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Interview: K. Scott Oliphint, Author of “Covenantal Apologetics,” Interviewed by Justin Taylor

In what Dr. Albert Mohler calls “an arsenal of apologetic insight”, Covenantal Apologetics (July 2013) offers an introduction to Reformed apologetics, explores foundational principles, and gives guidance for talking with unbelievers.

Learn more about Oliphant’s “principles and practice in defense of our faith” in this extended interview with Justin Taylor:

Watch video on vimeo.com

Video Time-stamp Index:

0:00 Why write an introduction to covenantal apologetics?
3:42 What are common missteps in evangelical approaches to apologetics?
7:31 What situations (if any) necessitate going on the offensive against unbelief?
12:52 What is the role of persuasion and argument in covenantal apologetics?
21:29 How can covenantal apologetics fight doubt within the hearts of Christians themselves?
24:41 Why did you include sample dialogues in the book, and how do you see these being helpful?
33:06 Closing Comments

Learn more | Preview an excerpt | Buy Now

Weekly Ebook Specials: Books by K. Scott Oliphint

This week we’re featuring titles written or edited by K. Scott Oliphint, professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary and author of Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith (new this month).

To learn more about each title, click on the covers below to find them at Crossway.org. You’ll also find the ebooks at their reduced prices on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshout, Christianbook.com, eChristian, ibooks (apple), Vyrso, or your participating independent bookstore’s site. Discounted prices available through 7/15/2013.*

Featured New Release:

Covenantal Apologetics

Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith

By K. Scott Oliphint

$19.99

With the rise of unbelief—from skeptics to adherents of other religions—knowing how to defend the Christian faith has never been more important. This introduction to Reformed apologetics explores foundational principles and offers practical guidance for talking with unbelievers.

Learn more | Watch a Video | Buy Now

This Week’s Ebook Specials:

Christian Apologetics Past and Present

Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A Primary Source Reader (Volume 1, To 1500)

Edited by K. Scott Oliphint and William Edgar

$26.99 $3.99

An unprecedented anthology of apologetics texts with selections from the first century AD through the Middle Ages. Includes introductory material and explanatory notes. Among the featured apologists are Aristides, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, Anselm, and Thomas Aquinas.

Christian Apologetics Past and Present - Vol. 2

Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A Primary Source Reader (Volume 2, From 1500)

Edited by K. Scott Oliphint and William Edgar

$38.99 $3.99

Volume 2 of a substantial anthology covers Christian apologetics from the Reformation (AD 1500) through the present. Includes excerpts from twenty-six apologists, along with introductions to each and reflection questions.

God with Us

God with Us: Divine Condescension and the Attributes of God

By K. Scott Oliphint

$17.99 $2.99

A study of the character of God and the way he relates to creation, both of which are uniquely revealed and explained in Christ. Helps Christians think biblically about the nature of the triune God and relationship with him.

Things that Cannot Be Shaken

Things That Cannot Be Shaken: Holding Fast to Your Faith in a Relativistic World

By K. Scott Oliphint and Rod Mays

$9.99 $1.99

The current cultural climate does not encourage or equip Christians to remain tethered to the truth, but this book will. The authors focus on those “things that cannot be shaken” (Heb. 12:27)—specifically providing biblical responses to the concerns that Christians frequently encounter in the dorm room, the classroom, and the workplace.

 


Coming Up Next Week: Defining, Defending, and Living out the Gospel

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July 9, 2013 | Posted in: Apologetics,Books,Digital,Publishing,Theology,Weekly Ebook Specials | Author: Ted Cockle @ 11:26 am | 0 Comments »

Inerrancy Part 3: Why is Inerrancy So Often Under Attack?

Even those of us who love God’s word and defend the inerrancy of it are sometimes confused by its perceived discrepancies. Vern Poythress, Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary and author of Inerrancy and Worldview and Inerrancy and the Gospels, fields a few frequently asked questions about the trustworthiness of the Bible, helping us better understand and communicate these concepts.

Read part 1 and part 2 of this series.

Why is the concept of inerrancy so often under attack? How do you address it?

I am not sure of all the reasons for the attacks, but let me mention some that seem to me to be at work.

