Although there is widespread agreement over the need to have a defense of the faith (a biblical charge–1 Peter 3:15-16), there is much disagreement over exactly how that defense should proceed. Brian Morley’s Mapping Apologetics is a way forward in helping interested readers discern how they may defend the faith.
There are few books that deal exclusively with apologetic methodology by outlining various approaches. Perhaps the most comprehensive is Faith Has Its Reasons by Kenneth Boa and Robert Bowman, Jr. Mapping Apologetics is distinguished from this other excellent work by having a narrower focus that provides more in-depth comments on the individual proponents of the various systems. Whereas Faith… attempts a synthesis of the varied methods, Mapping… is geared more towards giving readers understanding of each method.
After a couple introductory chapters on apologetics in the Bible and history, the following chapters each highlight individuals who are major contemporary proponents of different apologetics methods. Included are such people as Cornelius Van Til, Alvin Plantinga, E.J. Carnell, Richard Swinburne, William Lane Craig, and John Warwick Montgomery, just to name a few.
Each of these chapters presents an extended overview of the apologist’s method of defending the faith along with several quotes and often detailed analysis of their primary arguments with examples. Thus, readers are given the resources to compare and contrast the various approaches on the level of the actual arguments and counter-arguments presented.
The people chosen are each major contributors to their specific variety of apologetics, so both those who are well-versed in apologetics and those who are just beginning will get insights from top defenders of the faith. I personally have an MA in Christian Apologetics, and I was familiar with each author, but the way that each was presented gave me a good refresher on their method and primary arguments–and sent me scampering to re-read some of my favorites!
The book includes some great follow-up questions after each chapter to help readers review the material in the chapter, along with useful further reading sections for those interested in learning more about specific defenders. Each chapter also includes criticisms of the specific type of apologetic the individual puts forward. These are often only about 1 1/2 to 2 pages, though, and it would have been nice to have a bit more space dedicated to the critiques and rebuttals to each approach. Morley also very quickly dismisses the fideistic approach as being “unbiblical” with only a brief argument. Although I am not at all a fideist, I do think that the approach has at least some merit and the aforementioned work by Boa and Bowman has some great insights into how it might also offer some insights into apologetics.
Mapping Apologetics is an excellent read for those interested in apologetic methodology, with sympathetic interpretations of many of the primary contemporary defenders of each approach. I recommend it highly for those interested in apologetics and how we are to defend the faith.
+Great summaries of top apologists from multiple methodological approaches
+Invaluable insight into different apologetics methodologies
+Helpful review questions and resource lists
-Dismisses fideism too quickly
-Could stand to have more reflection on criticisms of each position
Disclaimer: InterVarsity Press provided me with a copy of the book for review. I was not obligated to provide any specific kind of feedback whatsoever, nor did they request changes or edit this review in any way.
Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)
Brian Morley, Mapping Apologetics (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2015).
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.
Here we have another round of really recommended posts. This one features a couple posts directed inwards at fellow Christians or people with whom we agree alongside a range of interesting topics. It is important to maintain a high standard, so sometimes it is necessary to give criticism where it is due. Drop a comment, let me know what you thought.
A Fundamental Flaw Behind Abolish Human Abortion– A group which I came out strongly in support of some time ago has really started to take a few turns with which I cannot agree. The group is known as Abolish Human Abortion. I think a lot of what they were doing is quite excellent, but I cannot abide by a few of their primary beliefs. Check out this great analysis of one of the major issues with the group.
The kalam cosmological argument defended in a peer-reviewed science journal– The title says it all, though the post does have some nice quotes and bits of information. The kalam cosmological argument is an extremely powerful argument for the existence of God. I have a few posts on it myself.
Dear Parents with Young Children– The importance of bringing your children to church is inestimable. Moreover, choosing a church where Law and Gospel are clearly proclaimed, and a basis for belief is preached is essential. Thank you to those parents who bring their children to church! Check out this great post about the topic.
The Case for the Eyewitness Status of the Gospel Authors– Are there any reasons to think those who wrote the Gospels knew what they were talking about? Here, J. Warner Wallace–who, as a homicide detective, has some experience with eyewitness accounts–argues that the Gospels show good evidence for thinking they are eyewitness accounts.
A Review of 5 Views of Biblical Inerrancy– I do not agree with everything Norman Geisler has to say, but I think portions of this review are of critical importance. I haven’t quite finished the whole article, and I’ve only just started reading the book, but I thought this post was worth passing along for others who find the topic of interest.
From God To Us (hereafter FGU) by Norman Geisler and William Nix provides a general introduction to a number of topics regarding the origins of the Bible. The book explores the inspiration, canonization, transmission, and translation of the Bible from the earliest roots until the modern era.
