3. A Brief History of Apologetics
While apologies or defenses of the Christian faith go all the way back to the first century, the formal science of apologetics is a more recent development. In this chapter we will survey the history of apologetics in three stages. First, we will discuss in some detail apologetics in the New Testament itself. Second, we will give detailed attention to the thought of the leading apologists prior to the Reformation, notably Augustine, Anselm, and Thomas Aquinas. Third, we will present a more cursory overview of apologetics from the Reformation to the present.1 In later chapters we will consider the apologetic thought of several modern Christian thinkers in more detail.
Apologetics in the New Testament
Although perhaps none of the New Testament writings should be classified as a formal apologetic treatise, most of them exhibit apologetic concerns.2 The New Testament writers anticipate and answer objections and seek to demonstrate the credibility of the claims and credentials of Christ, focusing especially on the resurrection of Jesus as the historical foundation upon which Christianity is built. Many New Testament writings are occupied with polemics against false teachings, in which the apologetic concern is to defend the gospel against perversion from within the church.3
Apologetics in Luke-Acts
Of all the New Testament writings, the two volumes by Luke (his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles) are the most overtly apologetical in purpose.4 In his prologue (Luke 1:1-4) Luke announces that his work is based on careful historical research and will present an accurate record of the origins of Christianity. The very structure and content of this two-part work suggests it was written at least in part as a political apology for Paul: Acts ends with Paul under house arrest yet preaching freely in Rome, and both books emphasize that Jesus and the apostles (especially Paul) were law-abiding persons. In Acts the motif of Jesus’ resurrection as vindication, his fulfillment of Old Testament messianic prophecies, and the charismatic phenomena on and after the Day of Pentecost are used as cumulative evidences of the messianic lordship of Jesus (Acts 2:36) and of the authority of the apostolic truth claims. Along the way Luke uses the speeches of the apostles to present apologetic arguments to a wide variety of audiences, both Jewish and Gentile.
One of these speeches, Paul’s address to the Athenians in Acts 17, has been extraordinarily important in Christian reflections about apologetics throughout church history; it is the only substantial example of an apology directed to a non-Jewish audience in the New Testament (though see Acts 14:15-17). Thus this one speech has traditionally been regarded as a paradigm or model of apologetics.5
According to Luke (Acts 17:18), Paul’s message of Jesus and the Resurrection was misunderstood as teaching new deities. Luke reports this accusation in terms identical to those describing the Athenians’ charge against Socrates in Plato’s Apology, which strongly suggests that Luke sees Paul’s speech here as a Christian counterpart to the Socratic apology. Challenged to explain his position by Stoic and Epicurean philosophers, Paul set his message in a rational context in which it would make sense to his philosophically minded audience. The speech was quite unlike those Paul delivered to Jewish audiences, which emphasized Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament messianic promises and quoted Old Testament proof texts liberally. In fact, Paul used a form of speech recognized by the Greeks as a philosophical address, such as was commonly used by the Stoics and Cynics of his day.
Throughout the speech Paul speaks biblical truth but uses Stoic terms and argues in Stoic fashion, even quoting a Stoic poet in support of his argument (verses 24-29). Essentially, the point of this first and longest part of the speech is that idolatry is foolish and that the Stoics themselves have admitted as much, though they had failed to abandon it completely. Paul uses this inconsistency in Stoic philosophy to illustrate the Athenians’ ignorance of God (cf. verse 23). Having proved his major premise, Paul then announces that God has declared an end to ignorance of his nature and will by revealing himself. Paul concludes that the Resurrection is proof of God’s intention to judge the world through Jesus Christ (verses 30-31). This scandalized the Athenians (verse 32), in part because Greek thought generally found the idea of physical resurrection foolish, and in part because the idea of a final judgment was offensive to them.
The result of Paul’s apology was that some believed, some scoffed, and some expressed interest (verses 32-34). These reactions cover the three possible responses to the gospel, and the small numberof those who believed should not be taken to mean that Paul’s speech was a failure. Nor should 1 Corinthians 2:2 be taken to mean that Paul abandoned philosophical reasoning (as his use of Greek logic and rhetoric in 1 Corinthians 15 makes clear), but that he refused to avoid the central issue with the Corinthians even though it was scandalous to them. Thus Christian apologists are right to view Paul’s speech to the Athenians as a model of Christian apology.
Apologetics in Paul’s Writings
Closely related to Paul’s thought in his Athenian address is his argument in Romans 1. Paul takes over Hellenistic Jewish apologetics here on the folly of Gentile culture (chapter 1, first half of chapter 2), then argues that the Jews are not above the same sins as the Gentiles (second half of chapter 2). Along the way he sets forth some notions about the knowledge of God that have been extremely important for apologetics.6 According to Paul, God’s existence and divinity are clearly revealed in nature. All human beings, he says, “knew God,” but they suppressed the truth, refusing to acknowledge God and falling into idolatry instead (1:18-25).
The statement that people “knew God” (verse 21) has been understood in two ways. (1) It may mean that all people once knew God but don’t any longer. The past tense of the verb certainly allows for this interpretation, and in support it may be noted that Paul elsewhere consistently says that the Gentiles do not know God (besides Acts 17:23, see 1 Corinthians 1:21; Galatians 4:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:5; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Titus 1:16). (2) It may mean that all people in some limited sense know God but refuse to worship him properly. In support of this view, it has been pointed out that the godless must know something about God to be able to “suppress” the truth about him and refuse to “acknowledge” him (Romans 1:18, 28). In other words, since the suppression continues, so must the knowledge being suppressed.7 These two views can be reconciled. The true knowledge of God—in which one knows God, not merely knows that there is a God of some kind—was once had by all people, but no longer. All human beings continue to know that there is a God and continue to be confronted with internal and external evidence for his deity, but generally speaking they suppress or subvert this knowledge into idolatrous religion of varying kinds.
Paul’s letters elsewhere repeatedly deal with apologetic issues that arose as both Jews and pagans who had confessed Christ and become associated with the churches Paul had founded developed radically different interpretations of the meaning of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 1–2 Paul warned the Corinthian believers against trying to accommodate the gospel to the wisdom of the Greeks. Paul is not advocating a kind of anti-intellectualism. Christianity promotes a true wisdom that mature Christians find intellectually superior to anything the world can produce, one based on God’s revelation rather than human speculation (1 Corinthians 1:18-21; 2:6-16).8 In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul refuted errors about the resurrection of the dead by reminding the Corinthians that the resurrection of Christ was a historical fact (verses 3-11). Paul argues that the heretics—who deny our future resurrection—are inconsistent if they affirm Jesus’ resurrection since, if he was raised, we can be too. They are also inconsistent if they do not affirm Jesus’ resurrection since, if Jesus was not raised, there is no point to their affirming faith in Jesus at all (verses 12-19). This is a classic model of apologetic argument, locking opponents of gospel truths in a logical dilemma.9
In his epistle to the Colossians, Paul refuted errors about Christ’s person that arose apparently from a religious context in which unbiblical Jewish and Greek ideas were mixed with an acknowledgment, however inadequate, of Jesus Christ. In this context Paul condemns not philosophy per se, but manmade philosophies that are not “according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8). Paul boldly co-opted Greek religious terms such as plērōma, a term used to denote the “fullness” of the divine beings that inhabited the cosmos, to convey Christian ideas—in this case, the idea that all deity dwelled in Christ (2:9).
Apologetics in John’s Writings
The apostle John followed a strategy similar to Paul’s adoption of Greek philosophical and religious terms in his Gospel, in which the preincarnate Christ is called the Logos (“Word,” John 1:1, 14; cf. 1 John 1:1). The notion of a preexistent Word involved in God’s creation of the universe had Old Testament associations (for example, Genesis 1:3, etc.; Psalm 33:6, 9). Still, to any Gentile or Hellenistic Jewish reader the term Logos would have immediately conjured up Platonic and Stoic notions of the universal Reason that was believed to govern the cosmos and was thought to be reflected in the rational mind of every human being (cf. John 1:9). Yet the announcement by John that this Logos was personal—that he was God’s Son (verses 1, 14, 18; cf. 20:31) and had become incarnate (1:14)—was shocking to both Jews and Greeks. It required a completely new way of looking at God and humanity to believe that Jesus was the divine Logos incarnate.10
The Apologetic Mandate in 1 Peter 3:15
Our survey of New Testament apologetics would not be complete without taking notice of 1 Peter 3:15, which has often been regarded as the classic biblical statement of the mandate for Christians to engage in apologetics.11 Peter instructs believers to “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense [apologia] to every one who asks you to give an account [logos] for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” Three key observations should be made about this text.
First, Peter is definitely instructing believers to make a reasoned defense of their beliefs. Logos (the same word used in John 1:1 to refer to the preexistent Christ) is a very flexible word, but in this context it clearly refers to a rational explanation or account. The word apologia, while not meaning “apologetics” in the modern technical sense, does indicate that Christians are to make the best case they can for their confession of Jesus Christ as Lord.
Second, this apologetic mandate is given generally to all Christians, requiring them to give reasons for faith in Christ to anyone who asks for them. In the context Peter is specifically urging believers to be ready to do this when threatened with suffering for their faith (see 1 Peter 3:13-14, 16-17), but there is no basis for limiting the mandate to such situations. The language is quite general (“always . . . to every one who asks you”) and makes the apologetic mandate a standing order for the church.
