Expository Apologetics by Voddie Baucham, Jr. puts forward an apologetics methodology that is largely presuppositional in its approach. The core of Baucham’s approach is the use of biblical texts in engaging with those who do not believe.
A central aspect of Baucham’s methodology is the notion that the problem of unbelieve is not a lack of information but rather sin. He bases this claim on an interpretation of Romans 1 that is very much in line with that of other presuppositional apologists (see my post on the topic here). Because of this, Baucham alleges, apologetic approaches which approach others with information (such as an argument for the existence of God) rather than the Gospel (i.e. direct exposition of the Bible) fail.
Baucham also appeals to Scripture throughout the book, noting that the use of God’s word ought to be central to our lives as Christians and therefore central to our witness. He argues rightly that every single Christian ought to be engaged in apologetics; it is not something merely for experts.
Chapter 5, which emphasized learning apologetics through the use of historical creeds, confessions, and catechisms, was an excellent piece of advice for apologists. This was a breath of fresh air as too often Christians ignore the historical definitions of faith which are full of the richness of Christian thinkers throughout time. Baucham notes that anyone who attempts to dismiss a creedal tradition by saying “No creed but the Bible” has already made their own creed to which they adhere.
The book has many applicable insights into doing apologetics. This is worth taking note of, because often introductory apologetics books claim to present a method, but then never show that method in action. This makes it difficult to actually understand how to do apologetics or what is even meant by all the discussion about method. Baucham, however, continually uses examples that have direct practical application. Chapter 9 “Preaching and Teaching Like an Expository Apologist” is full of practical insights for apologists trained and untrained. Chapter 8 applied various ways to answer objections to a number of different situations. I appreciated how much practical advice is found throughout the book. It should be noted that a primary target for these practical engagements is same-sex marriage. It would have been nice to have the focus be on atheism rather than on specific moral issues, but the practical advice given can be applied to other situations as well.
A serious question might be raised about the audience of the book. Baucham claims that it is for “everyone” but then goes on to outline the audiences he intends. “The first audience is the heathen” (Kindle location 293). Surely, the use of this term will prejudice those who do not believe towards the book immediately. Heathen has come to be understood as very pejorative, and it is difficult to see why it was chosen. Moreover, he adopts the biblical use of the term “fool” not just in its technical sense, but also throughout the book to refer to those who do not believe. One wonders whetherthose who are described as heathen fools would be willing to read the book.
Another difficulty with the book is Baucham’s suggestion that children are basically little unbelievers. This stands in contrast to the notion of having faith like a child (which suggests that children have faith). Elsewhere, Baucham discusses the question one of his children asked him and how it demonstrated this child had not come to faith in Christ yet. But of course children ask questions about all kinds of things, and this does not entail they don’t believe in them. Indeed, Baucham’s continual assertion that unbelief is a problem of sin rather than information suggests that he is going against his own advice here. He treats his own children’s information problem as though this proves they are atheistic. This kind of theology is deeply troubling, and it cuts against the grain of Jesus’ own words about little children coming to him and having faith such as those little children.
The critique of other apologetic methods is also off base. For example, Baucham is highly critical of any method which does not use Scripture throughout the whole process. He cites a number of verses that speak of the power of God’s word, as well as other presuppositional thinkers like Sye Ten Bruggencate to forcefully admonish those apologists who use other forms of apologetics. However, such a critique is fundamentally flawed, for despite presuppositionalists’ commitment to realizing the epistemic effects of sin, they maintain this critique despite the fact that atheists often immediately shut down conversation–whether by refusing to continue, mocking, or the like–when the Christian cites Scripture. Baucham allows for this in some fashion by coming sidelong with Scriptural principles rather than direct citations, but if that is his position, then his whole critique is misguided to begin with! After all, a Scriptural principle is surely that God exists. Ergo, an apologist seeking to prove that God exists without explicitly citing Scripture is permitted to do so on Baucham’s own view, despite his critique of that very same apologist.
For some reason, Baucham also clings to using male pronouns for everything throughout the book, referring to humanity as “man,” and talking about all believers as “men.” Interestingly, the only female pronoun I noticed being used generically in the whole book was for an atheist “interlocutor.” When portions of the book refer to not needing to be seen as wise by “men” and or needing to be thought of well by “men,” one wonders whether Baucham simply dismisses women’s opinions entirely.
Expository Apologetics is an ultimately uneven ride introducing presuppositional apologetics to a broad audience. There is much applicable knowledge here, to be sure. However, it is alongside some poor arguments against other apologetic methods, questionable use of terminology, and some disturbing theological conclusions. It’s worth the read for the applicable knowledge, but there are many pitfalls to be found.
+Emphasizes the notion that every Christian should be an apologist
+Creeds seen as major point to drive apologetics
+Good amount of practical application to apologetics
-Poor use of terminology
-Suggests children are to be treated as unbelievers
-Consistently uses male pronouns and “man” instead of gender inclusive language
-Dismisses other forms of apologetics
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book for review by the publisher. I was not required to write any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.
Voddie Baucham, Jr. Expository Apologetics (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015).
The Unbeliever Knows God: Presuppositional Apologetics and Atheism– I write about the notion that all people have knowledge of God whether that is acknowledged or not. This has great implications for apologetics of all methods.
Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)
Eclectic Theist– My other interests site is full of science fiction, fantasy, food, sports, and more random thoughts. Come on by and check it out!
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