Tuesday, July 3, 2007

A more serious look at reasonable faith.

William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California.
His apologetics website, Reasonable Faith sets out to provide "an articulate, intelligent voice in defense of biblical Christianity in the public square."

Craig's apologetics seems to major upon what has been called classical apologetics. Using classical arguments for the existence of God such as the cosmological argument (the very existence of the universe displays the existence of its creator) the telelogical argument (the order in the universe displays the existence of a rational God) the ontological argument (the very definition of God as the greatest of all possible beings implies his necessary existence).

The other two major schools of apologetics, evidentialism and presuppositionalism are not unrepresented, but made subservient to the classical approach. So, for example, the anthropic principle is shown to be a subset of the teleological argument.

The site is comprised of debates, scholarly and popular articles, an open forum, a opportunity for Q&A with Dr. Craig, podcasts and, under construction, a page particularly for children.

If I can take my five criteria in reverse,

5) Usability
The site is very well organised, as you can see from the categories above.

4) Responsibility
My guess is that Craig expects this site to be used more in equipping Christians for apologetic conversations with Non-Christians than expecting Non-Christians themselves from reading the site.
The Q & A and forum gives an opportunity for people to interact with the ideas that on the site.
This having been said, I'd love to have seen more direction given to those who want to look more seriously and deeply into the significance of the existence of God.

3) Applicability

2) Clarity
The site is certainly clear in what it affirms.

1) Faithfulness

There are certainly many ways in which this is a faithful site. There are some of the best classical apologetic arguments for the existence of God that you will find.

There are however, some serious reservations that I have with the site.

a) There are times at which I think that his atheistic objectors have read the bible better than he. This is particularly evident in his debate with Edwin Curley. There Curley raises some good questions that are brought up by the bible's presentation of God:

God predestines only some for salvation. God sends the rest to hell. We inherit sin and guilt from Adam. God sovereignly permitted evil in his world.

These biblical truths do raise serious questions that the apologist must answer in a way that preserves these truths, but shows that they are consistent with a holy, loving God.

Criag's response:

I want to thank Dr. Curley for his very personal and sensitive remarks. In this speech, I hope to show, however, that most of his objections are aimed at a false target, at a conception of God which I, as a Christian, reject. What Dr. Curley offers is really seven deadly objections to the Calvinistic God, not the Christian God. It is only by equating Calvinism with Christianity that his objections have any force. And I just deny that equation. I am not a Calvinist.

As a Calvinist who believes that the bible presents a God who has not abdicated responsibility or sovereignty in favour of some kind of freedom of indifference among humans, I find this response devistating. Craig sides with the atheist when it comes to a reaction against the biblical portrayal of God.

Yet, readily admitting that Arminians can be Christians, this is not my biggest problem with the site. My biggest problem with the site is that it doesn't take every opportunity to draw lines to the gospel. Aplogetics is, as far as I can see, a helpful exercise in clearing away people's objections so that the gospel might be able to be heard. This means that I would love to see the gospel in every article.

The gospel is present in some of the interviews, but not nearly as prominent as I would like.
What good would it do anyone if they became theists through this site, yet never found the gospel?

So, in summary, Christians, go to this site to have some serious reflection on classical apologetics. But don't copy its preoccupation with apologetics to the exclusion of evangelism.

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