Best Apologetics Books?

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by Puritanhead, Jul 18, 2005.

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  1. Puritanhead

    Puritanhead Puritan Board Professor

    Just a brief query... What are some of the more compelling and informative apologetical works with answers to serious apologetics questions? How about works that deal with those thorny questions and conundrums posed by unbelievers and skeptics? I might be hearing of books I've heard about and read already, but oh well.

    I like Van Til's presuppositionalist approach to-- and I think some a priori assumptions are always requisite and almost all reasoning when you get down to it-- is inherently circular in nature, but one most recognize the limitations of relying solely on presuppositionalist apologetical methods to aid in evangelism efforts.
  2. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Always Ready

    This is Bahnsen's most basic book. It was originally a series of articles Westminster Seminary. It covers all the basics.

    Van Til's Readings and Analysis

    This is the Bahnsen's magnum opus, the highlight of his apologetics. It is much more thorough (and sometimes hard to read) than A R.

    Apologetics to the Glory of God

    John Frame alternates between amazingly clear and "do what?" Nevertheless, I would read this one first.
  3. rmwilliamsjr

    rmwilliamsjr Puritan Board Freshman

    i really like:
    Faith Has Its Reasons: An Integrative Approach to Defending Christianity
    by Kenneth D. Boa

    Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview
    by J. P. Moreland, William Lane Craig
  4. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Actually Faith has its reasons is quite good. The only problem I would see with Philosophical Foundations for a Christian worldview is that it is co-authored by William Craig, a Molinist. I have the book and it is good on issues like science and logic, etc.
  5. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    The Standard Bearer

    The essay by Michael Butler on Transcendental Arguments is ten times worth the price of the book, and the other stuff in the book is superb.

    Also, Ryan, you would love the article by Kevin Clauson in this book.
  6. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman

    What about Geisler's "When Cristics Ask", or "When Skeptics Ask"?

    If you haven't already read them I would recommend "Defending the Faith", by RC Sproul and "Classical Apologetics" by Sproul, Gerstner, Lindsley.
  7. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I can't answer that without being partisan. Gerstner is brilliant, no doubt.
  8. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I know of no better book, other than the Bible, that defends the Christian faith against allegations than City of God. Augustine did such a good job that the religious beliefs that made charges against the Christian faith were deflated of any power they may have had, some of them never to be raised again, while others remained quiet until they could slowly gain ground again through the indolence of the church. His arguments are very much worth the study.

    I can also read He is There and He is Not Silent by Schaeffer with great interest. His book, and less so The God Who is There, but that book too, are of the few modern apologetics books I don't feel like flinging across the room. C.S. Lewis' books are the same. I don't agree with some minor things, but his thoughts are well worth the work delving into.

    Normally, if the cover says "apologetics' on it I usually don't bother anymore; it usually isn't worth it. I've read some of those books, and am almost always disappointed by them, sometimes angry enough to throw them across the room. I've read Anselm's Prosologium, and find it a good supplement to Augustine's City of God, Confessions, Enchiridion and On Christian Doctrine; and it is very much in line with Ps. 111, which I call the Philosopher's psalm. Modern writers generally just don't attain to that level of thought. And these books are as relevant today as they were fifteen hundred years ago. So many nodern writers don't interest me.

    But, of course, the best two books around are the Book of Psalms, esp. Ps 111, and the first epistle of John. I would add to that the gospel of John, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes as well. Of all the books I've read, I've received the most instruction from them on how to defend the faith, and how to be an apologist, which I see as two different things: how to be one and how to do it: you can't do the latter without being the former first.

    These are two fundamental aspects of apologetics: character, and true knowledge. You can't defend the faith if you can't hear what the person is saying. So you have to learn to listen and discern. A lot of times people will respond that you haven't really heard them, but then you have to lead them slowly to realize that you did indeed hear them, better than they think, but that you don't swallow the excuses they put in front of their reasons. And that takes a great deal of patience, but mostly love. Here is character and knowledge working together to both hear and give answers. If there's one stand-out thing I've learned from Schaeffer its that whatever you do must be done out of love for that person, not for your views or for your own purposes: the Spirit supports the former, but not the latter, and it is His work to begin with.
  9. Bryan

    Bryan Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm about 1/4 of the way through Schaeffer's "The God Who is There" right now and I'm not really enjoying it (in fact I likely will be putting it away for a while). I recently finished his "Death In The City" and loved it, but with TGWIT it seems he is persenting such an overview of things that he simply presents his view without any argument for it, IE Existentialism is worng, Kirkengard is below the line, our culter isn't what it use to be...etc. Now that may very well be true but if I don't understand Existentialism (And Schaeffer doesn't really give much explination of it) the book i've found is kinda usless. So I'll put it away until I take some philosphy courses at university.