FGU outlines the nature of inspiration. It is important to note that “it is only the product that is inspired, not the persons” (17). Another misconception is that inerrancy/inspiration applies to copies. The sense in which it does must be limited: “Only the autographic [original] texts themselves (or perfect copies of them) are inerrant… Every other copy is inspired only insofar as it is an accurate reproduction of the original” (18).
The authors then turn to a defense of inspiration through the Biblical teaching of inspiration. By outlining the way the text is treated as inspired in both the Old and New Testaments, the authors make a case for the general inerrancy of the autographic texts. Finally, the authors provide an argument for the Bible as the word of God (68ff). The argument is 12 steps and they provide a basic defense of each premise.
One of the most frequent objections brought up offhand to those who hold to a high view of the inspiration of the Bible is that of the canon. Some say that the canon was just arbitrarily chosen by a church council somewhere, and that there is no way to determine how books got into the Bible.
FGU provides a more historically accurate look at the canon. The authors first outline a number of factors that are faulty for determining canonicity. For example, age alone cannot determine canonicty because some books of the Bible drew from contemporary sources.
In direct opposition to the notion that a council alone could determine the canon, FGU underscores the notion that: “the role of the Christian church… is not to determine which books are in the canon but to discover which books God determined should be in the canon, namely, those that He had inspired” (91). The authors then explore a number of factors which play into discovering the canon.
Historically, FGU explores the extent and formation of the Old Testament and New Testament canons. The arguments are concise and direct readers to further areas of exploration, while providing enough information to refute most basic arguments.
The Bible had to be transmitted: namely, God’s word had to be communicated to human persons. How was this done? Largely in the form of written languages. FGU explores the importance of written language as a means of communication and provides a brief background in the development thereof (164ff).
Of great importance to the reader is the extensive material on the manuscripts of the Bible. The details of the manuscript tradition are outlined and even several forms of extrabiblical manuscript evidence is brought into the picture. Such evidence is an important part of a believers’ background of Bible knowledge. FGU also does a fantastic job outlining the foundations of textual criticism and the valuable role it can play in determining the accurate reading of the text (221ff).
One of the most enlightening parts of FGU outlines the nature of finding “errors” in the transmission of Scripture. Often, one will hear the claim that there are 100s of thousands of errors in the Bible. Bart Ehrman has, in particular, focused upon this in order to cause some unrest in the notion of the accuracy of the Bible (243). But these are actually variants in manuscripts which are sometimes counted numerous times:
If a single word were misspelled in 3,000 different manuscripts, they are counted as 3,000 variants… Ironically, the way Ehrman counts ‘errors’ (variants), there were 1.6 million errors in the first printing of his book. For there were 16 errors, and the book printed an alleged 100,000 copies… Ehrman himself admits the biblical variants do not affect the central message of the Bible. (243)
The authors then turn to an analysis of variant readings and how they occur, from misspellings and unintentional changes to corrections to try to bring texts into concord (246ff).
FGU provides an intense look at a number of ways the Bible has been translated and the way that translations happen. The traditions of translation are outlined and traced through history (280ff) and the importance of individual translations are analyzed.
Another extremely valuable part of the book is the analysis of how translations come about as far as the emphasis placed upon form-driven versions, meaning-driven versions, and paraphrases. Readers interested in modern Bible translations will find a wealth of resources for analyzing the varied translations. There are nearly 70 pages of information on these translations, so readers will have a number of points to discuss with those asking questions about translations.
FGU is a huge resource for those interested in not just defending but learning about the Bible and how it has arrived in its current state in our pews. The book covers a number of issues and it will have appeal to both lay readers and interested professionals. Christian apologists will find a treasure trove of information about the background of the Bible which is often glossed or ignored in a number of apologetics resources.
The authors come from a decidedly conservative background, but this does not prevent them from a generally fair analysis of a number of topics. For example, though they seem critical of the so-called “gender accurate” language of TNIV, the analysis of the translation is objective and simply outlines how the translation comes to its current form (350-353).
Norman Geisler and William Nix have provided a solid resource with From God to Us. It will appeal to those who want to get a lengthy introduction to a number of relevant apologetical issues related to the Bible. Furthermore, it provides a significant amount of background on various translations of the Bible. What is most surprising about the book is how it manages to provide so much information without becoming too dense or thin. It covers so many issues that the danger would seem to be either to err on the side of being too long or too brief on each issue. The authors admirably do not stray to either side, and in doing so, have provided an invaluable resource for both the interested lay reader and professional.
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.