As one who appreciates Bahnsen's insight in defending the Christian faith, I welcome this work's intent. A college-age handbook on presuppositional apologetics with attention to application, it is a unique and needed treatment for young Christians bombarded with challenges to their faith.
Unfortunately, I finished the book disappointed. First, it claims to be a distillation of a series of presentations by Bahnsen to high school and college age students. By this, I expected the book to be essentially a textual version of these lectures. After all, the book never mentions an editor or indicates a different author. Nevertheless, I cannot see how the bulk of this material came from Bahnsen's lectures. It regularly includes excerpts from Bahnsen's books (Always Ready, Van Til's Apologetic, etc.), something I doubt he would have done in his speaking engagements. Additionally, many quotes are from contemporary sources that were published after Bahnsen's untimely death in 1995. I really had no idea throughout the book whether I was actually reading Bahnsen or another (unnamed) writer.
Second, the book was overly reliant on the internet for its sources. Not only does this lead to a short shelf life, but it indicates a lack of substantial scholarship. Should one really turn to the online version of Encarta for outlining the scientific method (p. 119)? Wikipedia is even used several times as a source, a basic no-no for serious research and writing. A college student would never get away with something like this!
Third, its practical usefulness is limited. The book spends a lot of its time showing how one can refute atheism. While it effectively demonstrates the shortcomings of naturalism and materialism, our shifting culture forces us to interact with other kinds of challenges. How does one use the transcendental argument with a Muslim? With New Age spirituality? With cultists? A reliable handbook for Christian students must treat such issues much more thoroughly to be helpful.
I do not mean to say that Pushing the Antithesis
has no value. It is a decent introduction to presuppositional apologetics. Nevertheless, with the problems given above, if I wanted somebody to learn more about Greg Bahnsen's apologetic methodology, I'd probably just suggest that he reads Always Ready
Labels: Apologetics, Book Review