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Covenantal Apologetics [Paperback]

K. Scott Oliphint , William Edgar
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway Books; 1 edition (31 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433528177
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433528170
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.3 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 355,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth purchasing! 3 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Let me first present one negative point (this may not be a problem for many readers).

I must say at the outset that this book is not quite as accessible to the everyday man in the pew as I had hoped for. The conversations given as examples are what you might find in either a moderated debate, or in a dialogue with a patient, respectful person, who is willing to listen to you without interrupting. As we all know, this is rarely the case in everyday life.

Now the positives:

One thing I loved about the book is that it never allows the reader to see Covenantal apologetics as "another method to win arguments", but encourages the reader to understand that this is the biblically faithful and God honouring way to give a defense of the faith. Each chapter builds on the principles taught in the previous chapters, so it is a great aid in understanding the thought process of the Covenantal apologist. For that reason I don't believe this book would be suitable as a reference book, if you're simply looking for a quick fix for how to answer an atheist. This is the greatest strength of the book:it encourages the reader to gain an understanding of the thought processes behind the apologetic, and how to apply them, rather than promoting a one size fits all approach (which always leads to frustration).

If one is prepared to think carefully about what is being said, resisting the urge to skim read, the book will go a long way towards solidifying ideas in the readers mind.

In my opinion the best example conversation is the final dialogue between the Christian and a Muslim. This is worth reading simply because it contains the best argument against Islam I've ever come across.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good book on apologetics 11 Feb 2014
By Mtimber
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It was in interesting book, some of the language was a little philosophical at times and I would have liked to see a focus on Christ centred apologetics accentuated more as "covenantal apologetics" is a bit vague.

A good additional read if you are into Sye Ten and Bahnsen as it approaches it from a slightly different perspective.

I learnt some things from this book, which is always a good sign.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating 17 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Like most Christian works that attempt to show the reasonableness of the Christian position, in the end its only 'reaching to the converted'. I purchased it primarily as a reviewer urged it had an excellent argument against Islam (or rather Allah) which seemed rather a philosophical rebuttal of Aristotle and Aquinas' reading of his position. It failed to satisfy as it essential point is to insist on the dogma of trinitarianism as somehow by-passing the Muslim's claim that God is one and ultimately transcendent to the creation. Surely Christ and the Muslim might both reply to Olliphant's arguments that 'nothing is impossible with God', next he insists that the Muslim knows no assurance but what Christian can claim more than Christ insisted that 'whoever does God;s will will know of the teaching and whether it's God's.' More is subjective and the property of every fanatic. Personally the Gospel just gets lost in the dogma, and the level of personal frustration when Christ is made equal to God the Father, a claim without scriptural support just makes reading painful.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  45 reviews
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Apologetics for a New Generation 31 July 2013
By Dr. David Steele - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
K. Scott Oliphint makes a bold and courageous proposal in his newest book, Covenantal Apologetics. His proposal is to essentially do away with the language of presuppositional apologetics and replace this outdated terminology with "covenantal apologetics." He makes a good case for the terminological change and takes the best of Van Til's apologetic and leads readers down a path that is biblically informed, culturally aware, and apologetically sound.

"Christian apologetics" argues Oliphint, "is the application of biblical truth to unbelief." With a broad definition in mind, the author moves forward by marking out the covenantal approach to apologetics. Each person is either in Adam or in Christ. All those in Adam are opposed to God and rebel against God's authority as a matter of habit. All those in Christ have been given grace and are pronounced "not guilty" before the heavenly Tribunal, all owing to the person and work of the Lord Jesus. The essence of the covenantal approach is this: "All persons are in a covenant relationship with Christ the Lord. They owe him obedience. The same Christ who rules over you, rules over those who oppose him."

Since the term presuppositionalism appears to be outdated and rendered obsolete, the author proposes the covenantal model of apologetics. He rightly argues, "Given that all men are in covenant relationship to God, they are bound by that relationship to 'owe obedience unto Him as their Creator.' That obligation of obedience comes by virtue of our being created - we were created as covenant beings. We are people who, by nature, have an obligation to worship and serve the Creator." So sinful people (in covenant relationship with God) have turned their responsibility into an opportunity for disobedience and rebellion.