Third, Peter instructs us to engage in apologetics with proper attitudes toward both the non-Christians with whom we are speaking and the Lord about whom we are speaking: “with gentleness and reverence.” The term “gentleness” indicates the manner in which we are to answer those who challenge our faith (again, in context this includes both “seekers” and those who are antagonistic to the Christian message). The term “reverence” (phobos, almost always translated “fear”) is translated “respect” in some versions, and this is often understood as referring to respect toward the people to whom we are speaking. However, Peter has just said we are not to show phobos toward people (3:14), and elsewhere says we are to show phobos toward God (1:17; 2:17). Almost certainly, then, Peter is telling us to conduct our defense of the faith with an attitude of holy fear or reverence toward Christ, whom we honor as Lord (3:15). We do so by striving to be faithful to Christ both in what we say and in how we live (verse 16).
The Early Church Fathers
In the postapostolic era, the new challenges that confronted the burgeoning church as it spread throughout the Roman Empire required a new apologetic counterthrust. Rabbinic Judaism, fully developed Gnosticism, persecuting paganism, and Hellenistic culture and philosophy all opposed the fledgling church. The religious apologists defended Christianity against these attacks and sought to gain converts to the faith by arguing for the superiority of the Christian position. There were also political apologists who argued that the church should be tolerated by the state.
The apologists of the second century12 modeled their arguments after contemporary philosophical refutations of polytheism and the critiques of pagan philosophy by Hellenistic Jews. Of the many apologists from this period, the most important by far was Justin Martyr (ca. 100-165),13 a convert to Christianity from Platonism. In his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, Justin used messianic prophecies from the Hebrew Scriptures to prove that Jesus is the Messiah. In his two Apologies he appealed for the civil toleration of Christianity and argued that it was in fact the true philosophy. To show that Christianity should be tolerated, he refuted common errors and rumors (for example, that Christians were atheists and that they ate flesh and drank blood) and presented Christianity as a morally superior religion. To support his claim that it was the true philosophy, Justin made the first attempt in postbiblical history to correlate John’s doctrine of the Logos with Greek philosophy, arguing that Christianity was superior to Platonism and that any truth in Plato was actually plagiarized from Moses. Arguably, Justin’s doctrine was less than consistently biblical, notably in his strongly subordinationist view of Christ. However, his efforts were commendable given his place in Christian history (even before the process of collecting the New Testament canon was completed) and in view of his role as a pioneer in Christian theologizing and apologetics.
The third-century Alexandrians “continued to assimilate arguments from Platonic and Stoic philosophers as well as Jewish controversialists.”14 Clement of Alexandria wrote a number of theological discourses and an apologetic work called Protrepticus, a more sophisticated and persuasive work than those of the second-century apologists. By far the most important Greek apologist of the third century was Origen (ca. 185-254),15 whose lengthy Contra Celsum (“Against Celsus”) was a reply to Celsus’s philosophical, ethical, and historical criticisms of Christianity. In it, for example, Origen argued that Jesus did not do his miracles by sorcery, offered an impressive historical defense of Jesus’ resurrection against an early hallucination theory and other objections, and showed that the miracle stories of paganism are far less credible than those of the Gospels.16 It is with good reason that Origen’s book has been ranked as one of the classics of apologetics.17
In the fourth and fifth centuries, pagan religions were on the wane and Christianity was on the ascendancy throughout the empire, particularly after the edict of Constantine in 313. Christian apologists, both Latin and Greek, wrote with pride of the progress and life-changing effects of Christianity. They also became more systematic in their presentation of Christianity as a worldview in contrast to competing philosophies, notably Neoplatonism.
The greatest apologist and theologian of this period and indeed of the first millennium of Christian history was, by nearly everyone’s reckoning, Aurelius Augustine (354-430), the bishop of Hippo, whose apologetic and theological writings ranged widely over the areas of human culture, philosophy, and history.18 Augustine was won to the Christian faith after trying Manicheism, a dualistic philosophy that viewed both good and evil as ultimate realities, and Platonism, which convinced him that Manicheism was false and so, by his own testimony, helped him on the path to Christianity. His earlier apologetic works, not surprisingly, were in large part devoted to refuting Manichean philosophy (On the Catholic and Manichean Ways of Life, Of True Religion, On the Usefulness of Belief).
As Augustine became more involved in church life, his apologetic works became more diversified. Over the course of his life he wrote numerous works championing Christianity over paganism, refuting heresies plaguing the church, and expounding Christian truth in a positive manner in teaching manuals and in sermons for the edification of Christians. An original and multigifted writer, thinker, and scholar, Augustine was able to develop an apologetic that was built on a stronger metaphysical or worldview base. While his worldview was at first heavily Platonic, as he matured his theology and philosophy became significantly less Platonic and more and more biblical. Specifically, Augustine became the first Christian theologian and apologist to embrace a thoroughly Pauline view of faith and of God’s sovereignty in salvation and in human history. This Pauline theology, in turn, enabled him to develop the first philosophically sophisticated, biblically sound, and comprehensive Christian view of the world and of history. Such a Christian philosophy was necessary to combat pagan philosophies, including Platonism, the philosophy he considered closest to Christianity. All such philosophies were corrupt and incapable of bringing people to God. Augustine’s Christian philosophy was expounded most fully in one of his last works, The City of God, widely regarded as one of the five or ten most important books in the history of Western thought.19
Augustine’s teaching on apologetical issues has inspired apologists and theologians from his day to the present. In his approach, faith and reason are interactive in coming to know the true God in Jesus Christ. Reason precedes faith in that a rational mind and recognition of the truth of what is to be believed must exist if we are to believe anything.20 But faith precedes reason in that the truths of the Christian faith are in large part unseen—not only is God invisible, but the redemptive acts of God in Jesus Christ occurred in the past and cannot be directly witnessed. Because these truths cannot be seen, they must be accepted on the authority of God’s revelation as given in Scripture and witnessed by the church.21 These truths can then be understood as the believer comes to appreciate their significance from the inside. “For understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore do not seek to understand in order to believe, but believe that thou mayest understand.”22 Augustine, then, was the first apologist to enunciate the principle of believing in order to understand, or faith seeking understanding (fides quaerens intellectum), but for him it was only one side of the coin. He frequently expressed this interactive or interdependent view of faith and reason in such statements as “For faith is understanding’s step; and understanding faith’s attainment.”23 Moreover, he emphasized (in his later writings) that both faith and reason are enabled by God’s grace. He declared that “no one is sufficient for himself, either to begin or to perfect faith; but our sufficiency is of God.”24
This does not mean that non-Christians know nothing about God. Augustine cited Romans 1:20 to show that some philosophers, especially Platonists, have been able from the creation to recognize the fact of a Creator God. The line of reasoning by which even pagans can be made to admit a Creator is essentially what philosophers would later call a cosmological argument, reasoning from the changeableness of all things in the world (Greek cosmos) to the existence of an unmade Maker of all things. This was one of a number of arguments by which Augustine reasoned that knowledge of God was available to pagans.25 But this knowledge cannot prevent them from falling into idolatry and polytheism.26 The true worship of God can be found only by placing faith in Jesus Christ.
Such faith is not a groundless faith: “they are much deceived, who think that we believe in Christ without any proofs concerning Christ.”27 Augustine wove the proofs he found compelling into an apologetic consisting of a number of strands. These proofs included fulfilled prophecy, the consistent monotheistic faith and worship of the church, the miracles of the Bible, and especially the “miracle” of the massive conversion of much of Roman society to faith in a crucified God even when such faith brought martyrdom.28
By the seventh century Christianity had absorbed Greco-Roman culture and triumphed in its struggle against paganism. The church was the central vehicle of Western culture, and its apologists during the Middle Ages directed their efforts in three directions—toward unconverted Judaism, the threat of Islam, and the rational ground for belief.29 Two Christian philosophers of the Middle Ages who stand out for their contributions to apologetics, and whose works continue to be read and debated today, were Anselm and Thomas Aquinas.
Anselm (1033-1109), the bishop of Canterbury, was one of the most creative and original philosophers the Christian church has ever produced.30 He emphasized the side of Augustine’s view of faith and reason that viewed faith as prior to reason or understanding. “For I do not seek to understand in order to believe but I believe in order to understand [credo ut intelligam].”31 Although his philosophical arguments are often treated simply as rationalistic proofs designed to convince atheists, for him they were expressions of the search for understanding of one who already believed. On the other hand, he did intend at least some of his arguments as proofs to answer unbelievers and to confront them with the truth, as we shall see.
The most famous by far of these philosophical arguments has come to be known as the ontological argument,32 the development of which in Anselm’s Proslogion was a groundbreaking effort in apologetics. The essence of the argument is that the notion of a being of unsurpassable greatness is logically inescapable. From the idea of “that than which nothing greater can be thought,” Anselm inferred the existence or being (Greek ontos, hence “ontological” argument) of God.
