The Humanism of Evangelistic Apologetics: Part 13.15

Review and Critique:

"Christian Apologetics: Who Needs It?"
Dr. William Lane Craig
http://www.reasonablefaith.org/christian-apologetics-who-needs-it

[Key: direct quotes from author.]

[Normally, when I review and critique an article such as this, I usually “begin at the beginning” and simply proceed through it in the order in which it was written, directly quoting that which needs attention, then writing the rebuttal.

Dr. Craig’s article resisted this approach, however.

Basically, I had to read the entire article through to determine what he was trying to say at any given point; even then, the article is difficult to analyze given its scattered, illogical and disjoint presentation.

Some of his presentation and reasoning is confused and actually contradictory. The latter half of the article was saturated with anecdotal and personal “evidence” and experience; it was a veritable wasteland devoid of biblical support.

Jan 18, 2018 Edit:
The research for this series began in Nov-Dec 2016 with the writing taking place in early 2017. At that time, I had never heard of Dr. William Lane Craig; this article was simply one of a number of links on the topic which I chose to review and, as needed, rebut.

I was watching some presentations by Dr. White today when I encountered the following title:

A Little Molinism, and a Little Onenes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8fGtT-YJPc

Since I'd never heard of Molinism, it caught my curiosity. When I opened the video, I saw this in the description:

"Reviewed a William Lane Craig video on the limitations inherent upon God due to 'middle knowledge' during the first half hour ..."

The biblical errors regarding evangelism presented by Dr. Craig, as I document in this chapter, are very, very serious; however, those pale in comparison to the error of Molinism. I highly recommend that you take the time to listen to the first 30 minutes (at least) of Dr. White's presentation; it provides some insight into the distorted doctrine of Dr. Craig's mind. If he can actually propose that the Almighty is "limited", then he can certainly distort something as simple as evangelism.

And he did massively distort evangelism at that lecture...

 There was essentially no biblical support in the first half of Dr. Craig's article.

Not unexpectedly, therefore, Dr. Craig falls into the same unbiblical and humanistic abyss as essentially every other apologetic author I’ve reviewed in this series:

  • There is an absence of used-in-context biblical support for his assertions.
  • There is the underlying assumption that the lost possess an intellect that actually can be reasoned with regarding spiritual truth; in short, he has the typical, self-afflicted ignorance of the fact that the lost is actually spiritually dead.
  • There is essentially nothing of the gospel of grace and the Bible’s declaration of the absolute need for repentance and faith.
  • There is no mention of the sovereignty of God in the salvation of the lost.
  • … and several other errors very common to the modern, evangelistic apologist (as you'll see).

To these common errors, the author appears to have a new wrinkle on a few elements, features that are especially troubling and dangerous:

  • That genuine faith may be based on evidence; and/or,
  • That genuine faith may be based on the activity of the Holy Spirit.
  • An unusual notion of what I’ll term below “super-saved Christians”.

But, Dr. Craig traverses ground that most other evangelistic apologists don’t. In this, he becomes entangled in an intellectualism which, in turn, leads him into some of the most destructive thought processes that I’ve ever enountered from any apologist.

If this actually was the essence of a presentation at Calvin Theological Seminary, and if that presentation was well-received, then I fear for the unthinkable scope of spiritual damage and humanistic destruction its graduates will unleash on the lost (and the saved who are irresponsible enough to follow their example!) during their future “ministries” in our culture. It will be a cataclysm of “humanistic evangelism” that will leave in its path the carcasses of professing “believers” who actually have never truly repented and believed in the Lord Christ.

Dr. Craig must be held responsible for at least some of that appalling debacle.

The shear depth of the garbled, confused and convolved thought in this article is spectacular; to apply a very non-technical term, this article would have to improve to be considered theological gibberish.

In short, this is a deeply troubling—and troubled—article which one would not expect to encounter from anyone who truly loves the Lord Christ, His gospel and His Word whose content was a presentation at a Christian(?) seminary.

This article has so much wrong with it that it was difficult to know where to begin…]

 


The article is presented as the summary of a pair of lectures on Christian Apologetics given by the author at Calvin Theological Seminary.

Here is his leading question, the apparent point of contact with his audience:

“Tonight we ask ourselves the fundamental question: Christian apologetics—who needs it?”

Please keep this in mind as you read his article, along with my review and critique.

A typical characteristic of modern, evangelistic apologists is the fact that they make use of a very small set of “used-out-of-context” Scripture references, mixed with a generous helping of humanistic and unbiblical thought. Dr. Craig exceeds the usually extremes of humanism but “makes up” for it with a correspondingly low reference to Scripture—even then, he takes these Scriptures completely out of context.

The author’s level of amazing inconsistency, disposition to the use of apologetics in evangelism, and appeals to his own experience put this article in a mega-destructive "class by itself".

I have reviewed many truly awful articles by modern apologists; this one sank to a new low.

 


Before starting into the review formally, I need to highlight four groups of excerpts that introduce us to the author’s thinking in a very direct way.

 


The first group of excerpts demonstrate my charge that this article is fundamentally contradictory:

Remember the title: "... Who needs it?"

“For even if apologetics should turn out not to be absolutely necessary, it doesn’t follow that it is therefore useless.”

“In the same way Christian apologetics can be of great utility even if it’s not necessary for some end.”

Now I agree wholeheartedly with contemporary, so-called Reformed epistemologists like Alvin Plantinga that apologetic arguments and evidence are not necessary in order for Christian belief to be warranted for any person. The contention of theological rationalists (or evidentialists, as they are misleadingly called today) that Christian faith is irrational in the absence of positive evidence is difficult to square with Scripture, which seems to teach that faith in Christ can be immediately grounded by the inner witness of the Holy Spirit ( Rom. 8.14-16 ; 1 Jn. 2.27; 5.6-10 ), so that argument and evidence become unnecessary.”

“So I do not, in fact, think that Christian apologetics is necessary in order for Christian belief to be warranted.”

“Moreover, the availability of independent warrant for Christian truth claims apart from the Spirit’s witness could help predispose an unbeliever to respond to the drawing of the Holy Spirit …”

“One could doubtless think of many other ways in which the possession of such dual warrant for Christian beliefs would be beneficial.”

If these arguments are correct, then belief in Christian theism is warranted by natural theology and Christian evidences as well as by the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. Thus while apologetic arguments are not necessary for knowledge that Christianity is true, still they are sufficient, and this dual warrant for Christian beliefs can be of great advantage.”

“More than that: even if Christian apologetics is not necessary with respect to warranting Christian belief, Christian apologetics may be useful and even necessary with respect to various other ends.”

