I’m just going to be honest, doing apologetics is just hard. I don’t get all the nuances among methodologies and techniques. I don’t understand the terminology of philosophy and it’s connection to the sciences or theology. Even introductory works are often beyond the comprehension of newcomers. The main questions seems to be, “Where do I start?” In Mapping Apologetics Comparing Contemporary Approaches Brian Morley assists the beginner in appropriating a solid foundation of apologetic method.
This volume is broken down into two parts. Part One addresses foundational issues and Part Two maps out for the reader various apologetic methods. In the first section we have laid out for us a helpful survey of the historical development of the discipline we call apologetics or the defense of the Christian faith. Morley also lays out the text of the bible and allows the reader to see the apologetic method which we have in both in Old and New Testaments.
As I got into the methods and techniques used by various apologists I noticed one overarching theme stick out in all of them. These methods are very nuanced and technical. If you change one or two sentences of one you almost all but lose the meaning behind the method. Morley does an excellent job of maintaining the grand scheme of each type of apologetic while avoiding the pitfall of blending them or construing their meanings.
In examining each method, Morley takes a look at the men who have either pioneered that method, or those who have most clearly developed the method. We see names like Francis Schaeffer, Cornelius Van Til, William Lane Craig, John Frame, and Norman Geisler, to name a few. These men have each defended the Christian faith in certain ways and to map their methods and particulars is no easy task.
Morley does a great job of keeping his bias away from the layout until the final chapter where he offers some thoughts on putting all the methods together. He also takes the theories and, without losing meaning, boils down the big ideas and key terminology for the reader. Along with the clear presentation of the material the reader is also urged to answer the study questions at the end of each chapter in order to further etch the content on the mind.
Overall this volume is great for what it seeks to do. It is a mapping of the discipline of apologetics which can be messy and has been muddied in the past. We aren’t apologizing for the faith, what we’re doing is taking God’s word, His creation, and explaining in such a way as to allow the truth to shine brightly. Morley makes sure to note that the work of apologetics, though rebounding in our day, is far from over. He urges the reader to take the baton which is being passed on from previous generations and continue this race with perseverance.
I get it, apologetics is hard. It takes a lot of work. Apologetics is a lot like parenting. In the beginning it takes a lot of hours in dark rooms with screaming children. But we do it. We teach them, we nurture them and one day they grow and bloom into something beautiful. We must take the truths of God’s word, whatever method we’re wired for, and we must care for it. We must spend time with it. Undress it and redress it. We have to wrestle with it and discipline ourselves to take the text head on. One day we’ll get it, we may not be a Craig or Frame, but we’ll do apologetics to the glory of God and that’s far more important than taking after a mere mortal.