The argument has been interpreted in several markedly divergent ways. Frequently it has been treated as a rational proof of the existence of God, and as such it has usually (but not always) been rejected by both Christian and non-Christian philosophers. Some philosophers have taken it to prove that if there is a God, he must be a necessary being (that is, a being that must exist, that cannot not exist) rather than a contingent being (one that might or might not have existed). Others have argued that it proves that necessary existence must be acknowledged for some being, either for the cosmos itself or for a being transcendent to the cosmos. Still others have offered radical reinterpretations of the argument. For example, Karl Barth took it to mean that God must reveal himself in order to be known. Charles Hartshorne reworked it to prove his “process” view that God is not the greatest possible being but is forever becoming a greater being and, in comparison to all others, is unsurpassably great. This bewildering diversity of interpretations of Anselm testifies to the provocative genius of his argument.
Anselm’s other major contribution to apologetics is found in his book Cur Deus Homo (“Why God became a man” or “Why the God-man”), in which he argued that God became a man because only God in his infinite being could provide an infinite satisfaction or atonement for man’s sin.33 Anselm prefaced the work with the observation that the church’s teachers discussed “the rational basis of our faith . . . not only to confound the foolishness of believers and to break through their hardheartedness, but also in order to nourish those who, having hearts already cleansed by faith, delight in the rational basis of our faith—a rational basis for which we ought to hunger once [we have] the certainty of faith.”34 The first part of the work “contains the answers of believers to the objections of unbelievers who repudiate the Christian faith because they regard it as incompatible with reason. And this book goes on to prove by rational necessity—Christ being removed from sight, as if there had never been anything known about Him—that no man can possibly be saved without Him.”35 At the beginning of the book Anselm explained that he wrote it at the request of other believers. They asked for the book “not in order to approach faith by way of reason but in order to delight in the comprehension and contemplation of the doctrines which they believe, as well as in order to be ready, as best they can, always to give a satisfactory answer to everyone who asks of them a reason for the hope which is in us.”36 Later Anselm pointed out that “although they [unbelievers] seek a rational basis because they do not believe whereas we seek it because we do believe, nevertheless it is one and the same thing that both we and they are seeking.”37
These statements in Cur Deus Homo make it clear that Anselm did see his work as apologetic in purpose. While careful to disavow any intention of displacing faith as the basis of Christian certainty, Anselm did hope to offer reasoned arguments that would show unbelievers that Christian faith has a rational basis. Evidently he viewed these arguments as designed to render unbelievers without rational excuse and even to persuade them to accept the Christian faith. But while such arguments might help in bringing a person to faith, for Anselm such faith would have to be placed, not in his rational arguments, but in the God-man himself.
In the thirteenth century Christian Europe was shaken by the rediscovery and distribution of the philosophical works of Aristotle and the strong impetus given to the Aristotelian worldview by the very capable Spanish-Arab philosopher Averroes. The growing influence of Averroist thought in European universities led to a crisis for Christian thought. Some scholars at the universities were embracing an uncritical Aristotelianism, while others, especially high-ranking church officials, uncritically condemned anything Aristotelian. Albert the Great was one of the earliest philosophers to rise to this challenge, writing On the Unity of the Intellect against Averroes. But it was Albert’s disciple, Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), who would offer a response to this challenge that would change the course of Christian philosophy and apologetics.38
Aquinas sought to combat the challenge of the Greco-Arabic worldview by creating a Christian philosophy utilizing Aristotelian categories and logic. In the Summa Contra Gentiles, he presented an apologetic directed primarily against Averroism but also offering a sweeping, comprehensive Christian philosophy in Aristotelian terms.39 His Summa Theologiae was a systematic theology intended to instruct Christian students in theology; it is important for its opening apologetic sections and its theology of faith.40
The view of faith and reason taken by Aquinas is often contrasted sharply with that of Augustine, but despite semantic and structural differences, their views are not very far apart. According to Aquinas, some truths about God are discoverable through reason or through faith, while others are discoverable only through faith. Yet even those truths discoverable through reason are commended to faith because our reason is finite, prone to error, clouded by sin, and always uncertain, while faith is absolutely reliable because it is founded on God’s revelation.
Aquinas is perhaps best known for his five ways, five arguments for the existence of God. These theistic arguments have been the subject of enormous debate for over two centuries.41 Aquinas himself did not put great emphasis on the five ways, which take up only a few pages in both Summas. According to Aquinas, that God (or, a God) exists is vaguely recognized by all; that it is God, however, is not universally recognized. God’s existence may be inferred from the nature of the world as changing, causative, contingent, graduated, and ordered (the five ways). These proofs (according to Aquinas himself) show that a God exists, but do not prove God per se; for Thomas, faith in God ought to be based on his revelation in Scripture, not on the proofs. The proofs were apparently offered not as a refutation of atheism (which was not a serious option in Aquinas’s day), but to show the coherence of Christianity with Aristotelianism.
Interestingly, Aquinas was himself a critic of certain types of theistic proofs. For example, he rejected Anselm’s ontological argument. Aquinas gave particular attention to arguments based on philosophical proofs against the eternity of the world. He concluded that philosophy could neither prove nor disprove the eternity of the world and therefore could not prove God’s existence from the fact of the world’s origination in time. Instead, he insisted, we believe that the world is not eternal because we know from God’s revelation in Scripture that the world was created by God.
Aquinas used the traditional evidences for Christianity in much the same fashion as Augustine, including the conversion of the masses, fulfilled prophecy, and miracles.42 He was careful to point out, though, that these arguments show that Christianity is plausible and can be used to refute objections, but cannot be used to prove Christianity to nonbelievers.
The primary concern of the Protestant Reformers of the sixteenth century was the doctrine of salvation. In their view the Aristotelianism of the Scholastics—the medieval theologians on whose teachings the sixteenth-century Roman Catholic system was based—had led to a confusion and perversion of the gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Moreover, the Renaissance was marked by an infatuation with pagan antiquity, especially Plato and Neoplatonism, and the result was a further corruption of the Christian message in what came to be known as humanism. Originally humanism was essentially an intellectual approach to literature and learning, emphasizing the study of the classics (and of the Bible) directly instead of through medieval commentaries. By the sixteenth century, though, Catholic humanism (as represented, for instance, by Erasmus) was characterized by a man-centered philosophy emphasizing human dignity and freedom at the expense of the biblical teachings on sin and grace.43
The doctrine of justification by faith in Jesus Christ alone was the heart and soul of the ministry of Martin Luther (1483-1546), the Augustinian monk who lit the torch of the Reformation with his Ninety-five Theses protesting legalistic abuses in the church.44 In Luther’s estimation reason, particularly as employed in medieval theology, had obscured the gospel of justification. He therefore emphasized the limitations of reason and rejected the traditional theological project of employing logic and philosophy to explicate and defend the Christian faith.
Luther admitted that non-Christians can gain a “general” knowledge about God through reason, discerning that a God exists, that he is good and powerful, and the like. However, reason is incapable of helping them know who the true God is or how to be justified in his sight. Such “particular” knowledge is available only in the gospel, and can be appropriated only by faith. Not only is reason unhelpful in gaining a saving knowledge of God, it is actually an enemy of faith.
If Luther was the father and chief polemicist of the Reformation, John Calvin (1509-1564)45 was arguably its chief theologian. His Institutes of the Christian Religion and biblical commentaries are still read and discussed today, even by nontheologians. As with Luther, Calvin’s principal apologetic labors were directed against Roman Catholic criticisms of the Reformation gospel.
Unlike Luther, Calvin held that faith is always reasonable. However, he also insisted that faith often seems unreasonable to us because our reason is blinded by sin and spiritual deception. Such blindness is evident in the philosophies of the pagans, which at times come close to recognizing the truth but in the end always distort the truth of God’s revelation of himself in nature. To remedy our spiritual blindness, God has given us his Word in Scripture, which is so much clearer and fuller in its revelation, and, through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ, God has also given us his Spirit, who enables us to understand his Word. Because God’s Word comes with his own divine, absolute authority, it cannot be subjected to our reasoning or tests. Faith needs no rational justification and is more certain than rationally justified knowledge, because it is based on God’s revelation in Scripture.
Apologetics Faces Skepticism
Until the post-Reformation period most Europeans took Christianity for granted, and the major religious debates were primarily intra-Christian disputes about the meaning of certain key doctrines of the faith. But the seventeenth century saw the rise of religious skepticism that challenged the very truth of the Christian faith. This skepticism led to new developments in apologetics. Some apologists responded to the rationalistic critiques of Christian doctrine by expressing a skepticism of their own—regarding the reliability of human reason—and proposing an approach to religion that emphasizes faith as a response of the heart. Other apologists accepted the rationalistic challenge and sought to answer it by proving that Christianity was just as rational as the conclusions of modern science.46 These two approaches were typified by Blaise Pascal in the seventeenth century and Joseph Butler in the eighteenth century.
In his classic work Pensées (“Thoughts”), the French Catholic mathematician and apologist Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) rejected the traditional rational arguments for God’s existence and emphasized the personal, relational aspects involved in a non-Christian coming to faith in Jesus Christ. Pascal pointed out that some things that are clear to one group of people may be unclear or doubtful to another group. He was one of the first apologists to argue that apologetics should take into account the differences among people. Christians who would defend the faith must seek to show that it is not irrational, that it is great news if it is true, and that in fact it can be proved to be true.