“Apologetics is useful and may well be necessary in order for the Gospel to be effectively heard in Western society today.”

“So those who say that apologetics is not effective with unbelievers must be speaking out of their limited experience. When apologetics is persuasively presented and sensitively combined with a Gospel presentation and a personal testimony, the Spirit of God condescends to use it in bringing certain people to Himself. Is apologetics necessary in such cases? Would these people have come to Christ anyway, even if they had not heard the arguments? I think we have to say, “Only God knows!”

There can be no reasonable doubt that the author keeps undermining his own premise by consistently placing it in the realm of the potential, the “maybe-this-isn’t-even-possible” or "maybe-this-isn't-even-useful" elements.

But, undeterred, Dr. Craig then comes to the stunning (albeit shameless and self-confirming) conclusion:

“So in conclusion, Christian apologetics is a vital part of the theological curriculum. While not necessary for warranting Christian belief, it is, I believe, nonetheless sufficient for warranting Christian belief and therefore of great benefit. Apologetics plays a vital, and perhaps crucial, role in shaping culture, strengthening believers, and evangelizing unbelievers. For all these reasons, I am unapologetically enthusiastic about Christian apologetics.”

After all the verbiage about the potentiality of apologetics actually not living up to its claims, you then say “Christian apologetics is a vital part …”, followed immediately with “While not necessary …”.

Really!?!?

[Dr. Craig: with reasoning this clear, consistent and perceptive, perhaps you should run for political office and forget about the discipline of apologetics and those nasty and unreasonble constraints of biblical theology.

Or, maybe not… the world has more than enough people skilled in double-speak.]

 


The second group of excerpts demonstrates that Dr. Craig has evangelistic apologetics very much in mind, along with its purported support for evangelism:

“… describes what Christian apologetics is and three ways the discipline serves a vital role in the body of Christ—in its ability to shape culture, its capacity to strengthen believers, and its necessity when evangelizing unbelievers.

“As a result evangelism is immeasurably more difficult in Europe than in the United States.

“Canada’s slide into secularism illustrates how important maintaining a cultural milieu sympathetic to Christian belief is to the effectiveness of evangelism.

“If I might be permitted to speak from my own experience, for over twenty years I’ve been speaking evangelistically on university campuses in North America and Europe …

 “For that reason I’ve found debates to be an especially attractive forum for university evangelism.

 “Apologetics training is a tremendous boost to evangelism …”

 “Sound training in apologetics is one of the keys to fearless evangelism.”

 “But many will say that apologetics is not very useful in evangelism.”

 “Now this dismissive attitude toward apologetics’ role in evangelism is certainly not the biblical view.”

 “Frankly, I think that those who regard apologetics as futile in evangelism just don’t do very much evangelism. I suspect that they’ve tried using apologetic arguments on occasion and found that the unbeliever remained unconvinced. They then draw the sweeping conclusion that apologetics is ineffective in evangelism.”

“In any case the general conclusion that apologetics is ineffective in evangelism is hasty.”

“Nor, if I may speak personally, has it been my experience that apologetics is ineffective in evangelism.”

 “We may not know the truth-value of such counterfactuals of freedom; but we can and do know by experience that God uses apologetics in evangelism to bring lost people to Himself.”

 “Apologetics plays a vital, and perhaps crucial, role in shaping culture, strengthening believers, and evangelizing unbelievers.”

[Why the point of the author’s emphasis on apologetics in evangelism is important in my review will become abundantly clear later in my review. Let it suffice to say that Dr. Craig's distorted notion of evanglism is at the core of his reasoning and article.]

 


The third group of excerpts demonstrate the decidedly humanistic and self-centered tenor of this article (possibly to make up for its stunning lack of biblical support?):

“He encouraged me to draw upon my years of experience as a Christian apologist to share some very practical thoughts on this discipline.”

My experience speaking on university campuses across Canada suggests to me …”

“If I might be permitted to speak from my own experience …”

 “As I travel, I’ve also had the experience of meeting other people who’ve told me …”

“Nor, if I may speak personally, has it been my experience that apologetics is ineffective in evangelism.”

“We may not know the truth-value of such counterfactuals of freedom; but we can and do know by experience that God uses apologetics in evangelism to bring lost people to Himself.”

Dr. Craig, with all due respect: your “years of experience” in evangelism is completely useless and has no essential, intrinsic, divinely-assigned authority. It is a waste of time for you to refer to it; it was a monumental waste of my time wading through it for the purpose of this (very necessary!) review and critique!

When I want to learn something about this activity called “evangelism”, I turn to its author and commissioner, the Lord Christ, along with those inspired by the Holy Spirit who recorded the authoritative record of what evangelism is and how it is to be implemented.

Simply stated: whether your experiences were

  • good or bad,
  • effective or fizzled,
  • highly regarded or poorly regarded,
  • rational or irrational,
  • successful or unsuccessful on college campuses, etc.:

you do not have the authority to proclaim anything binding from your “years of experience” regarding evangelism!

Do you actually want to accomplish something useful regarding evangelism? Try teaching it from the Bible! Otherwise, these are just your opinions, something “a dime a dozen” and utterly void of any valid or lasting value. In many ways, it is an offensive waste of time to read—even for the purpose of a technical review—your ramblings.

 


The fourth (and last) group of excerpts appears to indicate what I must infer is Dr. Craig’s systematic aversion to true presentations of the simple message of the gospel of grace to the lost.

Please notice this bizarre language:

“Christian apologetics may be defined as that branch of Christian theology which seeks to provide rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims. Those who treat apologetics dismissively tend to measure apologetics’ worth by focusing upon its alleged necessity in warranting Christian belief.”

“… apologetic arguments and evidence are not necessary in order for Christian belief to be warranted for any person.”

“Christian evidentialists might insist that even if Christian belief can be warranted in the absence of positive apologetic arguments …”

“A believer who is too uninformed or ill‑equipped to refute anti‑Christian arguments is warranted in believing …”

“… the believer’s faith is warranted even if he is wholly bereft of apologetic arguments …”

“So I do not, in fact, think that Christian apologetics is necessary in order for Christian belief to be warranted. But it does not follow that Christian apologetics is therefore useless or of no benefit in warranting Christian faith.”

“If the arguments of natural theology and Christian evidences are successful, then Christian belief is warranted by such arguments and evidences for the person who grasps them, even if that person would still be warranted in their absence.”

“Such a person is doubly warranted in his Christian belief, in the sense that he enjoys two sources of warrant.”

“One can envision great benefits of having such a dual warrant of one’s Christian beliefs.”