The author paints a portrait of a biblical apologist who sets Christ apart as Lord (1 Pet. 3:15) and is ready to give a defense of the gospel. The Pauline model is set forth (based on Acts 17) and readers are encouraged to engage unbelief by utilizing the so-called trivium of persuasion, namely, ethos (personal character), pathos (putting the listener in a certain frame of mind), and logos (proof that is set forth propositionally).

Covenantal Apologetics is a fine work, indeed. Many principles are beyond the scope of this review. As such, readers should dive in and approach this work with a sharp mind and a soft heart. The treasure trove in this work is bound to help shape a new generation of evangelists - so the nations will find their joy in Christ!

[...]
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Case for and Application of Covenantal Apologetics 1 Oct 2013
By Mike Robinson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
The New Atheism is upon us, radical Islam marches on, and K. Scott Oliphint has set the apologetics bar high. In "Covenantal Apologetics: Principles & Practice in Defense of Our Faith" he writes, "What I hope to accomplish in this book is to set out ... a presuppositional approach to apologetics. ... But I suggest another label for this approach; I will try to make the case for retiring the label presuppositional and adopting the label covenantal" (p. 25). The good professor may be the first person to succeed in replacing the ever-confusing term with a more accurate representation.

Of course the banishment of an old familiar word is only the beginning of Oliphint's objective. Writers less exacting than Oliphint should not only embrace the new terminology[1] but learn much from this volume. This judicious apologist (professor Westminster Theological Seminary) believes that no worldview that rejects scripture, try as they will, can furnish the rational, ethical, and ontological necessities to account for human experience[2]. Without God, one's worldview falls into absurdity.

"Confirmation bias" is the propensity to believe things that confirm our tightly held presuppositions. Oliphint argues that covenant breaking disposes unbelievers to believe non-biblical notions while resting upon Christian presuppositions. The author says that the most ossified, inelastic aspects of one's thought life--religious, ethical, and philosophical--flow from one's relation to the gracious covenants God has provided. In one's worldview, one is either a covenant keeper or a covenant breaker; there is no neutrality. In rejecting Christianity, unbelievers have defective presuppositions and only affirm information that confirms their bias.

A worldview fails if it rests upon ontological sand. The only foundation with the ontic capacity to support all the rational and ethical essentials is God; all other foundations lack the ontic ability to support the necessary features of intelligibility[3].

The author builds his case utilizing Romans 1:18-23. Therein, Paul reveals that all men know that the God exists--not merely a god of general theism, but of the one true God, Creator and covenant maker. Oliphint observes, "By virtue of man being created in the image of God, by virtue of man being a covenant creature, every human being ... has an ineradicable knowledge of God" (pp. 42-43). The author asserts that the main issue is not with proof or evidence, but with man's sinful nature--humanity suppresses the truth in unrighteousness. The author notes: "Suppression of the truth, like the depravity of sin, is total but not absolute. Thus, every unbelieving position will necessarily have with it ideas, concepts, notions, and the like that it has taken and wrenched from their true, Christian context."

Oliphint then posits tenets that can be used as the structure for his covenantal apologetics. This code of belief includes:

* Faith, reason, and life must repose upon the Triune God.
"The faith that we are defending must begin with, and necessarily include, the triune God--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--who, as God, condescends to create and to redeem."
* Epistemic and ethical authority flow from God's revelation, covenant power and rights.
* The Word and Spirit produce regeneration--the change needed for one to embrace the truth.
* Humanity made in the image of God is in covenant with God and all men know the true God.
* Unbelievers suppress the truth.
* There is an absolute, covenantal antithesis between Christianity and all other worldviews.
* Unbelievers unwittingly borrow from the Christian worldview when they are rational and ethical.
* God's mercy and truth is required for persuasion.
* Every fact, proof, and all human experience presupposes God. There are no brute facts.

