Scott Oliphint has written an excellent primer on apologetics that underscores the place of apologetics in God’s scheme. Oliphint is a professor of apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate before assuming his seminary position. He emphasizes that apologetics require complete dependence of God’s Word and Spirit. He wisely shows the importance of doing apologetics from a biblical perspective. Recognizing the usual connection between apologetics and philosophy, he highlights that “defending the faith” requires a solidly biblical base in that discipline. In contrast to other writers on this subject, Oliphint reminds us how we must begin with God’s revelation rather than man’s reason. To do this requires having the Scriptures at the heart of apologetics.
Oliphint further explains throughout the book how we are to use reason, logic, and persuasion as we co-labor in that process. Obviously, we are not fideist in the sense that we are only to have faith. We are to be able to give a reason for our hope in Christ. And, because authority is the real issue, his thesis is clear: we must be certain that our authority is God and that when doing apologetics, we rely on the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit.
Defending the Christian faith is not something that only a privileged few are called to do. All Christians are to be ready to defend and give reason for our Christian faith and hope. To do that, Oliphint focuses on the need of complete reliance on the Holy Spirit, using the Word as our basis of knowledge and truth. “Thinking God’s thoughts after him” is the key both to defending and setting forth our Christian case. Coming to the Christian faith is not the result of the work of man but of God’s grace in revealing and opening our eyes to the truth. Therefore Oliphint challenges Christians to use God’s approach rather than man’s philosophy in that process. That however does not discard the Christian philosophy.
This book will appeal to both the entire body of believers, not only professionals in ministry. It is clearly written, easy to read, and will be a good source of study for a Sunday school class, as well as for personal study. Oliphint has avoided the technical language where possible without being simplistic. The book includes two appendixes that will be appreciated: one focuses on the Holy Spirit and Apologetics and the second gives a lengthy list of Scriptures related to the topic.