- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: P & R Publishing; 4 edition (July 14, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0875526446
- ISBN-13: 978-0875526447
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Defense of the Faith 4th Edition
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"This new edition provides an enormous service to the reader. The somewhat challenging text is abundantly illuminated by Scott Oliphint, no doubt the leading expert on Van Til in our times." --William Edgar
"Though Van Til often engages ideas, terms, and conversation partners unknown to contemporary readers, this work has a delightful effect in exposing the pretensions of human autonomy and the grandeur of God's sovereign grace. In his careful, thorough, and sympathetic notes, Professor Oliphint has done us all a tremendous service." --Michael S. Horton
"The original is back, with Scott Oliphint's excellent foreword and explanatory footnotes. Now Van Til is much more understandable, and his opponents too. How stimulating it must have been to be part of that dialogue in the early days of Reformed apologetics! We need that stimulus now if we are to deal with unbelief in a God-honoring way." --John M. Frame
About the Author
K. Scott Oliphint is Professor of Apologetics and Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has degrees from West Texas State University and Westminster Theological Seminary.
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Leading up to apologetics and then discussing it in length, the book is divided into 11 sections as follows:
1. Christian Theology
2. The Christian Philosophy of Reality
3. The Christian Philosophy of Knowledge
4. The Christian Philosophy of Behavior
5. Christian Apologetics (Point of Contact)
6. Christian Apologetics (The Problem of Method)
7. Christian Apologetics (Authority and Reason)
8. Common Grace and Scholasticism
9. Argument by Presupposition
10. The Defense of Christianity
11. Amsterdam and Old Princeton
The beginning (chapters 1-4) is a huge help into understanding the basic Christian worldview as a whole and the foundation from where Van Til develops his approach to apologetics. Then in chapters 5-7 he does a masterful job of contrasting the differing approaches to the discipline.
Chapter 9 is by far the most compelling treatise I have ever read on the subject of a truly Biblical approach to apologetics. It is here where Van Til makes his famous statement:
"Both Thomas Aquinas and Butler contend that men have done justice by the evidence if they conclude that God probably exists....I consider this a compromise of simple and fundamental Biblical truth. It is an insult to the living God to say that his revelation of himself so lacks in clairty that man, himself through and through revelation of God, does justice by it when he says that God probably exists.
The argument for the existence of God and for the truth of Christianity is objectively valid. We should not tone down the validity of this argument to the probability level. The argument may be poorly stated, and may never be adequately stated. But in itself the argument is absolutely sound. Christianity is the only reasonable position to hold. It is not merely as reasonable as other positions, or a bit more reasonable than other positions; it alone is the natural and reasonable position for man to take." - p. 197
He goes on then to confirm over and over again the truth of his claim that Christianity alone (and no other system) can make sense of the world. In Chapter 10 he continues to contrast presuppositional apologetics with approaches less faithful to the Scriptures and gives an insightful dialogue between Mr. Black, Mr. White, and Mr. Grey.
In the concluding chapter he gives an account of other theologians and apologists and critiques where they were in line with Scriptures and where they departed in regard to Scriptural authority and apologetics.
Overall, while sometimes this book was a little tough to read in stretching the mind to think things through more adequately, I cannot but recommend this book with my highest recommendation to all believers (because truly we are all called upon to give a defense of the faith - 1 Pet. 3:15-16).
May the Lord Christ bless you in your studies!
Hopefully you will read this book BEFORE you consider taking that cheap and easy route to an apologetics certificate, or degree. But if not, God brought you to this product page for a reason and Van Til will set you straight. The cost of this book is cheap in comparison to the myriad offerings of today's so-called apologetics experts.
This book is not an easy read, far from it, but Dr. Oliphint does a great job of keeping us in the game with his footnotes and mini-bios. So, if you are looking to get at the crux of what it means to become a Christian, you have found the right book. If you are tired of the cliches and drivel being offered as "helps" to bring the unbeliever to Christ, and are ready to be transformed by the renewing of your mind, then take some time and drink this one in. You will be changed for the better, and so will your audience. Then let me know if I was right, by clicking "yes" on "was this review helpful to you" below.
The problem with his approach is his extreme determinism. All his points are argued against the three types of villains in the world: unbelievers, Catholics, and Arminians. He argues that Arminians are inconsistent, and really begin on the same ground as the naturalist because they believe people have free will, and so fail to grasp total depravity. In fact, he only refers to extreme Arminians, who think everyone has adequate freedom to come to God even apart from any drawing or quickening from God. But moderate Arminians believe in total depravity just as Calvinists do. The only difference is that they believe God reaches out actively to everyone, instead of only the elect. From this position, his criticism collapses.
He also advocates a style of evangelism based on proclamation, rather than persuasion. This accords with his extreme predetermination. Elect people will hear and be convicted and believe, others can't be won anyway.
He correctly attacks the adequacy of natural theology. But he also charges Arminians with giving too much ground when they agree to dialog with nonChristians based on reason and evidence. But he never responds to the fact that Jesus, Paul, and God himself use reason and evidence to validate the gospel in both New and Old Testaments when addressing nonbelievers. Between natural theology and Van Til's position is one where Christians are willing to reason and dialog on the common ground of what make sense, not because naturalists have an adequate basis for such dialog, but because in love they desire to win those people to a knowledge of God. The fact that evangelicals (including his student, F. Schaeffer, of whom he disapproves) are highly successful shows that his insistence on exclusive using presuppositional apologetics is mistaken.
Dennis McCallum, Author, Organic Disciplemaking: Mentoring Others Into Spiritual Maturity And Leadership
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