A new year has come and it is time to get motivated to make some good habits. I have often run into people who ask me how I read so much or how to explore these topics more deeply. Let me be clear: I don’t think I’m really anything special. There are plenty of others out there who are doing more things better than I. But, hey, I have an MA degree in Apologetics. I can consider myself qualified to give tips for scholarship, right? I’ve credited them to others if I picked them up from others (and noted that I forgot where I forgot).
Set a realistic reading goal for yourself, but make it realistic and shoot for the lowest end of what you think is possible. My philosophy professor from my undergraduate studies and good friend, Stephen Parrish, told me about his goal: 2 pages a night before bed. Does that sound doable to you? I should hope so. Think about it this way (I’m not trying to be crude here): do you spend any time in the restroom? Are you just sitting there? I bet you could read two pages instead of twiddling your thumbs.
The best part about setting a realistic reading goal at the low end of what you think is possible is that you will often do way more than your goal. If you say “I have time to read two pages right now” to yourself, you’ll often get away with 5 pages or even a chapter. Find those 5-10 minute portions in the day (at breakfast over a bowl of cereal is another possibility) and fill them with reading.
Also, be aware of your own enjoyment and interests related to what you’re reading. Don’t just continue reading a book because you started it. If you’re halfway through and feeling as though it’s a huge bore for you and you’re not getting anything out of it–then stop reading the book. Be sure to engage in the highly valuable process of skimming–simply reading one or two sentences per paragraph/page to get to the main points. In particular, this is helpful for those books you really want to get through but are having the problem of boredom. Don’t feel obligated to read everything from every book. If it’s not valuable to you, then stop. I admit I’m a huge offender for this: I do often force myself through books I’m not enjoying. Remind me to stop! You and I don’t have time for that!
Note-Taking for Reading
Let me emphasize the extreme value and importance of taking notes on your reading. Yes, it will slow you down. However, these notes will become invaluable going forward. Tim McGrew was one who really stressed to me the importance of reading notes. He suggested keeping a running file which had all your notes in it on your computer. That way, it is searchable and you can easily find where that quote was you were interested in as you’re doing your own writing. I would suggest keeping a separate file for each book you read, and then one running document with all the book notes together (just copy and paste each book’s entire notes into this document when you finish).
The way I take notes is simply by typing the page number and my very brief summary of what was written. I really need to emphasize this: these notes are absolutely invaluable. Although it will take you longer to read books, if you take notes you will remember the books a lot better and you also will have all your own thoughts on what was most important from the book at your fingertips. Do this. If anyone is interested, leave a comment and I’ll copy and paste a selection sample of my own notes into the comments below.
Listen to things related to your area of interest. There are almost certainly podcasts on the topics in which you are interested. Look them up. Listen to them while you’re washing dishes, brushing your teeth, or doing the laundry. You’ll be surprised by how interesting these can be, and you’ll also learn and retain quite a bit. Plus, you can listen to them multiple times to get the core ideas down.
Don’t limit your listening to podcasts. Audiobooks are a great way to supplement your reading if you’re afraid you really don’t have a lot of time. Text-to-voice is a great feature on Kindle (and probably other e-readers, though I am not familiar with them) that will read you books out loud in an electronic voice. It’s not the most exciting way to listen to books, but it will help you dive in and you’ll learn a bunch. Another avenue to explore is listening to debates. Look up debates on topics your interested in, or find your favorite scholar and see if they have done any debates. It’s a great way to learn how to engage. Finally, look for lectures available for free. Very often, you’ll be able to find lectures on topics your interested in just by using Google to search for them. Again, this will supplement the materials you’re reading and expand your knowledge of the areas in which you are interested.
I can’t emphasize how important I have found the practice of listening to lectures/debates/audiobooks/podcasts. I listen to them while I’m brushing my teeth, working out, doing dishes/laundry, etc. The amount of material you can consume in those times you might normally not be listening to anything is astounding. Use that time!
If you’re going to engage in apologetics (or, really, any other field), you should try to get a feel for the trends and interest of those who are working in the same area. Try reading a blog article or two each week related to your interests. Don’t make this take away from your reading goal for books above. Think about it this way: do you spend a lot of time reading pointless junk from Facebook? (I’ll confess right now: I really do.) Why not use that time to read a couple blog posts you’re interested instead.