“On Plantinga’s epistemological model, at least, one would then have greater warrant for believing such claims. Greater warrant could in turn lead an unbeliever to come to faith more readily or inspire a believer to share his faith more boldly. Moreover, the availability of independent warrant for Christian truth claims apart from the Spirit’s witness …”

“One could doubtless think of many other ways in which the possession of such dual warrant for Christian beliefs would be beneficial.”

“So the question is: do natural theology and Christian evidences warrant Christian belief?”

“If these arguments are correct, then belief in Christian theism is warranted by natural theology …”

“… even if Christian apologetics is not necessary with respect to warranting Christian belief …”

“So in conclusion, Christian apologetics is a vital part of the theological curriculum. While not necessary for warranting Christian belief, it is, I believe, nonetheless sufficient for warranting Christian belief and therefore of great benefit.”

Dr. Craig: are you ashamed of the gospel and/or its simplicity or message of repentance and faith, such that you continually need to shore up its intellectual underpinnings with "rational warrant"?

Is there some reason you insist on talking about “rational warrant” to the exclusion of the mention of the gospel, or true repentance and faith?

Do you use this bizarre, humanistic shorthand with the lost, perhaps because you believe that you’ll be an ineffective witness to them if you were to present only to the true gospel of grace?

Why don’t you use the same language as God’s Spirit?

Rom 10.8-13
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

The author appears not to know the following verses as well:

Rom 10.14-15
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!

Dr. Craig, where is the “good news” in your article, an article that purports to demonstrate the need of your brand of apologetics in order to “provide rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims”?

You’ll find nothing of the Holy Spirit’s simplicity, directness, beauty, necessity, authority and power anywhere in the author’s article. Instead, you find a pseudo-scholarly, boring (actually), generally-useless-college-lecture-devoid-of-any-real-meaning and rapidly-forgotten presentation regarding a topic that, if followed, not only has no power to save, but actually obstructs the true presentation of the gospel.

A well-known text from Luke comes to mind:

Luk 6.45
The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

Reader, you’ll look in vain at the author of this presentation for the personal characteristics of humility as a true man of God, a fearful and reverent submision to the Word of God, somepon disposed to the simple and direct presenation of the Gospel of God to the lost without embarrasement.

Dr. Craig: your own words testify against you.

After Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, because Peter preached the true Word of the gospel the response of the people was:

Act 2.37-38
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Philippian jailer responded similarly:

Act 16.29-31
And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

With all due respect, Dr.  Craig, if the Jewish crowd in Act 2 or the jailer in Act 16 had waited around and tried to discern “what they needed to do to be saved” from your distorted notions of “evangelism” and its corresponding need to evaluate Christianity’s “truth claims”, I’m convinced that they’d have remained lost and would be now awaiting the Great White Throne Judgment from their current residence in Hades.

Before moving on in the review: I find it interesting that while Dr. Craig

  • mentions the gospel 19 times and
  • the notion of “Christian belief” being “warranted” is mentioned 24 times,

he never mentions the prominence of the message of repentance found in the gospel. The author appears to be avoiding that which the Lord Himself considered vital:

Mat 4.17
From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Again, I have to wonder whether Dr. Craig is trying to avoid the true foundation of the gospel: repentance and faith.

Perhaps the author regards the preaching of repentance and faith to the lost as counterproductive? This is a fair question, given Dr. Craig’s disposition to the “rational warrant” purported to be needed by the lost.

I found this statement in the author’s summary as revealing as it was troubling:

“When apologetics is persuasively presented and sensitively combined with a Gospel presentation and a personal testimony, the Spirit of God condescends to use it …”

Really!?!?

Where in all the NT do you find any indication that the Spirit of God “condescends” to use the gospel when it is humbly, faithfully and unashamedly presented to the lost by those who love Him? Your reasoning here is truly frightening.

The Holy Spirit doesn't "condescend" to use the very method the Triune God commanded His people to use—the message of the gospel.

If there is any “condescension” here—and there certainly is—then it is with this useless façade (apologetics) you’ve erected above/around the gospel. You've erected a very effective barricade to the gospel to ensure the lost never hear it.

You may be sure, based on the Scriptures that I’ll present below, that if a lost person comes to Christ in repentance and faith as a result of your “witness”, it will be in spite of your apologetics and methods of “evangelism” rather than because of it!

After the pseudo-scholarly barrage of this article and its reasoning, two passages of Scripture immediately came to mind for my solace:

1 Tim 1.6-7
For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.

Joh 15.5
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

 


Finally, let’s get into the formal review…

According to this preface, Dr. Craig purportedly tells us the three ways that Christian Apologetics “serves a vital role in the body of Christ”, namely

  • its ability to shape culture,
  • its capacity to strengthen believers,
  • its necessity when evangelizing unbelievers.

As I’ve shown in this series and will show here, Dr. Craig “runs off the rails” especially with the first and third points, the key being that term “necessity” used in the third point.

The second point, taken at face value could be correct, but as we’ll see, Dr. Craig wanders into yet another theological swamp concerning it and somehow manages to turns it into error as well. Dr. Craig's unique ability for Bible distortion is stunning.

Dr. Craig sets the context for his presentation in his lead paragraph:

“... I had thought to speak on some key topics in Christian philosophical theology. But President Plantinga encouraged me instead to address the question of Christian apologetics, a topic apparently dear to the heart of Henry Stob but somewhat neglected in recent years. … Tonight we ask ourselves the fundamental question: Christian apologetics—who needs it?

The author begins:

“To begin with, I think we ought to distinguish between apologetics’ necessity and utility. The distinction is important.”

Instead, the author should have asked the question

“Is evangelistic apologetics [his third point] biblical in the first place?”

As the Scripture teaches, and as I’ll present below (and have throughout this series), evangelistic apologetics in anti-biblical. Therefore, the author’s next point is completely moot:

“For even if apologetics should turn out not to be absolutely necessary, it doesn’t follow that it is therefore useless.”

Remember the author’s third point: “the necessity of apologetics” as part of its “vital role”. So, as I pointed out in my introduction above, the author contradicts himself.

[I wonder if any of the students in the audience at his talks caught this; if some of them did, then I feel sorry for them having to sit in the mddle of this swamp of contradiction. It truly is my prayer that some of the students of Calvin Seminary will find this article on the internet and seriously consider the extent of error that has been presented to them in the name of “theological education”.

Students! Open, read, memorie and meditate upon and carefully study your Bibles! (That is, if the Bible still exists at Calvin Seminary!) 

Listen with discernment to what you’re taught. It has been my experience, as a Bible college student in the ‘70s, that teachers frequently teach error rather than Bible even (especially?) at these so-called Bible colleges and seminaries.]

