Christian Book Previews Home
Christian Book Previews
Book Jacket

0830827358
Hardcover
396 pages
Sep 2004
InterVarsity Press

To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview: Essays in Honor of Norman L. Geisler

by Francis J. Beckwith

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt

Excerpt:
Foreword - Josh McDowell
Introduction - Francis J. Beckwith

Part 1: Faith, Reason and the Necessity of Apologetics - Introduction by William Lane Craig
1. Knowing Christianity Is True: The Relationship Between Faith and Reason - Thomas A. Howe and Richard G. Howe
2. Defending the Defense of Faith - Craig J. Hazen
3. Applying Apologetics to Everyday Life - Gregory P. Koukl

Part 2: God's Existence - Introduction by Francis J. Beckwith
4. The Kalam Cosmological Argument - R. Douglas Geivett
5. An Information-Theoretic Design Argument - William A. Dembski
6. A Thomistic Cosmological Argument - W. David Beck
7. A Moral Argument - Paul Copan
8. The Ontological Argument - William Lane Craig

Part 3: Christ and Miracles - Introduction by William Lane Craig
9. The Christology of Jesus Revisited - Ben Witherington III
10. Miracles - Winfried Corduan
11. The Case for Christ's Resurrection - Gary R. Habermas

Part 4: Philosophical and Cultural Challenges to Christian Faith - Introduction by J. P. Moreland
12. The Problem of Evil - Ronald H. Nash
13. Physicalism, Naturalism and the Nature of Human Persons - J. P. Moreland
14. Facing the Challenge of Postmodernism - Douglas Groothuis
15. Legislating Morality - Michael Bauman
16. Darwin, Design and the Public Schools - Francis J. Beckwith

Part 5: Religious Challenges to Christian Faith - Introduction by Francis J. Beckwith
17. Religious Pluralism and Christian Exclusivism - David K. Clark
18. Eastern Thought - Ravi Zacharias
19. Mormonism - Carl Mosser and Paul Owen
20. Islam - Abdul Saleeb

Conclusion - J. P. Moreland
About Norman L. Geisler
About the Contributors
Index of Names
Index of Subjects
Scripture Index

 

Introduction

Francis J. Beckwith

THE APOSTLE PETER INSTRUCTED HIS FELLOW CHRISTIANS TO “BE READY ALways to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet 3:15 KJV). This command is just as relevant today as it was during the days of the first-century church. Some of the questions asked of today’s church are similar to ones raised during Peter’s time (e.g., How do you know Jesus rose from the dead?) while others are quite different (e.g., Has Darwinism refuted the belief that God may have designed the universe?). The intent of this volume is to offer to the church a collection of essays that addresses some of the questions raised by those outside the church and to provide the ordinary Christian a resource so that he or she may be able to fulfill Peter’s command. Responding to such challenges and offering reasons for one’s faith is called apologetics. This term derives from the Greek word apologia, which is a legal term referring to one’s defense in court.

This volume is a festschrift to honor the career of Norman L. Geisler, a philosopher and theologian who has been a teacher, friend and colleague to and/or important influence on all the contributors of this volume. Dr. Geisler’s career has been dedicated to offering to the world and equipping the church with a defense “of the hope that is in you” and doing so by addressing, in his books, articles, lectures and courses, an array of questions in such diverse fields as theology, philosophy, biblical studies, jurisprudence and religion. This volume attempts, in a modest way, to touch on issues in each of these areas in order to present a defense of the Christian faith as a worldview.

What do we mean when we say that Christianity is a worldview? What we mean is that the Christian faith is a philosophical tapestry of interdependent ideas, principles and metaphysical claims that are derived from the Hebrew-Christian Scriptures as well as the creeds, theologies, communities, ethical norms and institutions that have flourished under the authority of these writings. These beliefs are not mere utterances of private religious devotion but are propositions whose proponents claim accurately instruct us on the nature of the universe, human persons, our relationship with God, human communities and the moral life. The following is a summary of some of these beliefs.

First, there exists an eternally self-existing moral agent named God, who created the universe ex nihilo. The universe is completely and absolutely contingent upon God for its beginning as well as its continued existence. He is, among other things, personal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, perfectly good, necessary and infinitely wise. God is not only the Creator of the visible and physical universe but also the source of the invisible and nonphysical one. He is the creator of human souls and the ontological source of the moral law, logic and mathematics.

Second, God created human beings in his image. A human being is not merely a collection of physical parts but has an underlying unity or soul.1 A human being’s life is sacred from the moment that human being comes into existence; the value of a human being is not something acquired when he or she reaches a certain level of physical complexity, as many secular thinkers maintain. Because human beings are moral agents, they have the capacity to make decisions and judgments within the larger framework of family and community. Thus, for the Christian worldview, marriage, government and church are not merely social constructions that can be shaped in any way consistent with some utopian vision of justice but rather are natural institutions in which and by which human beings ought to learn what is good, true and beautiful. However differently expressed throughout human history and/or better understood as the result of moral reflection, they are part of the furniture of the universe, and their continued existence is essential to maintaining the moral ecology of human society. Thus the end of the community should be to produce good citizens and therefore provide a privileged position for these natural institutions.