Pascal sought to strike a balance between two extremes. He did not want to abandon reason altogether, but he also did not want its importance or value in knowing Christ to be exaggerated. God has given enough evidence of the truth of Christianity that those who want to know the truth will see it, but he has not shown himself in a way that would compel faith in those who don’t care or don’t want to believe. Pascal was especially concerned about those who don’t give serious thought to the issue. He urged them to realize that if Christianity is true and they fail to believe, they are in most serious danger.
Despite the eloquence and depth of Pascal’s “thoughts,” his approach to the defense of the faith was to remain a minority report. Natural science, through such giants as Galileo and Newton, achieved major breakthroughs during the seventeenth century and revolutionized our view of the world. In the wake of these developments, most apologists for the next three centuries understood the apologetic task as primarily one of showing the scientific credibility of the Christian faith. More broadly, apologetics became focused on providing empirical evidence, whether scientific or historical, in support of Christianity. Laying the groundwork for this empirical approach was John Locke (1632-1704), a British philosopher who developed one of the earliest formulations of empiricism.
The classic work of apologetics in an empirical mode was Joseph Butler’s book The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, to the Constitution and Course of Nature (1736). Butler (1692-1752), an Anglican bishop, sought to defuse objections to the orthodox Christian faith posed by deists, who favored a purely natural religion that was in principle available to all people in all times and places and that could be proved by reason. On this basis they came to question and finally reject the notion of a revealed religion that could not be rationally proved and was known only to those who had heard the revelation.
Butler argued, in response, that the intellectual difficulties found by deists in believing the Christian revelation have analogies in our knowledge of the natural world. In making this case he could assume as a given that God exists, since the deists agreed with this assumption. His use of analogies was not intended to prove either that God exists or that Christianity is true, but merely that it is not unreasonable to believe in the Christian revelation. This was the burden of almost the entirety of Butler’s book; only in a concluding chapter did he review the positive evidences for the truth of Christianity. Throughout his book Butler’s approach was empirical, focusing on facts and evidences, and the conclusions were couched in terms of probability. In taking this approach he sought to meet the deists on their own grounds, and he denied that he thought Christian faith should be based on the sorts of probabilistic arguments he was presenting.
The Rise of Modern Apologetics
Butler’s apologetic efforts in The Analogy of Religion were widely regarded as a worthy response to the natural religion of the deists. However, Christian apologetics was forced to reinvent itself with the advent of the Enlightenment.47 The skepticism of the Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) prepared the way for this movement, which rejected all revelation claims and all natural religion or natural theology, and declared the autonomy of human reason. Hume convinced many that the teleological or design argument, the argument from miracles, and other standard Christian apologetic arguments were unsound. The German Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), who reported having been awakened from his “dogmatic slumbers” by Hume’s writings, likewise critiqued the cosmological and ontological arguments for the existence of God.
These successive waves of attack on Christianity forced orthodox Christians to develop apologetic responses. Such responses varied depending on the theological convictions and philosophical temperament of the apologist as well as the content of the unbelieving attack.
One of the earliest apologists to respond to Hume was William Paley (1743-1805). Paley systematized the evidential arguments of this time in two works, A View of the Evidences of Christianity and Natural Theology. The latter work was a classic presentation of the teleological argument. He skillfully multiplied illustrations (most famously his illustration of the watch found in the desert, for which an intelligent maker must be posited) and arguments for design and for the evidential value of miracles. The force of his apologetic was severely weakened, though, by the rise of evolutionary biology in the late nineteenth century. Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) seemed to offer a naturalistic explanation for the order and diversity in life, encouraging many in the West to abandon belief in God as the Creator. Paley also defended the reliability of the New Testament writings. In the nineteenth century such historical apologetics, centering on the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ life, death, and especially his resurrection, came to the fore with works by such apologists as Richard Whately and Simon Greenleaf.
An older contemporary of Paley was Thomas Reid (1710-1796), a Scottish Calvinist who developed a philosophy later known as Scottish Common-Sense Realism. Reid’s philosophy, like Paley’s, was in large part an answer to his fellow countryman Hume. Whereas Hume had been skeptical not only of miracles and the existence of God but also of cause-and-effect and of objective right and wrong, Reid held that our knowledge of all these things was simply a matter of common sense. Philosophers who question these things have let theory obscure the obvious. Our knowledge of cause and effect and right and wrong is self-evident and an incorrigible aspect of our constitution as created by God, whether we acknowledge God’s existence or not.
Reid’s epistemology (or theory of knowledge) was dominant at Princeton Theological Seminary in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The “Old Princetonians” affirmed that one could argue for the truth of the Christian revelation on the basis of certain “common sense” presuppositions about the nature of truth, reason, morality, and the world. Charles Hodge (1797-1878), the most famous Calvinist theologian at Old Princeton, maintained that although reason must submit to God’s revelation in Scripture, reason must first discern whether Scripture is indeed a revelation from God. The non-Christian must therefore be invited to use reason and “common sense” to evaluate the evidences (miracles, fulfilled prophecy, etc.) for Christianity. Hodge also maintained the validity of most of the traditional arguments for God’s existence, even recommending the works of Butler and Paley. B. B. Warfield (1851-1921), one of the last professors at Princeton before its reorganization and shift to liberal theology, continued Hodge’s apologetic approach. The thrust of Warfield’s apologetic was to argue against liberalism that a Christianity devoid of supernaturalism is, first, a Christianity that denies God, and second, really no Christianity at all.
In nineteenth-century Europe the efforts of Christian thinkers to defend Christian faith were directed largely against the philosophies of Kant and another German philosopher, Hegel. In Denmark the “melancholy Dane,” Søren Kierkegaard (1818-1855), strongly denounced both the cold confessional Lutheran orthodoxy and the abstract philosophical system of Hegel. Kierkegaard (pronounced KEER-kuh-gore) called on Christians to repent of their merely intellectual profession and to believe passionately and personally in Christ. His Philosophical Fragments and Concluding Unscientific Postscript rejected the traditional theistic proofs and arguments for the deity of Christ on the grounds that a rational approach to Christianity ran afoul of the central paradox of Jesus Christ as God incarnate.
Somewhat later the Scottish theologian James Orr (1844-1913) responded to the Enlightenment challenge. He was one of the first apologists to present Christianity as a worldview, arguing that the weight of the evidence from various quarters supported the Christian view of God and the world.
In the Netherlands one of Orr’s contemporaries, the Calvinist theologian and politician Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920), developed the notion of the antithesis. There is, said Kuyper, an absolute antithesis between the two sets of principles to which Christians and non-Christians are fundamentally committed (for example, God as sovereign versus man as autonomous). In short, Christians and non-Christians cannot see eye to eye on matters of fundamental principle. The non-Christian is incapable of verifying or testing the revelation of God in Scripture because, since Scripture is the Word of God, its teachings must be accepted as first principles or not at all. Therefore Christianity cannot be proved to the non-Christian on the basis of philosophical arguments or historical evidences, because these presuppose Christian principles. There can be no common or neutral ground between Christian and non-Christian. Thus, traditional apologetics must be abandoned. Negatively, Christian apologists should seek to expose the anti-Christian religious root of all non-Christian thought. Positively, they should attempt to model the truth of Christianity to the world by reconstructing society according to biblical principles.
Kuyper’s seminal ideas were developed into a full-fledged philosophy by others, among whom the best-known figure was Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977). According to Dooyeweerd, traditional apologetics, especially that of Thomas Aquinas, was based on an unbiblical dualism between nature and grace—between what can be known by the non-Christian by nature through reason alone and what can be known only by God’s gracious revelation through faith. The task of Christian philosophy is to commend the Christian worldview while exposing the inadequacy of all other worldviews to provide a secure footing for knowledge and ethics.
Another Christian thinker influenced by Kuyper was Cornelius Van Til (1895-1987), professor of apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary. Van Til’s approach was essentially a creative synthesis of the Old Princetonian and Kuyperian philosophical-apologetical positions. He agreed with the Common-Sense Realist view taught at Old Princeton that sense perception, logic, moral values, and the like were guaranteed to us by God’s creating us and the world. He also agreed with Old Princeton that apologetics should offer proof for the Christian position. But Van Til integrated this position with the Kuyperian doctrine of the antithesis. Common-Sense Realism had held that non-Christians live in a God-created universe and thus operate on the basis of Christian presuppositions, whether they acknowledge that fact or not. For the Old Princetonians this meant that Christians might appeal to these shared presuppositions in traditional apologetic arguments. In Van Til’s thinking, however, the Kuyperian doctrine of the antithesis indicated that the non-Christian so suppresses these presuppositions when thinking about matters of principle that no argument appealing to them will connect.
For Van Til the great mistake of traditional apologetics was in using rationalistic arguments that concluded that the truths of Christianity are probably true. He thought such probabilistic arguments—which he claimed dominated apologetics since Butler’s Analogy—detracted from the certainty of faith and the absolute authority of Scripture as the written word of God. In place of such arguments, he urged Christian apologists to argue by presupposition. Such a presuppositional apologetic has two steps. The first is to show that non-Christian systems of thought are incapable of accounting for rationality and morality—to show that ultimately all non-Christian systems of thought fall into irrationalism. The second step is to commend the Christian view as giving the only possible presuppositional foundation for thought and life. For Van Til, such a presuppositional argument is the only legitimate apologetic method.
