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Every Thought Captive: A Study Manual for the Defense of Christian Truth Paperback – January 1, 1980
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"Presents Reformed (or Van Tillian) apologetics in genuinely popular language. . . . In this respect, Pratt's book is something of a breakthrough. I would expect and hope that this accomplishment will give the book a wide hearing." --John M. Frame
"Richard Pratt has written a manual to help ordinary people engage in apologetics along the lines of Van Til's approach. In the process he has translated the philosophical terminology of Van Tillian apologetics into everyday language. . . . both sound and stimulating." --Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
About the Author
Richard L. Pratt Jr. (MDiv, Union Theological Seminary; ThD, Harvard University) is president of Third Millennium Ministries. He was a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary for over twenty years and is the author of Pray with Your Eyes Open, He Gave Us Stories, and Every Thought Captive.
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Top customer reviews
Pratt has little use for evidential apologetics (pp. 72-80) believing that such arguments are unproductive. He opts instead for Van Tillian’s presuppostionalism (pp. 81-98). The four closing chapters provide specific biblical defenses against common objections by unbelievers. He suggests two broad approaches—an argument by truth and an argument by folly, both based on Proverbs 26:5. The argument by truth has three steps:
1. The Christian should admit his answers rest on his commitment to Christ.
2. Evidences from Scripture should be given.
3. The unbeliever is shown that his rejections of these evidences is due to his commitment to independence (that is, he is his own authority).
Arguments by folly also has three steps:
1. The unbeliever should be shown that his rejection of truth rests on his assumption of his own authority, which cannot be justified.
2. The specific objections he has are self-defeating.
3. The Christian should demonstrate to the unbeliever that his positions are futile because of his commitment to independence. He must be challenged to forsake his commitment to independence.
"Every Thought Captive" is a helpful distilment of Van Tillian apologetics written in understandable language—something Van Til was never accused of.
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Southern View Chapel
Pratt does a good job of producing what I'd consider the standard "presuppositional boiler plate" of talking about the creature/creator distinction, the nature of the unbelieving mind and unbelieving thought, the role of presuppositions (he phrases it "dependence" and "independence" , the importance of scripture and the biblical model of apologetics.
He had some great pictures in the book that helped visually illustrate the concepts (something that is both difficult and severely lacking in other presuppositional apologetic works) and he spent four whole chapters (43 pages) on working through the practical delivery of presuppositional apologetics with plenty of examples and even a (rather cheesy) `parable' where a dialogue is played out in brief detail.
Pratt seems to be a gifted teacher, getting the ideas across with simple language (something that is very difficult in this field) and I appreciated much of what he had to say. I appreciated his opening illustration on the foundational issues of apologetics (page 3) where he talked about the scriptures and reasoning.
I liked his simple description of what happened in the fall with regards to Eve's independent thought (29). I really appreciated his comments on the importance of integrity and prayerfulness in apologetics (62-64) and I really enjoyed the ninth chapter, where Pratt works through a popular apologetics text and shows how the reasoning is unbiblical and inconsistent. Pratt delivers a LOT of strong meat for such a small book.
For as great as "Every Though Captive" was, it wasn't without some flaws. The largest flaw seems to be a frequent flaw in all the apologetics texts I read; loose and stretching application of scripture. I found myself looking up several of Pratt's references and asking myself "how in the world does he think this verse teaches that?"
I wasn't convinced that Matthew 10:19 is Christ's promise for effectiveness in apologetic interaction (6), I wasn't convinced that Colossians 3:10 teaches that "Adam and Eve never forgot the Creator-creature distinction as it related to their knowledge" (20), I wasn't convinced that Colossians 4:5-6 tells me that I must answer every apologetic question that comes my way (67), I wasn't convinced that Proverbs 26:4 & 5 should be a large component of a biblical approach to apologetics (85-97), etc.
I find that Bahnsen shoved the epistemological kitchen sink into Proverbs 26:4&5 and since him, plenty of Presuppositionalists have done likewise without ever offering exegetical support that Proverbs 26:4&5 is suggesting what many apologists think it is. As apologists, the high view of scripture and seemingly cavalier and pragmatic approach to exegesis don't seem to mesh for me.
I found that overall, Pratt's book said many things that were true, but his scriptural support seemed slightly stretched, which weakened his case for me made me question his integrity with his handling of scripture. Once I got to the back page and saw that he was educated at Union Seminary and Harvard, things made a little more sense (seeing that neither school would teach one a high view of scripture or any form of protestant exegetical method), but I would have like more serious exploration of scripture with a little less "this English verb appears here so it's likely talking about this philosophical concept" going on. That's the reason for the loss of one star.
Still, I likely will work through the text with some high school seniors one day as it's a great introduction to presuppositional apologetics.