While we’re on the topic of blogs, don’t forget to comment on others’ blogs. Not only will this draw them to reciprocate, but it will also help you practice writing in a way which engages you with the topics in which you’re interested.
Try writing a blog yourself. It will bring along people who agree and disagree and give you a feel for how to handle such discussions.
Utilize Facebook and other social media to engage with scholars in the field. Find groups which discuss your areas of interest and join them. You’ll be surprised by how much you can learn if you just look for a little bit.
Avoid Wasting Time
Look, I already admitted I’m a big offender from wasting time on Facebook, but let’s just promise each other we’re going to try to stop that. I’m not saying you need to ignore friends and family. But if you do what I do, you spend a lot of time just scrolling through your feed looking at things that really don’t interest you because it’s mindless and vaguely entertaining. Sound familiar? Why not use that time to read a blog post, listen to a lecture, or send a message to someone else whose opinion you value about a topic you’re interested in? I bet you and I can get a lot more done if we do that.
Whatever your time-waster is, try to cut down on it. There is nothing wrong with taking a break. Let me be clear on that. I find my best way to take a break is to play some video games or read some science fiction and just zone out for a bit. Don’t give up on the things you love for the sake of scholarship. But if you find you’re really just wasting time for the sake of wasting time; cut it out! You have better things to do, and so do I!
Do What You Enjoy!
Be sure to remember you don’t need to have your nose to the grindstone 100% of the time. Make time for the things you enjoy, whether that is reading science fiction novels or watching your favorite TV show. Keep some “you time” for enjoying things outside of scholarship so that you don’t burn yourself out.
Stay Focused on the Goal
What are you working towards? Keep that in mind as you structure your reading, listening, and other studying. It’s fine to read outside that area, but you should always try to remain focused primarily upon your goal.
It is also incredibly important not to become entirely engrossed in studying. As Christians, we need to keep our “eye on the prize” and pursue our worship of and relationship with our Lord and Savior. Make time to read Scripture. Have it be a daily routine: a time to worship through commitment to Christ.
How about you?
What are some of your tips? Do you do any of the things mentioned above? Drop a comment and let me know what you do to increase your knowledge.
The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.
It’s hard to believe that this blog has now reached over 400,000 all time views. I’m pretty excited about that. But I think it can go to greater heights, and I’m asking for your help with that.
I have decided to commit to writing more on my blog (2-3 posts per week + the “Really Recommended Posts” each week). What would you like to see more of? What format of posts work best for you, as a reader? I will also try to focus each Monday on a lengthy, in-depth post, while keeping my other posts 500 or fewer words. What are your thoughts?
One way that I will increase the posting on this site will be to comment quite a bit more on what I’m reading. This will serve two purposes: it will give me a medium for sharing my thoughts and questions about reading as I’m going along, and it will also allow me to interact with you, dear readers, on the things we both think are interesting. I think that means it is a win-win situation.
I also want to increase the impact of this page and my twitter account. What do you like most about this page? What should I discuss or do more which would make it more helpful to you and your friends?
I do need your help. If you see something interesting here, please share it with others. Tweet it, put it on reddit, send it on facebook. I rely on you to help spread what I’m writing. I also rely on you to give awesome feedback and interaction to keep me thinking on various topics. Thank you so much for all your comments, sharing, and the like which you’ve done already. If you haven’t done so, please follow me on Twitter and Facebook. On both of these I share more links than I can here and I also frequently ask questions and start discussions, so check them out.
Please also take this post as a place for you to share your thoughts on my blog and ideas for it going forward. I’m going to work to increase my voice on here and elsewhere, and I need your feedback to help me.Thank you for any insight you may provide!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 130,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 6 days for that many people to see it.
Who doesn’t love to look back on the year and reflect on the things done and learned? I’m sure plenty of people don’t! But I do! So here’s my reflection on the year simply highlighting the “bests” that I’ve read/watched/etc. from an apologetic perspective throughout the year. I have not included all the books I read in 2013; rather, only books/movies/etc. which came out/were active/etc. in 2013 are eligible.
