by Hiram R. Diaz III
While there are many academic apologists, the Scriptural command to “contend for the faith once for all delivered unto the saints” is given to all Christians. We all must contend earnestly for the faith – but where do we start?
In Apologetics Made Simple: Five Keys to an Unstoppable Apologetic, Jason L. Petersen presents a portable, accessible, and condensed introduction to the apologetic method of Gordon H. Clark called Scripturalism. These five keys serve to ground the Christian’s thinking before he engages in discussion with unbelievers, as well guide his thinking as he contends for the faith.
In preparation for engaging with unbelievers, Petersen reminds his readers that all men are dogmatists. This truth exposes the impossibility of a truly “objective” (i.e. truly uninformed by presuppositions) approach to Christianity made by unbelievers. Our contemporary age is one in which this seems to be largely forgotten. Instead, we are inundated with a form of scientism that takes its own axiomatic foundations for granted and expects everyone else, including Christians, to do the same.
To quote Petersen:
“We are all dogmatists.”
That is to say, we all begin with an indemonstrable axiom. This has to be the case, in fact, otherwise we would never be able to begin. So the Christian and the atheist, for instance, must both start in the same way – viz. by accepting an axiom which will serve to justify their claims to knowledge. If Christians and unbelievers do not begin by granting that each has his own starting point, discussion cannot move any further. In this way, Petersen’s book focuses in on methodology, helpfully showing the reader how to engage in a fruitful discussion with unbelievers, and how to avoid fruitless disputes.
Apologetics Made Simple, however, also helpfully draws attention to the need for clearly defined terms when engaging with unbelievers, properly representing an opponent’s beliefs, doing apologetics in faith, and knowing when to walk away, making this short book an immensely practical tool to have at one’s disposal.
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