Classical Apologetics: A Rational Defense A Review Article -- By: George J. Zemek, Jr.

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 07:1 (Spring 1986)
Article: Classical Apologetics: A Rational Defense A Review Article
Author: George J. Zemek, Jr.

Classical Apologetics:
A Rational Defense
A Review Article

George J. Zemek, Jr.

Classical Apologetics: A Rational Defense of the Christian Faith and a Critique of Presupposilional Apologetics, by R. C. Sproul, John Gerstner, and Arthur Lindsley. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984. Pp. 364. $12.95.

It is increasingly rare these days to find a book in which the contents really correspond to its title. However, this volume is indeed both a presentation and defense of “classical” apologetics and a critique of presuppositionalism. Furthermore, it is well written (especially in those difficult portions dealing with sophisticated philosophical interactions) and fairly well organized. However, the format employing endnotes is inconvenient.

The greatest asset of Sproul, Gerstner, and Lindsley’s argumentation is at one and the same time this volume’s greatest deficit—an uncompromising defense of traditional apologetics. They certainly cannot be charged with ambivalence, but they frequently may be perceived by the reader as being arrogantly dogmatic. Consider, for example, the following excerpts:

If there is no reasoned defense for the Christian faith there can be no sound Christianity [p. 97]…. At their classical best, the theistic proofs are not merely probable but demonstrative [p. 101]…. We have endeavored to update the traditional theistic arguments, trying to show that when properly formulated they are compelling certainties and not merely suggestive possibilities [p. 136]…. Miracles are visible and external and perceivable by both converted and unconverted alike, carrying with them the power to convince, if not to convert [p. 145]…. Aquinas, Edwards, Butler, Reid, Warfield, Beattie, Orr, and others…were assuming, rightly we believe [italics added], that the mind as a faculty or power remained and functioned as it was intended to do. Therefore, it can and does survey the evidence and it can and does draw proper conclusions, with detachment and neutrality [p. 258]…. We have seen that the traditional view sees natural man as capable of understanding not only the world but the Bible itself. The unregenerate need no supernatural, spiritual, illumination to understand anything of which the human mind is capable…[p. 298]; [etc.].

From this inflexible perspective they often criticize such apologetical ‘compromisers’ as Geisler, Montgomery, Pinnock, and others (cf. pp. 125-26,148)!

Nothing interrupts the authors’ tenacity to traditionism. They are not deterred by the reservations of their verificationalist contemporaries, nor by the balanced arguments of Augustine, Luther and Calvin, and most unf...

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