TH 535 – Apologetics
28 APR 2011
Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics. 3d ed. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008. Pp. 416.
In the modern world in which we live debates over religion have taken center stage. Issues such as abortion, gay rights, pluralism, and absolute truth are at the heart of political debates, and these issues find their roots in religion and morality. With that, books addressing these issues are of great importance and relevance to the modern reader. Given America’s religious demographic, that being a majority of people professing to be Christian, a book which addresses these issues from a Christian perspective is all the more relevant to the modern American reader. Reasonable Faith, by William Lane Craig, addresses these issues and many others from an evangelical Christian perspective. Addressing issues such as “The Existence of God” (pgs. 93-206), “The Problem of Miracles” (pgs. 247-286), and “The Resurrection of Jesus” (pgs. 333-404), Dr. Craig delves into topics which peel away the upper layers of these issues and go straight to the heart – the philosophical nucleus of these various modern debates. One would certainly be hard pressed to find a book more relevant and which addresses issues that are at the forefront of American life.
Dr. Craig is certainly qualified to speak on this subject, and is even considered an expert in the field of apologetics and cosmology. J.P. Moreland, Professor of Philosophy at the Talbot School of Theology, says that Dr. Craig “is simply the finest Christian apologist of the last half century, and his academic work justifies ranking him among the top 1 percent of practicing philosophers in the Western world” (pg. 1). Dr. Craig received his PhD from the University of Birmingham, England and his DTheol from the University of Munich, Germany. He has also authored Hard Questions, Real Answers and Time and Eternity: Exploring God’s Relationship to Time. In describing the field of apologetics and his motivation for authoring Reasonable Faith, Dr. Craig says that “apologetics specifically serves to show the truth of the Christian faith” and “to confirm that faith to believers” (pg. 15).
To accomplish his efforts of showing “the truth of the Christian faith”, Dr. Craig employs such fields as philosophy, history, theology, logic and reason, and cosmology. With cosmology, he specifically uses the Kalām cosmological argument to show that the universe has a finite beginning, and that it was created by a “changeless and immaterial” entity who can “be taken to be personal” (pg. 152). The book is organized into five sections which each address different perspectives of proving the existence of God. Craig’s organization is very much like a funnel in that he begins very broad and, as he presents more and more material, he gets more specific until he ends with a single historical event: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the first two chapters, Craig seeks to prove that God must exist and that, of all the world’s religions, that God must be the God of Christianity. To prove this he uses cosmology in addressing the issue of the creation of the universe in chapters three and four. In chapters five and six he addresses historical issues and metaphysical issues, namely “the problem of miracles”, building upon his conclusion from chapter four. His final chapters, seven and eight, address the person of Jesus Christ and His resurrection, concluding with the fact that no other entity could be “God” except for Jesus Christ.
As stated above, Craig’s thesis is that there must be a God and that, more specifically, that God must be the God of Christianity. To prove this he uses all of the various subjects of academia discussed above. Craig uses a plethora of evidence from each subject to support his conclusion. Using both philosophy and logic, Craig first seeks to demonstrate that God does, in fact, exist. To prove this point he attacks the atheistic worldview, specifically citing their hypocrisy in affirming certain traits such as love and brotherhood. Craig discusses the fact that certain things are viewed as universally right and others are viewed as universally wrong. He specifically mentions Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, and Saddam Hussein and says that the atheist, too, sees the actions of these men as horrendous and condemnable. He argues that “everything in him cries out to say these acts are wrong – really wrong. But if there is no God, he cannot. So he makes a leap of faith and affirms values anyway. And when he does so, he reveals the inadequacy of a world without God” (pg. 79). Using science, Craig demonstrates that the finite universe has a definite beginning, insinuating that it must have been created. After his presentation of evidence, based on the Kalām cosmological argument, he concludes that “a personal Creator of the universe exists, who is uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and unimaginably powerful” (pg. 154). In using history, Craig establishes the presupposition that “it is not so important how the historian comes to arrive at his hypothesis as how his hypothesis is tested” (pg. 234). His conclusion is that “the historical foundations of the Christian faith will be as well established as many other purely natural events” (pg. 242). Using philosophy, Craig calls upon Aristotle’s “First Cause” principle. This says that everything must ultimately have a first cause and that there cannot be “an infinite regress of causes” (pg. 152). Craig concludes that this can only be God. Through the presentation of all of his evidence, Craig urges the reader to seek to know this awesome Being as best they can. He urges that the reader’s “primary aim ought to be to learn to know God” (pg. 406).
Dr. Craig presents additional evidence in his book, far more than a brief book review will allow. The layout of his book is extremely easy to follow and was obviously designed with the reader in mind. Craig makes certain, from the first chapter, that the reader is aware of his position. He makes clear that “the role of the Holy Spirit” should ultimately be emphasized (pg. 43). His inference here is that apologetics is useless and accomplishes no purpose if it is done outside of the work of the Holy Spirit. In laying this foundation from the beginning, Craig makes certain that the reader understands about the author whose work they are reading. Craig also cites multiple passages from the Bible to corroborate with his academic approach, appealing to both believer and non-believer alike.
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