While Van Til was teaching his presuppositional version of Reformed apologetics in Philadelphia, on the other side of the Atlantic the most popular Christian apologist of the twentieth century was giving radio addresses in Britain and writing books. C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) was a scholar of medieval literature who converted to Christianity in midlife. His apologetic works included The Problem of Pain (on the problem of reconciling human suffering with an all-good God), The Screwtape Letters (from a senior devil instructing a junior devil in the art of temptation), Miracles (defending belief in miracles), and Mere Christianity (defending belief in God and Christ). Lewis insisted that Christianity was based on reasonable evidence, and that once a person had embraced the faith, the true attitude of faith was to believe despite such seeming evidence against Christianity as one’s personal suffering and losses. Among the most popular arguments he developed was the “trilemma” (as it was later called): since Jesus claimed to be God, one must either (1) reject him as a liar, (2) dismiss him as a lunatic, or (3) accept him as Lord. Since the first two alternatives contradict Christ’s evident sincerity and sanity, Lewis argued, we must conclude that he really is Lord. Lewis’s writings have had a tremendous influence on Christian apologetics. Among contemporary apologists most indebted to Lewis is the Roman Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft, whose articulation of the gospel is surprisingly evangelical and whose philosophy is essentially Thomistic.
An older contemporary of C. S. Lewis who took a very different view of apologetics was the Swiss theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968). While Lewis had converted from skepticism to Anglican Christianity, Barth had converted from German theological liberalism to a radically Christ-centered faith. Unable to swallow liberalism any longer and unwilling to go back to a premodern, conservative Protestant orthodoxy, Barth found it necessary to reconstruct Christian theology according to a new paradigm. His central and constant claim was that God is known only in Jesus Christ. On the basis of this premise, Barth rejected both liberalism, which thought it could find God in man’s own moral and spiritual sense, and fundamentalism, which, Barth argued (erroneously), treated the Bible as an end rather than as a means to knowing God in Christ. He also rejected natural theology, the project of trying to prove God from nature, for the same reason. According to Barth, apologetics as usually conceived is unfaithful to the principle that God can be known only through his self-revelation in Jesus Christ.
Conservative evangelicals generally have rejected Barth’s approach to theology and disagreed with his negative assessment of apologetics. However, some evangelicals who dissent from the belief in biblical inerrancy while maintaining an evangelical view of Christ and salvation have expressed appreciation for Barth, even while critiquing some of his views. Notable in this regard are Bernard Ramm and Donald Bloesch. Ramm, whose textbooks on apologetics were widely used in conservative evangelical circles in the 1960s and 1970s, in the 1980s argued that Barth’s theology, though needing some correction, provided a paradigm for avoiding the extremes of liberalism and fundamentalism. Bloesch, a systematic theologian, agrees with Barth’s criticisms of traditional apologetics but is more critical of his theology.
More conservative evangelical apologetics was dominated in the second half of the twentieth century by the debates over Van Til’s presuppositionalism. During the 1950s three American apologists offered three different answers to Van Til’s challenge to traditional apologetics. One was Gordon H. Clark (1902-1985), a Reformed philosopher whose emphasis on deductive logic led to a fierce debate with Van Til that divided the presuppositionalist movement. Clark maintained that the laws of logic and the propositions of Scripture provide the only reliable basis for knowledge. Clark’s most eminent disciple was Carl F. H. Henry (1913-2003), one of the leaders of the new evangelicalism represented by such institutions as Fuller Theological Seminary and the magazine Christianity Today.
The second major apologist of the 1950s was Edward John Carnell (1919-1967), another new evangelical, who was president of Fuller Seminary for much of the 1950s. Carnell’s books set forth a semi-presuppositional apologetic that approached Christianity as a hypothesis to be verified by showing that it alone is systematically consistent and practically livable. Like the presuppositionalists, Carnell rejected the traditional proofs for the existence of God. However, against the presuppositionalists he insisted that in the nature of the case apologetic arguments for the historical truth claims of Christianity, most notably the resurrection of Jesus, could only be based on probabilities. Carnell taught a generation of students, many of whom went on to become accomplished apologists themselves. Among these was Gordon Lewis, who defended a Carnellian approach to apologetics in his textbook Defending Christianity’s Truth Claims.
The third major apologist to emerge in the 1950s was Stuart Hackett. Unlike the apologists mentioned so far, Hackett was avowedly non-Calvinistic. He called for “the resurrection of theism” (in a book of that title) as a rational philosophical system, defended the traditional theistic proofs, and offered one of the first detailed critiques of Van Til. Whereas Dooyeweerd, Van Til, Clark, Carnell, and many other apologists agreed that Hume and Kant’s criticisms of traditional theistic proofs and evidential apologetics were valid, Hackett strenuously disagreed and in particular offered a head-on critique of Kant’s criticisms.
William Lane Craig, a student of Hackett, has published a number of major apologetic works in which he has moved from a position similar to Hackett’s to a more eclectic one. Craig’s writings are evenly divided between sophisticated defenses of the existence of God (based primarily on philosophical and scientific forms of the cosmological argument) and equally sophisticated historical and theological defenses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Although his approach has strong affinities with evidentialism, in general his apologetic approach is best classified in the classical tradition.
In 1971 Jerusalem and Athens, a volume of essays in honor of Van Til, was published. It included several critical essays to which Van Til responded. Beginning with the publication of this book, at least two different ways of understanding and developing Van Til’s presuppositionalism have been defended. The first one (which actually predates Jerusalem and Athens) may be called the transcendental interpretation, and was articulated especially by Robert D. Knudsen (1924-2000), a former student of Van Til who became his colleague at Westminster, where he taught apologetics until 1995. According to Knudsen, Van Til’s apologetic is best understood as transcendental, that is, as one that presents Christianity as the only position that can give an adequate account of the possibility of truth, reason, value, and our existence. For Knudsen, Van Til’s apologetic was essentially Kuyperian, and Van Til should be regarded as a member of the school of the Calvinistic philosophy, along with Dooyeweerd and other Reformed thinkers.
The second interpretation of Van Til’s thought originated from John M. Frame, a student of Van Til who became a professor of apologetics at Westminster’s sister campus in California. Frame developed an epistemological theory he called perspectivalism that sought to integrate rational, empirical, and existential (or personal) aspects of human knowledge. In his 1987 book The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, Frame presented perspectivalism as a systematic refinement of Van Til’s position, giving more positive appreciation to logic and factual evidence while remaining true to Van Til’s vision of a thoroughly Reformed, presuppositional apologetic. Frame has also applied his perspectivalism to ethics, while his colleague Vern S. Poythress, a professor of New Testament at Westminster in Philadelphia, has applied perspectivalism to systematic theology and hermeneutics.
In the 1970s Van Til’s most notable critic was John Warwick Montgomery, a Lutheran apologist who contributed a satirical essay to Jerusalem and Athens entitled “Once upon an A Priori” that characterized Van Til’s position as abandoning all reasoned argument for the Christian faith. Montgomery, inspired especially by the nineteenth-century legal scholar and apologist Simon Greenleaf, contended for an “evidentialist,” empirically based apologetic that focused on the historical argument for the resurrection of Jesus based on principles of legal evidence. Evidentialists in Montgomery’s school of thought also generally accord more weight to scientific evidences for creation than to philosophical arguments for God’s existence. Numerous apologists today focus their efforts in an “evidential” direction, though without necessarily subscribing to a thoroughgoing evidentialist theory of apologetics. Such evidential apologists would include J. P. Moreland, who has made significant contributions to developing a Christian philosophy of science as well as defending the historical reliability of the Gospels. Another evangelical who favored an evidence-based apologetic and critiqued Van Til in Jerusalem and Athens was Clark Pinnock. In the 1980s and 1990s Pinnock, like Bernard Ramm, moved away from the conservative stance he had taken earlier, dissenting from biblical inerrancy and questioning other aspects of evangelical theology.
Also critical of Van Til was Norman Geisler, an evangelical scholar who argued for a classical apologetic based mainly on the thought of Thomas Aquinas. Although several Roman Catholic theologians, such as Étienne Gilson and Jacques Maritain, have defended a Thomistic approach to apologetics and theology, Geisler has been one of the few contemporary evangelical Protestants to advocate such an approach. His approach involves three main stages of argument. First, he examines various limited theories of knowledge that attempt to base all knowledge solely in reason, or in empirical fact, or in experience and shows them to be inadequate. In place of such epistemologies, he defends the twin principles of unaffirmability (anything that cannot consistently be affirmed is false) and undeniability (anything that cannot be consistently denied is true) as providing a reliable and adequate test for truth. Second, Geisler examines all the major worldviews (including atheism, pantheism, etc.) and attempts to show that only theism (the monotheistic worldview common to traditional forms of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) passes the test of truth. A key aspect of this second stage is a reconstructed version of the Thomistic cosmological argument. Third, Geisler argues on probabilistic grounds that Christianity is the true form of theism. Here his argument focuses on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the historical reliability of the biblical writings. His works have contributed greatly to evangelical apologetics and have been influential and appreciated even among those who do not accept his Thomistic method.
Another apologist who published apologetic works in the late 1960s and early 1970s was Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984). Like Van Til, Schaeffer emphasized the need to challenge non-Christian presuppositions, especially the relativism that became so prevalent in Western culture during the tumultuous 1960s. Also like Van Til, Schaeffer criticized apologetic arguments that were based on probabilities rather than certainties. Schaeffer, however, invited non-Christians to test the claims of Christianity to see if it is consistent and livable, making his apologetic in some respects more akin to Carnell’s than to Van Til’s.
