William Lane Craig and Joseph E. Gorrah
Craig and Gorrah use the presentation of apologetics through the questioning and answering of Dr. Craig as a field manual for new apologists and those studying apologetics. But this is not just for study. It is a manual to help you practice apologetics in your context.
A wealth of resources are referenced throughout the entire book. Referencing works for further study and development is crucial to making apologetics more than study. Much of the ebook has hyperlinked resources that are free in online websites by these apologists.
Dr. Craig is kind, compassionate, and thorough in his answers. He sees each person who asks a question as a person. He may minister to their needs before he answers the questions as part of that ministry. There is certainly much to learn from Dr. Craig in his approach and acumen.
In the introduction, Joseph Gorrah talks about the importance of questions for Christians and those seeking to understand Christ. They are an invaluable ministry for Christians and the Church to engage in to grow in faith and in Christ. They do not mean we have doubts or unbelief. Questions are a safe place to explore Jesus and the friendship He offers us.
Every Christian should be equipped to answer questions about their faith. We cannot answer questions if we don’t ask them. I have always contended that there is a difference between asking questions out of faith and asking questions out of doubt. Asking questions give us tools to witness to others and strengthen our faith.
The introduction suggests we should take this book as a field manual on how to be apologists and address the wide range of arguments today. As we read Dr. Craig’s answers to questions and arguments, we should use the book as insights on how to speak with unbelievers around us. Many resources in and at the end of the book give us further study to prepare us to share our faith and answer questions.
Part 1: Questions about Reality
Dr. Craig deals with issues of existence and reality. Each of his answers correspond with questions by his audience and those who have listened to his arguments before. Many of the questions and answers are for deep thinkers and people who are familiar with apologetics.
The book presents arguments against Christianity, the Bible, and God with some very academic arguments, arguments from logic, and more down-to-earth questions. He deals with a wide range of approaches to argumentation. Dr. Craig addresses logical fallacies in arguments. Some questions deal with Dr. Craig’s arguments in public and approaches to debates with atheists and unbelievers.
Dr. Craig deals with a wide variety of topics focused on apologetics. But he also approaches Christian theology questions, down-to-earth application questions, and a host of other areas of interest to those whose questions he could answer in the framework of one book.
In each section with many questions, the book provides insights into how to defend the Christian faith against the subject being raised. These insights are part of the “field manual” approach of the book to help Christians defend their faith as they face the same types of questions Dr. Craig addresses. We don’t have to have the same answers but we can approach the topics in the same manner.
Part 2 Questions about God
In part 2, Dr. Craig addresses questions about God and His existence. He answers questions from students who have been at his debates in universities. They address the arguments he presented and he explains further any issues they have with his logical construction affirming God’s existence.
He also defends arguments against the existence and operation of the Trinity. These questions get more into theology and apologetics working together. He also answers questions about Muslim philosophy. With his sharp mind, Dr. Craig corrects mistakes and logical fallacies of those who question him.
Dr. Craig gives helpful bibliographies at the end of each section. These reference his arguments in writing and also other arguments presented against his reasoning. The references he gives help Christians become great defenders of the faith like him.
Part 3: Creation
In this third part, Dr. Craig takes on questions about creation from God creating the world out of nothing to questions about what Stephen Hawking suggests. I am amazed at how he can take on such academic questions with ease.
He is not afraid to call out mistakes and logic, false premises, and wrongheaded approaches. Dr. Craig deals with simple and complex questions. He has no trouble defending the faith on many levels. He shows familiarity with philosophy, logic, and science, to name a few.
Dr. Craig deals with concepts of space and time along with God and creation. The thought process about space and time is thoroughly intriguing. I could think on these questions and answers for a long time, no pun intended.
The questions about God and time were very interesting. Because God is outside of creation, including space and time, philosophers and theologians try to understand what it means for God to be outside of time, and yet work within the confines of space and time. I enjoyed the discussion and answers Dr. Craig gave when there were questions about time.
He also covers questions about atheism and the meaning of life. He is respectful of atheists and their beliefs. But he also applies his answers directly to atheism and its meaning and outlook.
Dr. Craig often points out that science and philosophy are two different disciplines. Scientists who believe in evolution (notice “belief” is a religious, not scientific word) cannot prove it as a law of nature or science. They have philosophical arguments for evolution, not scientific ones. This is bad science.
The book also deals with the afterlife and evil. I have learned a lot from observing how Dr. Craig deals with every question. One interesting and philosophical question he takes on is the question of if people who have never heard the gospel can be saved. This is a tough question because it is completely philosophical. No one knows how God will judge each person.
Probably the best answer for this is that God has given general revelation that opens the door for people who have never heard the name Jesus to still be saved. He specifically discusses CS Lewis’ universalism. It’s one of the most interesting discussions in the book.
Dr. Craig deals adeptly with atheists and former Christians who have problems with Christian theology and the Bible. He talks to people instead of their problems. He does not mistreat them or act like the philosophical issues they have are the only thing. He is very good at addressing the person with kindness and respect.
Dr. Craig adeptly deals with the sensitive issue of how the Israelites took over the Promised Land. The Canaanites did not have to die. They were just supposed to leave the land. He explains God’s command to the Israelites, and how they carried it out. He points out some key concepts that most people do not deal with.
