Review: Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith

Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith
Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith by K Scott Oliphint

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Solid defense of Van Til’s apologetic method.

Premise: We should argue for Christianity from its supernatural revelation, not from a natural theology or bare Deism or rational approach. When we critique atheism and Christian skeptics, we should point out their own inconsistencies, rather than argue from "neutral" reason.

For example. In answer to skeptics who ask how an unchanging God can become incarnate, we should appeal to Athanasian and Chalcedonian thought, not fall back to what the modern person would consider reasonable.

Strengths: depth and persuasiveness.
Depth. Christ is Lord cosmically and redemptively. Oliphint makes this point theologically, in the abstract, but also shows how it is revealed in Exodus 3 and John 1. Lots of solid stuff!

Persuasive. The examples of skeptics’ arguments, which he then refutes, are gold.

Weaknesses: language and exclusivity.
Language. Oliphint is a seminary professor, and it shows. This book is not for the average evangelical reader, but I would encourage you to read books that you think are too deep for you! This is a great start. The book is touted as a step toward practical apologetics, from a Van-Tilian approach. And the mock conversations help that a little. But as a pastor for 10 years now, I’d like to see the cookies on a lower, less philosophical, shelf for the average pew-sitter to get.
A second language weakness is that it is verbose at times. Often it is needed to explain his point with enough clarity, but there is also a lot of review and extra.

Exclusivity. I see the merit of the presuppositional approach to apologetics, but also believe, depending on the audience and the course of the discussion with a skeptic, that the classical apologetic appeal to reasoned arguments can also be useful. Oliphint usually dismisses it completely, even seeing it as always unhelpful. I suppose he and Van Til have seen theology by natural reason used in a way that compromises the faith, but I don’t think the method does so inherently.

Highly recommended for those who have profited from listening to Ravi Zacharias, and other defenders of the faith like him.

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