A Necessary Book on Apologetics

In Scaling the Secular City, J. P. Moreland gives four reasons why the Christian community must engage in apologetics: 1) the Scriptures command it, 2) apologetics removes obstacles to faith, 3) apologetics strengthens believers by providing them with confidence and encouraging them to grow spiritually and 4) apologetics contributes health to the culture. Moreland’s thesis is that the Christian God exists and it is rational to believe that He does. Moreland presents evidence in this book to prove the thesis. The evidence includes: arguments for the existence of God, arguments presenting the case for the historicity of the gospel and the resurrection of Christ, and arguments that address objections to Christian theism.

The first part of the work deals with a few arguments for God’s existence. Moreland first introduces the kalam cosmological argument, borrowing extensively from William Lane Craig’s work. He also addresses the design arguments. One of Moreland’s points here is to show that there is certainly more than one form of the design argument, and Moreland introduces several major views. (One interesting point to note is that Moreland does not address intelligent design, but this may be because his book was published prior to much of the research of Michael Behe and William Dembski.) Moreland also raises the issue of substance dualism, the historically Christian position on the issue of the mind/body. The point of all this discussion is that it is rational to accept and believe that the Christian God does exist, and trusting Him is the most intellectually responsible course to follow.

Once Moreland has achieved this purpose, he next sets out to show the historicity of the New Testament documents, in order to show that the gospel of Christ is in fact historical and trustworthy. Because the number of manuscripts is so high, and because references to the New Testament documents in ancient writings are also high, it is reasonable to accept that the New Testament is historical and trustworthy. Also in this section, Moreland addresses the issue of the empty tomb. He points out that most New Testament scholars of reputation do accept the validity of the empty tomb, and in explaining it, it is most rational to accept that Jesus was raised from the dead in bodily form.

Finally, in closing the work, Moreland addresses some objections to Christian theism. The relationship between science and theology is analyzed, and shown that both contribute to knowledge of the universe and do not stand opposed to one another. Five models of integration between science and theology are presented, and the creation/evolution debate is also presented.

Moreland has written an apologetic work for a general audience without training in philosophy. What he offers is quite valuable, and his defense of Christianity is thorough and extensive.

Moreland, J. P. Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987.

One response to “A Necessary Book on Apologetics

  1. John, this was indeed an important book. MANY, MANY moons ago after a class, I asked G. Habermas if he would let me skip Intro to Apologetics and sub another class, he handed me this book and told me if I read this and get back to him, he'd let me sub another course… I did, he did, I was grateful, still am! – revtomtravels

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