Thinking

Enriching your Mind in Apologetics

(Yes, I know the picture is Brain Coral. I don’t like how brains look, so I put coral in the picture instead. I think you can make the connection.)

My own development as a Christian apologist and philosopher has been bolstered by a number of practices, many of which were learned from others. I wanted to share many of these resources for learning about and growing in faith. Mostly, the idea is to provide resources to others who desire to learn more about Christ. (You’ll find many of the links I use link directly to Apologetics 315. I highly recommend this site!)

Podcasts- Listening to others reflecting on elements related to apologetics and philosophy of religion is an awesome practice. I recommend downloading podcasts and listening to them on the way to work or school. Even with 15 minutes a day dedicated to listening to a podcast, you’ll be surprised by how much you can learn. Some fantastic podcasts can be found at Apologetics 315′s list of “The Best 16 Apologetics Podcasts.”

Blogs- Seek out other people who are discussing apologetics and writing on the issue. Finding other blogs and reading them will help you clarify important issues as well as finding new approaches to the same problems. Check out my “Blogroll” on the side of this page for some of my recommended blogs. Also, check out Apologetics 315′s list.

New Challenges- Always seek out new ideas and things to explore. Often, when you are researching a topic, you can get bogged down. When this happens, pick up a different topic and read a book on it. It will often feel like a breath of fresh air and give you a break. Then, you can return to the area you were reading before.

For example, I was reading several books on historical Christianity and apologetics related to Christ recently, to the point that I was getting a bit tired of it. So, I decided to read a random book from my shelf and read a book called Time and Eternity by Brian Leftow. This was a book about God’s relationship to time. In it, Leftow argued for a timeless view of God (in contrast to William Lane Craig’s Time and Eternity, in which he argues God is temporal post creation). It was a wonderful break and it got me interested in a new area.

You’ll be surprised by how picking up books you may not even think look interesting will lead you to new avenues for discovery in your apologetics research. There is no shortage of topics, but some major areas you could explore are (I’ve included some issues which are not Christian specifically, but that it would be good to have background knowledge about): theistic arguments for the existence of God, the problem of evil, God’s relationship to time, God’s attributes, the Incarnation, the Trinity, theistic metaethics, panentheism, atheism, epistemology, metaphysics, reformed epistemology, Thomistic philosophy, Platonism/neoplatonism, Augustine, Church Fathers various doctrines which are non-essential, and many, many more. Simple searches on amazon for these topics will turn up multiple books of interest.

Read the Bible- It seems like an obvious point, but I’m guilty of forgetting it too often to count: read your Bible. While researching topics related to God and Christ, it is all too easy to forget to read the Bible itself. I cannot underscore how important it is to get into Scripture daily. You’ll be surprised at the things you notice as you read Scripture alongside other studies. Your research into other fields will heighten the interest of Scripture as you find passages which speak to your areas. Not only that, but the Holy Spirit works through the Bible to strengthen faith. It is imperative that you continue to open the Bible, take notes, and meditate on God’s Word.

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

4 thoughts on “Enriching your Mind in Apologetics

  1. you know you’re a philosophy buff when you read time and eternity for a break. =)

    Posted by Evan | January 20, 2011, 10:05 PM
  2. What’s the difference between Craig’s and Leftow’s views (in English)? Thanks.

    Posted by Fred Woodbridge | January 21, 2011, 6:39 PM
    • Essentially, Craig holds that God was timeless pre-Creation and temporal post-Creation. Craig’s basic argument, as I remember, is that anything which takes temporal action is by definition temporal.

      Leftow, on the other hand, holds that God is timeless (period). God’s temporal actions, on this view, are the result of His actions which occur “all at once” in a different dimension/timeline which is itself timeless (hence the difficulty with naming). Therefore, God’s temporal actions don’t necessarily mean God is temporal, but rather that His actions occur temporally, despite the causation being atemporal.

      The reasons I favor Leftow over Craig on this point are numerous. First, God does not change (Malachi 3:6). Granted, I’m sure there is some kind of exegesis which would allow for Craig’s atemporal/temporal shift, but it seems as though Leftow’s account fits more easily. Second, I find Craig’s idea of God shifting from atemporal to temporal a bit nonsensical. The argument hinges on a before/after dichotomy which Craig insists upon drawing. However, Craig’s own arguments seem as though they would work against that very dichotomy. Third, if Craig’s arguments against the coherence of God acting atemporally within time are successful, it seems to me that God could never have acted at a “moment” in order to create the world. Craig tries to make a case that God would not have had to act temporally in order to create, but then his argument would work the other way and allow for atemporal action in a temporal created world. Fourth, a timeless deity clearly circumvents many problems with classical theism. For example, the idea of God’s omniscience limiting His perfect freedom would be nonsensical, because God’s omniscience wouldn’t really be foreknowledge in the sense of “knowledge of the future” because from a God’s eye view, the actions occur “all at once.” Thus, I think it should be favored as I believe it helps construct a more coherent classical theism. Perhaps that reflects my own Thomistic leanings though.

      It is quite possible that I simply don’t understand all the nuances of the philosophy of time, which is one of the deepest subjects I’ve stumbled upon, but I’m taking a class on “God and Time” this semester which I hope will help clear up some of the confusion. In any case, I favor Leftow’s view (for now).

      Hopefully that helped a bit. Thanks for the comment!

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | January 21, 2011, 11:37 PM

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