    As for Frame's "Apologetics to the Glory of God" I would have to agree; good book.

  10. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

  11. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman

    What about the "Know (Who, What, Why) You Believe" books by Paul Little?
  12. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    I'm not sure how much proof is actually in that pudding. Its not like the unbelievers at those sites are going to actually recant. Now some stances will cause the unbelievers to do some crazy stuff to get around, but its sometimes difficult to tell if you are winning or not.

  13. Bryan

    Bryan Puritan Board Freshman

    I have the "Know What you Believe" and "Know Why you Believe" books. I read through most of them when I got them. Could be useful to Junior High School kids, but I found them to be so basic that they were not worth reading for myself.

  14. daveb

    daveb Puritan Board Sophomore

    I could not agree with you more John, City of God is amazing. This book is a must read! :book2:
  15. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    If I may, I think I can help to understand Schaeffer a bit more. This is how I understand him. The proof, as I believe, is not in whether skeptics are confounded, but whether it conforms to truth. I have used air-tight arguments, even on Christians, and they don't even know what hit them. What works is speaking to a person in a manner that the Holy Spirit is using to open that person's heart. And than may not always be good arguments, but just arguments that convey the majesty or holiness of God in comparison to whatever arguments (read: excuses) the person may be harbouring. Schaeffer's work is quite a different context than modern discussions.

    Knowing why the arguments or excuses a person holds to are not truthfull is, I think, quite necessary. You can't just put up presupposition against presupposition, because that misrepresents the confrontation: it is always the truth against the lie. But we have to be very ready also for those reasons which we know will cut us to the heart, because they hit close to home, and are right. Such arguments don't diminish the apologetic for the Christian faith, but they do show us how we ourselves have been the cause of a lot of skepticism. Or, as Scripture puts it, Christ's name is blasphemed on our account. So I don't mind being ripped up, because that doesn't stand in the way at all of defending the faith; in fact it helps. Knowing the arguments or excuses also requires a readiness to confess, even before unbelievers, so that the true faith remains unscathed by our meagre efforts to convey holy truth from our own sinful selves, allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work.

    Testing a methodology, as I believe, is futile. It is artificial, and that is already a non-apologetic. One isn't doing apologetics unless he is speaking to the person's or people's questions, reasons, excuses, or cop-outs. And he isn't doing apologetics unless he is doing the Spirit's work, not his own. Sure, he is doing apologetics, but all he is defending are his own views, not truth itself. The apologist has to remember that there is a line in the sand between truth and error, and that he himself is on the side of the unbeliever when it comes to many unanswered questions. It is the Spirit that takes us both to the other side of the line. As soon as we show pride that we are here, and the unbeliever is there, then we've lost the aid of the Spirit, for He does not abide pride in the presentation of His Word of truth.

    I know that those who grew up after the Sixties will miss a lot of what Schaeffer was saying, as there is quite a bit of emphasis on answering those kinds of questions. We don't have the same kind of generation that sought answers as that generation was. You could put together almost any mixture of young people, from anywhere at all, no matter how little they had in common, put them in a room, and they would soon begin discussing the problems, doubts, the ought-to-be's of life, morality, and social structures. It was a given in almost any group setting. That is so alien to today's youth. As soon as you mention morals or religion, the first thing that pops into people's heads is a claim to unique truth and how arrogant that is, how intolerant. And I am surprised by how many of our Christian young people are of the same mind-set.

