: Theology, Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition Paperback – May 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


'The authors of this remarkably impressive group of essays believe we need a fresh approach to apolo­getics, given the kind of confident crudity and principled ignorance represented by the New Atheists.' Professor David Martin, Church Times.

'Every chapter in this stimulating book is worth reading.' The Church of England Newspaper.

'The short version of the review is that if you are at all interested in apologetics, you should read this book... the authors' perspective is just different enough from the typical Evangelical perspective as to bring new insights to the table (and to challenge hidden assumptions as well).'

From the Back Cover

A Fresh Introduction to Christian Apologetics

This timely introduction argues for a version of Christian apologetics that is theological, philosophical, and "catholic" and that embraces the whole of human reason. It emphasizes a foundation in theology that is both confident and open and makes reference to philosophy in an accessible way.


John Hughes on proofs and arguments for faith and reason
Andrew Davison on Christian reason and Christian community
Alison Milbank on apologetics and the imagination
Donna J. Lazenby on apologetics, literature, and worldview
Michael Ward on C. S. Lewis's view of imagination and reason in apologetics
Stephen Bullivant on atheism, apologetics, and ecclesiology
Craig Hovey on Christian ethics as Good News
Graham Ward on cultural hermeneutics and Christian apologetics
Richard Conrad, OP, on moments and themes in the history of apologetics
Alister E. McGrath on the natural sciences and apologetics

"The time seems ripe to reconsider the apologetic role. . . . It is the true exercise of the imagination which induces a paradoxically sober furor and guides and cautions our discursive judgement. . . . It is the vision of Christ, the God-Man who exercised for our redemption the supreme imaginative act of recreation here on earth. A true apologetics negatively defends this imaginative action against assault by positively perpetuating its performance. It is this task which the authors of the present volume seek to renew in our time."
--John Milbank, University of Nottingham (from the foreword)

"This attractive volume encourages us to invite others into Christ's way of seeing the world and to step into the life of a community where his new way of living and loving can be found. It is an original and inspiring contribution to the apologetic task of the Church."
--Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780801039812
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801039812
  • ASIN: 0801039819
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #652,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Andrew is the Starbridge Lecturer in Theology and Science at the University of Cambridge and fellow in theology at Corpus Christi College. He was educated at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and has doctorates in both biochemistry and Christian theology. He is a regular contributor to the church press in the UK.

Previously, he taught Christian theology at Cambridge, where he was tutor in doctrine at Westcott House, a Church of England theological college. His books include Why Sacraments?, The Love of Wisdom (an introduction to Western philosophy for theologians), For the Parish (on the church and mission) and Imaginative Apologetics. His most recent book is Care for the Dying: A Practical and Pastoral Guide, written with the physician Sioned Evans.

During his curacy Andrew was responsible for youth and children's work in his South East London parish. Since 2010 he has been on the team producing Sarah Lenton's acclaimed Creative Ideas for Children's Worship series from Canterbury Press.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Filthy McNasty on March 25, 2013
Format: Paperback
Because we are vain we love good arguments. They lift us up, they make us feel smarter and proud at our accomplishment at having mastered them. But pride and vanity don't persuade, and as Christians, we are supposed to be in the persuasion business.

In this collections of essays, Imaginative Apologetics attempts to remove the vanity and pride--and hence all our smartest arguments all together--to reveal the need and the method necessary for actual Christian persuasion.

If you've ever wondered how C.S. Lewis did it, how he managed to be the sole figure in 20th century Christendom that is claimed as a guide by every branch of Christianity, Michael Ward's essay on Lewis provides the best answer I've ever seen. Lewis's apologetics were successful, Ward writes, not simply because they were well reasoned, but "first and foremost because [of Lewis's]...imaginative skill and imaginative intent." Ward concocts a story where he asks a car mechanic if his rear indicator light is working and the mechanic said "Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes." As he goes on to explain, the mechanic heard and answered the question strictly as a matter of whether the electrical connection had been made or was broken. But he was unable, within the confines of circuits--i.e. science--to see the relationship between a completed or broken circuit and the meaning of Michael Ward's question, "is it working?" I am not doing justice to even that small part of the essay, let alone the best parts that follow.

Allison Milbank says that metaphysics is the science of the limits of our understanding. Donna J. Lazenby has a brilliant essay addressing what is going on in modern literature.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rod Zinkel on December 8, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The following sentence, from Alister McGrath’s chapter “Natural Science and Apologetics,” serves as a summary of the book as a whole: “Apologetics, we must recall, engages the mind, emotions, and imagination” (156). In this collection the essays by various authors address changes in apologetics, mainly expanding the explanation of our faith beyond the limited appeal to reason. Andrew Davison addresses the post-Enlightenment, postmodern world and the use for imaginative apologetics in such a world. Michael Ward looks at how C. S. Lewis exemplifies this use of imagination and reason in writing of the faith. Graham Ward writes of the need for Christians to know the worldly culture they live in. The need for a renewed defense and explanation is sparked by the rise of New Atheism, which is addressed in each of the essays. Alister McGrath writes specifically to the scientific approach to questions of philosophy and faith, and points out how its limitations cannot answer the questions, despite the efforts off the New Atheists.

A few of the essays, such as that on Lewis, or Richard Conrad’s “Moments and Themes in the History of Apologetics,” are easier to grasp than the other rather abstract writings, as they observe figures who have illustrated ways to convey faith. This is not a ‘how to’ book of apologetics, but a call for a more comprehensive presentation of faith than traditional methods have offered.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By William R. Bradford on May 24, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As with any collection of essays, there are some hits and misses. I suspect that the hits and misses will vary by reader. For instance, I have been heavily influenced by C.S. Lewis, and thought Michael Ward's chapter (which draws heavily on Lewis) was outstanding. On the other hand, I was lost in Bullivant's essay - but I suspect that, were I Catholic, it would have been a highlight.

The book calls for rethinking how apologetics is done, with more of an emphasis on the imagination. It does not call for tossing the baby out with the bath water but does make a compelling case for expanding how we view doing apologetics.
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