"Covenantal Apologetics" is suitable reading for pastors, ministers, and apologists, but may be too scholarly for beginners or autodidacts (Oliphint states that he wanted this volume to be accessible for the novice; I think he was largely unsuccessful). This will, however, trickle down, and open minds of dissimilar groups of apologists.

There is plenty of apologetic and theological material within its pages, but this was not written to be a defense of Christianity for unbelievers. The author is determined to offer reasons the Christian should employ covenantal apologetics as he presents the theology that undergirds this method. This volume will make a fine introduction to apologetics in seminary or Bible college.
"Covenantal Apologetics" is a must for leaders concerned about contending for the Christian worldview. Oliphint has given one of the most complete evaluations and comprehensive expositions of Presuppositional Apologetics (Covenantal Apologetics) in print. It is a valuable resource for those wrestling with the theological and philosophical principles employed in a faithful apologetic. "Covenantal Apologetics" is deeply persuasive inasmuch as it is clearly written, properly presented, biblically-based, and faithful to Van Til's apologetic vision.

Review by Mike Robinson author of dozens of Presuppositional Apologetics books available on Amazon.
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1. Obviously the term covenantal is not really new and Oliphint provides a great deal of material on its use and meaning in the history of Christian theology.
2. The God furnishes all the a priori essentials; the necessary epistemic equipment utilized in all rational and ethical pursuits. God has the ontic attributes of omniscience, immutability, and omnipotence (He has universal reign) thus enabling Him to be the ground for the universal and immutable laws of logic that are utilized in all thought and analysis. Any position that rejects the true God, as the epistemic (knowledge) base, not only leaves an unnerving fissure, but hopelessly fails too. Consequently, whatever evidence one discovers must be discerned and processed with the rational implements that arise from Christian theism and the worldview that emanates from God. The immaterial, transcendent, and immutable God supplies the indispensable pre-environment for the use of immaterial, transcendent, universal, and immutable laws of logic. Non-Christian thought, because it rests upon sandy ground, cannot furnish the necessary preconditions for intelligibility; therefore it results in futility because of its own internal weakness.
3. God alone has aseity (Exodus 3:14), thus He, unaccompanied, has the ontic credentials to account for human experience.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Inadequately Presuppositional 4 Dec 2013
By pbj - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a long-time reader of Oliphint's work, I want to express my appreciation for his contributions to Reformed philosophy and apologetics. His book {Reasons for Faith} interacts with philosophy at a depth unusual in recent Reformed works, and I've learned much from it.

Covenantal Apologetics (CA), though, disappoints. I'll describe two general reasons, the second the more significant.

I. The book contains a considerable amount of redundancy, both (1) internally and (2) compared with Oliphint's previous publications. First, the book could use tightening. I realize, as an introductory work, a certain degree of repetition is useful, but there are a lot of paragraphs which could be cut without loss—such as repeatedly prefacing sections by saying that there is not enough space to delve into further details, and other paragraphs which summarize material only just discussed. This is surprising, considering that the structure of the book (e.g., the “Ten Tenets” on page 55) lends itself well to being much more succinct than it turned out to be. Second, though, there is considerable redundancy with Oliphint's previous three books and some of his papers. In fact, I can't determine exactly what the book adds, though I can appreciate the attempt to introduce new elements (e.g, the “Ten Tenets” and the mock dialogues).

II. More substantially, the new elements disappoint—particularly the apologetic dialogues, or, more accurately, the monologues. Some of them are incomplete, such as the discussion of the atheological argument concerning omniscience, eternity, and time (77ff). Here, one has to look elsewhere for a more complete discussion. (When I'm reading CA, and I see something that looks like an argument being made by Oliphint, I generally try to figure out what the premises in the argument are. However—though perhaps this says more about me—I have a hard time figuring out what premises any of these arguments contain. Hence the incompleteness.)