If whatever the Lord Christ and His Apostles (through the inspiration of God’s own Spirit) declared as the manner in which the lost are to be evangelized, we may be sure that those lessons are necessary and have utility.

The very statement of Dr. Craig's point implies what he himself recognized as a logical and potential hole that he never managed to fill throughout the remainder of the article.

The point I wish to make is this: the Lord Christ has detailed the how, when, why, and where of evangelizing; these matters are not up for debate or discussion by anyone, PhD or not, theologian or not, lecturer at a seminary or not.

When any evangelistic apologist adds something to those commands, he/she actually creates “another gospel” and are thereby accursed (as I’ve maintained throughout this series).

[Please review carefully the volume of biblical evidence I marshall in my previous chapter Preach the Gospel!]

Dr. Craig provided his working definition of apologetics for us:

Christian apologetics may be defined as that branch of Christian theology which seeks to provide rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims. Those who treat apologetics dismissively tend to measure apologetics’ worth by focusing upon its alleged necessity in warranting Christian belief. Some thinkers, particularly in the Dutch Reformed tradition, see this role as unnecessary and sometimes even misguided.”

[As we’ll see when we get to his comments regarding (and apparent disdain for?) evidentialism, Dr. Craig’s repeated use of the phrase “rational warrant” appears to be his not-so-subtle attempt to avoid his own brand of evidentialism.]

So, let me see if I understand this correctly: the apologist, instead of presenting the Word of the Lord in the gospel of grace to the lost, must first convince the lost that Christianity is true by providing the lost person its “rational warrant”. Therefore, you seek to add your “authority” above the Word of God by saying, in effect,

“It’s OK, Mr. Lost Person. You can believe the Bible is the Word of God because I can assure you that it is rational to do so. And, here are my reasons for maintaining this …”

Stated more directly, in your world, Dr Craig, the Word of God can’t be presented to the lost as the Word of God until the apologist (wow, thank God he “stepped into the gap”! Eze 22.30) has first accomplished his rational magic in the mind of the lost! (Did I leave out anything here?)

The arrogance of this claim is stunning! Dr. Craig: how dare you even think of interposing your pathetic attempts at reaching the lost with your “rationality”? I’m convinced the author has never seen the true power of the Word of God in the heart of the lost worked only through the gospel of grace.

Dr. Craig, did you miss the fact that the Lord’s Word spoke all that is into existence, ex nihilo? (Gen 1) Have you also never read:

Isa 55.8-11
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

The Lord Christ commissioned His true disciples (Mat 28) with the gospel of repentance and faith by means of the simple and direct command “Go”. Show me, Dr. Craig, anything in that commission which justifies the addition of

“[providing the] rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims …”

The Apostle Paul let nothing stand in the way of the gospel:

1 Cor.15.3-4
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

1 Cor 2.1-2
And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the mystery of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

Every modern, evangelistic apologist that I’ve reviewed for this series falls (deliberately jumps, actually!) into this same trap: they mistakenly believe that their work is needed to prepare the lost for the proclamation of the gospel. But, this author exceeds them all with his scholarly brand of arrogant intellectualism.

But, Dr. Craig then calls his own definition into some question:

“Now I agree wholeheartedly with contemporary, so-called Reformed epistemologists like Alvin Plantinga that apologetic arguments and evidence are not necessary in order for Christian belief to be warranted for any person. The contention of theological rationalists (or evidentialists, as they are misleadingly called today) that Christian faith is irrational in the absence of positive evidence is difficult to square with Scripture, which seems to teach that faith in Christ can be immediately grounded by the inner witness of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8.14-16 ; 1 Jn. 2.27; 5.6-10 ), so that argument and evidence become unnecessary.”

Again, the contradiction.

So, which is it? If

“apologetics may be defined as that branch of Christian theology which seeks to provide rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims”

then how is it consistent that

apologetic arguments and evidence are not necessary in order for Christian belief to be warranted for any person”

for the Word of the gospel to do its sovereign work in the heart of the lost?

Also, did you notice that little word “seems” above? Dr. Craig, there is no “seems” about it: the work of the Holy Spirit is an absolute necessity in the process that results in the salvation of the lost.

[Dr. Craig, you really need to read my chapter “The work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of the lost.” It will provide you the biblical grounding you demonstrate abundantly that you completely lack.

Again, I hope against hope that at least some of the students in your audience picked up on this humanistic and confused tripe.]

I think that Dr. Craig becomes unfocused here by his juxtaposition of “arguments and evidence” and the implication of the demonstration of the Bible as the Word of God. The question therefore arises “Does the Lord prove His Word and existence?” Absolutely; Romans chapter 1 is ample demonstration of that.

Is any other “evidence” needed? No, none at all. (cf., Psa 19.1-6)

But then he says the following:

“I have elsewhere characterized the witness of the Holy Spirit as self‑authenticating, and by that notion I mean (1) that the experience of the Holy Spirit is veridical and unmistakable (though not necessarily irresistible or indubitable) for the one who has it and attends to it; (2) that such a person does not need supplementary arguments or evidence in order to know and to know with confidence that he is in fact experiencing the Spirit of God; (3) that such experience does not function in this case as a premise in any argument from religious experience to God, but rather is the immediate experiencing of God himself; (4) that in certain contexts the experience of the Holy Spirit will imply the apprehension of certain truths of the Christian religion, such as “God exists,” “I am reconciled to God,” “Christ lives in me,” and so forth; (5) that such an experience provides one not only with a subjective assurance of Christianity’s truth, but with objective knowledge of that truth; and (6) that arguments and evidence incompatible with that truth are overwhelmed by the experience of the Holy Spirit for the one who attends fully to it.”

There are portions of this 6-point statement that are almost correct, but nonetheless the author introduces subtle error because of its emphasis on the results of the activity of the Spirit of God in the heart of the lost to the exclusion of the prior necessity of His work.

Here are some points that go astray:

 


Regarding “though not necessarily irresistible or indubitable”:
No, Dr. Craig: the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart and spirit of the lost is irresistible, effectual and absolutely necessary.

You need to review the copious biblical support I aggregate in my chapters The spiritual nature of the lost, The election of grace and the aforementioned The work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of the lost. in order to rescue you from your unbiblical dispositions (that is, if you’ll actually be obedient to and believe what the Bible teaches).

 


Regarding “for the one who has it and attends to it”:
Regarding “in certain contexts the experience of the Holy Spirit will imply”:

This is the first mention by the author of his notion what I’ve termed of “super-saved Christians”

[Again, this is my term for this ridiculous and destructive idea. I will show additional evidence from this article as I proceed through this review.]

I focus here on the author’s premise of the potentiality of this gracious work of the Holy Spirit.

