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Five Views on Apologetics Paperback – February 7, 2000
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From the Back Cover
About the Author
Stanley N. Gundry is executive vice president and editor-in-chief for the Zondervan Corporation. He has been an influential figure in the Evangelical Theological Society, serving as president of ETS and on its executive committee, and is adjunct professor of Historical Theology at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He is the author of seven books and has written many articles appearing in popular and academic periodicals.
Steven B. Cowan (M.Div.; Ph.D.) is associate professor of Philosophy and Apologetics at Southeastern Bible College in Birmingham, AL.
William Lane Craig (PhD, University of Birmingham, England) is research professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University and lives in Marietta, GA.
Gary Habermas (PhD, Michigan State University) is distinguished professor and chair of the department of philosophy and director of the MA program in apologetics at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Paul D. Feinberg, (ThD, Dallas Theological Seminary) was professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
Dr. John Frame serves as J.D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Oviedo, Florida.
Kelly James Clark (PhD, Notre Dame) is associate professor of philosophy at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book presents five different approaches, each represented by one of its exponents: Classical Apologetics (William Lane Craig), Evidentialism (Gary Habermas), Culumulative Case Method (Paul Feinberg), Presuppositionalism (John Frame), and Reformed Epistemology (Kelly James Clark).
Much ground is covered concerning the Bible's approach to apologetics, where apologetic arguments should begin, how certain arguments for Christianity are, and so on. I will simply make a few comments.
The presentations by Craig and Habermas are the most worthwhile because they are the most intellectual rigorous and well-documented. They also tend to agree with each on most things and reinforce each others views. While I tend to favor a cumulative case method (influenced by E.J. Carnell and Francis Schaeffer, but with more appreciation for natural theology), Feinberg's comments are the weakest by far. He never mentions the leading exponent of this view in our generation (Carnell) nor Carnell's apt and well-published student (and my esteemed colleague), Dr. Gordon Lewis. Not one word about either one! His comments are brief, his documentation is thin, and he fails to advance anything very creative or helpful, I'm afraid. A better person should have been chosen, such as Gordon Lewis. Frame gives his "kinder, gentler" version of Cornelius Van Til, which still suffers from the same kinds of problems--most notably the fallacy of begging the question in favor of Christianity. Nevertheless, the notion of a "transcendental argument" for theism is a good one, but it should not carry all the weight of apologetics. Clark's material is philosophically well-informed (one would expect this of a student of Alvin Plantinga!), but apologetically timid. Clark almost sounds like a skeptic at times.
A few bones more bones to pick. The editor refers to Francis Schaeffer as a presuppositionalist. This is false; he was a verificationist with more in common with Carnell than with Van Til. Gordon Lewis's fine essay on Schaeffer's apologetic method in "Reflections on Francis Schaeffer" makes this very clear. None of the writers address the great apologetic resources found in Blaise Pascal. I also found at least two grammatical errors.
Nevertheless, as a professor of philosophy at a theological seminary who teaches apologetics, I found this volume very helpful and useful. But let's not get so involved in methodological concerns that we fail to go out in the world and defend our Christian faith as objectively true, existentially vital, and rationally compelling (Jude 3)!
Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Philosophy Denver Seminary
Overall "Five Views on Apologetics" is worthwhile for the serious-minded Christian. I do like these "View" books because they allow all sides to take part in a dialogue that certainly has more potential to get things accomplished rather than a free-for-all live debate. All sides get to give their side with succeeding rebuttals. This book certainly had some lively discussion as all of the participants had their own ideas of how apologetics should be handled. The five positions were: William Lane Craig (classical); Gary Habermas (evidential); Paul Feinberg (cumulative); John Frame (presuppositional); Kelly James Clark (Reformed Epistemological).
However, there were three weak points that I need to point out. First, I'm not sure the debaters were the best representatives of the positions they defended. For instance, Craig could be described as a combination classicist/evidentialist. Much of what he said could have been written by Habermas, as even Habermas admitted. Feinberg had, I believe, the weakest argumentation, as I just never did track with his thoughs. Meanwhile, Frame certainly has his own twist on Van Til's ideas, yet these twists make his position a "kinder, gentler" version of Reformed apologetics and thus is not truly representative of Van Tillians--and there are plenty of these thinkers out there. And Clark might as well let Alvin Plantinga write his section since Clark seemed to mention Plantinga in practically every paragraph.
Second, it is apparent that much of the differences quickly became similarities by the end of the book. In fact, Craig even mentioned how he appreciated the similarities the debaters had. If this is so, then why write the book in the first place? In fact, more than once a respondent to another's position declared, in essence, "Why, that could have been me writing! I think--fill in the name--really is a--fill in the position--like I am." This attitude prevailed through much of the book, especially in the concluding comments. (At the same time, perhaps we should rejoice that in a book of Christian division, so many similarities could be found!)
Finally, I think the book got a little too technical in some areas, especially by several of the writers. I think Craig is a master philosopher, and I've seen Bayes' Theorem before, but I'm still scratching my head trying to understand several pages of formulas he put together to support one of his points. Perhaps with some personal explanation I could better understand, but I'm thinking many reading this book would have been totally lost (as I humbly admit I was). Although I didn't agree with his stance, I thought John Frame did the best in explaining his philosophy in the simplist, most logical way possible.
Despite what I feel are its shortcomings, I do recommend this book for the serious student who is interested in apologetics. I enjoyed it very much and was certainly enlightened about the role apologetics takes in the Christian's life.