The most basic reason is sin. We fail to trust God. And this takes the form of not trusting what he says. We dishonor God and have “other gods before” him when our trust wanders among other sources. Defenders of inerrancy may be tempted to point the finger only at their opponents, but we should confess that this is a universal problem, because sin is universal. I may firmly believe in inerrancy, but still secretly want to twist the meaning of the Bible in my favor. I may firmly believe in inerrancy, but still be frightened and worried and not trust in God when I confront a family crisis or sickness or death. There is no easy remedy here. Christ died and was raised to take away sin–that is the fundamental resource for us. But we spend our whole lives as Christians growing in applying those truths to our lives, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

In addition, the surrounding culture and the “subculture” of mainstream biblical scholarship may increase the difficulties and temptations. In the USA and Europe, the culture is losing its earlier Christian moorings, and becoming skeptical toward the Bible, skeptical of authority, skeptical of absolute claims, and confident in the pronouncements of science, biblical “experts,” postmodern insights, and the culturally dominant view of what makes sense. Believers who are disturbed by the trends may withdraw from interaction, but retain an uneasy feeling underneath that they do not dare to look at the difficulties, lest their own faith be destroyed. Other believers choose to interact robustly with the surrounding culture; but it takes real hardiness on their part to avoid being partly swayed by cultural assumptions. For instance, with part of their minds they may unwittingly swallow the modern view that history is bare events. Then, when they see the differences in the Gospels, they are tempted to compromise on inerrancy, even though they continue to hold on to the basics of faith. They may say to themselves, “Well, the Gospels in their core are still telling me about Jesus, and I can still believe in him, but I can’t simply trust the Gospels themselves, beyond a basic core, because they have this ‘human overlay’ of meaning.” Instead, they should reject this alternative and continue to have full confidence in the Gospels as divine words–they should see that the theological aspects in the Gospels give us aspects of divine meaning, and not a merely human “overlay” on allegedly “bare” events.

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October 24, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Apologetics,Inspiration & Inerrancy of Scripture,Life & Doctrine,Scripture,Theology | Author: Crossway Author @ 7:00 am | 0 Comments »

Inerrancy Part 2: How do You Reconcile the Discrepancies in the Gospels?

Even those of us who love God’s Word and defend the inerrancy of it are sometimes confused by its perceived discrepancies. Vern Poythress, Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary and author of Inerrancy and Worldview and Inerrancy and the Gospels, fields a few frequently asked questions about the trustworthiness of the Bible to help us better understand and communicate these concepts. Read part 1 of this series and be sure to stop by tomorrow for part 3.

What are the most prominent discrepancies in the gospels and how do you reconcile them?

What is most “prominent” may depend on the eye of the beholder. There are certainly many apparent discrepancies, some easy and some difficult. In some ways the most prominent apparent discrepancy consists in the differences between the Gospels in the presentation of the person of Christ himself (see previous answer). These differences can be quite dramatic for someone who has never noticed them before. But many believers have not found the differences to be much of a problem. They can see the compatibility. Jesus reveals the Father (as he does in the Gospel of John) precisely in his revealing himself as king of the Jews and Messiah (Matthew) and in revealing his compassion for the outcasts (Luke), a compassion that also reveals the heart of the Father (Luke 15). Jesus also reveals the Father by casting out demons and waging war on evil, as he does prominently in the Gospel of Mark.

When people have difficulty with these differences, the difficulty often comes from their assumptions about the meaning of historical events. The world around us often assumes that real “history” is “bare” events, and all interpretation of the meaning of events is a human addition. But this is a false, unbiblical view of the issue. God has a plan for all of history, and even the details of events are included in his comprehensive plan. There is meaning in his plan, even before the events actually take place. Through the Holy Spirit God empowered the Gospel writers to write in such a way as to show the meanings of events–meanings that were already there, not meanings “invented” by the writers. Each writer had his own human individuality, but God created and raised up the writer (Ps. 139) to be just who he was, and so the differences are what God wanted, not merely what each human writer wanted.  Thus what we read in each Gospel is “the real thing,” an aspect of God’s own understanding of the events, written for our benefit. We are not getting a merely human “overlay” on bare events.