Dr. Craig, the following are true for all believers, and do not depend on any way of that believer’s actions, maturity, will, obedience, intellect or thought process:

Rom 8.16-17
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

1 Joh 2.26-27
These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

1 Joh 4.4
You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

1 Joh 4.13
By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

1 Joh 5.10
The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son.

1 Joh 5.13
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Have you never read these texts? If you have, then how can you possibly develop the premise “for the one who has it and attends to it” and “in certain contexts”? Your thinking here is nonsensical and bizarre in the extreme.

 


Regarding “that arguments and evidence incompatible with that truth are overwhelmed by the experience of the Holy Spirit for the one who attends fully to it”:
Dr. Craig, exactly what “truth” did you have in mind? And, did you notice that you actually imply that the “truth” of which a person may be convinced by God’s own Spirit may come into an undefined conflict with “arguments and evidence”!?!? What type of truth, presented by the Holy Spirit, somehow comes into conflict with “arguments and evidence”?

As I see it, there appear to be only two, mutually exclusive interpretations:

  • If a “false truth”, then you impugn the Lord Himself, since He is the one who presented what He called truth but was in actuality not truth.
  • If a “true truth”, then what does it matter that someone, somewhere, sometime presents “arguments and evidence” that run into conflict with it? It will be the “arguments and evidence” that will be found to be false when compared to the Lord’s truth as expressed in His Word. And it is that same Word which will be taught by the Holy Spirit.

Dr. Craig, have you never read Joh 14.26, regarding the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer?

Joh 14.26
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

Do you have any real sense of the value, unchangeableness, purity, wisdom, power and authority of God’s truth as borne by God’s own Spirit? How can you even consider such error, much less put it into writing?

I submit that your "reasoning" can be paraphrased—fairly—as:

“Mr. Recently-Saved Person: the Holy Spirit has given you some type of experience and a measure of understanding of some type of truth. The nature of that truth isn’t really important: what’s important is that it is true to you because you think that the Holy Spirit said so. Moreover, that ‘experience of the Spirit’ overcomes any future doubt you may experience from ‘arguments and evidence’ that actually contradict that ‘truth experience’ [my term] imparted by the Holy Spirit. So, don’t worry; you’re covered.”

The author then moves into a short discourse on “evidentialism”.

As I read through its pair of pro/con paragraphs, the definition of “evidentialism” that I thought I understood didn’t seem to fit the author’s use; so, I performed a simple sanity check. A quick web search yielded these:

https://bible.org/seriespage/evidentialist-apologetics-faith-founded-fact
Evidentialism in Christian apologetics seeks to show the truth of Christianity by demonstrating its factuality. Whereas classical apologetics characteristically regards logic or reason as the primary criterion of truth, evidentialism characteristically assigns this priority to fact.”

http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/why-im-a-christian-evidentialist/
“Christian apologists are sometimes divided between presuppositionalists (who presuppose the Bible is Divine revelation) and evidentialists (who seek to establish the authority and reliability from internal and external evidences).”

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2011/09/evidentialism-v-presuppositionalism.html
Evidentialism holds that belief should rest on evidence.
Presuppositionalism holds that belief rests on presuppositions.
Evidentialist apologetics attempts to bring converts by revealing the evidence behind Christianity.
Presuppositionalist apologetics attempts to bring coverts
[sic] by arguing that the only rational, coherent worldview is that which begins by presupposing the divinity of the Bible, the existence of God, and the reality of Christ’s sacrifice.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidential_apologetics
“Evidential apologetics or evidentialism is an approach to Christian apologetics emphasizing the use of evidence to demonstrate that God exists. The evidence is supposed to be evidence both the believer and nonbeliever share, that is to say one need not presuppose God's existence. Evidential apologetics is not necessarily evidentialism, however many associate them as the same. Evidential apologetics method looks at the New Testament's historical documents first, then upon to the Jesus' miracles in particular the resurrection which evidentialists believe points to Jesus Christ as the Son of God.”

As you can see, these are pretty consistent and essentially the working definition that I had assumed when I started into the author’s section on evidentialism. But, exactly what the author is trying to accomplish with them is less than clear; in fact, it’s downright muddy.

A summary of this pair of pro/con paragraphs (based mostly on the lead sentence of the following paragraph) would be:

Pro:
For the evidentialist
: the witness of the Holy Spirit “warrants Christian belief” in spite of the lack of positive apologetic argumentation, and is also able to overcome the lack of defensive apologetics in the face of insurmountable “evidence” contrary to that “believer’s” faith. In this sense, evidentialism is neither useful nor necessary.

Con:
Against the evidentialist
: Dr. Craig presents four arguments:

  • The “Christian” who lacks the skill, ability, time, etc., to understand and make use of both positive and defensive apologetics “would no doubt consign untold millions of people who are Christians to unbelief …”.
  • While the evidentialist might attempt to excuse unbelief because those unbelievers accept the “stronger” arguments contrary to Christianity, arguments that have never been refuted for them by the apologist—and therefore consigned them to unbelief. [To his credit, Dr. Craig challenges this charge with a proper use of Rom 1.]
  • The evidentialist creates an intellectual class of people whose job it is to specify what is and is not rational and reasonable relative to the gospel.
  • Faith, therefore, is relegated to whatever flavor of intellectualism happens to be in vogue.

Remember the author’s own definition of apologetics:

“Christian apologetics may be defined as that branch of Christian theology which seeks to provide rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims.”

Dr. Craig may express the euphemistic “rational warrant for Christian belief”, but he doesn’t fool anybody that he is, in fact, talking about the presentation of “rational” evidence to the lost and therefore comes under his own rebuttal of evidentialism.

For reasons that are not clear in the article, Dr. Craig appears to be attempting to avoid being labeled as an “evidentialist”, in spite of the fact that “rational evidence” (my adjusted term) is really the crux of this article.

His truly is the case of “missing the forest for the trees”.

Dr. Craig: there is no doubt that you are an evidentialist, though (as I just indicated) you appear to want to avoid that label.

So, we’re now back to the lead sentence of the following paragraph:

“So I do not, in fact, think that Christian apologetics is necessary in order for Christian belief to be warranted.”

I hope(!) that at this point in the author’s presentation at Calvin Seminary at least some student were left scratching their heads and thinking “Huh!?!? Where in the world is he going!?!? Why do we have to listen to this? I could be doing laundry instead...”

It is necessary here before proceeding with my review to present a summary of what the Bible actually does teach regarding the lost, the gospel of grace and God’s sovereignty, the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation and the responsibility to preach the gospel. These basic, thoroughly foundational truths are completely lacking in this article.

