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Dialogical Apologetics: A Person-Centered Approach to Christian Defense

by David K. Clark

Buy the book: David K. Clark. Dialogical Apologetics: A Person-Centered Approach to Christian Defense

Release Date: July, 1999

Edition: Paperback


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Buy the book: David K. Clark. Dialogical Apologetics: A Person-Centered Approach to Christian Defense

Very important work for Christian apologists

Dialogical Apologetics is a very well done exploration of apologetical methodology. The book is divided into two parts: theoretical and practical. The theoretical section begins with an outline of traditional approaches to the relation between faith and reason. Clark expresses support, though equivocal, for the recently articulated Reformed Epistemology of Plantinga, Alston, and Wolterstorff. He then deals with the foremost opponent of Christianity in recent centuries: science, or more accurately, scientism. Clark sketches the developments in philosophy of science and their implications for epistemology in general. Though he rejects the more extreme relativistic formulation of Kuhn, he does accept the many insights that such a paradigm-based approach offers, even comparing, rightly I think, Christian conversion to a paradigm shift. Chapter four more carefully defines the apologetic enterprise by articulating the concepts of truth, proof, and evidence, concluding that proof is context-dependent and that the apologetic approach must be largely determined by audience. Dialogue is the most effective method for apologetic encounters because it allows the argumentation to be tailored to the listener's needs. Clark expounds this idea more fully in Chapter Five, where he explains the failure of the traditional apologetic methods and pinpoints the common problem. They fail because they claim exclusivity. They fail to center their approach in the person/s they address. Dialogical apologetics seeks to escape this by emphasizing conversational apologetics centered on the audience's needs. Part Two delves more deeply into the practical side of apologetics with chapters on logical argumentation and analysis, attitudes and their role in apologetics, cultural differences, and persuasion.

Dialogical Apologetics would serve well as an introductory text for an apologetics course as it provides helpful overviews of the developments in contemporary epistemology and philosophy of science and transcends the usual presuppositionalist/evidentialist dichotomy, although it leans strongly toward presuppositionalism. My only complaint is that Part Two is fluff and could have been condensed into one chapter. Clark's main idea, though, is sound: apologetics must be context-sensitive and person-relative and is best practiced in a conversation or dialogue.

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