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Christian Apologetics

An Introduction

McGrath, Alister E.


1. Auflage November 2023
240 Seiten, Softcover

ISBN: 978-1-119-90693-3
John Wiley & Sons

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Provides an accessible overview of the theory and practice of Christian apologetics, written by one of the leading experts in the field

Christian Apologetics is a compact yet comprehensive introduction to the theological discipline devoted to the intellectual defense of the truth of the Christian religion. Assuming no previous knowledge of Christian apologetics, this student-friendly textbook clearly explains the major theoretical and practical aspects of the tradition while exploring its core themes, historical development, and current debates.

Using a non-denominational approach, world-renowned Christian scholar Alister E. McGrath engages the ideas of a wide range of representative apologists and explores the ways they have been applied throughout history, and can still be used today.

Concise, easy-to-digest chapters gradually build students' knowledge and confidence, moving from basic definitions and concepts to more advanced theory and practical application. Throughout the text, the author engages a variety of cultural concerns about religious belief, illustrates the real-life connection of apologetic studies and ministries in the Church, and offers clear explanations and vigorous defenses of the faith that students can adopt in their own writing and speaking.
* Introduces the art and science of explaining and commending the Christian faith
* Presents approaches to apologetics that emphasize the positive appeal of Christianity to the imagination and emotions
* Covers the major approaches to apologetics, identifies their strengths and weaknesses, and discusses their key representatives
* Helps readers in ministry and outreach defend Christianity against misunderstandings and misrepresentations
* Addresses the real-world application of apologetics, including role models, good practice, and established wisdom
* Features case studies of Christian apologists such as G. K. Chesterton, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Tim Keller
* Includes study questions, activities, further reading lists, full references, and links to video and audio resources developed by the author

Designed to meet the needs of teachers looking for a clear and reliable introduction to the field, Christian Apologetics: An Introduction is an excellent textbook for undergraduate and graduate apologetics courses in colleges and seminaries, as well as church courses and study groups across Christian denominations.

"McGrath judiciously mines the best apologetics from both the past and present while helpfully analyzing the task of apologetics and giving sage advice on how Christians may more effectively engage in the apologetic task. I heartily recommend this book." - Robert B. Stewart, Professor of Philosophy and Theology, New Orleans Baptist Theology Seminary

"Alister McGrath, one of Christianity's leading scholars, has written an apologetics textbook in the legacy of C. S. Lewis, which integrates multiple disciplines and new developments. The result is a masterful introduction that is destined to serve the church for many years to come." - Joshua Chatraw, The Billy Graham Chair for Evangelism and Cultural Engagement, Beeson Divinity School

"From the first time I heard Alister McGrath lecture as an undergraduate student I was gripped. His unique ability to grapple with the most challenging and complex issues and communicate with clarity and wisdom is unsurpassed in our day. In Christian Apologetics: An Introduction he provides a comprehensive picture of Apologetic approaches with his classic combination of winsomeness and brilliance. I believe it will prove to be another classic from McGrath." Dr Amy Orr-Ewing, Honorary Lecturer, School of Divinity, University of Aberdeen.

"There has long been a desperate need for a thorough and wide-ranging introduction to Christian Apologetics, not least as this branch of Christian thought and theology has become increasingly active and important in recent years. Alister McGrath's Christian Apologetics: An Introduction fills this gap brilliantly. All in all, this is a much needed and incredibly important book, one that McGrath--given his wide experience of writing and teaching in apologetics--is almost uniquely qualified to write." - Dr. Andy Bannister, Adjunct Professor of Apologetics, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto Alister McGrath, one of Christianity's leading scholars, has written an apologetics textbook in the legacy of C. S. Lewis, which integrates multiple disciplines and new developments. The result is a masterful introduction that is destined to serve the church for many years to come. Joshua Chatraw The Billy Graham Chair for Evangelism and Cultural Engagement Beeson Divinity School