We’ll return to this point in the review after…

The true nature of the lost

The lost is spiritually dead:

Eph 2.1,5
And you [lit., being] dead in your trespasses and sins, … even when we [lit., being] dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

Col 2.13
When you [lit., being] dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,

The lost is unable to understand anything of spiritual truth:

1 Cor 2.14
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

Rom 8.5-8
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

The lost actively suppresses the glory and truth of God:

Rom 1.18-20
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

The lost is at war with God and completely corrupt:

Rom 3.10-18
as it is written,

“There is none righteous, not even one;
There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God;
All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.
Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips;
Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness;
Their feet are swift to shed blood,
Destruction and misery are in their paths,
And the path of peace they have not known.
There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

The election of grace

Joh 10.26-29
But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

Mat 11.20-27 [Luk 10.13-16,21-22]
Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.” … “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”

Rom 9.14-18
What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

Mat 22.14
For many are called, but few are chosen.

Joh 6.37,39
All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. … This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.

Joh 6.44-45
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.

Joh 17.2,6,24
” .. even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.... I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. ... Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”

Act 11.18
When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”

Act 13.48
When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.

Eph 1.3-6
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

2 The 2.13-14
But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

2 Tim 2.10
For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.

2 Tim 2.25
with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth ...

Heb 9.15
For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Heb 10.10
By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Jam 1.18
In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

The work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of the lost

Joh 15.26-27
When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

Joh 3.5-8
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Rom 8.2
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Rom 8.23
And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

1 Cor 2.3-5
I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

1 The 1.2-5a
We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction;

Tts 3.4-6
But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

The preaching of the gospel to the lost

Mat 4.17
From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Mat 4.23
Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.

1 Cor 15.1-5
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received [that is, believed], in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

Mar 8.34-35
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

Act 9.24
But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

2 Tim 1.8
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God …

Rom 1.15-17
So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

Eph 6.15
and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace

And here I quote from myself:

There  are many, many references to the gospel in the Pauline epistles; it was the chief of all messages for him and he considered himself entirely unworthy of its responsibilities—but he nonetheless lived to deliver its message to the lost. Here is a sampling:

  • to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel (Eph 6.19)
  • the greater progress of the gospel (Phi 1.12)
  • conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (Phil 1.27)
  • the furtherance of the gospel (Phi 2.22)
  • the word of truth, the gospel (Col 1.5)
  • not moved away from the hope of the gospel (Col 1.23)
  • we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God (1 The 2.2)
  • He called you through our gospel (2 The 2.14)
  • join with me in suffering for the gospel (2 Tim 1.8)
  • who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Tim 1.10)
  • he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel (Phm 1.13)

Anything, anything at all, that distances, distorts, softens, prepares, discounts, delays or simply gets in the way of the one true gospel is to push the Lord Christ away and to show contempt for His work and message. It will lead to the ruin of the lost!

 

Dr. Craig, In view of these (and there are many, many others in these grand lists!) here are the questions, in no particular order, that you must answer, based on your approach to apologetic evangelism:

  1. If the lost is spiritually dead, how can that person even respond in any real, spiritual way as you attempt to provide a “rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims”?
  2. If the lost is unable to comprehend anything that is spiritual in nature, how can that person ever be expected to recognize the “rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims”?
  3. If the nature of the lost is to suppress the truth of God (Rom 1.18+), how can that person ever be expected to recognize the “rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims”?
  4. If the nature of the lost is continually to war against God in every possible way (Rom 3.9-20), how can that person ever be expected to recognize the “rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims”?
  5. If the salvation of the lost person is solely the work and responsibility of the electing grace of the sovereign Triune God, then how does any claim to a presentation that seeks to provide a “rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims” even have meaning?
  6. If the lost person must be “born from above” by the Holy Spirit, exactly how does the apologist’s provision of a “rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims” do that?
  7. If the evangelist can do nothing without the Lord Christ (Joh 15.5), exactly how does the presentation that seeks to provide a “rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims” honor Him since you deem your activity "vital"?
  8. If the presentation of a “rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims” is “vital” to evangelism, then what, exactly, has the Triune God omitted from His plan to save the lost that the evangelistic apologist must therefore provide?

I could raise other questions as well, but these suffice to establish my point.

It is evident, Dr. Craig, that you either never read, have forgotten or—perhaps—never believed:

Isa 40.5-8
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
A voice says, “Call out.” Then he answered, “What shall I call out?” All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.

Mat 5.18
For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Mat 24.35
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

Isa 55.8-11
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

Again, I ask the obvious question:

What, exactly, has the Lord God not done that needs to be done in the complete salvation of the lost by the active, intentional intervention of the apologist?

You see, Dr. Craig, I’m convinced that you don’t realize the spiritual nature of the battle with the nature of the lost:

Eph 6.10-20
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Your ministry with the lost is not with their reason, will, intellect or emotion; it is with their spiritually-dead spirit—something which you are utterly unable to make alive and concerning which fact you appear to be willingly ignorant. In fact, you appear to be antagonistic to that fact!

When will you admit the biblical fact that with your self-developed and humanistic approach to the lost you simply are not equipped to do what only the sovereign God can accomplish? Can you even begin to grasp your spectacular arrogance—not to mention the spiritual wreckage you leave in the wake of your “ministry”?

 


I now return to the point before the insertion of a summary of the Bible’s teaching regarding the salvation of the lost:

“So I do not, in fact, think that Christian apologetics is necessary in order for Christian belief to be warranted.”

It is here that I found a unique, bizarre, and unbiblical premise that I’ve termed in this review (lacking a better term), the “super-saved Christian”.

“So I do not, in fact, think that Christian apologetics is necessary in order for Christian belief to be warranted. But it does not follow that Christian apologetics is therefore useless or of no benefit in warranting Christian faith. If the arguments of natural theology and Christian evidences are successful, then Christian belief is warranted by such arguments and evidences for the person who grasps them, even if that person would still be warranted in their absence. Such a person is doubly warranted in his Christian belief, in the sense that he enjoys two sources of warrant.

The author’s inference here—a logical conclusion of the author's unbiblical assertion of the presumed ability of the lost to even respond to spiritual information—is that the lost person is somehow able to “grasp” “natural theology” and “Christian evidences”, thereby being “doubly” confirmed in his/her spiritual experience.

Dr. Craig: where is your mention of the Word of God doing its unique, vtial and authoritative work in the heart of the lost through the gospel of truth? Moreover, I dare you to show me in any text of Scripture of the mention of anything that is presented as the foundation and lasting result for the salvation of the lost other than the sole Word of God as revealed in the gospel!

