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Five Views on Apologetics (Counterpoints)

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Five Views on Apologetics examines the “how-to” of apologetics, putting five prominent views under the microscope: classical, evidential, presuppositional, Reformed epistemology, and cumulative case. Offering a forum for presentation, critique, and defense, this book allows the contributors for the different viewpoints to interact. Like no other book, Five Views on Apologetics lets you compare and contrast different ways of “doing” apologetics. Your own informed conclusions can then guide you as you meet the questions of a needy world with the claims of the gospel.

Resource Experts
  • Classical Aplogetics, William Lane Craig
  • Evidential Apologetics, Gary R. Habermas
  • Cumulative Case Apologetics, Paul D. Feinberg
  • Presuppositional Apologetics, John M. Frame
  • Reformed Epistemology Apologetics, Kelly James Clark

Top Highlights

“The methodological approach which I shall defend in this essay is that reason in the form of rational arguments and evidence plays an essential role in our showing Christianity to be true, whereas reason in this form plays a contingent and secondary role in our personally knowing Christianity to be true. The proper ground of our knowing Christianity to be true is the inner work of the Holy Spirit in our individual selves; and in our showing Christianity to be true, it is his role to open the hearts of unbelievers to assent and respond to the reasons we present.” (Page 28)

“Apologetics is concerned with the defense of the Christian faith against charges of falsehood, inconsistency, or credulity.” (Page 8)

“The classical method is an approach that begins by employing natural theology to establish theism as the correct worldview. After God’s existence has thus been shown, the classical method moves to a presentation of the historical evidences for the deity of Christ, the trustworthiness of Scripture, et cetera, to show that Christianity is the best version of theism, as opposed to, say, Judaism and Islam.” (Page 15)

“When it comes to knowing one’s faith to be true, therefore, the Christian will not rely primarily on argument and evidence but on the gracious witness of God himself given to all his children by the indwelling Holy Spirit.” (Page 36)

“I shall argue that the inner witness of the Holy Spirit gives us an immediate and veridical assurance of the truth of our Christian faith and that rational argument and evidence may properly confirm but not defeat that assurance.” (Page 28)

Steven B. Cowan, M.Div., Ph.D., is associate professor of Philosophy and Apologetics at Southeastern Bible College in Birmingham, AL.


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  1. Patrick



    I had a lot of fun with this book. About a year ago, I really came down on the side of presuppositionalism and have studied the approach, see if it was useful against two of the leading atheistic books (God Is Not Great and The God Delusion), and now I wanted to match it up against four other views of apologetics. I will try to not go into too much detail here as I think the book is an important read for developing an apologetic standpoint. The book follows the 1)"model of Approach X is presented" then 2) "Response from other 4 approaches to counter Approach X" and then move on to the next approach. The book allows final statements from each writer for a final opportunity. Steven Cowan has a good introduction and epilogue that bookends the book well. Craig (Classical Approach) really surprised me as he brings in the role of the Holy Spirit early into the conversation. I really thought I was going to just be reading the finer points of the Kalam argument he's known for. The role of the Holy Spirit is reflected in the other authors' approaches as well and that was nice to see. It's also nice to see Craig debating with Christians for once and it's here that you really get to see his thought process contrasting with other people with the same worldview. There are issues that Craig tries to bring up against the presuppositionist view point that could be applied for him. He doesn't seem to get that all foundations are, by definition, circular because if you can appeal to something more foundational, then your foundation isn't your foundation at all. Craig seems to bring in some higher concepts about probability to make some of his points and I think that's really a miss for anyone who's not a high level philosopher (and even some philosophers might have issues understand what he's talking about here). Habermas (Evidential Approach) seems to have an undue hatred for presuppositionalism. He's also another person who doesn't realize that the approach he uses isn't really the foundation he is starting from. I think he resents doing the hard work that the other approaches then build up to. Feinberg (Cumulative Case Approach) seems to miss the point of presuppositionalism entirely. He's got the approach of what I call the "shotgun approach" in the sense that he wants to use everything possible and sees what he hits. Frame (Presuppostional Approach) does an ok job with presenting the method. I don't think he would be my first choice in representing the approach. He doesn't do a good job of explaining the "problem of circularity" isn't a problem. He just does an "ok" job. Clark (Reformed Epistemological Approach) is one I was excited to read. I liked some of his points he made when talking about the other approaches. Then I read his approach and was extremely disappointed. The biggest flaw is that he states literally that his approach doesn't help to show the Christian God is real. I would say then your apologetic method is worthless and not a real method at all. I understand the R.E. approach but if I went only with Clark's explanation and argumentation, I wouldn't have even considered it a real area of focus. The book is well laid out, the footnotes are at the bottom of the pages (SO helpful!), Cowan does a good job of wrangling the writers and offering expanded reading and other authors for each area of focus. Myself and my mentor spent from January to August every other week going over and discussing the book. Finding flaws, comparing and contrasting, and seeing where points were made and where points were missed. I think the biggest deficit we found was that the writers tended to assume agreement on definitions of words that played a big role (for example - the word "evidence" NEEDED to be defined right off the bat by every author and it wasn't until Frame in his response to the objections raised did we even have one person define it). My suggestion for this book to maximize the fun is to pick a method and try and defend that method throughout; even with the writer arguing your side. My book is filled with notes and highlights that just made this book a great enjoyment to meet and discuss with a fellow Believer about. It does not settle all the issues, but it does help you focus on the fact that we still aren't done learning yet. Final Grade - A-
  2. Dean Poulos

    Dean Poulos


  3. Elsie Montgomery
  4. Terri Young

    Terri Young


  5. Bill Shewmaker