Most of the mock dialogues, though, I found simply inadequate, either as a possible apologetic discussion or an attempt at formulating apologetic (negative or positive) arguments. A few common problems emerge from these sections. The positions Oliphint critiques (from non-Christian philosophical ethics to the logical problems of evil to the philosophical status of evolutionary biology) never get adequately summarized. These sections could have been more helpful, I think, if Oliphint more frequently interacted in detail with actual (as opposed to largely imagined) non-Christian works. For instance, in the section on the logical problem of evil, Oliphint begins with the classic formulation by Hume, but stops there, to the point that his apologetic reply misses the mark when it comes to the many more recent formulations of the problem. Oliphint could have instead summarized (inc. in premise-conclusion form) the main current formulations of the logical problem of evil on offer, and offered a covenantal apologetic commentary (inc. indicating which premise(s) he rejects with his own arguments also in premise-conclusion form). Better still, Oliphint could have then had discussions with the defenders of such arguments in current philosophy, and included helpful sections in the book, with commentary. The same applies for the topics of the other apologetic sections. All this might seem a bit much for an introductory work on the practice of apologetics, but, then again, it's nothing more than what you'd find in your average intro to philosophy course at a public university.

A final example of the inadequacy of the apologetic dialogues will suffice. Oliphint writes another mock dialogue on evolutionary naturalism, this time taking sections from Dennett. The lone argument I could find in this section asserts that evolution is impossible because it cannot answer how mind can emerge from matter. The principle Oliphint seems to be relying on here is that it is not possible for mind to emerge from matter. First, regardless of whether evolution is compatible with Christianity, this is not an argument a Christian should accept. For starters, Oliphint never discloses the epistemic basis for this claim—and, as far as I know, nothing in Scripture requires this principle (after all, Scripture is highly sparse when it comes to details about what minds actually are, or what matter actually is for that matter). How, then, this claim is justified is anyone's guess, but it seems to owe more to a Cartesian dualism or a great chain of being metaphysics of mind than it does to the biblical texts which force us to remain largely agnostic. What's more, though, Oliphint argues later and in other works that we must derive our understanding of possibility and necessity from our theology proper. Only God is absolutely necessary. Oliphint's claim against evolutionary biology could itself use a presuppositional analysis in light of Christian commitments, for it requires that it be impossible mind emerges from matter when, in fact, the only bounds we can place on what's possible are God's own power, and Oliphint has no where argued that it is not possible for God himself to design matter such that mind can emerge from it (or to design matter such that it carries meaning, etc.). It is disappointing, then, that the leading expositor of presuppositional/covenantal apologetics has failed at key times to be presuppositional.

Oliphint is no philosophical slouch, but perhaps he has some weaknesses which are brought out in this book. Working with like-minded professors teaching Christian and often like-minded Reformed seminarians, writing for largely like-minded journals and publishers (there are certainly advantages Oliphint gains from all that, and it is not to denigrate his work in any way) it might be that he does not have as much experience in interacting with contrary views as would be desirable for doing philosophical apologetics. Contrast this with Van Til. He worked and trained within the philosophical idealist tradition, becoming more of an expert on idealism than many idealists, putting him in a fantastic place to offer lasting apologetic critique. Oliphint, though, in this book and unfortunately in others, seems uninterested in fairly and thoroughly representing views he disagrees with, and his apologetic replies suffer as a result.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Word and Gospel-Centered approach to Apologetics 5 Sep 2013
By Dave J. Jenkins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Apologetics has quickly become one of my favorite areas of study. Whether it is thinking through issues on a worldview level or contending for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints, apologetics has much to offer the people of God. Since apologetics has resurfaced as "the hottest trend" in evangelicalism, it's important to note why this discipline is important. With an increasingly hostile culture that preaches a message directly opposed to biblical Christianity, Christians need to be armed now more than ever with the knowledge of what they believe and how that knowledge impacts their lives. Many know a great deal about theology but yet don't know how their theology should impact their life. Thus, the renewed focus on apologetics should be celebrated in the Church. Biblical apologetics is Scripture driven, Christ-centered, Gospel-centric, and Holy Spirit empowered. It is for this reason I am excited to tell you about the new book by Dr. K. Scott Oliphint, Covenantal Apologetics Principles and Practice in Defend of our Faith.