Best Apologetics Book
J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Christianity. I think this book is, hands down, the most important introductory level book for the historical reliability of the New Testament. I reviewed this fantastic book here. Wallace does a fantastic job introducing hard topics in readable ways. His experience as a cold-case detective allows him to draw on his knowledge to make the “detective work” of history exciting and engaging. I highly recommend this book to any and all, whether they are interested in apologetics or not.
Best Advanced Apologetics Book
Stephen Parrish, The Knower and the Known. In this advanced work of epistemology and metaphysics, Parrish provides a comprehensive case against physicalism. However, not content with merely the via negativa, he also provides readers with an extensive positive case for substance dualism. I analyzed and reviewed this work in two parts: part 1 focused on the case against naturalism; part 2 focused on the case for dualism.
Best Movie for Discussing Worldview
“Ender’s Game”- The movie “Ender’s Game” is one of the more philosophical movies to have come out this year. Although its core is a kind of race-against-time action movie, the film explores issues of just war, innocence, morality, and more. I reviewed it with a focus on worldview issues here; I also reviewed the award-winning science fiction book on which it is based.
Best Podcast- For the Best Overall Podcast
The Dividing Line- The podcast of the Calvinist theologian and apologist James White, “The Dividing Line” is consistently interesting and engaging–even when I disagree. White’s emphasis revolves around worldview issues, Calvinist theology, and apologetics–particularly those issues which deal with textual criticism. He is one of the few apologists I know of who consistently engages Muslims. “The Dividing Line” is one of the few podcasts which I listen to every single time. Whether or not you agree with White–and I find I do disagree on several points–you will find his level of engagement with primary materials high, and his critiques will force one to rethink their positions where they disagree.
Best Apologetics Site- For the Best Site focused upon Apologetics
The Poached Egg- I do, of course, mean “best” apart from this one! Okay, not really… I don’t actually think this is the best apologetics blog on the internet… not by a long shot. Anyway, “The Poached Egg” is a kind of apologetics-resource site which features a number of blog articles daily. Greg West runs it and he consistently has an excellent range of resources featured so that people interested in apologetics and related issues may continually interact with new articles of interest. I highly recommend that any readers of this site go and immediately begin following (or at least routinely checking) The Poached Egg.
Best Theological Topics Blog- For the Best Blog on topic(s) specifically related to Theology
Baker Book House Church Connection- Yep, this is a blog about books. That not only means it gets immediate bonus points from me, but it also means that the author, Louis McBride, has a whole slew of topics available. The posts on the blog are generally centered around works the McBride has browsed recently, with brief quotes and reflection upon the content. The broadness of the blog’s content is its greatest draw. I highly recommend following this blog and reading every post for thought-provoking and wide-ranging theological content.
Best Worldview Blog- For The Best Blog on a topic(s) related to the Christian Worldview
The CBE Scroll- The CBE Scroll is the official blog for Christians for Biblical Equality, a group which advocates for the full equality in the home and ministry for men and women. Whether one agrees or disagrees with this perspective, the blog raises a number of highly important arguments with which one must contend.
Best Creation Issues Blog
Naturalis Historia- The issue of the time and length of creation is a highly controversial one among evangelicals today. Here, “The Natural Historian” covers a wide range of topics related to the evidence for the age of the earth, as well as occasionally reflecting upon theological topics. Every single post on this site is worth reading and will inspire much thinking in related areas. I highly, highly recommend this site.
Best Non-Traditional Presentation Apologetics/Theology Blog- For the best blog that utilizes method other than pure text or video to convey its meaning
No Apologies Allowed- Who doesn’t like comics? That’s right, nobody. No Apologies Allowed is a site that uses comics as its primary means to get across apologetic and theological insights. The site is always entertaining and the conversation is quite interesting. Be sure to swing by.
Hello, dear readers!
I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your coming and reading my blog, whether you are just a one-off who happened to stumble on this post, or a follower who has read it for years.
As a kind of thank you, I wanted to give you an update on what I’m currently working on behind the scenes. I am, as always, constantly writing blog posts. I try to give a pretty good spread of topics I’m interested and I hope you find them interesting too. I read a lot of books, so book reviews are a constant part of the process.
