Skip to main content

Covenantal Apologetics

Covenantal Apologetics




Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith by K. Scott Oliphint

With a number of books already making an impact in the field of apologetics, author and professor K. Scott Oliphint tries his hand at a covenantal approach in his new book entitled Covenantal Apologetics.  The design of the book ranges on things from defining covenantal apologetics, condescension and apologetics, burden of proof and persuasion.  Interspersed throughout the book are sample arguments between a covenantal apologist and atheist, Muslim and naturalistic apologists.  In turn, Scott builds his case for specific apologetic principles in the preceding pages of the chapter and then uses those same principles in his sample exchanges.  The method that was used here was immensely helpful because it grounded the principles in real-life situations, giving a reader like me an opportunity to see how these principles function in conversation.

In writing about the trivium of persuasion found in Aristotle (ethos, pathos, and logos), Scott centers his thoughts upon the impact that ethos (the personal character of the speaker) has upon the conversation (139-145).  In specificially commenting upon ethos, Scott writes, “What should also be obvious concerning the ethos of persuasion, and what we have not broached to this point, is that in our defense of Christianity, as in the entirety of our Christian lives, we are to be a holy people.  We are to mirror the holiness of our Father in heaven.  We cannot and should not expect that anyone or any audience will be anxious to listen to us, or be persuaded by us, if our own character is obviously and explicitly immoral or otherwise suspect” (144).  Reflecting Schaeffer’s point that the greatest apologetic we have is our life, here, Scott makes the unwavering connection that our holiness in Christ concretely reflects to others our seriousness about faith, God, and truth.  I would add also that one of the reasons why holiness is so attractive to those interested in the Christian faith is that it demands an honesty of life and even failure that is seldom seen in the modern world.  Scott goes onto give the example of Paul, who would certainly have not footing in the ground of Mars Hill were it not for his blameless character (145).

In the beginning of the book Scott develops some basic principles for understanding apologetics.  Early on he writes, “The point for the Christian, however, 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 point is extremely important because it alleviates the need of the apologist to make a perfect argument or craft a thrilling proposal for the Christian faith.  The Lord Jesus being sovereign over all people, including his enemies gives the apologist great comfort in all kinds of situations.  Furthermore, knowing that the authority of Scripture is of great importance because we know that it paints a true picture of reality (of sin, redemption, evil, suffering, and truth), even while the person we sit across from rejects its authority in total.  We have a firm ground to stand on not because of a clever argument but because of a sovereign Lord.  The inextricable link that Scott writes about between the Lordship of Christ and the authority of Scripture is important because it unravels the nature of revelation, a revelation that holds together the incarnation and redemption we have in Christ.

Overall, this book was a very good look into a Reformed covenantal apologetic.  You won’t want to miss Scott’s interaction between a Muslim believer and a covenantal apologist.  In this argument Scott pushes the Muslim to agree that his faith affords him no full assurance of faith based upon his view of Allah. These engagements show how a covenantal apologetic brings together the best of logic, Scripture, and holiness.


Thanks to Crossway Publishers for the complimentary review copy of this book in exchange for review.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Misperceptions, misconnections, and missed observations are just some of the issues that Timothy Snyder raises in his book, Black Earth, concerning the Holocaust.  Snyder, no stranger to the frontlines of scholarship on the Holocaust, with his previous book Bloodlands, that concerns the land from Hitler to Stalin, takes a look at the Holocaust from new sources and new avenues of thought.  How did some nation-states survive relatively unscathed from Nazi persecution while others, notably Jewish populations, succumb to a wave of killings?  Also, what was the role of the Soviet Union in the war and how did Stalin effect changes in the Final Solution?  These questions are only two of the many that Snyder answers in his detailed account of the Holocaust.
One of the best chapters was entitled The Auschwitz Paradox.  Generally when the public thinks about the Holocaust, we think of Auschwitz first or at the top of our mental m…

the great spiritual migration

The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D McLaren

Brian McLaren and his own pithy way brings to the foreground and emphasis on a new kind of Christianity. The kind of faith that Brian envisions is a kind of migration not been set in the bedrock of beliefs that is unmoving but rather shifting with both culture and with faith. His new book the great spiritual migration is exactly that, a pointed work that encapsulates a vision towards the future where Christianity is changing and its peoples lives are changed as well.

Brian states in the introduction, "but we also know that for a lot of people Christianity is malfunctioning, seriously so, and it's not pretty. This kind of frustration with conventional Christianity is what McLaren gets gets to at the heart of this message is concerned with a number of different clusters unbelief. One, namely that Christianity has been stuck in a set of propositions or beliefs that has controlled churches in the faith, rather then a spirit of love t…

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson Publishers
Growing up with the NIV, the NKJV was not a bible I was familiar with.  This new NKJV Study Bible takes all of the features of the Thomas Nelson Study Bible and makes them better.  Right out of the box I noticed that the Bible was considerably lighter than most study bibles I have read.  Further, the text font was much larger than most study editions, although I’m not quite sure of the size. The aquamarine color was a great touch and the Bible was finely put together, enduring the wear of many coming years of use.
Why is this Bible worth the purchase?  First, the study notes were great for extra handling of particular confusing and messy areas of Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments.  Yet, the study notes aren’t an obstruction to the reading of the biblical text.  Clearly, the editors have taken great care in making the text stand out and the notes illuminate certain themes and areas of Scripture.  Second, the NKJV takes into account all t…