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v o l u m e 1 8 : 3 0 ( 1,1 6 6 ) / A u g u s t 7 , 2 0 1 3
In this issue:
influenced Christian philosophy and apologetics “more than any other contemporary thinker”?
+ a brief update on John W. Loftus, the A THEISM - has Alvin Plantinga
activist skeptic who targets Christian apologists
C HRISTOLOGY - responding to the
“progressive” theology of resurrection as metaphor and apparition
Publisher: Apologia • www.apologia.org Contact: ar.feedback(at)apologia.org Post Office Box 7112 Pueblo, CO 81007 Phone: (719) 225-3467 Editor: Rich Poll Contributing Editor: Paul Carden
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ATHEISM Issue 54:1 of Southwestern Journal of Theology5 has a focus on “The New Atheism,” and it does a nice job of packaging the subject. It begins with “Outrageous Quotes by New Atheists” (pp3-5), which illustrates “the dismissive and hostile attitude of the new atheism, as well as the outrageous claims made [by] several of the key authors in the movement.” In his introduction to this issue, John D. Laing explains (pp6-12): “The articles in this issue are not meant to address all of the claims and arguments made by the new atheists, but rather to meet some of the most outlandish and/or compelling, while offering some advice for engaging atheists in dialog. ... “The reader may also notice that a number of the articles reference the apologetic work of Alvin Plantinga. Perhaps more than any other contemporary thinker, Plantinga has impacted the discipline of Christian philosophy and apologetics. ... His entire career has been dedicated to engaging the arguments of atheism at the scholarly level with the philosophical rigor of a logician....” Laing provides “a brief summary of his work and its impact on the discussion,” observing that it is “perhaps best to think of Plantinga’s work as including defensive and offensive apologetics. ... “Plantinga is most famous for his response to the evidentialist argument against theism, in which the claim is made that one may only be justified in believing something on sufficient evidence. ... The idea is that persons can only be justified in believing in God if they do so because they have been convinced of His existence by some sort of evidence, and this, usually by means of an argument from the evidence or for basic beliefs. Plantinga questions the premise that belief works this way, and offers counter-examples to the claim.” Thank God for Laing’s willingness to brave “significant risk of oversimplification” here in favor of providing a masterfully concise analysis. There is also “How to Debate an Atheist — If You Must” by William Dembski (pp5570). Rather than serious technical instruction, Dembski takes a pastoral approach
(which defies easy summarization here). Finally, John B. Howell III offers comments on Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion,3 accessible for download at <www. ow.ly/nHbV6> The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails, John W. Loftus, ed.1 — Amos Briscoe’s helpful review contains little criticism and no significant response. After a brief bibliographic survey of the work that Loftus has produced, Briscoe notes that “since Loftus comes from a Stone-Campbell heritage (studying under James Strauss and William Lane Craig) and once preached in churches of this perspective, it is unlikely that faithful scholars of this heritage will stop engaging and responding to him....” Briscoe adds that this book is “his first attempt to collect the essays of a number of like-minded skeptics. ... “In an effort to provide some direction to this collection of essays, Loftus has arranged them under five headings. These five parts are: ‘Why Faith Fails,’ ‘Why the Bible Is Not God’s Word,’ ‘Why the Christian God Is Not Good,’ ‘Why Jesus Is Not the Risen Son of God,’ and ‘Why Society Does Not Depend on Christian Faith.’ At once, readers can see that Loftus and company are not concerned with broad philosophical arguments over God’s existence but instead are more narrowly focused on criticizing Christianity’s theology and Scripture, often with the more acute task of responding to the views of Christian apologists. This approach is consistent with Loftus’s view of his role as standing in the gap between Christians and atheists. He wants to be the atheist that engages the arguments of Christian scholars rather than dismissing them, and he wants Christians to return the favor. ... “While Loftus’s low view of Christianity will continue to disappoint the faithful, he is part of a long-overdue movement (on both sides of the debate) away from blind apologetics and generic arguments, and toward something more communicative, engaging, and human. Much of the material in this volume represents responses to real Christian scholarship. Believers should congratulate such honest disagreements