In section 5, Dr. Craig answers questions about Jesus and His resurrection. He deals well with suggested connections between the resurrection narrative in the Bible and pagan gods resurrection. I had never heard of this before. But he deals with these outdated arguments and gives a strategy for dealing with people who claim them now.
Dr. Craig answers a question about Jesus claiming kingship just like any human prince. But Jesus’s claims are much greater than that, and he lays out the reasoning for the historical Jesus. He also answers a question about how the four Gospels could be independent when most scholars talk about the Q document or say Matthew and Luke used Mark’s Gospel. He points to other places in the New Testament that refer to them as independent.
I like that is apologetics approach is not just to talk about these issues with unbelievers, but he also helps believers along. He gives them reasons to trust in the Christian faith and the Bible as coming from God. He is well-studied and prepared to handle these issues. He’s not just answering questions off the top of his head.
He takes on issues with Jesus Himself, as well as issues with the Gospels. They are the heart of Christian belief and hold biographical information about Jesus. Dr. Craig deals with these issues on everything from the text of the Gospels to claims against the resurrection of Jesus. He also deals with questions about discipleship and coming to Christ. One gem of this book is Dr. Craig’s recounting of how he came to Christ.
He provides solid reasons to have doubts, but not let them control you. He even offers wise pastoral advice to people who struggle with faith in Christ. Some ex-Christians novel turned atheist because of philosophy studies are now turning back to God, and Dr. Craig talks to them on a personal level rather than talking about arguments for or against Christ.
As Dr. Craig deals with issues of Christian theology, he has a depth and breadth of understanding of Christian theology and other issues not related to apologetics. He helps people understand how to be a Christian, grow in God, and serve Christ. He is sometimes vulnerable in his approach, exposing how he himself does not understand everything about God.
Dr. Craig answers a question about being ridiculed as we stand for Christ in apologetics. Jesus suffered so much more than we can imagine or suffer in His place as we stand up for Him. Dr. Craig reminds us to keep that in mind as we gently answer questions about our faith and stand up for Him in the public square.
He also deals with applicable Christian practices for daily living. It’s amazing to me the breadth of issues Dr. Craig addresses with such depth and experience. He even deals with issues of premarital counseling, marital counseling, marriage, and exercise and diet. He gives great advice on all these subjects and more.
In the conclusion, Gorrah gives the reader some final thoughts on how to become a defender of the faith. Instead of getting a degree to do so, we can gather in groups, read resources, and find a way that fits our life. Your vocation will not match Dr. Craig’s. He describes a person’s vocation as God’s call upon their life. We can bless one another with witnessing and defending the faith.
The book has three appendices at the end. The first gives tips for using the book for small group study. The second appendix talks about how to foster question-answering and answer-seeking environments. The third appendix offers civility guidelines for online “third places.” The second appendix focuses on four areas of our lives: the family, church, places of work, and “third places.”
Apologetics in the family begins with the parents. Children should be comfortable asking questions of their parents about the faith. Parents should be open to answering those questions. Communication is key. The authors provide a list of how to study at home and teach children about spiritual matters. The authors provide age-appropriate material for apologetics for children, youth, and college students.
Churches should be places where people were unafraid to ask tough questions about Jesus, the Bible, and Christianity. Christians and non-Christians alike could bring tough questions that are challenging their faith or keeping them from belief. The authors make a difference between memorizing questions the answers and becoming a person with an apologetics lifestyle. Even the best apologetics textbook cannot make up for a lifestyle open to thinking about people’s questions and answering them humbly.
The authors offer nine models for churches to create a culture of curiosity and question answering. They evaluate these models they see the church already using. They give the pros and cons of each program, or ministry of the church. Then they provide five recommendations to implement these ministries. Following that, the authors give seven questions for church leaders to see the value of apologetics in the local church community. Then they dive into seven mistakes to avoid in integrating an apologetics program. We must avoid the six assumptions that may or may not be accurate.
The authors address how to introduce Christ and address questions fellow employees have. When they know you are a Christian, they want to talk about it. You need to be prepared for apologetics in the workplace if it happens. They give tips on how to do apologetics at work.
Appendix 3 gives guidance to civility in the “third places” in coffee shops, online, and other places where we meet and discuss topics. These are neutral contexts that are not directed learning. We have given up face-to-face conversation for online presence. This makes it more difficult to form communities and address one another as actual people. The authors discuss inappropriate and common problems with online communication and apologetics. Because we are incognito online, we may dehumanize our debate counterparts. This is why we need civility in our third places.
The authors lay out ten important considerations for what civility is and how to apply it to our individual contexts. They make you think about how you communicate with others, whether online or in some other forum. Then they provide twenty recommendations for carrying out a civil attitude as you share the gospel and do apologetics in these forums.
I found these twenty discussions the gem of the book. They give guidelines on how to talk to others online and in-person, how to deal with disagreements, how to foster discussion, keep from defaming people during arguments, how to listen first and then after helpful discussion, and to think about the full implications of our responses whether online or in person before offering them. If you are actively involved in evangelism and apologetics, this is a must-read. You should buy the book and added to your library. You will gain wisdom and helpful tips on how to witness to others, even in academic settings and contentious debates. You won’t go wrong by observing Dr. Craig’s answers and looking at the notes as a field manual to help you learn answers to questions, but more importantly, how to defend your faith even with questions that aren’t answered in this book.