I graduate from Biola University with my MA in Christian Apologetics on December 20, 2013. I will be graduating in absentia. I don’t have the money to fly out to CA for it, so I’m a little bummed that I won’t be able to walk for my graduation, but I’m also very excited to be finishing. I have had an absolute blast with the courses and I have learned a lot. Anyway, I have actually had two readers contact me because they wanted to send a gift for graduation and/or Christmas. Wow. That is really, really awesome. Thanks so much! If you also want to consider such a thing, feel free to check out my constantly-updated Amazon wish list.
I’m honestly really looking forward to getting the MA hood. Perhaps I’ll wear it around the home. Okay, no I won’t. But it is a really awesome feeling to be right on the verge of my MA!
But now that I’m on the verge of graduating with my MA in Christian Apologetics, I have been thinking ahead and considering what projects I should work on. Here’s an idea of what I’ll be doing.
Yes, I’m working on a couple books. I’m actively writing on two of them, with a couple others planned in the future. My hope is to get these published through a major Christian publishing house. So hey, if you have any connections or advice, please send them my way either through the comments here or through the “contact” form.
The books I’m working on right now are, I think, going to be both highly relevant and also very sellable. They’re the kind of books that, if I saw they had been written, I would snap them off Amazon instantly. So I hope that others will feel the same way. The first book is about 95 pages right now, but I hate to say that I’m going to keep the topic top secret. I’ll just say this: it is related to apologetics, and it is going to give a lot of unique insight. It will, I think, drive a whole lot of discussion and research going forward. I’m not trying to brag here, I just think that the outcome will be pretty significant.
The other book I’m working on is related to issues of creation and creationism. It’s going to be largely autobiographical and written in the first person as a kind of memoir of my explorations of the issues involved. I may not reflect it much on the blog, but I have a fairly dry sense of humor and that will be reflected in this book.
I am planning on continuing my education, hopefully by pursuing a PhD in theology next. I will be applying not for 2014 but for 2015, so I’m taking this year to study languages and the like while working on my books before I go into full time school work again.
I have been working on a commentary on the entire Bible. I’m writing this less as a book project than as a simple project for edification. I have been keeping a document in outline format with notes on the various books of the Bible as I read through them. The outline format allows for easily searchable notes, and I also use some paragraphs therein as well. I think it is pretty neat! I am currently going through Proverbs, Deuteronomy, and Luke.
The insights one gets from such a project are amazing. It is fascinating to see the way you find links between books that you never had before. I highly recommend that you also keep a kind of running commentary going as you read through the Word.
Anyway, those are the projects I’m currently working on. I hope you enjoyed reading about them. Let me know what your thoughts are! What are you working on? Leave some comments.
Last weekend I had the supreme pleasure of attending the 64th annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society (there’s a mouthful!). I took over 80 pages of notes (43 front/back) and enjoyed the entire time immensely. I’ll be posting in the upcoming weeks and months on a number of these topics, so for now I’m just going to very briefly outline the talks I went to and give one or two comments each. I encourage readers to browse through these and let me know which ones they’d be interested on me writing on in a bit more depth. Feel free to ask questions as well.
Scripture, Geology, and the Age of the Earth
Readers know that I am very interested in the controversy among Christians over the age of the earth. I’ve written quite a bit on the topic. This session featured Gregg Davidson (University of Mississippi), a geologist, facing off against Andrew Snelling of Answers in Genesis. I have to admit that I was surprised by how much this debate focused on the science. Specifically, Davidson presented two very thorough evidences for an old earth, while Snelling rebutted these and argued that a catastrophic interpretation was perfectly consistent with the record. It was a fascinating back-and-forth. You can read an extended outline/review of this talk in my post: Gregg Davidson vs. Andrew Snelling on the Age of the Earth.
Bioethics – Genetic Enhancement
Gary Alkin(? his name wasn’t in my program) presented a paper on genetic enhancement and whether it is morally permissible. Essentially, his argument was that while as Christians we are obligated to heal diseases and help others, we are not obligated to try to become superhuman, and indeed are perhaps prohibited from doing so. He countered numerous arguments for the notion that we should continue to try to ‘enhance’ humanity. It was an interesting paper. I have since written an extended examination of his paper here: Genetics and Bioethics: Enhancement or Therapy?
