Thursday, September 20, 2007
Book Review: Every Thought Captive
The Bible informs all Christians of our need to defend the faith: "always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15). How are we to do so? Different methods have been advocated over the years, but many believers (including myself) have come to embrace presuppositional apologetics as the biblical way to defend the Christian worldview.

Nevertheless, presuppositionalism tends to remain far too difficult for most believers to understand. What in the world are presuppositions anyway? Too often, presuppositionalists remain content in using technical and philosophical jargon in explaining our view. We'll use phrases like "epistemological inconsistency" or "the preconditions of intelligibility." Our approach to defending the faith never gets down to the grass-roots level. But it should--and it must.

Answering this challenge is Richard Pratt and his book Every Thought Captive: A Study Manual for the Defense of Christian Truth. Specifically written for the high school level and above, this work admirably popularizes presuppositional apologetics. The result is a helpful and easy read.

Pratt's writing really is this book's greatest strength. His is the first presuppositionalist book that I have read where ordinary language is used throughout. The chapters even include helpful pictures and diagrams to visually help readers understand the points being made. I have finally found a book that I am not afraid to recommend to sincere Christians desiring to learn how to defend their faith.

If there is a shortcoming that I find with the book, it is that this work is too short. Pratt takes care in laying down the foundation of our apologetic task, but he seems to rush through applying these biblical principles at the end. Since he intended it to be a practical manual, I would have liked to see a little more "how-to"ness.

Regardless, all Christians desiring to defend our faith will benefit by reading Every Thought Captive. I pray that it will inspire and equip many believers to become apologists. I wholeheartedly agree with John Frame as he writes in his foreword:

Reformed people have been generally weak in training one another to do apologetics. Generally we have set forth the theory and have hoped that the practice would take care of itself. But this attitude has often kept Reformed apologetics in the status of a scholars' game. That ought not to be. Van Til's insights are life-transforming and world-transforming. It is time that gifted apologists be mobilized to press the claims of Scripture upon their friends and neighbors and upon the whole opinion-making process of our culture (vii-viii).

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posted at 11:00 PM  
Comments (8)


8 Comments:
At 11:29 AM, Blogger tc said...

John,

While I favor presuppositional apologetics, isn't it a bit misleading to that it is the biblical approach to do apologetics? Doesn't it give the impression that evidential apologetics has no place in doing apologetics?

 
At 9:50 PM, Blogger John Divito said...

tc,

Good question. Again, we come back to the relationship between presuppositionalism and evidentialism.

But I think most presuppositionalists would argue that pure evidentialism is unbiblical. It does not properly take into account what Scripture teaches us about the noetic effects of sin (the effects of sin on the mind). Not that this means evidentialists aren't Christians or that they have nothing to contribute to the apologetic task. It means that they are not consistently biblical in their approach.

Now there are some who believe that presuppositionalism and evidentialism can be reconciled. Kenneth Boa and Robert Bowman take this view, which they call an integrated approach, in their book Faith Has its Reasons (available online). Nevertheless, I remain unconvinced.

 
At 6:10 PM, Blogger tc said...

John,

Paul apologetical approach at the Areopagus (Acts 17), is it a case for Evidential or Presuppositional apologetcs?

 
At 8:00 PM, Blogger John Divito said...

tc,

Acts 17 is used regularly as a fundamental passage for presuppositionalists. Here are just a couple of well-known examples: 1) Appendix, "Biblical Exposition of Acts 17: The Encounter Of Jerusalem With Athens" in Greg Bahnsen's Always Ready, 2) Chapter 6 in K. Scott Oliphint's The Battle Belongs to the Lord.

 
At 12:25 AM, Blogger Aaron Snell said...

John,

I have heard the claims recently that the Gospel of John utilizes an overall evidentialist apologetic (20:30-31 "Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."), and you see Jesus using an evidentialist approach in Mark 2 with the paralytic ("But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"). Any thoughts on this?

 
At 8:38 PM, Blogger John said...

Aaron,

I guess I'd have to hear their argument a little more in-depth before responding. Nevertheless, no presuppositionalist denies the use of evidences when defending the faith. The problem is when evidences are used apart from the Christian worldview to convince someone of our faith.

For example, see Greg Bahnsen's article: "Evidential Apologetics: the Right Way."

 
At 2:14 AM, Blogger Frank! said...

Great review. Pratt makes the complex more palatable. I especially like the parable at the end. If you have time check out my new blog at letmypeopleread.blogspot.com I hope to have some book reviews up soon.

 
At 3:46 PM, Blogger John Divito said...

Frank,

Thank you! Since I love book reviews, I'll be sure to check out your blog.

 

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