Boa and Bowman have put together a lengthy survey on apologetic methods within Christianity. In the process, they have surpassed all other comparative apologetic works by cogently and thoroughly examining apologetic methods and the great thinkers who have subscribed to the various methods.
This book is extremely useful for a number of reasons. It's obvious strength is its thorough treatment of four major apologetic methods; classical, evidential, presuppositional, and fideist. This book is the best in print in dispassionately presenting each view, its strengths and weaknesses, and how each view interacts with various apologetic issues and objections. The reader will gain a solid working knowledge of apologetic school of thought to reflect upon and possibly incorporate in their own approach to apologetics.
Second, this book provides one of the best summary level examinations of many prominent Christian thinkers throughout church history. Anybody who wants a good summary treatment on the thinking of folks like Pascal, Kierkegaard, Van Til, Clark, Kuyper, Barth, Craig, Plantinga, Geisler, Aquinas, and many others will find it here.
Third, their demonstration of how each apologetic system interacts with key issues such as science, theology, the Bible, Jesus Christ, etc is very informative. I found these examinations to be very insightful, since it impressed upon me the reality that evangelical Christianity is not at all monolithic in how it views the relationship of apologetics to these vital issues. Through this diversity of thought, I have found my own approach to apologetics expanded and challenged in a very healthy way.
Lastly, the authors truly invoke a spirit of Christian love throughout this book. The authors clearly hold to the view that great Christians can and have held to each apologetical method, and the authors have properly resisted any attempt to use apologetical method as a litmus test to judge the level of anyone's Christian walk. This is very refreshing, and is definitely a step in the right direction. While properly pointing out where certain thinkers in each camp have strayed from acceptable evangelicalism (Barth and his errant view of Scripture, Pinnock and his god of limited omniscience, etc), they affirm the value of each apologetic method and the thinkers who hold to each view.
At the end of the book, the authors attempt an integration of each method which I found helpful and balanced. The authors properly note that pure integration may not be possible, and might not be desirable either. I felt that the biggest strength of their integration approach was the belief that each apologetic method is useful for reaching certain people who hold certain objections or presuppositions, and that these apologetic approaches can be integrated somewhat with certain methods being more emphasized than others based upon the beliefs and views of the person we are in dialogue with.
The only weakness of the book is that while it does attempt to deal with tangible objections such as in the inspiration of Scripture, the deity of Christ, and the problem of evil, readers who are looking for comprehensive apologetic responses to these issues may not be satisfied by what's here. This is a book that deals with apologetic method, and while it does show how each method generally responds to these kind of objections and issues, the reader will not really find a systematic treatment here, although I should stress that what is covered in these areas is very helpful.
But since this is not really the thrust of the book, I do not see it as a weakness of the book worthy of demoting the 5 star rating I've given it. This is a thoroughly researched book which in my view, presents the best contemporary treatment of apologetic methods in a spirit of Christian love that will hopefully serve as a model for further development of respectful apologetic method in the future. A well done book that is highly recommended.
This is a very nice reference text. A must for any serious apologist or, for that matter, anyone who simply loves to read apologetics texts.
The text is mapped out in such a way that it divides the various apologetic 'tasks' into 4 areas or parts. First, apologetics as 'proof.' Second, apologetics as 'defense.' Third, apologetics as 'offense.' And fourth, apologetics as 'persuasion.' Each part carries its own weight when dealing with certain areas or aspects of the task of apologetics. For instance, apologetics as 'proof' takes various thinkers, approaches, and worldviews and delineates them in detail for the reader. Further, a thinker is given, say, B.B. Warfield, his thoughts, writings, and methods are examined and exposited, and then his approach is described and demonstrated for the reader. This is the trend in all four parts.
The authors also cover the role of philosophy in apologetics, which I might add, is a very important role. Thank you for its inclusion, this makes for an important read. Moreover, once all the various thinkers/scholars are examined, the authors take their reader to what is called the 'integrated approach.' It seems interesting that the integrative approach is applied predominantly by/to reformers or those who adhere to what is known in philosophical circles as reformed epistemology. Nonetheless, this approach is examined along with its adherents.
Finally, the book also includes a few very nice extra features such as apologetic web sites, a further study section, lists of tables and charts, a name index, subject index and Scripture index. I have enjoyed reading this text, and it should be pointed out that it is written in a style of a reference text, so the reader can read 'at' it if the intent is to find a particular thing, or the text can be read from cover to cover. Either way, the book makes for good reading, I highly recommend this text.