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Apologetics: A Justification of Christian Belief Paperback – June 30, 2015
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"Few books have been so helpful, to so many, for so long as Apologetics by John Frame." --R. Albert Mohler Jr. President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville KY
"John Frame winsomely, patiently, and persuasively contends for the gospel and brings together a rare blend of big-picture thinking, levelheaded reflection, biblical fidelity, love for the gospel and the church, and ability to write with care and clarity." --John Piper, Chancellor, Bethlehem College and Seminary; Founder and Teacher, www desiringgod org
"John Frame manages to tackle the most difficult problems facing a Christian who endeavors to defend the faith: the nature of evil, world religions, the use of evidences, and much more. And he does so with grace, theological acumen, and an enviable straightforwardness. . . . [An] extraordinarily profitable volume." --William Edgar, Professor of Apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary
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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Presuppositionalism seeks to identify the non-Christian’s most basic commitments, usually reason, or some other claim of divine revelation, then proceed to demonstrate how they cannot hold those commitments consistently. Rather, in practice, even unbelievers “presuppose” that the Christian God exists in every area of their lives and it is this reality that presuppositionalists desire to uncover. Frame’s approach doesn’t seek to denigrate the evidentialist approach (represented by such authors as William Lane Craig and Josh McDowell), but rather shows how every approach to apologetics is, knowingly or unknowing, coming from a presuppositional perspective.
After persuasively reconciling these two perspectives to apologetics, he lays out compelling approaches to defend the truth claims of the Bible and to lovingly go on the offensive against non-Christian worldviews. Although challenging, this book will surely be an invaluable supplement for any Christian who has a basic familiarity with apologetics and an interest in persuasively and faithfully presenting the truth of the gospel for the glory of God.
It is important to realize that the presuppositional method is not only a minority viewpoint, it is subject to considerable criticism by proponents of other apologetic methods. As William Lane Craig noted, “As commonly understood, presuppositionalism is guilty of a logical howler: it commits the informal fallacy of petition principia, or begging the question, for it advocates presupposing the truth of Christian theism in order to prove Christian theism.” Said another critic, “Does Frame not realize that, in the name of everyone needing a presupposition, he has imported an entire worldview when the others have only asked for tools?” Yet another commentator said, “If unbelievers don’t know anything, how could we possibly communicate with them?” Another author said, “This, in turn, shows that presuppositionalism is only an incomplete apologetic system. I would even say that it fails in the most important aspect—providing positive reasons to believe. We want to do far more than show that our critics are wrong. We want to show that Christian theism is true.” Countless other criticisms proceed along similar lines.
Frame is certainly aware of such criticisms, and in several points in Apologetics he responds to them. Yet Frame remains steadfast in his commitment to presuppositionalism. His defense of presuppositional, in my view, fails to overcome the substance of the criticisms. Therefore, if one is seriously interested in engaging in a defense of the Christian faith, out in the real world, with actual nonbelievers who aren't likely to budge without an argument that is at least plausible (and, of course, without a kick in the pants from the Holy Spirit), this book won't provide much useful content or method for that effort.
Having said all this, though, I do believe that Frame’s book is worth reading and recommend it as a starting point for development of one’s apologetic framework. Presuppositionalism reminds us that an apologist must not only be completely committed to the truth of the Christian faith, he must understand that stubborn nonbelief is as much a moral as it is an intellectual position. Like most human failings, nonbelief has its roots in pride. From this point of view, the value of presuppositionalism is not so much as a method for apologetics itself as it is a framework from which an apologetic method can be developed and applied. That is its value, and it is greatly valuable indeed. Since it excels in that respect but fails otherwise, I suppose that means it get's a middle rating.
The following books are, in my opinion, the most helpful apologetics books for the beginner (In order of increasing difficulty):
1. The Reason for God - Tim Keller
2. Worldviews in Conflict - Ronald Nash
3. Apologetics - John Frame
4. Christian Apologetics - Douglas Groothuis
5. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview - Moreland/Craig