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knows that Jesus was not merely ‘resuscitated’ to return to mortal existence. . major commonalities exist among such figures as John Shelby Spong. Wright. and Jürgen Moltmann..com/ApologiaReport ..ly/nCwcc> 6 . as it appears Randal Rauser will be doing in God or Godless?” 3 StoneCampbell Journal.6 For an opposing view regarding Loftus and his credentials: <www.” Touchstone. Wright (Fortress.” After examining the terms “metaphor” and “apparition” (and how progressives apply them). <www.mp/g4A37x> 3 . . Marcus Borg.. ed.. innovative ‘mutation’ within Judaism that requires explanation.Southwestern Journal of Theology (Southern Baptist).4 Wright challenges common progressivist arguments against the uniqueness of Jesus’ resurrection.Atheism (continued) that acknowledge Christian academia and return the favor. Wells acknowledges that “Critical questions are raised.The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails. 2013. all influential authors among our church folk.2012. pp259-262. and know that the Bible includes symbol. claiming that many Christians “have much in common with those who call themselves ‘progressive. com/3moy3x4> 2 . such as the frequent claim that it is analogous to other ‘resurrections’ in the ancient world. One Christian. paperback. The Resurrection of the Son of God. The Progressives often speak pejoratively of ‘resuscitation’ of Jesus’ body as a naive misunderstanding. and whether Christian faith is sustainable into the future on the basis of resurrection understood in this way. 740 pages) <www.” Those mentioned include John Polkinghorne. ow. go to: http://apologia. but on the question of the resurrection of Jesus. Twenty Controversial Questions. over against these progressive perspectives on the resurrection. “Others vigorously defend the bodily character of the risen Jesus as more in line with contemporary science and philosophical anthropology.ow. bodily event. “Wright contends that ‘nowhere within Judaism.ow. <www. <www. as risen Lord and Messiah.com> Apologia Report is available free of charge and sent to you once a week via email. by John W. I will ask whether the resurrection understood in these terms is really more credible than affirming it as an actual. pp35-43.’ “Wright asserts that the proclamation of an historical individual. In Wright’s terms. hardcover. bizarre reports of the risen Jesus.ly/nHdGq> christology “The Resurrection of Jesus According to ‘Progressive Christianity’” by Harold Wells — opens with an attempt to acknowledge common ground.htm Search back issues at: www.facebook. 422 pages) <www. 2003. (Prometheus.” SOURCES: Monographs 1 . 288 pages) <www.tinyurl.’ We generally concur with their sharp opposition to simplistic biblical literalism. We feel no need to credit every miracle story as factual. T.. and recognize discrepancies and elements of legend even in the various gospel accounts of the resurrection.ow. John W.” Wells goes on to describe Wright’s interaction with Progressive leaders. 2 0 1 3 a “focus on [Crossan’s] understanding of Jesus Christ as a way of discussing the christology of Progressive Christianity.ly/ nEPuV> 4 . metaphor and legend. whose vast knowledge of ancient religious and philosophical texts outshines (in my view) even that of Crossan.The God Delusion.. Jesus.org/htm/subscribe..’ .ly/nEPQT> SOURCES: Periodicals 5 . paperback. let alone paganism. pointing to APOLOGIAreport the unprecedented. In an 800-page volume. 30:1 .’ In this brief article. But Wright. A close look a their offerings on the resurrection reveals that their main operative concepts are ‘metaphor’ and apparition. the risen Jesus existed in a ‘transphysical body.The Resurrection of the Son of God. Loftus. A major opponent is N. Subscribe now to this valuable resource! To subscribe online.Stone-Campbell Journal. by N. Wells summarizes: “Many weighty scholars and theologians affirm the bodily resurrection of Jesus..ow. 2006. Loftus and Randal Rauser (Baker. 2010.God or Godless?: One Atheist.2012. Wells concludes that “the ‘progressive’ theology of resurrection as metaphor and apparition is a pale and abstract doctrine that offers little hope of sustaining a faithful Christian community in a difficult future.stonecampbelljournal. T.ly/nEB3J> Also consider “The Christology of John Dominic Crossan — and an Alternative” by Don Schweitzer in the same issue of SWJT (pp25-34) mentioned above. Nancey Murphy.j. 15:2 .1 6 6 ) / A u g u s t 7 . of couse. by Richard Dawkins (Houghton Mifflin. is a sustained claim advanced that resurrection has actually happened to a particular individual. is a startling..tinyurl. 208 pages) <www. and offer critique of the suppositions that underlie the theology of the Progressives. “The Progressive theologians are not a well defined group. paperback. Schweitzer has v o l u m e 1 8 : 3 0 ( 1.com/archive-apologia Follow Us on Facebook: www. and John Dominic Crossan.
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