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An Introduction to Christian Apologetics A Philosophic Defense of the Trinitarian-Theistic Faith

Edward John Carnell (1919-1967) was an ordained Baptist minister, who also served as President of Fuller Theological Seminary from 1954-1959, and then as professor of Apologetics. The keyword to Carnell’s approach is "systematic coherence." He sought to find "a successful union of the ideal and empirical worlds," and notes that "every man is a philosopher of a sort, and must pass judgment upon the whole course of reality. But the only proof he can offer, both for his system of philosophy and for the actions which flow from it, is systematic coherence … It is this framework that the Christian offers proof for his system: it sticks together … God is absolute consistency. And the will of God has been revealed in Holy Writ." As presented by Carnell, "Three problems wait for the philosopher’s solution. First, truth, must be located. Secondly, a rational universe must be plotted. Finally, these two must be so united that they will provide a basis for trust in personal immortality." "Having no perfect system of thought while we walk by faith and not by sight, the Christian suggests that a rational man settle for that system which is attended by the fewest difficulties." However, he further says that "Logic can be the means by which the Spirit leads a man into faith, but it is the Spirit, not logic, which finally seals the faith to the heart." He admits that "This is not a formal demonstration of God’s existence: it is simply proof by coherence. The existence of God is the self-consistent hypothesis that the mind must entertain when it views all of the evidence which experience provides." Philosophical approaches to Christian apologetics are somewhat "out of fashion" these days (cf. Josh McDowell, Lee Stroebel); but Carnell was an important figure on the scene, and a worthy contrast to Gordon Clark, Cornelius Van Til, etc.
~ Steven H. Propp @ Amazon.com

Table of Contents

    • Preface to the Fourth Edition     7
    • Preface to the First Edition     10
  • The Need for a Christian World-View
    • The Practical Human Predicament     19
    • The Sources of Soul-Sorrow     20
    • The Nature of Soul-Sorrow     23
    • The Cure for Soul-Sorrow     24
    • Recapitulation     27
    • The Theoretical Human Predicament     29
    • Transition to the Theoretical     30
    • The Problem of the Many     34
    • The Problem of the One     37
    • The Persistent Philosophical Danger     39
  • The Rise of the Christian World-View
    • The Problem of Truth     45
    • The Nature of Truth     45
    • The Test for Truth     47
    • Recapitulation     62
    • What is Faith?     65
    • The Nature and Test of Faith Distinguished     66
    • Faith Based on Authoritative Decrees     70
    • Faith Based on Subjective Immediacy     74
    • Objections to the Christian View of Faith     82
    • Ensuing Practical Benefits     86
    • The Christian Hypothesis     89
    • The Nature of Assumptions     91
    • Philosophy and Assumptions     95
    • Objections to the Christian Hypothesis     101
    • TheCriteria of Verification     103
    • The Nature of Proof     103
    • The Criteria of Verification in Christianity     108
    • Probability and the Problem of Moral Certainty     113
    • Objections to Probability     118
    • Starting Point: Nature     122
    • The Nature of Starting Point     123
    • A Critique of Natural Theology     126
    • Starting Point: Nature (Continued)     140
    • The Structure of the Analogy of Being     140
    • A Critique of the Analogy of Being     146
    • Starting Point: God     152
    • Transition to Christian Rationalism     152
    • The Knowledge of God from the Self     157
    • The Knowledge of God through the Rationes aeternae     161
    • The Knowledge of God through Nature     168
    • Starting Point: God (Continued)     173
    • The Appeal to Special Revelation     174
    • The Benefits of Special Revelation     180
    • Objections to Christianity     184
  • Implications of the Christian World-View
    • The Problem of Biblical Criticism     191
    • The Nature of Biblical Criticism     192
    • The Basic Issue     200
    • The Strength of the Conservative Hypothesis     205
    • Concluding Observations      209
    • The Problem of Common Ground     211
    • The Three Levels of Meaning     213
    • The Reflection of the Metaphysical Ultimate     215
    • Objections     219
    • The Christian Faith and the Scientific Method     223
    • Transitional Material     223
    • The Proposed Rapprochement     229
    • Concluding Problems     233
    • The Problem of Miracles and Natural Law     243
    • Background Data     243
    • What is a Miracle?     247
    • What are Nature and Natural Law?     250
    • Natural Law and the Resurrection of Christ     253
    • The Problems of Miracles and Natural Law (Continued)     261
    • Hume’s Canons and Historical Phenomena     262
    • What is the Point to Miracles?     268
    • Concluding Difficulties     273
    • The Problem of Evil     276
    • The General Nature of the Problem     277
    • The Nature of Evil     280
    • The Basic Solutions to the Problem     283
    • The Problem of Evil (Continued)     292
    • Christian Theism     292
    • Objections to Christian Theism     297
    • The Ethical one and Many     315
    • The Fundamental Problem of Ethics      315
    • The Primacy of the Law     322
    • The Primacy of Man as Lawgiver     324
    • God as Lawgiver     328
    • Objections to the Christian Ethic     334
    • Resurrection and Immortality     336
    • The Problem of Immortality     336
    • The Arguments for Immortality     337
    • Objections     347
  • Conclusion
    • Conclusion     353
    • Summary and Recapitulation     353
    • Pascal’s Wager     357
    • Glossary     363
    • Index of Scripture Passages     371
    • Index of Proper Names     375
    • Index of Subjects     377