Posts Tagged ‘Apologetics’

The Inside Guide to Becoming a Christian Apologist

October 25, 2014

I was not certain I wanted to read The Inside Guide to Becoming a Christian Apologist by J P Holding. I do not have any plans to begin a career as a Christian apologist, although I very occasionally write what might be considered apologetics on my blog. Also, when deciding whether to get a book on a controversial subject such as politics or religion, I generally look first at the one-starred reviews at Amazon. If I find a large number of such reviews written by people who have obvious not read the book and have an agenda opposed to that of the writer, I know it is worth reading. This may seem a strange criterion, but I haven’t been disappointed yet. Unfortunately, The Inside Guide to Becoming a Christian Apologist has only recently come out and there is only one review. I decided to take a chance and I can say I wasn’t disappointed.

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The Inside Guide to Becoming a Christian Apologist is a short book, only 68 pages if it were in a print edition, yet it is full of information for anyone considering a career as an apologist. In the first chapter, Holding discusses the education needed to becoming an apologist. This is not something you can just start doing. If you want to be an effective defender of the Christian faith, you had better be prepared to learn the trade. Fortunately, this does not necessarily require a PhD in theology. There are several paths you can take and Holding discusses which might be best. He moves on to learning the lost art of doing research in the following chapter.

The real nuts and bolts of a career in apologetics are dealt with in the next three chapters. Holding discusses possible career paths, whether working for someone else or striking out on your own. This section is perhaps the most important for anyone considering a ministry involving apologetics. Even the most knowledgeable academic who knows the best arguments in defense of the Christian faith will come to grief if he lacks the knowledge to set up a nonprofit ministry or is unable to share his knowledge using the Internet or other resources.

Finally, in the last chapter, Holding discusses the pitfalls of being an apologist. These include some obvious things as pride and sin, as well as some problems that might not occur to one just starting out, fundraising and making time for family.

There is no discussion of specific arguments or apologetic techniques in this book. That is beyond its scope and would perhaps take hundreds of pages. This book is not everything you need to know to defend the faith. It tells you how to get started and where to go for information. You will have to do the rest of the work.

On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision

October 1, 2011

In these skeptical times, in which books by the so-called New Atheists make the bestseller lists, it is more important than ever for Christians to be able to explain their faith clearly and reasonably. This is necessary to not only defend the faith from attacks from the New Atheists but also to, as Peter wrote,

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15)

A Christian who goes out into the world without knowledge of apologetics is like a soldier going into battle unarmed.

Fortunately, William Lane Craig provides the tools you need with his book On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision.

On Guard is no less than a training manual for the defender of the faith. Craig teaches the reader good reasons to believe in Christianity and how to argue these reasons convincingly.

After the first two chapters, in which he introduces the subject of and necessity for apologetics, Craig uses the next section to explore reasons to believe in the existence of God. He does not specify the Christian God in this section, nor does he rely on revelation. Instead, Craig uses the Cosmological and Moral arguments, asking why anything at all exists, why is the universe so fine-tuned, where do our ideas on morality originate. I think that this section could be used by the believers of any of the monotheistic religions, Jews, Muslims, even Deists, with very little modification.

Chapter seven deals with the questions of suffering and evil in the face of a good, omnipotent Deity. The final three chapters deal specifically with the Christian faith, giving evidence for the historical existence of Jesus and His resurrection. I think that this final section is slightly weaker since it seems to me that Craig did not spend enough time establishing the historical reliability of the Gospels but seemed to grant their accuracy for granted.  I also think that the book could have used a chapter defining what faith is and is not. Faith is not believing in things that you have no evidence.

Despite the two minor reservations I have mentioned, On Guard is a valuable resource for any Christian interested in apologetics, or who simply wants to explore why he believes what he believes.


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