- 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: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,580 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.
Top Customer Reviews
People often say Van Til is hard to understand. Here's some advice I had for that:
1) I generally have no idea what people mean by "Van Til is hard to read"; HOWEVER, it seems that because I have a philosophical background with an understanding of both Kantianism and German idealism (Van Til's chief opponent and emphasis), I seem to have the key to understanding Van Til. If you have absolutely no clue what the Absolute is generally, what Transcendental means, what a limiting concept is, or what a presupposition in in philosophy, then you might have a hard time. BUT:
2) Make sure you are using the K. Scott Oliphint annotated edition. This edition defines all the appropriate philosophical terms and gives a nice little summary for each person discussed in the book.
3) Read everything multiple times. This is not because Van Til is "hard to understand", but because Van Til is teaching reformed theology using philosophical language and your background might be reading Van Til using non-Reformed philosophy lenses. I'd say this is one of the major problem with critics of Van Til. He says “bow” (...before the king) and they hear “bow” (...and arrow). The Gerstner/Sproul/Lindsey book on Thomistic Apologetics called "Classical Apologetics" is a prime example of this.
4) Read this with Introduction to Systematic Theology ("IST"). One of the major differences between Van Til and Bahnsen is Bahnsen's disconnect between apologetics and the Trinity. You can't do this. This is why Bahnsen is not the "successor" to Van Til (nor is Van Til's successor at WTS, Robert Knudsen, a Dooyeweerdian), Scott Oliphint is his actual "successor". IST provides the theological in which The Defense of the Faith is written. To put it simply: Van Til's apologetics is Reformed Theology. Period. To understand this, read IST.
5) If you are absolutely new to "presuppositionalism", then I'd strongly recommend that you try to understand it in a NON-apologetics context first! If you can cannot fully articulate presuppositional ethics, then you really don't have any business trying to apply presuppositional apologetics. Example: Is your ethics based on a the law of non-contradiction and the basic reliability of sense perception, is it based on a social construct, or is it based on the revelation of the ontological Trinity? This question also highlights the importance of the doctrine of the Trinity in Van Til.
6) Do not stop reading Van Til. After finishing this book, you can jump to many other of Van Til's works (Logos software carries most everything). For apologetics proper (vs. philosophical discussions), I'd personally recommending Christian-Theistic Evidences, perhaps starting with Chapter 4, then going back to Chapter 1 and reading through. A Survey of Christian Epistemology is a great read for getting lightly deeper into philosophical discussions, but I'd recommend "Who do you say that I am?" before that.
7) If you don't understand some of the later chapters, read something else first to get context, then come back. The chapters on Amsterdam and Old Princeton and Common Grace and Existentialism might be too loaded for deep scanning on first-read. A quick skim (the opposite of scan) of these chapters first might help.
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.