But, the author appears undeterred by such minutiae. He boldly continues:

“One can envision great benefits of having such a dual warrant of one’s Christian beliefs. Having sound arguments for the existence of a Creator and Designer of the universe or evidence for the historical credibility of the New Testament records of the life of Jesus in addition to the inner witness of the Spirit could increase one’s confidence in the veracity of Christian truth claims.”

“… in addition to the inner witness of the Spirit …”!?!?

In your world, Dr. Craig, why does the lost person, upon receiving the intellectual evidence that “provides rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims” even need the "[Spirit’s witness]"? Maybe this is the process whereby the lost person can become “triply-saved”—the pair of “arguments of natural theology and Christian evidences” coupled with the "witness" of the Holy Spirit?

Wow, such a person should really be secure and ready for heaven…

Dr. Craig: once you start down the slippery slope of thinking that you need to add anything to what the Lord does, or even implying that what He accomplishes in the lost needs something from you to be complete, there is no easy way to stop—a result that you amply demonstrate in your article!

Just remember what the OT Jews did in their addition of traditions to the Word of God, along with the fact that the Lord Christ had only contempt for them:

Mat 15.8-9
For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:

‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me.
But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’

But, we’re back once again to the insipid:

So the question is: do natural theology and Christian evidences warrant Christian belief? I think that they do.”

Wow—this author’s straightforward, direct, unambiguous, unwavering, carefully stated and reasoned argumentation are truly stunning.

[I’m being sarcastic, of course! Any other response seems “rationally unwarranted”—pun intended.]

The author then goes on to mention his “published work” covering the gamut of “cosmological, teleological, axiological, and ontological arguments …” without any biblical justification of why any of these are needed in the first place in the witness of the gospel of grace to the lost.

If these arguments are correct, then belief in Christian theism is warranted by natural theology and Christian evidences as well as by the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. Thus while apologetic arguments are not necessary for knowledge that Christianity is true, still they are sufficient, and this dual warrant for Christian beliefs can be of great advantage.”

Truly, ”…nuff said”.

Reader, are you as weary of this unrelenting arrogance and humanism, this drone of unbiblical and anti-biblical distortion as I am?

At this point, I really just wanted this unrelenting, unbiblical, pseudo-intellectual assault by Dr. Craig just to be over.

[How did the college students even stay awake through this unreasoning, unreasonable, unbiblical, incoherent, scattered and useless onslaught? I’d be willing to wager that any on-campus coffee shop did a record business following the author’s lecture.

Though, I suspect that nothing short of intravenous caffeine would countrat this mind-numbing presentation...]

Unfortunately, there is still much that needs to be rebutted in this article—albeit with less detail because of the generally useless and vapid nature of the author’s remaining points.

 


Regarding “Christian apologetics is vital in shaping culture.”

So, we finally get to the next major section and the author continues his assault on the sufficiency of the gospel:

“Shaping culture. Apologetics is useful and may well be necessary in order for the Gospel to be effectively heard in Western society today.”

With no biblical support whatsoever, the author implies that the gospel won’t be effective in today’s culture without the Band-Aid of apologetics. Maybe the Lord Christ needs to amend His commission to His followers like this:

Mat 28.19-20 (with emendations compatible wtih the teachings of Dr. William Lane Craig):
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. But, beware, the time will come when a culture will no longer listen to the message of the gospel, so you must then develop and use another message, the message of apologetics. Only then will I really be with you to the end of the age, after you’ve adopted a modern, culturally-adaptive methodology that recognizes and allows for the intellectualism of the age.

The remainder of this section is devoid of any mention of Scripture, except an out-of-context rendering of 1 Pet 3.15, but makes up for this lack by the copious addition of anecdotal and personal experience—as if that that will have any merit on The Day.

I won’t waste any more time on this section; it really isn’t worthy of the time for a formal rebuttal. It’s κενός (empty, vain, useless).

 


Regarding “Christian apologetics is vital in strengthening believers.”

There is no Scripture support here, just a “smallish” load of personal experiences and stories. As you read through it, the question you should be asking is

Where is the mention of the sufficiency of the Word of God, not only to save the lost, but the continual mention of its power to maintain, mature, encourage, strengthen, etc. the believer?

Dr. Craig: there is no implicit—or explicit—honoring of the Word of God, only of the magic bullet of apologetics. How can you dare say:

“In this and many other ways apologetics helps to build up the body of Christ by strengthening individual believers.”

This text comes to mind when I review this article:

Mat 15.7-9
You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:
‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”

 


Regarding “Christian apologetics is vital in evangelizing unbelievers.”

The author launches the first volley:

“Evangelizing unbelievers. Few people would disagree with me that apologetics strengthens the faith of Christian believers. But many will say that apologetics is not very useful in evangelism. “Nobody comes to Christ through arguments,” they’ll tell you. (I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this said.)”

Dr. Craig: with a lead of "Few people would disagree with me ...", it is evident that you are more concerned with the opinions of your "mutual admiration society" than of the binding(!) authority of the Word of God.

No, Dr. Craig: it is not true that “… apologetics is not very useful in evangelism”; it is true that, as I’ve shown from the Scripture in this series, apologetics has no place in evangelism and is, in reality, “another gospel”.

“Now this dismissive attitude toward apologetics’ role in evangelism is certainly not the biblical view.”

Yes, Dr. Craig, it is a biblical view, one that I’m guessing you either don’t know, don’t care to know, or toward which you are willingly antagonistic.

But, at last, we finally get to some Scripture. [Or do we…?]

“Now this dismissive attitude toward apologetics’ role in evangelism is certainly not the biblical view. As one reads the Acts of the Apostles, it is evident that it was the apostles’ standard procedure to argue for the truth of the Christian view, both with Jews and pagans ( e.g ., Acts 17:2‑3, 17; 19:8; 28:23‑24 ). In dealing with Jewish audiences, the apostles appealed to fulfilled prophecy, Jesus’ miracles, and especially Jesus’ resurrection as evidence that he was the Messiah ( Acts 2:22‑32 ). When they confronted Gentile audiences who did not accept the Old Testament, the apostles appealed to God’s handiwork in nature as evidence of the existence of the Creator ( Acts 14:17 ). Then appeal was made to the eyewitness testimony to the resurrection of Jesus to show specifically that God had revealed Himself in Jesus Christ ( Acts 17:30‑31 ; 1 Cor. 15:3‑8 ).”

So, let’s handle these point by point, reference by reference. As we do so, you’ll find that Dr. Craig’s miniscule “Bible support” falls away into nothingness.

 

Claim: “to argue for the truth of the Christian view”

Act 17.2-3
And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”

Act 17.17
So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.

Act 19.8
And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.

Act 28.23-24
When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe.