Whose Moral, Which Axiom- The Transforming Virtue of Sub-Creation in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Mythology
Thomas Provenzola presented a mind-stretching paper on how Tolkien’s use of myth helps us to think about care for creation. It was a fascinating look into philosophy and literature.
The Metaphor of Divine Repentence
Rob Lister of Talbot School of Theology presented a paper in which he argued that we must understand language about God both literally and analogically. He argued that open theists often err too far towards creating an anthropocentric concept of God, rather than understanding passages about God’s repentance in light of clear statements about His being. I was so fascinated by this talk that I went and got his book on the topic afterwards. I look forward to reading it.
Other Voices in Interpretation Panel Discussion: An Evangelical Statement on the Trinity, Part 2: Application to the Ongoing Discussion on the Trinity
Kevin Giles (Victoria, Australia), Steve Tracy (University of New Brunswick), Mimi Haddad (Christians for Biblical Equality), and David Malick (CBE) participated in a panel discussion on the evangelical statement on the Trinity. I was surprised to see how contentious this talk was, but unfortunately there are people who are undermining the Trinity by eternally subordinating GOD the Son. This discussion went beyond an egalitarian/complementarian debate and essentially touched on how we must not distort the Trinity for our own purposes.
The Stars Will Fall From Heaven: Cosmic Catastrophe in the Synoptic Gospels
N.T. Wright, who needs no introduction, presented a paper arguing that the cosmic language used for the destruction of the temple is not so much due to an end of the space-time universe as it is because the Temple was the center of the universe for Judaism.
The Orthodox Doctrine of the Trinity
Kevin Giles presented a paper arguing that orthodoxy on the Trinity does not subordinate the persons. Rather, the distinctions made between persons according to the orthodox faith are made according to generation (the Son is begotten by the Father, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son). He stressed the importance of drawing implications of the Trinity from the Godhead and not from humanity.
An Examination of Jesus’ View of Women through Three Intercalations in the Gospel of Mark
David cogently argued that we can look at the narratives in the Gospels to see what Jesus’ view of women was. Because we can see with clarity how Jesus elevated women’s roles to that of equal to men, he argued that we should interpret hard passages in light of the clearer passages. This paper was very clearly argued and extremely compelling. I hope more work is done in this area, because the argument was very tight, and there is much development to come from it.
Complementarians, Egalitarians, and Unicorns: What are they, and do they exist?
Walker argued that the categories we are using to identify people in the gender debate reflect a genus/species fallacy which essentially drains them of all meaning. It may be helpful to develop new terms to make the distinctions more clear.
Biblical Theology and Creation Care
I must confess that I only went to this one because there weren’t any others going on. I’m very pleased I did, because this plenary talk proved to be one of the most interesting discussions that I attended. Moo argued decisively that we must not cause Christianity to lose credence due to clinging to faulty science. Furthermore, he argued that it is our duty to take care of creation. He traced an interpretive strategy through Scripture and argued very convincingly for the use of the hermeneutic he was pressing for looking at Christianity and the environment. I wrote an extended post on this paper and the following panel discussion: Caring for Creation: A dialogue among evangelicals.
Panel Discussion on Creation Care
Following Moo’s plenary talk, there was a panel discussion with Moo, E. Calvin Beisner, Russell Moore, and Richard Bauckham. This panel discussion was highly contentious and the audience clapped for their favored party numerous times. Beisner seemed to be the odd man out, as he did not deny climate change, but rather argued that we don’t yet know conclusively that it is anthropogenic (caused by humans). The other panelists argued that the science is convincing and that we do cause people to look with wariness upon Christianity. It was a very invigorating debate.
Body-Soul Interaction and the Theism-Naturalism Divide
Ryan West presented a paper arguing that many of the arguments raised against substance dualism are essentially faulty once one grants theism. He further argued that naturalistic dualists (of which there are few!) would be better off embracing theism, for their view is in extreme tension given the arguments he presented. It was a brief paper that was very well argued. The Q+A was great.
