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Apologetics to the Glory of God: An Introduction Paperback – February 1, 1994
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About the Author
John M. Frame (A.B., Princeton University; B.D., Westminster Theological Seminary; M.A. and M.Phil., Yale University; D.D., Belhaven College) is the J. D. Trimble Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando and the author of many books, including the four-volume Theology of Lordship series.
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Top Customer Reviews
The nine chapters of this 200+ page book can be divided into three sections: a Christian theory of knowledge, historical and contemporary views of the apologetic method and topics in apologetics. Frame is a presuppositional apologist. That is, he is not neutral, nor does he believe anyone else is neutral in how they understand reality, or the Christian faith. Particularly Frame's view, that men are unable to understand, much less accept the Christian faith without an external, supernatural change in their life.
The book makes the claim that it aims to clarify the relationship of reason, proofs and evidence to faith, biblical evidence and the lordship of Christ. Frame does this without relying on circular reasoning, and by showing that faith is reasonable and with evidence from the pages of scripture.
For the general reader, even among the evangelical community, Frame's work will encourage and challenge them to see just how much personal autonomy in life compares to an understanding of divine sovereignty. Frame's argues that the Biblical position that nature and specifically the Bible are sufficient in of themselves to bear testimony about the work of God are only obscured by the direct denial of their affects.
Of particular importance in this book, is just how Frame emphasizes the importance of mystery and faith in aspects of the Christian believer. Understanding that academic thought can often be severely limited by the autonomy of the individual, Frame is comfortable saying that at times we just don't know. His explanation of the mysteries of sovereignty are particularly helpful in regards to his discussion on the problem of evil, atheistic relativism and idolatrous rationalism.
If the general reader can get past debates that seem unfamiliar to them, they can benefit greatly by understanding the breadth and depth of Christian apologetic thinking. The lay leader, the teacher, or even someone just wanting to be more educated about the Christian faith will find Frame's discussion on Apologetics as Offense, Defense and Proof quite useful.
Apologetics as Proof
Apologetics as Defense
Apologetics as Offense
Classical apologists seek to find commonground between the believer and the nonbeliever and work from there to convince the skeptic of the plausibility of existence of the God of the Bible; therefore, the classical apologist argues, the Bible is not the appropriate place to start in apologetic encounters. The presuppositionalist argues on the other hand, that the unbeliever is acting in rebellion to God as manifested by his desire to think autonomously and place himself as the ultimate criterion of truth. The apologist should not encourage this thinking; neither should the apologist adopt it. The skeptics basic heart commitment is that Jesus is not Lord; the apologists basic heart commitment is that Jesus is Lord. "Our argument must be an exhibit of that knowledge, that wisdom, which is based on the 'fear of the Lord,' not an exhibition of unbelieving foolishness. Therefore apologetic argument is no more neutral than any other human activity. In apologetic argument, as in everything else we do, we must presuppose the truth of God's Word....Even if neutrality were possible, that route would be forbidden to us" (p. 9).
There is no common ground apart from mutual knowledge of God of which Romans 1:19ff way. The thing that the apologist is most sure is true is that which God has told him in the Bible. Therefore, the apologists argument will be based on Scripture. Frame writes, "The preacher-apologist is to present the word...to expound it, to apply it to his hearers, to display its beauty, its truth, its rationality. [He] seeks to combat the unbeliever's false impressions and present to him the word as it really is. It is to this testimony that the Spirit also bears witness" (p. 17). This does not mean, however, that natural evidences or rational argumentation are out of line, just that they must be submitted to Scripture, "The obedient Christian apologist will show the unbeliever the various ways in which nature reveals God, without claiming neutrality and without allowing the use of non-Christian criteria of truth" (p. 25). The main attack against this line of reasoning is that it is circular; the teachings of the Bible are true because the Bible is true. We must recognize the truth of this statement but recognize that every system of thought is circular when it seeks to defend its ultimate presupposition: the Bible, reason/logic, sense-experience, relativism, or otherwise.
Frame spends the rest of the book working his presuppositional line of reasoning out as it relates to proving Christianity to be true, defending Christianity's truth, and attacking the irrationality of all other belief systems. Frame includes very little actual argumentation, with the exception of the problem of evil in the world. He admits this. His goal in this book is to provide the framework into which all other arguments or lines of reasoning will fit, and he does so masterfully. It is for this reason that I recommend that you read Frame before any other apologists, because fit into this framework the apologist can use any true line of reasoning or evidences (whether it comes from a presuppositionalist or not) and use it in a way that recognizes Jesus and not man as Lord.
Finally, the book ends with an exceptional transcript from a faux dialogue between Frame and a man on an airplane where Frame demonstrates how each item he has discussed throughout the book might work itself out in actual apologetic discussion with a real life person.
I do not recommend that this is the only apologetics book you read, but I do recommend that it is the first. When you are finished, I recommend you move on to Busenitz's Reasons We Believe: 50 Lines of Evidence That Confirm the Christian Faith and/or Pratt's Every Thought Captive: A Study Manual for the Defense of Christian Truth.