Book Review: Christian Apologetics Past & Present-Vol. 2
Edited By: William Edgar & K. Scott Oliphint
Publisher: Crossway ISBN: 9781581349078
This is a book I am highly pleased to add to my library. At just under seven hundred fifty pages it is not a “light-weight” book, but because of the way it is written and the fact it is a compilation keeps it accessible and easy to read. Additionally, because it is a compilation and divided into several parts, I am comfortable pulling it from the shelf to read for brief periods of time and using it as a frequently-called-upon resource tool.
Christian Apologetics Past & Present is subtitled “A Primary Source Reader” and is the second of a two-volume set. This volume spans the Christian timeline from year 1500 to present. It is exactly as it proclaims itself, a primary source reader. There are writings from over twenty-five theologians included in this compendium with quite a few more mentioned and cited throughout the book. I personally know of no other source that lists and included the diversity of theological thought in a single volume. It thrills me to have such breadth, depth, and diversity of theology in one book. This diversity does have its trade-off; however, in the fact that there is not time, space, or opportunity to go into great detail of explanation of the theologian’s writings. The benefit is in providing the high-level introduction to some of the most important Christian writing over the last five hundred years since the Reformation.
The writings in the book are well cited and referenced providing the reader with all the information needed to dig deeper should they desire. The sections are broken into four primary parts with sub-sections or chapters devoted to some of the greatest contributors to that particular period of thought. For instance, Part One is Reformation, Post-Reformation (Protestant), and Catholic Reformation and includes works from Martin Luther, John Calvin, Robert Bellarmine, and John Owen. As I have said, representative of a very diverse group of thinkers. Subsequent sections include the following: Modernity and the Challenge of Reason, The Global Era: Christian Faith and a Changing World, and Issues Today and Tomorrow.
I am greatly impressed with the editors’ decisions on who to include in this volume although I was a little surprised by some of the theologians they opted not to include. In fairness, I understand that there has to be a criteria established and a line has to be drawn somewhere; it is with this mind that I do not envy or fault the editorial team for their decisions. Also, to the credit of Edgar and Oliphint, they do not offer a lot of commentary or opinion related to the writing or belief of the theologians included in this body of work, but they allow the writing of the theologians to stand on their own accord. It should also be noted that the majority of these pieces are excerpted from more comprehensive pieces. This means that your interaction with the writer may require your reading the theologian’s thoughts in full disclosure by going to the source publication.
In summary, I am delighted to have a copy of this book. While it may not be the end-all source for Christian apologetics, it is absolutely the best collective overview that I’ve ever held in my hands. If I have any con or regret over this book, it will be that it cost me quite a few dollars in purchases toward the primary source of some of the writings I was introduced to and the purchase of Volume One in this Christian Apologetics set, Christian Apologetics Past and Present (Volume 1, To 1500). I consider this set a “must” for any serious Christian Library.