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3.0 out of 5
ISBN/ASIN : 0310449510
Manufacturer : Zondervan|
Release data : 06 July, 1984
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In Bible college I was given this book as a text for a class on Apologetics. I was fairly new to the Reformed faith, and highly indebted to Dr. Sproul's works such as Chosen By God. He helped give me a proper view of predestination, reprobation, depravity, election, perseverance etc. During that time I also read his book Faith Alone that critiqued Roman Catholicism and enjoyed it immensely. But having read this book on apologetics, I came away from it sadly confused. It came across as Roman Catholic at worst and Arminian at best. Although the authors are Calvinistic in their approach to other areas of theology, in terms of their apologetics they are a strange hybrid of a variety of traditions.
Classical Apologetics is a tough read for someone who is just getting in to apologetics, there are better ones out there to be used as an introduction - for example Scott Oliphant's The Battle Belongs to the Lord, or Greg Bahnsen's Always Ready.
It is divided into three sections 1) sets forth their unreformed view of natural theology (for a critique of the natural theology of this ilk, see John Owen's Biblical Theology) 2) is a section on the "classical" theistic proofs, which are nothing more than a reassertion of Aquinas' theology and 3) a horrible critique of presuppositional apologetics a la Cornelius Van Til.
The scholarship in this book is poor. Whoever the publisher was, or the editor, they should have looked at it more closely. There are some glaring errors in terms of research. For example, when they cite Edwards on the noetic effects of sin (and try to make him out to be a rationalist) footnote nine on page 243 actually refers the readers to one of Dr. Gerstner's books! For a good review of Edwards' apologetical background, see Stephen Nichols' book An Absolute Sort of Certainty or Scott Oliphant's article Edwards the Reformed Apologist at www.reformed.org.
The bulk of the book is set at critiquing Van Til. They label him a "fideist" - a horrible charge. One that Sproul denied in a debate with Greg Bahnsen (www.cmfnow.com), yet stated categorically in this book!
Their attack on circular reasoning proves that they don't understand what Van Til was saying when he called it a "glorious circle." He did not mean that the fallacy of begging the question was glorious, rather he gloried in the fact that there is no higher standard with which to measure the claims of the Bible (otherwise that standard would be deemed more worthy than the Bible) so it is self-attesting and therefore its attestation of itself is in fact circular. Just as Christ's authority is based not on some outside source to measure it, rather it is attested to by His own authority.
For an indepth critique of this book I would suggest Oliphant's article, as well as the appendix of John Frame's Apologetics to the Glory of God and Bahnsen's response at cmfnow.com.
Don't buy this book, unless you have to for class. If you do, look at it critically and in light of what others have said about it. Sproul, Gerstner and Lindslay come out looking like Arminian rationalists, which is very sad to say the least.
Good, just a little wordy at times
This was a rather intense read about classical apologetics. I would highly recommend it to those that have an interest or prior knowledge and understanding of apologetics. The book is divided into three sections:
--Classical Natural Theology, an overview of problem and method --Classical apologetics, the theistic proofs, the deity of Christ, and the infallibility of scripture --Classical critique of presuppositional apologetics
The first section seemed very wordy to me, and I had a hard time getting through it. The second was very interesting, and providing a great summary of different arguments, including the ontological, cosmological and teleological arguments for God. This chapter also has chapters dealing with the Spirit and Word of God.
The third section is probably the best section (although it still lacked brevity). Chapter 11 is the best chapter in the book; it has great summaries of Luther, Calvin, and Augustine's views on reason as it relates to faith. All should check out this chapter.
This work which has been so explosive, especially in the Reformed family, should be bought by every child of the Canons of Dort. Many, many, critiques notwithstanding, this work in my mind has not been refuted to date. Bob Sproul and his mentor, John Gerstner follow in the line of the Old Princetonians. They prove themselves in the succesion of Warfield. Sproul, Gerstner & Lindsey devestate the school of Van Till. This work belongs on the shelf of both friend and foe. H.S Bultmann.