Dr. Craig: where is the presentation of the evidence that “provides rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims”? Paul and his traveling companions were preaching the gospel, always, anywhere and to anyone who would listen.

He opened the Scriptures to them!

You find not one shred of the presentation of anything else, least of all an intellectual exercise that can end only in failure because of the utter inability of the lost to understand it in and of themselves.

The only reference in your first list that does not explicitly mention the Word of God is Act 17.17, and that is because it is the lead-in to the record of Paul’s sermon in Athens. And, if you had actually studied that sermon, you’d learn that it actually contains over 50 references to Scripture! Please see my article “Preach the Gospel” for a complete list of its references.

You, like every other modern, evangelistic apologist I’ve studied for this series, presents texts like this that state only that the Lord’s disciples were doing what they were commanded to do: preaching the gospel. You see that verb “reason” and say, “See, the disciples were doing apologetics!”, all the while applying a definition to it that is not biblical. Did the early disciples “reason” with the lost? Absolutely. Did they in any way “[provide a] rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims”? No, never! They simply preached the gospel of repentance and faith—a message that is devoid from this article.

 

Claim: “fulfilled prophecy, Jesus’ miracles, and especially Jesus’ resurrection” [I’ll save the “resurrection” point for below.]

Act 2.22-23
Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.

Yes, Dr. Craig, the Lord Christ did perform miracles, miracles designed to show that He was, indeed, the Messiah in the complete fulfillment of all Scripture about Him. And, the next time that you, or any other evangelistic apologist, can perform the same type of miracles in the view and for the benefit of the lost, then you have a solid argument. But, until then, we have “only” the Word of God commissioned by the Lord Christ.

 

Claim: “appealed to God’s handiwork in nature as evidence of the existence of the Creator”

Act 14.17
and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness

The author failed to mention that Paul and Barnabas had just performed a miracle (see the previous rebuttal), then quoted from Scripture (Exo 20.11) before making the statement in verse 17. Once again, if you are going to use the Apostle Paul and his companions as examples of apologists, then you’ll find only the presentation of the only divinely sanctioned message—the gospel.

 

Claim: “the eyewitness testimony to the resurrection of Jesus”

Act 17.30-31
Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.

1 Cor 15.3-8
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

Yes, without doubt the some of the human authors of our Scriptures were eyewitnesses of Christ’s resurrection. But, something which you’ll not read from modern, evangelistic apologists is this: no lost person ever saw the person of the risen Lord Christ.

I quote from myself; the context is the account of the rich man and Lazarus in Luk 16:

However, I believe that it is clear that the Lord’s main purpose was not to describe the unspeakable horror of experiencing divine wrath but rather was designed to tell us something about just how spiritually dead the lost really is in contrast with the preeminence of the revealed and recorded Word of God. Remember, once the rich man realized the permanence of his new state in Hades, he desired that at the very least Abraham send Lazarus back to his (still) living brothers. Abraham declined the request, along with the reason for his refusal:

Luk 16.29-31
But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

It was not a matter of whether it was possible or not to send someone back from the dead; the Lord is certainly able to do so (remember Samuel, 1 Sam 28). It was because the Word of God recorded in the Prophets was already available to his brothers—as it had been to Lazarus—and that revealed Word was all that they needed! When the rich man objected to this, Abraham nonetheless continues in the refusal, stating clearly that to do so would be futile.

Consider this stunning truth, then attempt to name even one lost person from the inspired pages of the NT who viewed the risen Christ and as a result repented and named Christ as Lord: there isn’t one—no Sadducee, no Pharisee, not Pilate nor any Roman soldier—not one! Why? We just read the answer: repentance is not produced even if a lost person actually had the opportunity to view the resurrected Christ.

… they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.

This is the reason that you never read in the pages of the NT of Christ appearing to the lost. Not to put too fine a point on it, the Lord never engages—indeed, can’t and won't engage—in any activity that is doomed to fail! He won’t appear to the lost in order to get them to repent, because to do so would make Him contradict His own word in Luke chapter 16—and that can’t and won’t ever happen!

So, is the resurrection of Christ a powerful demonstration of the truth of the gospel? Yes, of course. But what is the only authoritative record of that resurrection? The Scripture alone! The apologist therefore has no legitimate appeal to any other reference.

My point is this: only the Scriptures testify with authority to the resurrection of Christ. Any attempt by the apologist to the resurrection as proof that “provides rational warrant for Christianity’s truth claims” is a circular argument:

You present the resurrection as evidence “for Christianity’s truth claims” (I interpret “truth claims” to be the Bible in your argumentation), but your only authoritative witness to the truth of the resurrection is the Bible! This is a classic case of circular reasoning. This is not the first time I've seen this illogical nonsense from the evangelistic apologist.

I’ve found in this series that the modern, evangelistic apologist misses the obvious here. And, they also miss that there is not a single NT example of any lost person who was a witness to the person of the risen Christ who was later saved as a result. This includes the Apostle Paul.

And don't forget this wonderful text:

Act 10.39-41
We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.

So much for the resurrection being an "apologetic" for the lost...

[Again, see my article "The Resurrection of Christ” for complete Bible documentation of this fact.]

I won’t waste any more time on the remainder of this section. Once again, the author resorts to anecdote and personal experience, something that is as useless as it is irresponsible and anti-biblical.

 


We (finally) get to the author’s summary:

So in conclusion, Christian apologetics is a vital part of the theological curriculum. While not necessary for warranting Christian belief, it is, I believe, nonetheless sufficient for warranting Christian belief and therefore of great benefit. Apologetics plays a vital, and perhaps crucial, role in shaping culture, strengthening believers, and evangelizing unbelievers. For all these reasons, I am unapologetically enthusiastic about Christian apologetics.”

Dr. Craig: you just had to be inconsistent and contradictory to the very end, didn't you:

"... a vital part ..." "... while not necessary ..." "... nonetheless sufficient ..." "... vital ..." "... perhaps crucial ...".

Dr. Craig: you may be “unapologetically enthusiastic about Christian apologetics”, but your article—and summary—was an epic fail, a veritable and verbal, theological “train wreck” of spectacular scope, an assemblage of humanism and hubris that is essentially unmatched among those articles which I've critiqued.

Is this the best you have!?!? Is this the result of your "years of experience"? This would be laughable if it was not actually a belligerent rant contrary to Scripture. This truly is the "Gospel according to Dr. William Lane Craig"—a gospel which is nothing less than "another gospel"!

You need to return to the Bible 101 and Gospel 101 classrooms—the sooner the better before you corrupt any more immature seminary students. I also counsel you to carefully review the following, because you will face it in the future to great personal loss:

1 Cor 3.10-17
According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,  each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.