Some more specialized principles for dealing with discrepancies can be developed, once we have in place an understanding of the relation of history to God. Any account of an event, even an account given to us by God himself, is going to be selective rather than exhaustive. We will never have every detail and every angle of meaning about every detail. That means that not mentioning a detail is not an error. The Gospel writers are constantly selective, and when we lay two Gospels side by side, we regularly see details in one Gospel that are omitted in another. We can include here also the issue of details about geographical location and chronology. Often one of the Gospels describes an event without indicating explicitly when and where it took place. It is easy to assume that it must have taken place in the same location as the previous episode, and that it must have taken place at a time immediately after the episode that immediately precedes it on the page. But both of those moves are merely assumptions. They go beyond what the Gospel actually says. Consequently, we should not feel disappointed when we find that one or more episodes in one of the Gospels seems to be “out of chronological order” when compared with another Gospel. We should also acknowledge that, even when we take all four Gospels together, they do not give us enough explicit information to enable us to construct for certain a complete chronology. Of course the Gospels do indicate in some cases that one event follows another chronologically. But they do not always give us such information. Again, we can acknowledge that God is wiser than we are. God may on occasion have empowered a Gospel writer to place together material that is related thematically, rather than chronologically, so that we can better appreciate the thematic ties. God has given us what we need, not what we think we need (e.g., a single, completely chronological account).

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October 23, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Apologetics,Inspiration & Inerrancy of Scripture,Life & Doctrine,Scripture,Theology | Author: Crossway Author @ 7:00 am | 0 Comments »

Inerrancy Part 1: If God Wrote the Bible, Why Are There so Many Discrepancies?

Even those of us who love God’s word and defend the inerrancy of it are sometimes confused by its perceived discrepancies. Vern Poythress, Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary and author of Inerrancy and Worldview and Inerrancy and the Gospels, fields a few frequently asked questions about the trustworthiness of the Bible, helping us better understand and communicate these concepts. Stick with us for this 3 part series.

If God wrote the Bible for our benefit, why are there so many discrepancies within it?

Some apparent discrepancies can be resolved, and the resolution gives us added riches. The four Gospels present us with different emphases in the way that they present the life of Christ.

  • Matthew emphasizes that Jesus is the king of the Jews.
  • Luke emphasizes Jesus’s compassion on outcasts.
  • John emphasizes the fellowship between the Father and the Son, and the Son as the one who reveals the Father.

The differences in emphasis can look like discrepancies if we come to the Bible with bad assumptions. But we are richer in our understanding of Christ when we use all four Gospels and understand that Christ is all of the things that all four Gospels portray.

But some things are more difficult. We have no guarantee from God that we as human beings will always have enough information to be able to “solve” everything to our satisfaction. Apparent discrepancies can challenge us partly because we don’t know why they are there. God is God, and he does not always show us why he does what he does. When he does not “explain himself,” it can be disturbing and frustrating to us. But such times can be opportunities as well—opportunities to remind ourselves that God does not exist for our benefit. He is under no obligation to tell us everything that we want to know. “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29).

Right here we can already see one practical purpose for difficulties and challenges in the Bible. They can encourage our humility and sobriety. If we are seeking genuinely to serve God, God can use them to suppress our desire to complain and to think that we know better than he does how to run the world. The challenge is closely related to trust. Do we trust God on the basis of who he is, on the basis of what he has done through Christ, and on the basis of his promises, even when we cannot see why–even when, temporarily, he does not seem to be trustworthy or to be on our side? First Peter 1:6-7 talks about “trials,” in which faith is “tested by fire.” Intellectual challenges in the form of apparent discrepancies are really part of the broader biblical picture about trials. We modern people do not want to hear that–we want comfort, not trials. The Bible promises God’s comfort in the midst of trials (2 Cor. 1:4-6). Once we realize that God’s ways have this depth, we can see better what a walk by faith really means.

The Psalms show cases where saints wrestled over the apparent discrepancy between God’s goodness and the fact that he was not acting to deliver the righteous and punish the wicked (Pss. 10; 73; 89). They wrestled with a difficulty that had intellectual as well as spiritual and emotional dimensions. God called on Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Did that make sense? These wrestlings are ultimately linked to the sacrifice of Christ. Did Christ’s death “make sense”? Where was God when the only perfectly righteous man was dying an unjust death? In this one case the Bible does give us an answer, involving God’s eternal plan for Christ to be our sin-bearer. God calls on us to trust him elsewhere even when we cannot “check out” everything to our own satisfaction. Whether or not we succeed in solving a difficulty within this life, the difficulties should lead us to seek God and his wisdom.

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October 22, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Apologetics,Inspiration & Inerrancy of Scripture,Life & Doctrine,Scripture,Theology | Author: Crossway Author @ 7:00 am | 0 Comments »