    The answers that Schaeffer gives are still just as relevant, but they need to be reformulated for this generation, a generation less willing to form a group discussion than the generation in which his books were written. The idea of knowing, not just presupposing, but knowing with certainty the truth of God's Word is sometimes not even acceptable to Christians. Nobody can know, they think; all you can do is form your own beliefs from what Scripture says. And so Schaeffer's books are not going to be read with the same appreciation as the former generation. Schaeffer's motive was that, not only does the Scripture convey truth, but what it teaches shows itself to be true in every day living; and it has solid answers for those who are seeking them. But mostly, it opens up a real and personal relationship between the person and God. We share finitude with creation, but we share personhood with God. The answers are found in believing, trusting, and living in faith to the One who presents Himself to you in daily life as you face life's challenges. It is He that gives certainty to those answers.

    So those answers are very real and concrete. And they can be conveyed to others. But people will always have a pocketful of excuses, reasons, and experiences to refute them. But that does not mean that those answers aren't true and concrete. It just means that the pearls they've been given are trodden under foot. Answers that take effort, commitment, and submission are nothing but foolishness to those who wouldn't care to take the effort or offer the commitment and submission required for the true answers. They often think that if it isn't simple, then it isn't true. But wisdom doesn't come like that. If it wasn't hard work, it wouldn't be considered valuable enough to be called wisdom; it would just be common sense. Those who want wise answers, but will accept nothing more than common sense, won't find wise answers. That was the basic gist of F. A. Shaeffer's work: sitting down with the people to struggle to find the answers, with all the love, work, commitment, and submission it took to get there.

    I hope this helps you to understand Schaeffer a bit better.
  16. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    "Persuasions" is a Doug Wilson book that I thought had some practical value. He writes a long parable about a presuppositional apologist who is walking one way on the road and keeps meeting with unbelievers going the other way (a twist on the vantillian "apologetics is a head-on collision" idea). The dialog is what I found useful. It's similar to reading real-world exchanges like those Paul has posted here or linked to.
  17. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I have gleaned much from that book and his other one on Calvinism, Easy Chairs, Hard Words.
  18. matthew11v25

    matthew11v25 Puritan Board Sophomore

    This is true Paul (of me atleast). I have always stayed with the high school atheist. Now that I am in college, I begun to deal with a different animal. So what would you recommend for resources?
  19. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    another resource: Richard Pratt, Every Thought Captive. Another popular presup presentation
  20. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    Ive heard that Pratt's book and Douglas Wilsons Persuasions are a good combo.


    [Edited on 7-21-2005 by ChristianTrader]
  21. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Doug Wilson's book does what Paul has been urging us to do and what I mentioned in the Harry Potter thread: get down and dirty with apologetics.
  22. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman

    How about the "5 Views of Apologetics"? (I think from the counterpoint series?) Disagreements aside, does it represent each view accurately? Are there other books like this one that may be better?
  23. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Accurate but extremely short on all sides. Frame does a good job but he wasn't the best man for the job. The problem with the representation of other views is that they are not mutually exclusive of one another.

    I think Faith has its reasons is MUCH, MUCH better for all views.
  24. Apologist4Him

    Apologist4Him Puritan Board Freshman

    "Faith Has Its Reasons" by Kenneth Boa and Robert Bowman is a "must have" for every Christian apologist. It's not a book of apologetics, rather it's a book about apologetics. That is, it's about apologetic methodology/approach. Methodology is ground zero in apologetics, especially in worldview thinking and comparison. Faith Has Its Reasons is not only the ultimate guide on methodology, but it also serves as a "who's who" in the field of apologetics. For example, the reader will learn John Warwick Montgomery is an evidentialist. Learning where different apologists are coming from can be extremely helpful in understanding their writings and lectures.

    "The Baker Encyclopedia of Apologetics" by Norman Geisler is the ultimate reference book in the field of apologetics. It's comprehensive in scope, and serves as a primer on nearly every area, aspect, and issue in apologetics. Be warned though, at 841 pages it's a heavy book, and could be used as a deadly weapon. :lol:

    "Always Ready" by Greg Bahnsen and "Apologetics To the Glory of God" by John Frame are highly recommended because they are concerned with doing apologetics the biblical way, that is the most God glorifying non-compromising manner possible.

