The History of Apologetics: A Biographical and Methodological Introduction

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.

Title:

The History of Apologetics: A Biographical and Methodological Introduction

Authors:

Various contributors, edited by Benjamin K. Forrest, Joshua D. Chatraw, and Alister E. McGrath

Publisher:

Zondervan Academic

https://zondervanacademic.com

Publication Date:

June 16, 2020

Format:

Hardcover

Length:

 848 pages

OVERVIEW

Apologetics means a lot of things to a lot of different people. Some Christians see it as being all about abstract ideas with little application to their lives. Others found apologetic works highly helpful in leading them to faith and understanding different worldviews. Part of this conflict boils down to not knowing apologetics’ history. Studying what different apologists have said throughout time and how different techniques have been used in different periods makes it clearer how complex the subject is and how it can be used for good or ill. The History of Apologetics makes that kind of study possible, giving readers biographical profiles of leading apologetics from the early church to current apologists. In total, the book covers forty-four seminal apologists, organizing the biographical profiles into several eras:

  • Patristic apologists
  • Medieval apologists
  • Early modern apologists
  • Nineteenth century apologists
  • Twentieth century American apologists
  • Twentieth European apologists
  • Contemporary apologists

These sections cover a wide variety of Christian thinkers, from lay theologians like C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton to specialists like Alvin Plantinga and B.B. Warfield. The book also covers some thinkers who aren’t usually thought of as apologists but made substantial contributions to the field, such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Soren Kierkegaard. Each profile includes a brief biography of the apologist, an overview of the key ideas they wrote about, and a summary of their particular contributions to apologetics.

Biographical sketches are hard to do well, especially when trying to summarize the life of someone who wrote about complex theological/philosophical ideas. Fortunately, the writers in this book do an excellent job of profiling their subjects. Readers get plenty of great information with quotes from primary sources, but not so much information that they get overwhelmed. In addition, the editors have made sure that the book reads well across the board. One can see how different authors write different sections with slightly different styles, but the styles are similar enough to create a “smooth read” throughout the whole book.

A terrific overview of apologetics throughout Christian history.

ASSESSMENT

Rating (1 to 5 stars)

5 stars

Suggested Audience

Academics and students interested in notable apologists and their particular methods.

Christian Impact

Readers who are interested in apologetics but turned off the popular view that apologetics is just about angry debates will find this book is a great reminder of how subtle, clever and multifaceted apologetics can be.

The History of Apologetics: A Biographical and Methodological Introduction


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