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The End of Apologetics: Christian Witness in a Postmodern Context Paperback – July 1, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"A fresh perspective on the nature of Christian witness"

"This book is quite accessible and passionately committed to Jesus Christ and his work in our world. Penner shows us that the modern age is ending and that the apologetics attached to that age cannot sustain lives of discipleship and witness to the gospel. But the real work of this book is to show us the way forward in faithfulness with a passion that makes us alive in Christ and fully present in the world for its redemption. This is an edifying work that builds us up in the hope and love of the gospel."
--Jonathan R. Wilson, Carey Theological College, Vancouver

"Speaking as a Roman Catholic and something of a Thomist, I welcome Dr. Penner's meticulous and persuasive exposure of the kind of rationalistic apologetics that unwittingly make Christian faith quite unbelievable. A pleasure to read!"
--Fergus Kerr, University of Edinburgh

"In this book Myron Penner challenges many of the intuitions and assumptions that have shaped traditional Christian thought and invites us to rethink them for the sake of the gospel. In doing so he offers a fresh perspective on the nature of Christian witness that has the potential to spark a revitalization of the church and its proclamation of the good news revealed in Jesus Christ."
--John R. Franke, Yellowstone Theological Institute, Bozeman, Montana

"Penner's devastating critique of what passes for the 'defense' of Christianity in the evangelical worldview in today's increasingly hostile intellectual environment should be a rousing wake-up call for all seminary professors and students as well as pastors. Penner dissects the obsolescence, morbidity, and structural dysfunctionality of standard evangelical models of apologetics like a skilled forensic analyst. At the same time, he offers an alternative that makes eminent sense in present-day culture while coming across as highly credible from both a philosophical and biblical standpoint."
--Carl Raschke, University of Denver

About the Author

Myron Bradley Penner (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is pastor of Trinity International Church in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. He previously taught at Prairie College and Graduate School and served as a human development worker. He is the editor of Ch
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic (July 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801035988
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801035982
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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74 of 86 people found the following review helpful By J. Rochford on January 21, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This review can be found at Evidence Unseen--an apologetics website.

Myron Penner recently released a 193 page book against apologetics--titled The End of Apologetics: Christian Witness in a Postmodern Context (Baker Publishing Group, 2013).[1] It isn't difficult to discern the central thesis of Penner's book. He writes,

This is a book about apologetics. Or, more precisely, it is a book against apologetics. (p.4)

Apologetics itself might be the single biggest threat to genuine Christian faith that we face today. (p.12)

I suggest modern Christian apologetics subtly undermines the very gospel it seeks to defend and does not offer us a good alternative to the skepticism and ultimate meaninglessness of the modern secular condition. (p.49)

Penner even compares the modern day apologist with the modern day atheist--both of whom "deny Christ." He writes,

The lesson of apologetic violence is that there is more than one way to deny Christ in modernity. There is the straightforward way of the atheist... or it may be done indirectly, perhaps even with sincerity, by a Christian who uses the objective truths of Christianity to do things that are themselves unloving and unedifying. (pp. 162-163)

Penner openly attacks the work of Christian apologists such as William Lane Craig, Douglas Groothuis, and J.P. Moreland. And surprisingly, the book has received rather positive reviews. In the 2014 book awards, Christianity Today gave Penner's book an "award merit." Others, such as Louis Markos--professor at Houston Baptist University--have also come forward to endorse the book.

We are surprised (or outraged!) at the fact that Christianity Today would award Penner's book an "award merit," when it makes claims such as these.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Joseph E. Torres on November 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
Myron Penner's The End of Apologetics argues that much (if not most) of the practice of contemporary apologetics is hopelessly wedded to Enlightenment assumptions that undermine the very enterprise of apologetics (to commend the Christian faith). Penner is an priest in the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. As he states in one online interview, "I no longer see how modern apologetics (and by that I mean the attempt to give reasons for Christian belief that are objective, universal, and neutral) is really all that helpful - for me or anyone else."

On the upside, he does present some stinging criticisms of apologetic neutrality and provides helpful reminders that apologetics should aim at more than mere acceptance of a few additional propositions like "God exists." The kind of faith we hope to lead a person to is full blooded and thrives in community and is aimed at the flourishing of other image bearers.

This was also quite the frustrating read. In some parts I really agree with Penner's thesis (that much of the modern apologetic project is in bed with modernism), but even in the places where I tend to be sympathetic, I still think he erects strawmen to make his debate partners looks more naive and un-nuanced than they really are. He writes as if [what we could call] evidentialists reduce the faith to a mere acceptance of propositions. I'm a Van TIlian of the Framean stripe, but even as I disagree with their method, Christian charity demands that I fairly present their position. Contrary to their representation in the book, apologists such as William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland believe that true Christian faith flourishes (and needs) discipleship, community, etc. Instead Penner tends to present them as bald rationalists.
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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Joan N. on July 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In this postmodern era, is a classic approach to apologetics appropriate? Penner argues that there needs to be a new approach to apologetics. Belief in God is not intuitive in our secular era. God's existence is no longer "self-evident" or "reasonable." Using reason is no longer an effective way of arriving at truth, as truth is no longer seen as objective or universal in time and place.

Penner is "against the notion that our task as Christians is to demonstrate the intellectual superiority of Christian belief - as if we are Christians by dint of our genius." (72) To come to this point he uses Kierkegaard's views on genius/apostle, faith, truth, reason, and modern apologetics as a guide.

If Penner's critique of modern apologetics is valid, there needs to be a new way of doing apologetics. He suggests an approach using metaphors of conversation and dialogue rather than the model of trial and debate. Rather than asking, "Is it true and can we prove it?", he suggests, "Is it intelligible and meaningful?" (68) There needs to be a shift to a hermeneutics focusing on understanding the life of faith, apologetics in terms of faithful witness. We should no longer treat Christianity as a "thing" to be known and proven, but rather as a way of being, thinking, understanding and living. There is a concern for others, not as things, but as persons needing edification.

I'm a Christian steeped in classical apologetics. Postmodernism defies my logically trained mind. Yet I greatly appreciate Penner's timely argument, even if it was hard to accept at first. Do we really come to faith as a result of rational persuasion (modern apologetics)? Or do we come to faith in the context of living life?
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