During the same period Reformed philosopher Alvin Plantinga published his God and Other Minds. In this and other books Plantinga led the way in developing a school of thought known as the “new Reformed epistemology,” which was not influenced positively or negatively by Van Til. Plantinga argued that belief in God is rationally justified even if the believer cannot offer any evidence for that belief, just as we are rational to believe other things (notably in the existence of other minds) even if we cannot prove they exist. The focus of the new Reformed epistemology is on justifying belief rather than challenging unbelief. Yet its approach has some affinities with presuppositionalism, perhaps most notably its rejection of evidentialism (the claim that beliefs are rational only as they are justified by appeals to evidence). The school came into prominence in 1983 with the publication of Faith and Rationality, co-edited by Plantinga and Wolterstorff. The new Reformed epistemology and presuppositionalism are the two major varieties of Reformed apologetics today.
During the last two decades of the twentieth century, a number of apologists have attempted to integrate the subjective, existential perspective propounded by Kierkegaard into an essentially traditional apologetic; notable among these is the Christian philosopher C. Stephen Evans. Still other apologists have argued explicitly for the usefulness of a variety of apologetic methods in encounters with persons of differing beliefs and temperaments. A recent example of the latter is David K. Clark, whose book Dialogical Apologetics defends a “person-centered approach” to apologetics as distinguished from what he views as competing “content-oriented” approaches.
While debate over diverse apologetic methods continues, an increasing number of thinkers are claiming that the age of apologetics is over. These thinkers argue that apologetics assumes the ideal of rational knowledge that is the basis of modern rationalistic objections to Christianity. With the supposed death of modern rationalism and the advent of postmodernism, both anti-Christian rationalism and Christian rationalistic apologetics are said to be outmoded. Other Christian thinkers, on the other hand, argue that the contemporary situation is more complex. Postmodernism, they suggest, has not so much abandoned the rationalist ideal as it has qualified it. A place remains for apologetics, they conclude, though it must take into account the recent developments of postmodern thought.
The growing diversity of approaches to the study and practice of apologetics has made it necessary to devise some way of classifying these approaches and sorting out the various issues over which they differ. In the next chapter we will present an overview of these issues and offer an analysis of the major apologetic approaches.
For Further Study
Brown, Colin. Christianity and Western Thought: A History of Philosophers, Ideas, and Movements. Vol. 1, From the Ancient World to the Age of Enlightenment. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1990. Tends toward a fideist view of apologetics and Christian philosophy.
Bush, L. Russ, ed. Classical Readings in Christian Apologetics, a.d. 100-1800. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, Academie, 1983. See also the concluding chapter reviewing the history of apologetics since 1800. (Russ uses the term classical in its more customary sense, not in the technical sense used in this book.)
Craig, William Lane. The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus During the Deist Controversy. Texts and Studies in Religion 23. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1985. Closest thing to an evidentialist review of the history of apologetics. In a lengthy first chapter, Craig covers the New Testament, the church fathers, and Thomas Aquinas (1-70).
Demarest, Bruce A. General Revelation: Historical Views and Contemporary Issues. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982. Textbook survey written from a classical apologetics perspective.
Frame, John M. Cornelius Van Til: An Analysis of His Thought. Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1995. See especially Part IV, where Frame, a presuppositionalist, presents a more positive assessment of the thought of classical and evidentialist apologists than the assessment of his teacher Van Til (see below).
Mayers, Ronald B. Balanced Apologetics: Using Evidences and Presuppositions in Defense of the Faith. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1996. Includes an in-depth study of the history of apologetics that seeks to balance the classical and evidentialist approaches with Reformed apologetics (87-195).
Miller, Ed. L., ed. Believing in God: Readings on Faith and Reason. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1996. Excellent collection of readings from Tertullian, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Calvin, Pascal, Paley, Kierkegaard, Swinburne, Plantinga, and many others.
Van Til, Cornelius. A Christian Theory of Knowledge. Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1969. The standard presuppositionalist survey of the history of Christian philosophy and apologetics, giving special attention to the church fathers, Roman Catholic thought, the differences between Kuyper and Warfield, and Buswell’s apologetic.
1 Unfortunately, there is no satisfactory full-length textbook on the history of apologetics written from an evangelical perspective. The standard textbook remains Avery Cardinal Dulles, A History of Apologetics (New York: Corpus Books, 1971; reprint, Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock, 1999; 2d ed., Modern Apologetics Library, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005), a Roman Catholic work that gives scant attention to modern conservative Protestant and evangelical apologetics. (All subsequent citations except as noted are from the second edition.) The second edition adds about six pages on twentieth-century evangelical apologetics (353-59). (For our part, we do not discuss modern Roman Catholic apologetics in this book.) For a liberal Protestant overview, see J. K. S. Reid, Christian Apologetics (London: Hodder & Stoughton; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969). Perhaps the best evangelical survey of the history of apologetics is found in Ronald B. Mayers, Balanced Apologetics: Using Evidences and Presuppositions in Defense of the Faith (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1996), 87-195. For an excellent collection of readings, see L. Russ Bush, ed., Classical Readings in Christian Apologetics, a.d. 100-1800 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan—Academie, 1983). Bush concludes with a chapter reviewing the history of apologetics since 1800. Closely following the history of apologetics are the following works dealing with specific issues: Bruce A. Demarest, General Revelation: Historical Views and Contemporary Issues (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982); William Lane Craig, The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus During the Deist Controversy, Texts and Studies in Religion, vol. 23 (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1985). Textbooks on the history of philosophy are also relevant, especially up to about 1750. Besides the standard works in this area, we would single out Colin Brown, Christianity and Western Thought: A History of Philosophers, Ideas, and Movements, vol. 1, From the Ancient World to the Age of Enlightenment (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1990).
2 On New Testament apologetics, see especially E. F. Scott, The Apologetics of the New Testament (New York: Putman, 1907); F. F. Bruce, The Defense of the Gospel in the New Testament, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977).
3 Cf. Robert M. Bowman, Jr., Orthodoxy and Heresy: A Biblical Guide to Doctrinal Discernment (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991), 71-73.
4 On the apologetic perspective in Luke-Acts, see Dulles, History of Apologetics, 11-14, 19-21; Allison A. Trites, The New Testament Concept of Witness (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), 128-38; Frederic R. Howe, Challenge and Response: A Handbook of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982), 34-46; Mayers, Balanced Apologetics, 135-71; Craig, Historical Argument, 8-16; F. F. Bruce, “Paul’s Apologetic and the Purpose of Acts,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 69 (1986-87): 379-93; R. E. O. White, Luke’s Case for Christianity (Harrisburg, Pa.: Morehouse, 1990); Loveday Alexander, “The Acts of the Apostles as an Apologetic Text,” in Apologetics in the Roman Empire: Pagans, Jews, and Christians, ed. Mark Edwards, Martin Goodman, and Simon Price, in association with Christopher Rowland (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 15-44; and especially John W. Mauck, Paul on Trial: The Book of Acts as a Defense of Christianity (Nashville: Thomas Nelson—Nelson Reference, 2001).
5 The literature on Paul’s speech in Athens is voluminous. In addition to commentaries, the following works must be mentioned: [NOTE: items have been rearranged in chronological order in this and other endnotes for this chapter.] Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, “False Religions and the True,” in Warfield, Biblical and Theological Studies, ed. Samuel G. Craig (Philadelphia: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1968), 560-80; Ned B. Stonehouse, Paul Before the Areopagus and Other Studies (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959); Bertil Gärtner, The Areopagus Speech and Natural Revelation, Acta seminarii neotestamentici upsaliensis, vol. 24 (Lund: Gleerup, 1955); Greg L. Bahnsen, “The Encounter of Jerusalem with Athens,” Ashland Theological Bulletin 13 (1980): 4-40, reprinted in Greg L. Bahnsen, Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith, ed. Robert R. Booth (Atlanta: American Vision; Texarkana, Ark.: Covenant Media Foundation, 1996), 235-76; David L. Balch, “The Areopagus Speech: An Appeal to the Stoic Historian Posidonius against Later Stoics and the Epicureans,” in Greeks, Romans, and Christians: Essays in Honor of Abraham J. Malherbe, ed. David L. Balch, Everett Ferguson, and Wayne A. Meeks (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990), 52-79; Marilyn McCord Adams, “Philosophy and the Bible: The Areopagus Speech,” Faith and Philosophy 9 (1992): 135-49; Darrell L. Bock, “Athenians Who Have Never Heard,” in Through No Fault of Their Own? The Fate of Those Who Have Never Heard, ed. William V. Crockett and James G. Sigountos (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), 117-24; R. K. McGregor Wright, “Paul’s Purpose at Athens and the Problem of ‘Common Ground,’” Aquila and Priscilla Study Center, 1993, located 1/6/2005 online at http://www.dtl.org/apologetics/wright/athens-1.htm; Karl Olav Sandnes, “Paul and Socrates: The Aim of Paul’s Areopagus Speech,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 50 (1993): 13-26; John J. Kilgallen, “Acts 17:22-31: An Example of Interreligious Dialogue,” Studia Missionalia 43 (1994): 43-60; Mark D. Given, “Not Either/Or but Both/And in Paul’s Areopagus Speech,” Biblical Interpretation 3 (1995): 356-72; D. A. Carson, “Athens Revisited,” in Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns, ed. D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 384-98; Kenneth D. Litwak, “Israel’s Prophets Meet Athens’ Philosophers: Scriptural Echoes in Acts 17:22-31,” Biblica 85 (2004): 199-216; and J. Daryl Charles, “Paul before the Areopagus: Reflections on the Apostle’s Encounter with Cultured Paganism,” Philosophia Christi 7 (2005): 125-40.
