(Directions for Defending the Faith)
Texarkana, AR: Covenant Media Foundation, 1996
289pp., paperback, $10.00 (#PA600)
According to the words of the Covenant Media Foundation:This book is a compilation of several of Dr. Bahnsen's published works on Christian apologetics, including his Apologetics syllabus, articles on practical apologetic problems (like the problem of evil, the problem of miracles, etc.), and an exposition of Acts 17.
When one first hears that there are 5 major sections and 34 chapters in this book, it might scare you off from even considering reading it. But let the prospective reader be assured that there is no reason to shy away from buying and reading this book at your earliest convenience. The truth is that most of the chapters are quite brief, so much so that there are times when you will wish that they were not so brief. I became engrossed in the subject of many of these short chapters and wanted more. So it's off to do more shopping for Dr. Bahnsen's writings to satisfy my appetite. Whether or not the publishers planned it this way or not, it worked.
Now for the book itself. The first four sections, chapters 1-24 are a cogent presentation and defense of the Presuppositional Apologetic methodology. Bahnsen goes into great detail, belaboring the point that the only true biblical method for defending the Faith is a presuppositional one. It is my conviction that Bahnsen, being consistent with Dr. Cornelius VanTil, is 100% correct in this bold assertion. The author seemingly leaves no stone unturned in his quest to show by sound reasoning, logic and a multitude of Scriptural references that God would have us adopt and use a Presuppositional Apologetic. Whereas to use any other methodology is not only ineffective but even sinful to the extent that the person must ignore and/or contradict the clear mandates of the very Scripture he would hope to show to be very truth itself by adopting the philosophies and/or methodologies of the unbelieving world. To many today, these may seem like a very narrow view and unloving at that. But the question that should be asked first is if the Scriptures support this view. And if so, then we are to accept it without question regardless of how many people dislike the idea.
The next section, Section Five is worth the price of the book if it were the only thing in it. Here Dr. Bahnsen lists five of the most often encountered attacks against Christianity and offers some great rebuttals to them; using the Presuppositional Apologetic methodology of course. Thus, not only is one able to glean from the excellent answers for each argument, but the reader will also see how this apologetical method is used practically. There are no "silver bullets" here however, if you think that a perfect argument is enough to sway an unbeliever to repentance. Bahnsen makes this clear enough, that it is the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of any one who alone is able to "convince the gainsayers" of their error and embrace the truth as it is in Christ Jesus. We are responsible to be faithful to the Scriptures and to present it in a biblical manner to all who would ask for a reason for the hope that abides in us. It is the Lord alone, who is able to change the heart of men.
The Appendix:: Biblical Exposition of Acts 17 is simply marvelous. I think this last section puts it all together in such a way that the reader is no longer a curious spectator nor a student hoping to learn a few "tricks" in the realm of apologetics, but rather a person actually present in the audience during Paul's address to the Athenians. Bahnsen's presentation will hold the reader's interest regardless of whether or not he is convinced of the argument for a Presuppositional Apologetic. The popular idea that one is to conform himself and his ideas to the world around him so as to be more effective for the gospel is soundly refuted by this section of Scripture, which ironically many are quick to quote to support this erroneous idea. Paul never once adopted any worldly philosophy or methodology in presenting the Gospel. His proclamation was not of the "wisdom of men or the world" but "with power and in the Holy Spirit" as God gave him to speak. Should we do anything less? Give Bahnsen the opportunity to convince you and you will have to agree.
Jeffrey C. Nesbitt
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