In actual practice, these two basic approaches—offensive and defensive—can blend together. For example, one way to offer a defense against the problem of evil would be to offer a positive moral argument for the existence of God precisely on the basis of moral evil in the world. Or again, in offering a positive case for the resurrection of Jesus, one may have to answer objections raised by biblical criticism to the historical credibility of the resurrection narratives. Nonetheless, the overall thrust of these two approaches remains quite distinct: the goal of offensive apologetics is to show that there is some good reason to think that Christianity is true, while the goal of defensive apologetics is to show that no good reason has been given to think that Christianity is false.

It is evident from a glance at the contents page that this book constitutes a course in offensive, rather than defensive, apologetics. Although I hope someday to write a book offering a course in defensive apologetics, I think that a first course in this discipline ought to be positive in nature. There are two related reasons undergirding this conviction. First, a purely negative apologetic only tells you what you ought not to believe, not what you should believe. Even if one could succeed in refuting all known objections to Christianity, one would still be left without any reason to think that it is true. In the pluralistic age in which we live, the need for a positive apologetic is especially urgent. Second, by having in hand a positive justification of the Christian faith, one automatically overwhelms all competing worldviews lacking an equally strong case. Thus, if you have a sound and persuasive case for Christianity, you don't have to become an expert in comparative religions and Christian cults so as to offer a refutation of every one of these counter-Christian views. If your positive apologetic is better than theirs, then you have done your job in showing Christianity to be true. Even if you're confronted with an objection which you can't answer, you can still commend your faith as more plausible than its competitors if the arguments and evidence in support of Christian truth claims are stronger than those supporting the unanswered objection. For these reasons, I have sought in this book to lay out a positive case for the Christian faith which, I hope, will be helpful to you in confirming and commending your faith.

For many readers much of this course material will be new and difficult. Nevertheless, all of it is important, and if you apply yourself diligently to mastering and interacting personally and critically with this material, you will, I am sure, find it as exciting as it is important.

Footnotes:

1. J. Gresham Machen, "Christianity and Culture," Princeton !eological Review 11 (1913): 7.

2. Ibid.

3. Critical notice of Ian G. Barbour, Religion in an Age of Science, reviewed by John K. La Shell, Journal of the Evangelical !eological Society 36 (1993): 261.

4. For more information on these extraordinary lay conferences, go to www.epsociety.org.

Reasonable Faith

Copyright © by William Lane Craig
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