As I read this book, I quickly came to the conclusion that Dr. Oliphint, a man who I've learned a lot from when it comes to Apologetics, was arguing for a model of apologetics rooted in solid biblical exegesis and application. What stood out to me most is "Covenantal Apologetics", Oliphant's revised term for Presuppositional Apologetics, isn't anything new but rather something founded upon the historic doctrines of the faith, something very biblical and glorifying to God. Those who have taken issue with Presuppositional Apologetics as a system should take note of the biblical and theological arguments Dr. Oliphint presents. Though his work is fresh in approach, it is firmly rooted in the long tradition of Reformed theology.

Oliphant begins his book with an exploration of what apologetics is about. He author states, "Christian apologetics is the application of truth to unbelief" (29). He also clearly outlines from the beginning what the overarching goal of apologetics is noting "We will not seek to knock down every argument, or even every main argument against Christianity" (29). Oliphant's clear objective from the very outset will help the reader understand his comments as well as his overall goal thus eliminating any confusion as to the purpose of the discussion. He clearly provides the root of his argument commenting "The point for the Christian and the point to stand on in a covenantal apologetic is that Christ's lordship - which includes not only that he now reigns but also that he has spoken and that all owe him allegiance - is true for anyone and everyone. Christ is Lord even over his enemies and ours. And part of what this means is that the authority of Scripture, which is the verbal expression of Christ's lordship, is authoritative even over those who reject it" (37). This outstanding statement is followed with a fundamental element of any apologetical argument, namely "The Bible is authoritative not because we accept it as such, but because it is the word of the risen Lord" (37).

Chapter two focuses on the importance of the lordship of Christ and its central place in the covenantal approach to apologetics. This important point has often been overlooked in the many books on apologetics I've read that spend considerable time talking about how to defend the faith without ever fully defining the faith we should defend. I appreciate the fact that Dr. Oliphint doesn't assume but instead is very explicit in this chapter about the importance of the Lordship of Christ over all of life.

The next chapter three sets forth the ten tenets that a Reformed, covenantal apologetic should embrace along with a discussion of the place of apologetics itself. It is often said that Reformed theology minded individuals are "stuff and stodgy" theologians who value precision over people. In this chapter, rather than stuffiness and stodginess what we see is a theologian doing the very thing he promotes in this book, that of doing apologetics to the glory of God. As Oliphint elucidates his topic, he gets to the heart of the matter by not arguing based on just methodology but rather the need to have a biblical-theological framework when doing apologetics. Many people will find this frustrating because they want to get to the "principles" of how to defend the faith. It is precisely for this reason and for such people that this book is needed. We live in an hour where people are perishing for lack of knowledge. This chapter will revolutionize your approach to apologetics from chasing the "latest fad" to focusing on a biblical-theological approach. Even if you disagree with Dr. Oliphint's approach, it is important to nevertheless recognize the fact that apologetics must be that which is biblical and glorifies God. Oliphint grounds his remarks in this chapter in God's creation and in His revealed Word. In doing so, he follows classic Reformed orthodoxy which was concerned with understanding who God is, what He is like, and why that matters. In addition, Oliphant demonstrates how to engage in a covenantal way those who oppose both the faith and Christ.

