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Handbook of Christian Apologetics


I read this one in college. I think I found it pretty excellent as a reference guide. It’s got a huge number of God-proofs, as well as what I consider strong cases for the trustworthiness of the the Bible/resurrection accounts.

Our compelling reasons for writing this book are three: 1. We are certain that the Christian faith is true. 2. We are only a little less certain that the very best thing we can possibly do for others is to persuade them of this truth, in which there is joy and peace and love incomparable in this world, and infinite and incomprehensible in the next. 3. We are a little less certain, but still confident, that honest reasoning can lead any open-minded person to this very same conclusion (21).

This is a logic of (linguistic) terms, which express (mental) concepts, which represent (real) essences, or the natures of things. (The Greek word logos has all three of these meanings.) Many modern philosophers are suspicious and skeptical of the venerable and commonsense notion of things having real essences or natures and of our ability to know them. Aristotelian logic assumes the existence of essences and our ability to know them, for its basic units are terms, which express concepts, which express essences (63).

Note: This assumption is not defended. If I disagree, how much of their case falls through?

We do not believe reason should usurp the primacy of faith, hope and love. We agree with classical Christian orthodoxy as expressed in medieval formulas like fides quaerens intellectum (“faith seeking understanding”) and credo ut intelligam (“I believe in order that I may understand”). That is to say that when faith comes first, understanding follows, and is vastly aided by faith’s tutelage (70).

Note: Agree with me first then it all makes sense.

After we believe, we can and should “be ready to make [a] defense” for our faith (1 Pet 3:15) (74).

Note: When belief comes before reason, the “defense” of those beliefs using reason is just rationalization.

For instance, arguments have an aesthetic dimension too, and the beauty of an argument can move us more powerfully than we realize (82).

Note: I find arguments that support my previously held notions to be aesthetically pleasing. I suspect the authors do too.

A Minilesson in Logic The inherent structure of human reason manifests itself in three acts of the mind: (1) understanding, (2) judging and (3) reasoning. These three acts of the mind are expressed in (1) terms, (2) propositions and (3) arguments. Terms are either clear or unclear. Propositions are either true or untrue. Arguments are either logically valid or invalid. A term is clear if it is intelligible and unambiguous. A proposition is true if it corresponds to reality, if it says what is. An argument is valid if the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises. If all the terms in an argument are clear, and if all the premises are true, and if the argument is free from logical fallacy, then the conclusion must be true (90).

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