How Much Evidence to Justify Religious Conversion? Some Thoughts on Burden and Standard of Proof vis-a-vis Christian Commitment
The great apologist John Warwick Montgomery presented his paper on religious conversion. Essentially, the argument was that given certain benefits and a low price of commitment, people should commit to Christianity assuming the standard of proof has been carried. It was a fascinating paper, and Montgomery’s presentation style was both engaging and endearing. It was a huge pleasure to get a chance to talk to him briefly after the talk.
Taking a Stand Against Rand: A Biblical Evaluation of Ayn Rand’s Capitalism
I’m not very interested in Rand, but this paper by David Kotter was interesting enough to get me interested in the topic. He noted both good and bad portions of Ayn Rand’s philosophy and argued that ultimately, her perfect man has come to fulfillment in Christ. He presented a critique of a number of her views, while arguing that some things are worth looking at for Christians and the government. A truly engaging paper.
Throughout the conference I had numerous pleasures of running into fellow bloggers, friends, and huge names in philosophy and theology. I enjoyed lunch with Matt over at Well Spent Journey and stayed with Kurt over at Real Clear Apologetics. I was so delighted to meet Holly Ordway from Hieropraxis and engage with her in some great discussion. Other examples include running into Hugh Ross from Reasons to Believe, socializing with William Lane Craig, however briefly, and bumping into numerous others (Jerry Walls, David Baggett, Nabeel Qureshi, and more). I also enjoyed interacting more with David Malick of CBE. What a blast!
The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.
I will be away for several days at the EPS Conference and EPS Apologetics Conference. I will be back to approve comments and engage in discussion after that!
I’m looking for some feedback on the site and some suggestions. Here are some questions I have, and please comment!
1) Do you use the categories at all to explore the site? Are they useful? Should I make fewer categories/more categories?
2) Do you like the “featured posts” on the front page? Should I update them more frequently? Do you check them out?
3) Have you found it easy to find older posts?
4) The pages at the top (God Exists, Pro-Life, etc.)–are they useful to you? Should I condense any of them? Should I add more?
5) Do you “like” me on facebook? Do you follow me on twitter? Any other suggestions for social media?
A year ago today, I married the love of my life. Eternity will not be enough time to spend with this wonderful woman.
I love you, babe. Forever.
There is something missing from our arsenal as Christian apologists. I came upon this truth about a year and a half ago, but have only begun to realize how much we have been missing. Let me begin with an illustration:
It was a short, scenic drive down Interstate-94 to meet with Dr. Timothy McGrew, a professor of philosophy at Western Michigan University. At the time I was living in Ann Arbor, and I had only conversed with Tim on Facebook. He told me, with ill-concealed glee, about a folder on his computer that was filled with PDF scans of copyright-free (public domain) books by forgotten Christian apologists and theologians. The arguments in them, he told me, were not often used by modern apologists and could but increase my knowledge.
We met at a restaurant along the highway and talked for about an hour and a half while Tim uploaded files on my computer. Tim described to me a number of the items in this collection, but what struck me was how many arguments he referenced which are simply forgotten in current apologetics discussions. For example, he described the argument from “undesigned coincidences,” which basically goes through the Bible and shows how interrelated texts confirm each other’s historical veracity. I was shocked that I had not run into such a profound argument for the Christian faith. I was tremendously excited to find out that there were many such treasures waiting to be discovered.
Despite our continued interactions, I only very slowly began to read through this fantastic set of resources with which Tim had provided me. Once I got my Kindle, however, I began to tear through them. I have discovered so many delightful discussions, wonderful arguments, thought-provoking works that I could hardly begin to list them here. But I will try at least provide a few avenues for study.
I want you, and yes, especially you–the spirited apologist who has your Kalam argument memorized, your Leibnizian argument polished, and the like–to consider this fact: there are scores more arguments for the veracity of Christianity just waiting to be accessed. These arguments have little-to-no discussion in the apologetic blogosphere, they very rarely appear in modern books (if ever), and many of them are quite strong. What is your reaction to that knowledge?