    At this point I should note that I recommend "The Works of Cornelius Van Til" on CD-ROM from Logos Bible Software and many of Greg Bahnsen's audio lectures available at Covenant Media Foundation before Bahnsen's and Frame's books above. Many of the articles from "Always Ready" can be read online (saved and printed) for free at:

    I'm a Van Tillian apologist, not a "classical" apologist, but I take issue with Paul's sentiment concerning Dr. Geisler works. Neither Dr. Van Til, nor Dr. Bahnsen rejected rational arguments nor evidential arguments, rather they rejected the methodlogy without rejecting the arguments themselves. Neither Dr. Van Til nor Dr. Bahnsen concentrated their efforts on historical or scientific arguments. They would both recommend going to other sources for those arguments. Reader's of Dr. Geisler's books should realize that his books are introductory and general in nature, often covering many many different issues/topics. With that said, I recommend classical apologist Norman Geisler's book "Christian Apologetics" which is a book of apologetics, and serves as an excellent introduction to rational Christian apologetics. Of course I am not advocating his method, but the Christian worldview accounts for rationality, and rational arguments help to build up confidence and evangelize to others.

    I'm not an evidentialist, I don't believe the "evidence" interprets itself, but neither do I reject the objective "facts" or arguments based on facts. Again the Christian worldview can account for induction, and proper interpretation of the facts. With that said, I recommend Gary Habermas' "The Historical Jesus" and N.T. Wright's "The Resurrection of the Son of God". For a comprehensive in scope, but brief in explanation of the facts, I recommend Josh Mcdowell's book "The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict". There is value, in knowing the amount of manuscript evidence for the New Testament versus all other ancient mss. There is value in knowing the uniqueness of the Bible versus all other literature. While acknowledging worldview presuppositions, I find evidence in support of Christianity to be edifying, the facts build me up, and help to establish a firm foundation in the faith. The key word there is "help", the collective whole of presuppositional arguments, rational/philosophical arguments, and the factual evidence establish a firm foundation in the faith.

    At the risk of being stoned, can I recommend classical Catholic apologist Peter Kreeft's book "Handbook of Christian Apologetics" to go along with Geisler's trilogy of books: "When Critics Ask", "When Cultists Ask", and "When Skeptics Ask".

    I agree, too often criticisms of non-presuppositonal methodology turn into criticisms of positive arguments. While it's good to understand the weaknesses of arguments, it's not good to criticize and leave people hanging without any positive proofs/evidences/arguments. I think it's redundent and pointless to reduce an argument down to "it all boils down to presuppositions". That may be true, and worth acknowledging at some point, but it doesn't help to leave it at that without any positive proofs/evidences/arguments.

    Anyway, for an introduction to apologetics, my highest recommendation goes to a free college level Christian Apologetics course taught by Dr. Ronald Nash (after you click on the link, click on his name to read his credentials). You can listen to the course in either Quicktime (recommended) or Windows Media Audio formats. All you have to do is register, and registration is also free. I've listened to the entire course and I can't recommend it enough. I learned so much from listening to the course. There are other courses taught by him on the same website which are also free. Registration is a bit of a pain, but I believe the reason they made it so that people have to register is because so many other websites were linking directly to the lectures. With registration, at least people know the source of the lectures.

    [Edited on 8-20-2005 by Apologist4Him]
  25. caddy

    caddy Puritan Board Senior

    Is anybody familiar with Peter Kreeft?

    I started reading his stuff 25 years ago. His Christianity for Modern Pagans gives a nice explination of Pascal's Pensees
  26. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    He's a Roman Catholic.
  27. MeanieCalvinist

    MeanieCalvinist Puritan Board Freshman

    :banghead: :mad: Roman Catholic Apologists :D
  28. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

  29. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    More specifically, he's a thomist. He is a superb writer and his book on Thomas Aquinas is really good, all disagreements aside. That being said, I am not sympathetic to thomist views.
  30. caddy

    caddy Puritan Board Senior

    Oh I am well aware of that. These last few years, since being convinced of the truth of Calvinism, the doctrines of grace, I can't express the sheer gratitude I feel and know concerning Christ's sacrifice, but I am not convinced that I can't still garner truth from certain writers. Kreeft is still one of those writers I enjoy. I believe it is easy to discern when he is shallow doctrinally, which stems from his and catholism's stance that the "Church" has equal authorithy with Scripture.
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