Contemporary Apologetics and the Christian Faith Part III: Proof Texts for Semi-Rationalistic Apologetics -- By: John C. Whitcomb, Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 134:536 (Oct 1977)
Article: Contemporary Apologetics and the Christian Faith Part III: Proof Texts for Semi-Rationalistic Apologetics
Author: John C. Whitcomb, Jr.


Contemporary Apologetics and the Christian Faith
Part III:
Proof Texts for Semi-Rationalistic Apologetics

John C. Whitcomb, Jr.

[John C. Whitcomb, Jr., Director of Postgraduate Studies, Professor of Theology and Old Testament, Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, Indiana.]

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a series of four articles delivered by the author as the W. H. Griffith Thomas Memorial Lectures at Dallas Theological Seminary, February 8–11, 1977.]

A Rational Message

The writer finds himself in complete agreement with those who insist that Christianity is supremely rational.1 This is not because the Christian understands everything that God has revealed, for even the Apostle Paul refused to make such a claim (Rom 11:33; 1 Cor 13:9, 12; cf. 2 Pet 3:16). The reason one must insist on the essential rationality of God’s inscripturated revelation (in vigorous opposition to all dialectical and existential thinkers) is that God Himself is Infinite Reason. His thoughts can be communicated to man effectively and in truth (i.e., the Bible is perspicuous, 1 John 2:20, 27), even though man’s finiteness prevents him from knowing God exhaustively.2 The gospel may be foolishness “to those who are perishing” (1 Cor 1:18), but it is not intrinsically foolish! To the contrary, it is perfect and infinite wisdom (1 Cor 1:20–29).

Thus the Christian message is ultimately rational. But this is far from saying that the Christian message can be communicated

rationalistically to lost men. To be sure, there are certain passages in the New Testament which are frequently appealed to in support of such an approach; but a careful study reveals that the exact opposite is true.

1 Peter 3:15

By the Spirit of God, the Apostle Peter commanded each believer to be ready always “to make a defense [ἀπολογίαν, “an answer”] to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you.” Does this mean that the Christian must go outside the sphere of revelational truth to provide intellectual and academic justification for his faith in God’s Word to the unbeliever? Could Peter h...

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