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Blogroll: Quality of Christian Apologetics

I really wasn’t going to blog about my blogroll today, but An Evangelical Dialogue on Evolution had such a good post that I wanted to link to it, and at the same time I can check off another blog from my blogroll for this round of linking.

He also links to a post on Through a Glass Darkly (got to love that name!), a fellow member of the Moderate Christian Blogroll. Both of those posts are well worth watching. While I’m at it, I should mention both a disclaimer and a sneaky commercial. My company publishes a set of books on Christian apologetics, the Consider Christianity Series. Having had the experience of editing that set, I would see some points of agreement and disagreement between what these two authors had to say and that series.

That aside, I think both authors make important points. I am only going to add a couple of things. Apologetics by nature tends to operate quite differently from science. In apologetics, we have our beliefs, and then we try to back them up. The question is how we will back them up. That, of course, interacts with what those beliefs are in the first place.

An inflexible belief system will tend to produce apologetics that is questionable, simply because one has to work to stretch the facts to accommodate the belief system. A purely evidentiary apologetics will run into this problem, unless it can alter details of that which it defends, and even then it may be difficult simply due to the nature of reality. We simply can’t know enough to tuck in all the loose ends. On the other end of the spectrum, purely presuppositional apologetics often tends to make too many things into presuppositions, and one ends up with a very well ordered package of beliefs and defenses, but very little connection to the real world. Some presuppositionalists will consider that a good thing!

Between those two extremes, however, are various views that recognize both faith and evidence, and in evidence recognize subjective elements that go into a belief system. For example, I would claim to commune with God pretty much on a daily basis. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t think this makes me inerrant, nor does it mean you should believe me more than the next person. I’m not making any claims based on it–it’s just part of my spiritual life, and is something I think can be part of anyone’s spiritual life, should they so desire. Is that evidence? Well, it certainly isn’t objective evidence. I’m not going to tell you where your dog ran away to, or what the stock market will do during the day because of my mediations. There is no special light that gathers around my head. Yet that has a great deal to do with my own belief system, rational or not.

I like works on apologetics that show some struggle with the issues (both posts I reference make good recommendations) without claiming to finally solve all of the problems. That fits with the universe as I experience it, and with God as I experience him. Neither can be tied up neatly and labeled “closed,” and I think neither is likely to go that way. But both invite me to experience them, think about them, argue about them, and look for evidence as to their nature.

It’s more like a theme park ride than it is like a train ride with a fixed destination.

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  1. Thanks for the link! So I’m curious — how does the “Considering Christianity” series you edited handle question of scripture and science? The subject headings seem a little “in your face…”

    1. First, I must note that because I edited the series does not mean it expresses my own view. I created my publishing company to publish material in the “broad center” of Christianity. But having said that, I believe you would find the contents a bit “in your face” for your tastes, based on the authors you have recommended, and those you have criticized.

      Elgin is considerably less strident in tone than Josh McDowell, and I believe substantially more nuanced and accurate. Yet he is defending something at the conservative end of my range. I may sound like I’m trying to “unsell” something I publish, but actually I’m also concerned that people understand just what the books actually are.

      You can find some of Elgin’s writing at his consider.org web site and his blog.

    2. I forgot to mention that I will send free copies to you (or anyone with a blog or who reviews for any media) who will commit to review the book, with no obligations to make the review good or to how long it must be or anything else. I’ll do that as long as the number of requests is reasonable. Thus far they have been.

      In fact, since I’ve found that copies of the books I publish are my best publicity, considering my authors are not generally famous, I’ve established the policy of being extremely open with review copies of anything I publish.

  2. Hi Henry,

    Excellent post. I especially liked where you said, “I like works on apologetics that show some struggle with the issues (both posts I reference make good recommendations) without claiming to finally solve all of the problems…It’s more like a theme park ride than it is like a train ride with a fixed destination.” I like this sort of work too. I’m much more apt to be satisfied with someone who acknowledges a problem and admits they don’t have an answer (but doesn’t lose faith in God over it) than with someone who makes up some bullcrap answer in order to ease their cognitive dissonance. I think it takes great strength and wisdom to live with question marks in our minds.

    How would one go about making a request for a review copy? I’m interested. Maybe email me at jesusdied4u_01 at yahoo.


    1. You have to remind me. I thought you were on my blogroll.

      Now fantasy has encountered reality, and you are on my blogroll!

      Never underestimate my ability to forget…. 🙂

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