6 Studies of Romans 1 focusing on its relation to issues of apologetic importance include G. C. Berkouwer, General Revelation, Studies in Dogmatics (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955), 138-72; David L. Turner, “Cornelius Van Til and Romans 1:18-21: A Study in the Epistemology of Presuppositional Apologetics,” Grace Theological Journal 2 (1981): 45-58; Howe, Challenge and Response, 80-86; Demarest, General Revelation, 230-46; R. C. Sproul, John Gerstner, and Arthur Lindsley, Classical Apologetics: A Rational Defense of the Christian Faith and a Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan—Academie, 1984), 40-63; Stephen R. Spencer, “Is Natural Theology Biblical?” Grace Theological Journal 9 (1988) 59-72; James Barr, Biblical Faith and Natural Theology, Gifford Lectures 1991 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992); Aída Besançon Spencer, “Romans 1: Finding God in Creation,” in Through No Fault of Their Own, ed. Crockett and Sigountos, 125-35; Richard L. Smith, “The Supremacy of God in Apologetics: Romans 1:19-21 and the Transcendental Method of Cornelius Van Til” (Ph.D. diss., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1996); Richard Alan Young, “The Knowledge of God in Romans 1:18-23: Exegetical and Theological Reflections,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 43 (2000) 695-707.
7 Frame, Apologetics to the Glory of God, 8.
8 On the implications of 1 Corinthians 1–2 for philosophy and apologetics, see William D. Dennison, Paul’s Two-Age Construction and Apologetics (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1985); Paul W. Gooch, Partial Knowledge: Philosophical Studies in Paul (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1987); Stanley K. Stowers, “Paul on the Use and Abuse of Reason,” in Greeks, Romans, and Christians, ed. Balch, et. al., 253-86; Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., “Some Epistemological Reflections on 1 Cor 2:6-16,” Westminster Theological Journal 57 (1995): 103-24.
9 On Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 15, in addition to commentaries, see W. Harold Mare, “Pauline Appeals to Historical Evidence,” Bulletin of the Evangelical Theological Society 11 (1968): 121-30 (which also discusses Acts 17); William Lane Craig, Historical Argument, 19-26, 551-60; Craig, Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus, Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity, vol. 16 (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1989); Robert M. Bowman, Jr., Jehovah’s Witnesses, Zondervan Guide to Cults and Religious Movements (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 46-48; and especially N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God, Volume 3 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003).
10 Lesslie Newbigin, Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 4-5. On apologetics in John’s writings, see further Trites, New Testament Concept of Witness, 78-90; Norman L. Geisler, “Johannine Apologetics,” Bibliotheca Sacra 136 (1979): 333-43; Mayers, Balanced Apologetics, 137-43; Craig, Historical Argument, 16-19; and see also James Montgomery Boice, Witness and Revelation in the Gospel of John (Exeter: Paternoster, 1970); Andrew T. Lincoln, Truth on Trial: The Lawsuit Motif in the Fourth Gospel (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2001).
11 On 1 Peter 3:15, see Howe, Challenge and Response, 15-17; Frame, Apologetics to the Glory of God, 1-9, 27-30; William Edgar, Reasons of the Heart: Recovering Christian Persuasion, Hourglass Books (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 33-41; Renton Maclachan, “With Gentleness and Respect: The Implications for Christian Apologetics of Some Passages from 1 Peter,” Stimulus 4 (Fall 1996): 30-33.
12 On apologetics in the second and third centuries, see Dulles, History of Apologetics, 27-55; Henry Chadwick, Early Christian Thought and the Classical Tradition: Studies in Justin, Clement, and Origen (Oxford: Clarendon, 1966); Mayers, Balanced Apologetics, 173-95; Craig, Historical Argument, 26-46; Robert M. Grant, Greek Apologists of the Second Century (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1988); Ford Lewis Battles, The Apologists, Study Outline 1 (Allison Park, Pa.: Pickwick, 1991); Apologetics in the Roman Empire: Pagans, Jews, and Christians, ed. Edwards, Goodman, and Price (1999). The works of the church fathers from this period are still most conveniently found in a set of volumes edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to a.d. 325, rev. A. Cleveland Cox, 10 vols. (1885; reprint, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969).
13 On Justin Martyr, see Henry Chadwick, “Justin Martyr’s Defence of Christianity,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 47 (1965): 275-97; Leslie W. Barnard, Justin Martyr: His Life and Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967); David F. Wright, “Christian Faith in the Greek World: Justin Martyr’s Testimony,” Evangelical Quarterly 54 (1982): 77-87; Arthur J. Droge, “Justin Martyr and the Restoration of Philosophy,” Church History 56 (1987): 303-19; Sara J. Denning-Bolle, “Christian Dialogue as Apologetic: The Case of Justin Martyr Seen in Historical Context,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 69 (1987): 492-510; Graham A. Keith, “Justin Martyr and Religious Exclusivism,” Tyndale Bulletin 43 (1992): 57-80.
14 Bahnsen, “Socrates or Christ,” 223.
15 On Origen, see Joseph Wilson Trigg, Origen: The Bible and Philosophy in the Third Century (Atlanta: John Knox, 1983); Henri Crouzel, Origen, trans. A. S. Worrell (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989); Robert J. Hauck, “They Saw What They Saw: Sense Knowledge in Early Christian Polemic,” Harvard Theological Review 81 (1988): 239-49; Johan F. Goud, “Origen (185-254),” in Bringing into Captivity Every Thought: Capita Selecta in the History of Christian Evaluations of Non-Christian Philosophy, ed. Jacob Klapwijk, Sander Griffioen, and Gerben Groenewoud, Christian Studies Today (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1991), 29-47.
16 Craig, Historical Argument, 41-46.
17 The standard English edition is Origen: Contra Celsum, trans. Henry Chadwick, corrected reprint (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980).
18 Augustine’s many works are most accessible in English in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, 1st ser. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans), hereafter cited as NPNF. Three of his most important works are conveniently available in one volume found in almost every public library: Augustine, The Confessions; The City of God; On Christian Doctrine, Great Books of the Western World, vol. 18 (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1952). The literature on Augustine is enormous. Books of special relevance to Augustine’s apologetics include B. B. Warfield, Studies in Tertullian and Augustine (New York: Oxford University Press, 1930); Roy W. Battenhouse, ed., A Companion to the Study of St. Augustine (New York: Oxford University Press, 1955); Gordon R. Lewis, “Faith and Reason in the Thought of St. Augustine” (Ph.D. diss., Syracuse University, 1959); Étienne Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of St. Augustine, trans. L. E. M. Lynch (New York: Random House, 1960); Eugene Portalie, A Guide to the Thought of Saint Augustine, trans. Ralph J. Bastian, Library of Living Catholic Thought (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1960); Ronald H. Nash, The Light of the Mind: St. Augustine’s Theory of Knowledge (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1969); Terry L. Miethe, comp., Augustinian Bibliography, 1970-1980: With Essays on the Fundamentals of Augustinian Scholarship (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1982); Norman L. Geisler, ed., What Augustine Says (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1982); Henry Chadwick, Augustine (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986); Curtis Chang, Engaging Unbelief: A Captivating Strategy from Augustine & Aquinas (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2000), especially 40-52, 66-93. The periodical Augustinian Studies has published numerous relevant articles, for example, J. Roland E. Ramirez, “The Priority of Reason over Faith in Augustine,” Augustinian Studies 13 (1982): 123-131. Other studies worth noting include Demarest, General Revelation, 25-31; Mayers, Balanced Apologetics, 85-96; Sproul, Gerstner, and Linsley, Classical Apologetics, 189-96; Craig, Historical Argument, 53-60; Norman Kretzmann, “Faith Seeks, Understanding Finds: Augustine’s Charter for Christian Philosophy,” in Christian Philosophy, ed. Thomas P. Flint (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988), 1-36; Dewey J. Hoitenga, Jr., Faith and Reason from Plato to Plantinga: An Introduction to Reformed Epistemology (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991), 57-142; Abraham P. Bos, “Augustine (354-430),” in Bringing into Captivity Every Thought, ed. Klapwijk, et. al., 49-66; Byron Bitar, “Augustine, Natural Theology, and General Revelation” (paper presented to the Evangelical Theological Seminary annual convention, 1997); Kenneth Richard Samples, “Augustine of Hippo,” in 2 parts, Facts for Faith 1 (2001): 36-41; 2 (2001): 34-39; Dulles, History of Apologetics, 73-85.
19 On The City of God, see John Anjola Laoye, “Augustine’s Apologetic Use of the Old Testament as Reflected Especially in the ‘De Civitate Dei’” (Th.D. diss., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1972); Ford Lewis Battles, Augustine: City of God, Study Outline 9 (Pittsburgh: Ford Lewis Battles, 1973).