Oliphant next examines how Covenantal Apologetics relates to persuading men and women of the truth of biblical Christianity. He notes, "In the sample dialogs set out thus far, there remain questions that could have come up, issues that might have been discussed, objections that were not addressed. This is not a flaw, but is endemic to the approach itself, and may be one of the reasons why some initially find this approach to be so daunting. But there is a very fruitful and biblical reason why gaps remain in any dialog set forth in this way. It has to do with the way in which we think about apologetics- a way that has its focused, not so much in demonstrative proofs for God's existence but in persuasion" (126). The author explains the reason for this is "deeply theological" (127). One of the chief concerns I have about the modern apologetics movement is the fascination with those who claim allegiance to Christ but focus more on giving "evidences" for the faith. Christianity is a doctrinal religion first and foremost with its beliefs springing from Scripture. If we present Christianity as only a matter of knowing the right answers or having the "right" evidence, we have done away with biblical Christianity and thus are not offering a proper apologetic to Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses or others who oppose biblical Christianity. Christians must value intellectual rigor while balancing that with growth in the grace of God and experiencing the liberty they have because of Christ. The argument Dr. Oliphint presents is helpful because our defense is not found in ourselves, but rather in the Gospel and the power of God who alone is able to open men and women's eyes to the truth.

The next topic Oliphant addresses is how Christians can destroy arguments that are hostile to Christianity beginning his argument with the salient point "It is the responsibility of every Christian to defend and commend the gospel" (162). He explains that apologetics has two distinct tasks, namely a positive and a negative approach. In regards to these approaches, Oliphant avers, "Positively, the task of apologetics is to commend the Christian faith to those who are affected by, even enslaved to, unbelief. Negatively, the task of apologetics is to refute the challenges to the truth of the Christian position" (164-165). He further explains, "These two tasks, the positive and the negative, should not be separated; they can sometimes be incorporated and applied simultaneously, and it should be our goal to accomplish both, if possible. One can commend the Christian faith even while defending I against attacks. One can destroy an argument even while defending it against attacks. One can destroy an argument while building another one. It is possible to defend the Christian faith, thus answering or responding to a particular attack on Christianity, without immediately offering it as the truth of the matter. There is a place for this kind of defense; it is good to thing to clear the field." (165).

In chapter six, Oliphant discusses the mode of persuasion as a biblical tactic in a covenantal apologetic framework observing that "first, the Word of God, the knowledge of God that all people possess, and God's universal mercy toward all people even those who are an remain in Adam" (193) are three elements one can use in persuading people of the truth. Oliphant rightly notes the connection between apologetics and evangelism defining the task of defending the faith as "premeditated evangelism" (198) affirming "It is evangelism in that our goal is a defense of, and thus a communication of, the Christian faith. It is also premeditated in that our defense includes our own thinking and analysis of the implications of our Christian faith to situations, problems, attacks and objections that might come our way" (198).

Oliphant concludes his effort with an overview of how Covenantal Apologetics "meets atheism or various other forms of unbelief" (225). He focuses on three aspects of how to appropriately deal with those who oppose biblical Christianity. The first aspect is "we must be acutely aware of exactly who the god of the other religion is" (230). Second, "it will help us to see how the false religion deals with its god's relationship to creation" (231). Finally, we must understand "something of the false religions theory of revelation" (231). Oliphant closes this book by rightly emphasizing the importance of contending for the faith with the reality "that the Lord of hosts is the commander of the army and not we ourselves. As his loyal subjects, we fight in full recognition that he alone is in charge, and he alone will procure whatever victory he deems fit and appropriate. As his subjects, we must be vigilant to use only his weapons, and content that those weapons always accomplish the perfect will of our commander in chief" (260).

This review merely scratches the surface of the depth of this book. As I worked through this book, I found myself as one who holds to Reformed Theology agreeing with the overall approach Oliphant advocates. Biblical apologetics is concerned to give not only answers that demonstrate the truthfulness of the Word of God, but more importantly to make much of Jesus. It is for this reason that Covenantal Apologetics succeeds. This book will serve all sides of the apologetics spectrum well. For some, this book will be a heavy dose of biblical and theological reading, while for others it will be a call to a biblical-theological approach to apologetics. Regardless of where you are in your Christian life or your journey of growing in your understanding of apologetics, Covenantal Apologetics has something for you. It is thoroughly grounded in the Word and glorifies God, which as Oliphant clearly notes, is the ultimate purpose of apologetics. I can think of no better book on this topic to read, to digest and apply to one's approach to apologetics Oliphant's effort. At the end of the day, that is the highest recommendation one can give for any book.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid intro to Oliphint's apologetic 22 Aug 2013
By Jude M St John - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Book Review - Covenantal Apologetics

