I am just a quarter way through its 600 plus pages and already I have had my thinking about Christian apologetics fine-tuned. I hope to have a review up sometimes in the future, but I can tell you now: if you’re a person who wants to think soundly about biblically based apologetics rather than the mushy popular stuff heard on radio and found in Christian bookstores, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The Ratio Christi crowd would do well to avail themselves of it.
The opening chapter of the book contrasts biblical apologetics with the traditional classic apologetics. I appreciate this one section that speaks to our apologetics in defense of God’s existence.
Biblical apologetics says the exact opposite: Genesis presupposes, or assumes, the existence of God. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The Bible never tries to explain, justify or rationally prove to the unbeliever that God might exist. It is declared ipso facto as a given. The only thing the Bible has to say about atheists is the following: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God'” (Ps. 14:1). In other words, atheists are fools.
Just about every apologetics book written since the time of Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) majors on long-winded, complex, philosophical delineations of the theistic arguments trying to prove or vindicate the possibility or undeniability of God’s existence. Reading modern day evangelical apologists one would think that the super-majority of people in the world is atheistic. Just the opposite is true: the super-majority of the people in the world is theistic. With over one billion Muslims, one billion Hindus, nearly one billion people calling themselves Christians and another billion identifying with some kind of theistic religion, there is no shortage of theists in the world. Over ninety percent of Americans say they believe in God.
The atheists are the super-minority in the world. As such, biblical apologetics does not assume everyone is atheist. Just as Scripture makes plain, unbelievers in general believe in God, “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). And similarly Paul says that although unbelievers “knew God, they did not honor Him as God” (Romans 1:21).
The biggest critics of Jesus were religionists – the Pharisees – not atheists. Those who opposed Paul at Areopagus were not atheists, for they worshiped an “unknown god.” The great OT apologist, the prophet Elijah, opposed religionists at Mount Carmel, not atheists (1 Kings 18). When Moses the apologist confronted Pharaoh’s priests in 1,400 BC, he was dealing with religionists of the first order, not atheists (Exodus 7). As such, biblical apologetics distinguishes itself by addressing people first and foremost, a priori, as religious beings, not as those with a religious tabula rasa, sterile of any religious belief. [McManis, 53-55]