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The History of Apologetics: A Biographical and Methodological Introduction

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The History of Apologetics follows the great apologists in the history of the church to understand how they approached the task of apologetics in their own cultural and theological context. Each chapter looks at the life of a well-known apologist from history, unpacks their methodology, and details how they approached the task of defending the faith.

By better understanding how apologetics has been done, readers will be better able to grasp the contextualized nature of apologetics and apply those insights to today's context. The History of Apologetics covers forty-four apologists.

Resource Experts
  • Surveys the great apologists in the history of the church
  • Examines how they approached the task of apologetics in their own cultural and theological context
  • Explores their methodology, and shows how it has contributed to the fields of apologetics today
  • Part One: Patristic Apologists
  • Part Two: Medieval Apologists
  • Part Three: Early Modern Apologists
  • Part Four: 19th C. Apologists
  • Part Five: 20th C. American Apologists
  • Part Six: 20th C. European Apologists
  • Part Seven: Contemporary Apologists

Top Highlights

“William Paley stands in a long tradition of Christian philosophers who argued that the belief that there is a God is evident to honest, impartial inquirers, without requiring appeal to special revelation.” (Page 346)

“According to Aquinas there are fourteen articles of faith,59 seven of which refer to the Godhead and seven of which refer to Christ’s human nature: (1) God is one, (2) God is Father, (3) God is Son, (4) God is Holy Spirit, (5) God is Creator, (6) God is the source of grace for our redemption, (7) God will raise us to everlasting life, (8) Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, (9) Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, (10) Christ suffered, died, and was buried, (11) Christ descended into hell, (12) Christ was raised from the dead, (13) Christ ascended into heaven, and (14) Christ will judge the living and the dead.” (Page 245)

“Most famous of Pascal’s contributions to apologetics is what is known as ‘Pascal’s Wager.’ Pascal uses decision theory to argue that if a subject S wants to avoid the risk of eternal hell and put herself in the best position to achieve eternal reward, S should put herself in a position to where she is likely to commit herself to the proposition that theism is true.” (Page 305)

“Paley’s stress on the importance of happiness is interesting from the standpoint of apologetics. In Paley’s view, a Christian apologist should not be interested primarily in converting people to have ‘the right beliefs about God’ but in the happiness of all people, Christian and non-Christians alike, which is very similar to C. S. Lewis’s own approach.” (Page 352)

  • Title: The History of Apologetics: A Biographical and Methodological Introduction
  • Editors: Benjamin K. Forrest, Josh Chatraw, and Alister E. McGrath
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Pages: 864
  • Resource Type: History
  • Topic: Apologetics

Benjamin K. Forrest (EdD, Liberty University) is professor of Christian education and associate dean at Liberty University. He is coauthor of Surviving and Thriving in Seminary (w/ H. D. Zacharias, Lexham, 2017), Good Arguments: Making Your Case in Writing and Public Speaking (w/ R. A. Holland, Baker Academic, 2017), and coeditor of Biblical Leadership: Theology for the Everyday Leader (w/ Chet Roden, Kregel, 2017).

Joshua Chatraw (PhD, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as the director for New City Fellows and the Resident Theologian at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. His books include Apologetics at the Cross, Cultural Engagement, Truth in a Culture of Doubt, and Truth Matters. He is a fellow with the Center for Pastor Theologians and has served in both pastoral and academic posts during his ministry.

Alister E. McGrath is a historian, biochemist, and Christian theologian born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. McGrath, a longtime professor at Oxford University, now holds the Chair in theology, ministry, and education at the University of London. He is the author of several books on theology and history, including Christianity’s Dangerous Idea; In the Beginning, and The Twilight of Atheism. He lives in Oxford, England and lectures regularly in the United States.


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