Twenty-Five Years of Seasoned Apologetics Work

Article ID: JAR3322 | By: Joseph E. Gorra

Since the 1980s, “reasonable faith” increasingly has become a brand directly associated with the work of Dr. William Lane Craig, Talbot School of Theology’s research professor of philosophy at Biola University.

This is not the result of clever marketing or because Craig set out to create his own trademark, yet from the seminary classroom to national apologetics conferences, Craig has helped make winsome the art of offering reasons and evidences for Christian knowledge claims.

For good reason, William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics has become not only his “signature” title, but has helped resource and lead a whole generation of scholars, apologists, and pastors to think Christ ianly about their worldview. In 2009, the book will enjoy twenty-five years’ worth of readers.

Originally published in 1984 (Moody Press), then revised in 1994 (Crossway Books), and recently released as a third edition in 2008 (Crossway Books), the journey of Reasonable Faith evidences responsiveness to current objections against Christianity without itself being a trendy response. It also evidences cut-ting-edge research intended to directly substantiate a positive case for Christian claims.

There are good reasons and evidences for receiving Reasonable Faith as Craig’s signature title. First, since its inception, the book has fostered fertile ground for Craig and others. It’s not surprising that from within its lush soil, a reader can detect seeds of Craig’s other contributions, whether on the resurrection of Jesus (e.g., Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus), arguments for the existence of God (e.g., The Kalam Cosmo logical Argument), , God’s relation to time and the origin of the universe in view of big bang cosmology (e.g., God, Time and Eternity), or the coherence of the Christian worldview (e.g., Philosophical Found ations for a Christian Worldview)

The third edition of Reasonable Faith seminally harnesses more than two decades of Craig’s dedicated research, writing, and experience in apologetics, philosophy of religion, and theology. He presents such time-tested work in five parts and eight chapters that are systematic, coherent, and comprehensive. Moreover, the book’s Web companion, www.reasonablefaithtools.com, empowers the outreach of Craig’s ideas by strengthening their accessibility through text and multimedia presentations.

The new and updated topics in the third edition move Reasonable Faith from being merely an introduction to apologetics to now an authoritative guide and a resourceful research assistant for the pastor, seminarian, and professor. This 2008 edition of four hundred-plus pages notably offers:

1. A response to objections by “new atheists” such as biologist Richard Dawkins (e.g., 80–81, 170–74) and philosopher Daniel Dennett (e.g., 83–84, 151–52).

2. Updated scientific findings for cosmological and intelligent design arguments for the existence of God, along with the latest philosophical objections against the moral and ontological arguments for God’s existence (chaps. 3–4).

3. Recent work in probability theory to address David Hume’s arguments against miracles (e.g., 269–77).

4. A case for the messianic identity of Jesus (e.g., 300–327), along with His bodily resurrection in light of interaction with prominent New Testament scholars like John Meier (e.g., 291–92, 353–57), James Dunn (e.g., 315, 324, 327, 385), Bart Ehrman (e.g., 270, 274), and N. T. Wright (e.g., 351–52, 384–85, 393–94).

5. A “practical application” section in order to show the personal significance of each chapter’s thesis.

A second reason why Reasonable Faith has become Craig’s signature title is that its impression has transcended the book, so that its presence can be realized in such places as Craig’s nonprofit apologetics ministry (www.reasonablefaith.org), or the brand can be sensed on the debate trail or at a lecture series where Craig participates, or during an interview on ABC’s 20/20, or at his local church, or in a philosophy of religion seminary classroom. Regardless of occasion, one cannot help but get a whiff of “reasonable faith” whenever Craig is present, even if one vehemently disagrees with him.

The heart of Reasonable Faith will have enduring value if for no other reason than that Craig understands the significance of what is the “ultimate apologetic”: lives that are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a fitting conclusion to his signature title.

In a future edition, however, perhaps this “conclusion” will become a whole chapter that vitally develops how and why apologetics work can and must connect with Christian discipleship, spiritual disciplines, pastoral care, and evangelism. Absent of the local church, apologetics ministry looks weird. Absent of apologetics work, the local church looks defenseless.

Reasonable Faith shows that we can learn how to engage ideas that war against knowledge of God. Indeed, for at least twenty-five years, Craig has personally known exactly what it is like to be tested on the frontline, and this book can help empower and encourage us to do the same.

—Joseph E. Gorra

Joseph E. Gorra is the managing editor of the journal Philosophia Christi.

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