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A review of New Dictionary of Christian Apologetics. Edited by Campbell Campbell-Jack and Gavin McGrath. IVP, 2006.

Jul 24, 2006

Apologetics seeks to do several things: present the attractiveness of the Christian faith; demonstrate the reasonableness of Christianity; and clear up misconceptions and faulty understandings about Christianity. This task has been going on now for two millennia. As a result there have been a lot of apologists and apologetic methods over the centuries.

Thus the need for a dictionary such as this. It covers in one volume almost all of the main Christian thinkers, philosophers, apologists and writers who have sought to defend the Christian faith. These range from Irenaeus, Augustine and Aquinas, to Lewis, Schaeffer and Guinness.

It also features most of the objections, rivals and criticisms of the faith, be it the problem of evil, Marxism, Islam, the New Age, philosophical naturalism, scientism, nihilism, and much more.

The various schools and methods of apologetics are addressed here (evidentialism, presuppositionalism, etc.), as are the major contemporary issues impacting on the faith, such as postmodernism, information theory and globalization.

All the major apologetics topics are featured here, such as, miracles, the resurrection of Jesus, the arguments for God’s existence, science and faith, the problem of suffering, scepticism, competing truth claims, and religious pluralism.

All together there are some 400 short articles covering a wide range of material, from Abelard to Zoroastrianism. Around 200 international experts have penned these articles, most averaging around a page and a half in length. In addition there are five longer introductory articles dealing with issues such as the role of apologetics, types of apologetic systems, and the relationship between apologetics and theology.

In nearly 800 pages most important aspects of apologetics are covered. And each article has a helpful bibliography to take the reader into further study. The only thing comparable to this is the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics which appeared in 1999. Interestingly, unlike other volumes in the Baker Encyclopedia series, that volume was penned by just one author, Norman Geisler. While Geisler has been a leading Christian apologist and author for many decades now, some might argue that a number of experts can more properly do justice to such a wide field of thought than just a single author.

I happen to have a very high regard for the work of Geisler, and if anyone can pull off a single-author dictionary on apologetics, it would be him. But it is good to see Geisler’s work supplemented by this important reference work.

If forced to choose between the two, I would just slightly recommend the IVP Dictionary as your first option, but if your book space and budget allows, get both. The job of defending the faith is an on-going task, and the articles in this dictionary make for an excellent starting point for every believer who wants to sharpen his or her own thinking, and more effectively stand up for the faith.

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One Response to A review of New Dictionary of Christian Apologetics. Edited by Campbell Campbell-Jack and Gavin McGrath. IVP, 2006.

  • I never knew there was a defending of the faith encyclopedia available. One thing is for sure, it is highly needed with all the false beliefs on Christianity these days. Also, there are so many different types of Christianity many of which corrupt the true doctrine of the bible which makes it hard for people to believe the bible. This is very needful these days.

    Don Preece

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