Building the Minister’s Library: Apologetics
John G. Bales
No sooner after worship on the Lord’s Day do we leave our sanctuaries that we find ourselves rubbing shoulders with unbelievers who may ask us for the reason of the hope that lies within us. Others (sometimes believers) may challenge our basic, orthodox beliefs. Are we as church leaders prepared to offer biblical responses? Are God’s people equipped to give proper answers?
Apologetics is, of course, that branch of theology which is concerned with defending orthodox Christian doctrine and commending the faith to others. God’s people are often looking for answers, whether for themselves or for their neighbors. The following list of ten books (with a few alternatives) is a place to start. As in previous posts, it is a sampling of assorted works touching on some of the key issues. It is not meant to be comprehensive nor necessarily reformed. (Of course even the reformed folk have divergent principles and methods!) But it will help familiarize one with the various approaches to apologetics. Christian people will not see the best apologetic approach until they have reviewed the many answers that have been given.
Blomberg, Craig L. The Historical Reliability of the Gospels. 2nd Ed. IVP, 2007. Probably the best modern defense of the historicity of the gospels.
Craig, William Lane, Gerd Lüdemann, Paul Copan, and Ronald K. Tacelli. Jesus' Resurrection: Fact or Figment? : a Debate between William Lane Craig & Gerd Lüdemann. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2000. Ludemann ends up confessing he is a Gnostic. See also Craig’s Reasonable Faith for a thorough evidentialist approach.
Dulles, Avery. A History of Apologetics. New York: Corpus, 1971. History of apologetics from a Roman Catholic perspective.
Habermas, Gary R. The Resurrection of Jesus. Lantham, MD: University Press of America, 1984. Evidentialist.
Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God. New York: Dutton, 2008. Alternatively see Lee Stroebel, The Case for Christ.
Lewis. Mere Christianity; and Miracles. Many editions.
Meek, Esther L. Longing to Know. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2003. A good introduction to epistemology.
Oliphint, Scott. The Battle Belongs to the Lord: the Power of Scripture for Defending our Faith. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R, 2003. A more technical work is Oliphint, K. Scott, and Lane G. Tipton. Revelation and Reason: New Essays in Reformed Apologetics. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Pub, 2007.
Powell, Doug. Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics. Holman reference. Nashville, Tenn: Holman Reference, 2006. An easily-accessible reference guide.
Van Til, Cornelius. The Defense of the Faith. For a Reformed, presuppositional approach (and see his other works.)