I suspect it is a salivating, whetting of the appetite; it is a yearning desire to learn more. Fear not! These books, and the arguments within them, are, as I said, at your fingertips. The following is my brief, annotated list of fantastic free resources to help you, my fellow Christian apologists, broaden your knowledge.
Repositories of Resources
Library of Historical Apologetics- Here is where I got started, with Tim McGrew’s phenomenal collection of works. In particular, the “annotated bibliography” will set you up with some fine works. The site features a “spotlight” on the main page for various fantastic reads. Browse and download at will. Also check out their Facebook page.
Open Library- Open Library has a number of the books listed at the Library of Historical Apologetics available in a more Kindle-friendly format, if that’s your reading method of choice. I highly recommend using it to send books to your Kindle for free (when you select wi-fi delivery). See below for some specifics.
Yes, it can be daunting once you realize the voluminous nature of the study ahead of you. So I’ve made it easy by providing links to a few books–again, for free–to get you started, along with some comments. Oh, and I’ll be running a series shortly which outlines and examines several of these arguments.
Forgotten Arguments for Christianity: Undesigned Coincidences- The argument stated- I outline one of the many forgotten arguments for the truth of Christianity.
The Four Gospels from a Lawyer’s Standpoint- Edmund Bennett. Short and sweet, this book presents an argument I find extremely compelling: undesigned coincidences. Essentially, what Bennett argues is that the authors of the Gospels, writing individual histories, incidentally confirmed each other’s histories. I can’t recommend this highly enough. [To download, click the [G] or [A]; or if you want it for kindle, click here and on the right select “send to Kindle.”
A View of the Evidences of Christianity- by William Paley. It would be hard to describe the impact this book will have on your apologetic. Paley is simply masterful. In his first section alone he tears apart Humean arguments against miracles. This book is of extreme import for anyone interested in apologetics. Again, Kindle users.
Undesigned Coincidences- by J.J. Blunt. Once you’ve read Bennett, this book takes you through the entire Bible pointing out more historical arguments of great import throughout. I find this argument stunningly powerful, and I think as apologists we must incorporate it. Kindle [warning-lots of typos in this one due to the transition from PDF to Kindle. If you find a better version for Kindle, let me know].
Historic Doubts Relative to Napoleon Bonaparte- I’ll let Tim McGrew describe it: ” In this delightful spoof, published while Napoleon was still alive, Whately turns Hume’s skeptical doubts regarding miracles against reports of the career of Napoleon—with devastating results.” One can’t help but think of those who deny the historical Jesus today and how one might apply this to Abraham Lincoln, JFK, or (as I have), the Titanic. Kindle users.
A Dissertation on Miracles- by George Campbell. A devastating critique of Hume’s argument against miracles.
The Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul- by James Smith [click the link in the article]. This work is an argument for the historical accuracy of Luke in Acts constructed by a sailor who also knew numerous languages and was intimately familiar with the documents with which he worked for this account.
There is now a fire within me that seeks after these forgotten or little-known arguments–a burning that is only quenched by finding more early writings–and I can’t help but hope that you, too, will be delighted to delve into these lost treasures. We can’t let the past escape us. One thing I always tell the apologetics class I teach is this: “If you have a doubt or a question about the Christian faith, I can guarantee you that someone smarter than me has already thought about it and written on it. Don’t go at it alone.” Christian brothers and sisters, don’t let this knowledge escape you. We must spread it to this generation and beyond.
My thanks to Tim McGrew for his guidance in this study. May we all strive for Christ as he has.
I leave you with something he told me about these historical apologetics books:
I know …
… a music theory professor who read Thomas Cooper’s _Bridge of History_ and phoned me up screaming violently for more …
… a seminary graduate who confessed that he had never been taught the evidences of Christianity that he was discovering in the old, forgotten works …
… a marathon runner and stay-at-home mom who fell in love with George Campbell’s _Dissertation on Miracles_ …
… a construction worker who was captivated by the argument from undesigned coincidences …
… a daycare worker who has educated himself by reading dozens of old works of apologetics …
… a civil service worker in Chicago who set out to refute the arguments in Thomas Chalmers’s _Evidence and Authority of the Christian Revelation_ and ended up becoming a Christian …
… the list goes on and on …
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