20 Augustine, Epistles 120; On the Predestination of the Saints 2.5; On the Spirit and the Letter 31.54.
21 City of God 11.3-4; Confessions 7.9.14; Epistles 120; etc.
22 Tractatus on the Gospel of John 29.6 (NPNF, 7:184).
23 Sermons 76.1-2 (NPNF, 6:481).
24 On the Predestination of the Saints 2.5.
25 City of God 8.5-6, 10; cf. Tractatus on the Gospel of John 2.4. On Augustine’s arguments for the existence of God, besides works already cited, see John A. Mourant, “The Augustinian Argument for the Existence of God,” in Inquiries into Medieval Philosophy: A Collection in Honor of Francis P. Clarke, ed. James F. Ross, Contributions in Philosophy, vol. 4 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Publishing, 1971); J. Roland E. Ramirez, “Augustine’s Proof for God’s Existence from the Experience of Beauty: Confessions, X,6,” Augustinian Studies 19 (1988): 121-30.
26 Augustine, City of God 8.12.
27 On Faith in Things That Are Not Seen 5 (NPNF, 3:339).
28 Ibid., 5-10; City of God 22.1-5.
29 Dulles, History of Apologetics, 91. On apologetics and Christian philosophy during this period, see the classic study Étienne Gilson, Reason and Revelation in the Middle Ages (New York: Scribner, 1938).
30 The standard English edition of Anselm’s works is Anselm of Canterbury, trans. and ed. Jasper Hopkins and Herbert Richardson, 4 vols. (New York: Edwin Mellen Press; London: SCM, 1974-1976). A more accessible collection may be found in Brian Davies and Gillian R. Evans, eds., Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works, Oxford World’s Classics (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1998). Studies of Anselm’s thought include Jasper Hopkins, A Companion to the Study of St. Anselm (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1972); Richard R. La Croix, Proslogion II and III: A Third Interpretation of Anselm’s Argument (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1972); Gillian R. Evans, Anselm and Talking about God (Oxford: Clarendon; New York: Oxford University Press, 1978); Evans, Anselm, Outstanding Christian Thinkers (Wilton, Conn.: Morehouse, 1989); Marilyn McCord Adams, “Fides Quaerens Intellectum: St. Anselm’s Method in Philosophical Theology,” Faith and Philosophy 9 (1992): 409-35; Gregory Schufreider, Confessions of a Rational Mystic: Anselm’s Early Writings (West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 1994); Frederick Van Fleteren and Joseph C. Schnaubelt, eds., Twenty-five Years (1969-1994) of Anselm Studies: Review and Critique of Recent Scholarly Views, Texts and Studies in Religion, vol. 70, Anselm Studies, vol. 3 (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1996); John R. Fortin, ed., Saint Anselm: His Origins and Influence, Texts and Studies in Religion 91 (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2001); David Bradshaw, “Faith and Reason in St. Anselm’s Monologion,” Philosophia Christi 4 (2002): 509-17; Brian Davies and Brian Leftow, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Anselm, Cambridge Companions to Philosophy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
31 Anselm, Proslogion 1, in Anselm of Canterbury, ed. Hopkins and Richardson, 1:93.
32 See chapter 6, n. 30, for a list of modern works on the ontological argument.
33 Recent studies focusing on Cur Deus Homo include Robert B. Strimple, “St. Anselm’s Cur deus homo and John Calvin’s Doctrine of the Atonement,” in Anselm: Aosta, Bec and Canterbury, ed. David E. Luscombe and Gillian R. Evans (Sheffield, U.K.: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996), 348-60; Katherin A. Rogers, “A Defense of Anselm’s Cur Deus Homo Argument,” Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 74 (2000): 187-200; F. B. Asiedu, “Anselm and the Unbelievers: Pagans, Jews, and Christians in the Cur Deus Homo,” Theological Studies 62 (2001): 530-48.
34 Anselm, “Commendation of This Work to Pope Urban II,” in Why God Became a Man (Cur Deus Homo), in Anselm of Canterbury, 3:41.
35 Anselm, preface to Why God Became a Man, in ibid., 43.
36 Why God Became a Man 1.1, in ibid., 49; note the reference to 1 Peter 3:15.
37 Why God Became a Man 1.3, in ibid., 52.
38 Works on Thomas Aquinas are almost innumerable. Popular-level introductions include those by Catholic writer G. K. Chesterton, St. Thomas Aquinas (Garden City, N.Y.: Image Books, 1956); evangelical apologist Norman L. Geisler, Thomas Aquinas: An Evangelical Appraisal (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991; reprint, Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock, 2003); and on a lighter note, Timothy M. Renick, Aquinas for Armchair Theologians (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002), reflecting a mainline Protestant perspective. Other major works on Aquinas are Étienne Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, trans. L. K. Shook (New York: Random House, 1956); Frederick C. Copleston, Aquinas (Harmondsworth, U.K.: Penguin Books, 1957); Thomas Gornall, Philosophy of God: The Elements of Thomist Natural Theology (Oxford: Blackwell; London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1962); M.-D. Chenu, Toward Understanding Saint Thomas, trans. A.-M. Landry and D. Hughes (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1964); Anthony Kenny, ed., Aquinas: A Collection of Critical Essays, Modern Studies in Philosophy (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1976); Demarest, General Revelation, 34-42; Mayers, Balanced Apologetics, 96-103; Arvin Vos, Aquinas, Calvin, and Contemporary Protestant Thought: A Critique of Protestant Views on the Thought of Thomas Aquinas (Washington, D.C.: Christian University Press/Christian College Consortium; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985); W. J. Hankey, God in Himself: Aquinas’ Doctrine of God as Expounded in the “Summa Theologiae” (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987); Leo J. Elders, The Philosophical Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1990); Brian Davies, The Thought of Thomas Aquinas (Oxford: Clarendon, 1992); Norman Kretzmann and Eleonore Stump, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Aquinas (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993); John I. Jenkins, Knowledge and Faith in Thomas Aquinas (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997); Eugene F. Rogers, Thomas Aquinas and Karl Barth: Sacred Doctrine and the Knowledge of God (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1999); Brian Davies, ed., Thomas Aquinas: Contemporary Philosophical Perspectives (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2002); Aidan Nichols, Discovering Aquinas: An Introduction to His Life, Work, and Influence (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 2002; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003); Eleonore Stump, Aquinas, Arguments of the Philosophers (London and New York: Routledge, 2003); Jim Fodor and Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt, eds., Aquinas in Dialogue: Thomas for the Twenty-first Century (New York: Blackwell, 2004). On Aquinas as an apologist, see especially Chang, Engaging Unbelief, especially 52-64, 94-136, 174-84.
39 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, trans. Anton C. Pegis (Notre Dame, Ind., and London: University of Notre Dame Press, 1975).
40 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae: Latin Text and English Translation, Introduction, Notes, Appendices and Glossaries (London: Blackfriars, 1974). An accessible edition that includes all of Part I and generous portions of Parts II and III is Saint Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Theologica, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province, rev. Daniel J. Sullivan, 2 Vols.; Great Books of the Western World, vols. 19-20 (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1952). See also Peter Kreeft, A Summa of the “Summa”: The Essential Philosophical Passages of St. Thomas Aquinas’ “Summa Theologica” Edited and Explained for Beginners (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1990).
41 The literature on Aquinas’s “five ways” is astonishingly vast. In addition to the sources already cited, see especially Anthony Kenny, The Five Ways: St. Thomas Aquinas’ Proofs of God’s Existence (New York: Schocken, 1969; reprint, Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1980); William Lane Craig, The Cosmological Argument from Plato to Leibniz (New York: Macmillan, 1980), 152-205; C. F. J. Martin, Thomas Aquinas: God and Explanations (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997); John F. Wippel, The Metaphysical Thought of Thomas Aquinas: From Finite Being to Uncreated Being, Monographs of the Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2000).
42 See further Craig, Historical Argument, 61-70.
43 On the origins of the Reformation and the teachings of the Reformers, see H. A. Oberman, Forerunners of the Reformation: The Shape of Late Medieval Thought, Illustrated by Key Documents (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1966); Timothy George, Theology of the Reformers (Nashville: Broadman, 1985); Alister E. McGrath, The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation (Oxford: Blackwell, 1987).
44 See chapter 16 for a detailed discussion of Luther’s approach to apologetics.
45 See chapter 12 on Calvin’s approach to apologetics.
46 On apologetics and related developments during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, see Demarest, General Revelation, 61-91; Craig, Historical Argument, 71-352; William R. Everdell, Christian Apologetics in France, 1730-1790: The Roots of Romantic Religion, Texts and Studies in Religion, vol. 31 (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1987); Brown, Christianity and Western Thought, 159-234.
47 Only the briefest survey of apologetics since the Enlightenment will be given here, since more extended discussions of the work of post-Enlightenment apologists will be presented in later chapters of the book. General studies relating to the history of apologetics during this period include Demarest, General Revelation, 93-225; Alan P. F. Sell, Defending and Declaring the Faith: Some Scottish Examples, 1860-1920 (Exeter, U.K.: Paternoster Press; Colorado Springs: Helmers & Howard, 1987); Brown, Christianity and Western Thought, 235-330.
Related Topics: Apologetics