A few months ago I started teaching a lesson series on Apologetics in my Wednesday night class. I began picking up as many resources as I could in advance of teaching this class so that I would really know what I was talking about. It seems to me there is a lot of misinformation out there in apologetics and I wanted to make sure that I could really back up anything that I was going to say. It just doesn’t help to repeat things that aren’t true and then other people pick that up and tell those same things to others.
I picked up books by Strobel, Copan and Craig. I also picked up this apologetics collection from Logos called the Crossway Apologetics Collection ($189.95 on Logos.com). I found several of the volumes in there very helpful. One of the nice things about Logos is the searchability. Once you have a collection like this you can read the volumes you need to lean more heavily on and then use the others to search for the topics or particular illustrations and evidences that you are studying.
Here are the resources that come in this collection and what I found helpful with each one:
- Can You Believe It’s True? Christian Apologetics in a Modern and Postmodern Era by John Feinberg
- This book is divided into three sections: The question of truth (postmodernism), Ways of Defending Christian Truth (from a Calvinist perspective) and Methodology Illustrated (him applying sections 1 & 2 into some common areas of controversy between believers and non-believers). The first and third sections of the book are solid. I don’t always like his Calvinist interpretations on things but he is as even handed as he can be in that, even giving the Arminian take here and there. Being a Calvinist does impact some significant issues and the way one does apologetics…especially in dealing with things like the problem of evil. For instance, if you are a determinist (that God is behind all that takes place) then free will would not be seen as a valid option for explaining why evil exists in the world. All in all, a helpful book.
- Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A Primary Source Reader: Volume 1, To 1500 edited by William Edgar and K. Scott Oliphint
- This 2 volume collection is your “go to” resource for primary texts on how early Christians did apologetics. Chapters are given for Aristides, Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Athanasius, John Chrysostom, Augustine, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas and more…all primary texts with discussion questions to follow. I am not certain how much of this can be looked up online for free (which is nice when you can find it) but the benefit here is that you get all of these resources in one place with all of the benefits of having it in your indexed logos database.
- Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A Primary Source Reader: Volume 2, From 1500 edited by William Edgar and K. Scott Oliphint
- See above Vol 1.
- Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith by K. Scott Oliphint
- What makes this book different is its emphasis on the covenantal component of our relationship with God and how those who are in rebellion or denial of the existence of God stand outside of that covenant. So apologetics exist in order for those in the covenant to defend their faith and substantiate it to those who stand outside of it in order to help bring them into covenant with God. Again, Oliphint is writing from a Calvinist perspective and that does influence his interpretations and the people he cites.
- The Genesis Factor: Probing Life’s Big Questions by Jon M. Dennis and David R. Helm
- This book uses Genesis as a resource to answer life’s biggest questions and shows how Genesis gives better explanations than the other voices and resources people often turn to for solutions (naturalism, etc). This book has a good handle on the genre of Genesis and the problem of trying to turn Genesis into a modern textbook that was written with all of our questions in mind. It is also very much in tune with the rhythms and patterns embedded into the creation account and how they add meaning to the text and to our lives. Overall this book is a nice mix of theology and anthropology…exploring Genesis to find out more about God, ourselves and how the two interact to help us find meaning for our lives. It is accessible/not overly academic and could be given to someone who is searching. It does assume some level of faith is already present and is not purposed to defend the existence of God but more to help a believer get a better grasp on why they exist.
- I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek
- This book is what most people are talking about when they are talking about a book on apologetics…this is a book of evidences that is written in order to convince people that theism is the solution to what we see in the world, in living beings, and in Scripture. They tackle biology and evolution, the identity of Jesus, the problem of evil and more. If you are wanting a well written, basic book on evidences, this is a good start. This is a more entry level text. I did notice that their chapter “New Life Forms: From the Goo to You via the Zoo never did mention where that title came from – “From Goo To You By Way of the Zoo” by Harold Hill. Close enough to warrant a mention, IMO. Nevertheless, a good introductory book that is easier to read than some of the others.
- Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics by William Lane Craig
- Craig is one of the foremost Christian apologists alive today. I have a hard copy of this book and about a half dozen of his other books and they are all excellent. Craig is a master at logic and proving his points. This will speak well to analytical types and maybe be a bit harder to follow for the intuitive types. The main focus of this book is faith and reason in proving the veracity of the Christian faith, the existence of God, anthropology, miracles, reliability of the Bible, and a great section on Jesus. Craig is one of the very best on pairing apologetics with Scripture, especially when it comes to the historical Jesus and the historicity of miracles and the crucifixion. Great book…one to buy even if you don’t buy the entire collection.
- Reasons for Faith: Making a Case for the Christian Faith edited by Norman Geisler and Chad Meister
- This book is a collection of apologetic essays from people like Wayne House, Mark Mittelberg, Josh McDowell and others. Excellent resource book and one that you will be able to turn to in order to get information that you won’t get in many of the other books. They work through apologetics in the New Testament, arguments for the existence of God, various world religions including apologetic approaches that the authors believe work best for talking with people of various religious backgrounds. I haven’t seen anything like that in any other book. Again, this is a resource book you will turn to with specific questions and find information that you just won’t find anywhere else. I do think you will get better resources on the arguments for the existence of God from some of Craig’s books but this book will get you started.
- Reasons We Believe: 50 Lines of Evidence That Confirm the Christian Faith by Nathan Busenitz
- This is a book outlining the Christian belief system in 3 broad categories with chapters given to specific evidences that underlie the belief: existence of God, that the Bible is the Word of God and that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God. They give 10 or 20 evidences for each of these to total out to their 50 “lines of evidence”. This book is more heavily weighted on scripture than most of the other books. If you are looking for proofs from scripture for various beliefs, this is your book. Because he makes his argument based on scripture, in many ways, Busenitz assumes some level of faith or at least that someone would have enough respect or interest in scripture to listen.
- The Soul of Science by Nancy Pearcey and Charles B. Thaxton
- This is another one of those books that is an amazingly helpful reference…this book is a mix of history, science and the Christian faith. It chronicles how Christianity has influenced some of the greatest scientific minds in human history. The main point here is that in today’s world we think of Christian faith and science as all but impossible to combine, while in centuries past they were impossible to separate. Fascinating book.