I have long been a fan of the works of C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Norman Geisler and a multitude of other apologists who have worked hard to give a defense of the faith which we as Christians hold to. I was thus intrigued by Crossway’s recent release that acts as a primer on apologetics, both in terms of specific writers and specific arguments.
The book divides into two parts, focussing first on particular apologists and then in the second half moving to a broader view of the apologetics field. Markos is focussed on tracing out the evidentialist line of apologetics, as opposed to the presuppositionalist line. Evidentialists base their arguments on the evidence and build upwards towards a defense or reason, whilst presuppositionalists begin with the need for revelation and argue from the Scriptures.
I find myself to be most naturally in the presuppositional field, but with deep respect for and great love of the work of Christian evidentialists. At some point, in either camp, revelation is required. The arguments of the evidentialist apologist may convince a person that belief in God is not illogical, it may even satisfy that the testimony of the Bible to the person of Jesus is not fictitious, but it cannot cause a man to bend his knee to the Lord Jesus and repent of his own sins. Likewise, without revelation a person can follow the arguments of a presuppositionalist but they cannot receive them as really true unless some divine operation occurs.
That being said, I believe Markos has done a great service to the field of contemporary apologetics by drawing together what is essentially a brilliant introduction to the last 100 years of apologetics. Six chapters o the theology of Lewis are worth the asking price alone, as they provide a cohesive and insightful understanding of Lewis’ writing and thought. In amongst here is an outstanding chapter on the apologetics of myth, explaining the idea of True Myth and how it pertains to Lewis and his contemporaries. After this focus on C.S. Lewis comes a couple of chapters on G.K. Chesterton, one on the much overlooked Dorothy Sayers, an interesting one on Francis Schaeffer that is not all complementary (in fact it is here that Markos sounds a little put-out by presuppositionalists), and ends with a chapter on Josh McDowell.
Yes, Josh McDowell. I was somewhat surprised to find his name amongst such thinkers and writers. He is a man who has done much to spread the good news, but I’ve never considered him an apologist. Markos makes a good argument for his inclusion in the evidentialist tradition, and more so reveals my snobbery about apologetics.
After this we move to part two which we could essentially split into three sections. Section A deals with arguments for the existence of God, within the realms of logic, science and suffering. Section B looks at specific facets of the Christian faith and arguments in defense of those beliefs (the authority of the Scriptures, the historical Jesus, the resurrection) and then finally we turn to section C to look at contemporary issues (pluralism, postmodernity, neo-gnostics, creation and the new atheists). My favorite of this section was chapter 21, which deals with apologetics for postmoderns.
Markos writes well, is clearly widely read, and is able to present a huge amount of thought, argument and insight in a concise and understandable way. If you are just starting in your studies of apologetics, or you are looking for some clarification of the work of C.S. Lewis, or specific contemporary arguments, this book would be a great resource for your library.
A review copy was provided to me at no charge by Crossway Books. No attempt was made by the publisher to gain a favorable review, and all opinions and recommendations expressed are the author’s own.