Since reading his exceptional book on God's condescension, God With Us, I have been compelled to get my hands on and read all of Scott Oliphint's material. I have finished several of his other books and have others in queue. And for this reason-a desire to become familiar with all of Oliphint's writings-I have been eagerly anticipating his 2013 offering, Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith. I have now crossed this book off my "to read" list and gladly endorse it.

Oliphint sets out two main goals for this book: "to lay out the primary biblical and theological principles that must be part of any covenantal defense of Christianity and then to demonstrate how these principles might be applied against certain objections" (29-30). As the book's subtitle suggests, this work is about the principles and practice of covenantal apologetics.

In the first chapter Oliphint lays out some key concepts and ideas as he introduces his self-named approach to apologetics. He indicates immediately that there is a conflict which all humans participate in and as Christians we are called to the task of "defending and commending the truth of Christianity" (32-3). We are to defend and commend the Christian truth which is the only true and real perspective available to humans. Oliphint introduces covenantal apologetics by looking at ideas around God's aseity, His condescension, covenant, sin, and humanity's innate knowledge of God and our suppression of that knowledge. Perhaps the most important content in this book comes in this chapter with Oliphint revealing the Ten Tenets of covenantal apologetics. Oliphint delivers these crucial tenets and effectively explains them. This first chapter does a thorough job of demonstrating the author's apologetic approach.

The second chapter expounds on ideas integral to this defense of Christianity that were introduced in the first chapter. Oliphint discusses the transcendent otherness of God and God's condescension in creating and relating to creation (He is excellent on these topics...as good as or better than anyone I have read). Oliphint then moves from principles to practice and gives two examples where we can see this defense in action. He also considers two foundational tactics; undermining erroneous presuppositions (non-Christian) and reinforcing true presuppositions (Christian).

Chapter three attempts to clarify how the ten tenets of Oliphint's apologetic relate to proofs for arguments by elaborating on the principles themselves and locating them in some historical debates. His analysis of Paul's address to the Athenians in Acts 17 is enlightening and enjoyable. He presents what it means to prove things in general and to prove the existence of God in particular. And he demonstrates how this might work with actual recorded discussions between a humanist and a Christian. The discussion is evaluated and then reconfigured from the Christian's perspective in a manner that is more aligned with Oliphint's own approach. These examples are very helpful in bringing clarity.

Chapter four is an in-depth look at how we are to persuade others as we defend and commend our faith. This was a fascinating chapter that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and contemplating. Oliphint discusses the ethos of persuasion which is basically the persuader's character, the pathos of persuasion which involves an understanding of those being addressed, and finally the logos of persuasion which is the content in defense which is, of course, God's Word. This paradigm was new to me but I found it aptly explained and quite intriguing.

Chapters 5-7 are mostly concerned with the practice of this apologetic and in them we are given detailed examples of covenantal apologetics in action. Sometimes the imagined scenarios became quite complex, but I never felt lost or in the dark even though it was some intellectual work to get through. It is encouraging to see how this defense deals with some of the most difficult questions and attacks a Christian will face. Though the responses given in defense of Christianity might be largely beyond what the reader is presently capable of, they give a would-be apologist hope and direction.

This book was, as I said earlier, eagerly anticipated and it did not disappoint. It successfully delivers and defines the principles of covenantal apologetics and demonstrates how they could work in the real world. Oliphint brings clarity with his concise and accessible explanations and his examples are readable and relatable even if they are beyond what many of us are capable of. It is clear that Oliphint hopes that Covenantal Apologetics will be used by the Lord to help the reader generate "a holy, persuasive, gentle and respectful response to unbelief" (262). I believe his hope is not in vain. I definitely recommend this book.

I was given a copy of this book for the purpose of review.
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