Third, God reveals himself in special revelation (2 Tim 3:14-17), the Bible, as well as general revelation. Concerning the former, if the Bible is truly God’s Word, then it must be without error, for God is perfect (Mk 10:18; Heb 6:18), and it follows logically that his Word must be as well. The Bible provides us with an account of humanity’s genesis and fall; a history of God’s chosen people; the institution of the law of Moses and its inadequacy to redeem; prophecy; prayer; wisdom and poetry; the good news and story of the first coming of the Messiah; and the establishing of his church on earth.

The latter is the cornerstone of Chrisitan faith. According to the Bible, human beings have violated the moral law of God and need to be made right with him. That is, human beings are in need of salvation but are powerless to achieve this on their own. This is why God became a human being in Jesus of Nazareth: so that he may pay the sacrifice necessary to atone for our sins—his death on the cross. Christians believe that Jesus rose bodily from the grave three days after his death and forty days later ascended into heaven. Shortly after that Jesus’ apostles and disciples established his church, a body of believers that continues to grow to this day. This church is diverse in its membership, including men and women and people from every race, nationality and region of the globe. Christianity attracts such a wide range of people because it offers to the world good news that touches the human heart in a way that is not contingent on cultural idiosyncracies or racial or nationalistic affiliations: God loves us so much that he became a human being and suffered and died so that he may forgive us our sins and by his grace offer us the free gift of eternal salvation.

According to Scripture, God has not left himself without a witness among the unbelievers (Acts 14:17). This is called general revelation, since it is something that all people have the capacity to access through observation, reason and reflection apart from the Bible. J. Budziszewski outlines the five forms in which general revelation is presented in Scripture:

    (1) The testimony of creation, which speaks to us of a glorious, powerful and merciful Creator (Psalm 19:1-6; Acts 14:17; Romans 1:20); (2) the fact that we are made in the image of God, which not only gives us rational and moral capacities but tells us of an unknown Holy One who is different from our idols (Genesis 1:26-27; Acts 17:22-23); (3) the facts of our physical and emotional design, in which a variety of God’s purposes are plainly manifest (Romans 1:26-27); (4) the law of conscience, written on the heart, which, like the law of Moses, tells us what sin is but does not give us power to escape it (Romans 2:14-15); (5) the order of causality, which teaches us by linking every sin with consequences (Proverbs 1:31).2

Because the editors of this volume believe that general revelation is a legitimate means by which human beings may acquire knowledge of theological truths, we have asked the contributors of this volume to provide arguments that may be understood and appreciated by those who do not share our Christian faith. Consequently, we do not share the conviction of some Christians that theological knowledge is impossible apart from special revelation.

It is fashionable today to speak of the theological posture of Western civilization, and American intellectual culture in particular, as post-Christian. Our most important, influential and culture-shaping institutions and professions—law, medicine, education, science, media and the arts—no longer accept the presuppositions of the biblical worldview as part of their philosophical frameworks. Thus, for example, it is not unusual—in fact, it is quite common—to hear academic luminaries from different disciplines in assorted venues defend points of view that presuppose that theological claims, and Christian ones in particular, are not claims of knowledge but rather religious opinions no different in nature than matters of taste. The ease by which these points of view are presented, and the absence of a call to justify them by the same standards of philosophical rigor that are required of their opposition, is testimony to how potently certain views antithetical to the Christian worldview have shaped the ideas, opinions and policies of those who occupy the seats of cultural influence in our society.

Although there are numerous technical works that respond to these challenges, there are few if any that are offered to the ordinary Christian and the wider public as an accessible volume that can be understood by the informed churchgoer and used at Christian colleges, universities, parachurch ministries and Sunday schools throughout North America. To Everyone an Answer is an attempt to address this neglect. Its contributors include many well-known Christian apologists, some of whom have made important strides in their professional work in defending differing aspects of the Christian worldview. Virtually all the contributors have worked within the church, especially in parachurch organizations and local congregations. Because of this experience, they are particularly gifted in teaching laypeople and students on how to defend the Christian worldview in the public square. In fact, some of the contributors work exclusively in this area. Others have a foot in each realm. Nearly all of the contributors have a regular academic appointment at a college, university or seminary at which they teach on a regular basis an apologetics course or one in which there is an apologetics component.

This book is divided into five parts, each of which has a brief introduction written by one of the editors. Each essay includes a brief section of suggested works for further reading. Part one concerns the relationship between faith and reason, and the importance of apologetics to Christian witness. Arguments for God’s existence are the focus of part two, in which contemporary versions of five classical arguments are presented. The central claims of the Christian faith are dealt with in part three. Here the contributors cover the possibility of miracles and the claims of Christ. Part four concerns philosophical and cultural challenges to the Christian worldview. A broad range of issues, including the problem of evil and postmodernism, is covered in this section. In part five the contributors respond to religious challenges to the Christian worldview, including Islam and the problem of Christian exclusivism. J. P. Moreland summarizes the book’s case in a concluding essay, which is followed by a biographical timeline of the career of Dr. Geisler as well as a bibliography of his published works.

If not for the influence, encouragement, mentorship and personal virtue of Dr. Geisler, many of the contributors of this volume would have taken a much different and less fulfilling path in their professional lives. For this reason, we offer to our friend, colleague and teacher this volume in his honor. Well done, good and faithful servant.