How to Use this Book: To the Reader xi

How to Use this Book: To the Teacher xiii

1 Introducing Apologetics 1

The Core Elements of Apologetics 3

Defense: Responding to Questions and Concerns 3

Explanation: What Christianity is All About 3

Translation: Unpacking the Language of Faith 4

Five Types of Apologetics 4

Evidentialism 5

Presuppositionalism 5

Rational Apologetics 5

Experiential Apologetics 5

Narrative Apologetics 6

Why Apologetics Matters - and How it Can go Wrong 6

Christianity as a "Big Picture" 8

How Does Apologetics Relate to Evangelism? 11

How Does Apologetics Relate to Theology? 12

For Further Reading 13

2 Apologetics: Some Historical Themes 15

Early Christianity 16

Apologetics in the Early Islamic World 20

The Middle Ages 22

The "Age of Reason" 24

The Twentieth Century 26

Conclusion 28

Study Questions 29

For Further Reading 29

3 The Rationality of Faith 31

Setting the Context: Apologetics in a Post- rationalist Age 33

Faith as Justified Belief 35

Faith, Evidence, and Uncertainty: From Clifford to Dawkins 38

Arguments for the Existence of God: Three Approaches 41

Thomas Aquinas: The Five Ways 41

Anselm of Canterbury: The Ontological Argument 44

William Lane Craig: The Kalm Argument 46

What is the Point of Arguments for the Existence of God? 47

Connecting up the Clues: C. S. Lewis and the Argument from Desire 49

Inference to the Best Explanation: Richard Swinburne 51

The Use of Rational Arguments: A Theological Concern 54

The Demand for Proof: The Problem with the "New Atheism" 55

Conclusion 56

Study Questions 57

For Further Reading 57

4 Connecting the Christian Faith with the Human Situation 60

Why Facts aren't Enough: Apologetics and the Human Situation 63

Communicating Christian Complexity: Isaac Newton and Mary Midgley 65

Apologetic Aspects of Salvation 67

Truth and Desire in Apologetics 69

Christ the Physician: Healing a Wounded and Broken Humanity 70

Christ the Sacrifice: Entering the Presence of God 72

Adoption: Believing and Belonging 73

Liberation: Salvation as Deliverance from Bondage 74

Explaining the Nature of Sin 75

Apologetic Aspects of the Incarnation 77

Rethinking the Nature of God 77

Seeing the Face of God 79

Christianity and the Human Quest for Meaning 81

Finding a Secure Base in Life 82

Finding Fulfilment 82

Inhabiting a Coherent World 82

A Sense of Self- worth 83

Study Questions 85

For Further Reading 85

5 Exploring Points of Contact for the Christian Faith 87

The Concept of a "Point of Contact" 88

Six "Points of Contact": Reflection and Application 90

A Sense of Longing 90

The Beauty of the World 93

The Ordering of Nature 95

A Sense of Wonder: The Night Sky 97

A Sense of Moral Obligation 98

Existential Anxiety and Alienation 100

Plato's Cave: A Neutral Framework for Framing "Points of Contact" 102

Study Questions 104

For Further Reading 104

6 Narrative Apologetics: Why Telling Stories Matters 106

The Rediscovery of Narrative Apologetics 106

Christianity as a Grand Narrative? 109

Narratives and Apologetics: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien 109

Apologetics as Telling a Better Story 112

The Apologetic Application of Biblical Narratives 115

The Apologetic Application of Narratives: Some Examples 116

A Biblical Narrative: The Babylonian Exile 116

A Cultural Narrative: The Relation of Science and Faith 117

Literary Analogies: Making Theology Real 119

Study Questions 120

For Further Reading 120

7 The Importance of the Audience 122

Greeks and Jews: The New Testament and the Importance of the Audience 124

Apologetics as an Art: The Balcony and the Road 127

Understanding the Audience: Thoughts from C. S. Lewis 129

Seekers and Dwellers: A New Context for Apologetics 131

Apologetics and Audiences: Three Case Studies 132

Apologetics in Secular Manhattan: Tim Keller 132

Connecting with Black America: Urban Apologetics 134

Post- Christian Apologetics in Prague: Tomás Halík 136

Theological Translation: Explaining Christianity to Secular Audiences 138

Faith 139

Salvation 139

Adoption 140

Study Questions 140

For Further Reading 141

8 Responding to Questions: Some Apologetic Debates 143

God as Wish- fulfilment? Freud's Critique of Faith 143

Is Religion the Cause of Violence? 146

The Problem of Suffering 148

Enlightenment Rationalism: Reason has Displaced God 152

Belief and Proof: The Question of Certainty in Faith 155

The Trinity: An Irrational View of God? 157

Scientism: Only Science Can Answer Life's Big Questions 159

Science and Religious Faith are Incompatible 161

The Question of Miracles 164

Reductionism: Human Beings are Nothing but Atoms 168

Study Questions 169

For Further Reading 170

9 Learning from the Wise: Case Studies in Apologetics 172

George Herbert: Apologetics through Poetry 173

G. K. Chesterton: Christianity as a Hypothesis 175

Dorothy L. Sayers: Apologetics and Detective Novels 178

Francis Schaeffer: Worldview Apologetics 181

Charles Taylor: Apologetics in a Secular Age 185

Conclusion: Moving On 189

Study Questions 191

For Further Reading 191

Acknowledgments 193

Sources of Citations 194

Index 216
ALISTER E. McGRATH is Senior Research Fellow and Emeritus Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University. One of the world's leading Christian apologists, McGrath has held numerous academic positions, including Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University and Director of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. He is the author of Mere Apologetics, Narrative Apologetics, Theology: The Basics, and Historical Theology, amongst many others. He is also the co-editor of the authoritative work History of Apologetics: A Biographical and Methodological Introduction.

A. E. McGrath, University of Oxford