I am going to lead a read-through of a historical apologetics work, Manual of Christian Evidences by George Park Fisher. Why choose this book? There are a few reasons. First, it is public domain and therefore available for free through various online formats (including getting it on your Kindle or other e-reading formats). Second, it provides a good framework for understanding the historical development of apologetics from its time (late 19th century) until now. Third, it introduces a few arguments that most people familiar with modern apologetics will find novel, thus showing the importance of exploring historical apologetics. Finally, fourth, I’ve already been doing a read-along of the book in the Facebook group, “Dead Apologists Society,” and I can both tie this discussion back to that group and also use what I’ve been writing up there for this.
I’m interested to get some feedback on this read along because I want it to be useful both for myself and for you, my readers. I have a few questions for you, then, readers. First, are you interested in this? Second, what kind of format would be most helpful for you? I already have a few posts in the works with some questions on the content and application. Third, how often would work for reading along? The chapters are quite short and readable, and I was thinking either weekly or monthly would be the goal. I’m leaning towards monthly so I can space them out more easily.
The book can be acquired here. We’ll be using the 1892 edition, which is available in various e-formats here.
I hope you’ll join me in this read-along!
Read Along Links
Chapter 1– What is the purpose of the Manual? This chapter gives us a preview of what kind of arguments Fisher will use going forward. I provide some questions and discussion for chapter 1 here.
Chapter 2– Fisher defines and defends the possibility of miracles. Come talk about some related issues regarding free will, the definition of miracles, and more.
Chapter 3– Fisher introduces the “argument from felt need” for Christianity (also known as the “argument from desire”). Learn about this argument and its defense.
Chapter 4– A great difference between Christianity in Fisher’s time and in our time is revealed. How does it impact his defense of Christianity? How must ours change?
Chapter 5– Jesus’s character is unique, argues Fisher, such that we can see the person himself as unique.
Chapter 6– Jesus’s behaviors, argues Fisher, show that they are not invented.
Chapter 7– Paul’s letters offer more insight into the life of Christ.
Chapter 8– A brief argument for the authenticity of the Gospels is offered.
Chapter 9– Are the writers of the apostles themselves trustworthy? If we can trust them to tell the truth and their words are accurately reported, then we have reason to believe Christianity.