Use the word apologetics and quite likely a great number of things will come to mind ranging from two people dressed in suits on a stage arguing about a variety of complicated approaches to engaging scripture in a manner that seems far removed from something the average laymen could ever understand. Given Scripture commands “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15), it is thus important for all believers to understand what doing apologetics is all about and why it is an essential element of our walk with God and how we interact with the world around us.
Brian Morley in his very helpful book Mapping Apologetics: Comparing Contemporary Approaches, outlines the various methodologies related to the doing of apologetics. This is a survey book and in it, Morley focuses on providing the reader with an overview of the key figures over the years in the field of apologetics, their respective systems of apologetics, how they are similar and how they differ, and most importantly, Morley shares how each system can be used to do what apologetics should be focused on to begin with, that of sharing the message of Scripture and the truth contained therein.
There is much to enjoy about this book. The topic of apologetics can get quite heady very quickly, especially when matters of a philosophical nature are included as well as the seemingly never ending list of theological terminology that can make many a readers mind shudder. While Morley does not shy away from engaging the technical and philosophical aspects of apologetical methods and their proponents, he does so in a way that helps the reader understand what each apologetics method is focused on doing, why it approaches things in the manner it does, and the pros and cons if you will of each of those constructs.
The one element I most appreciated about this book was the “Thinking it Over” section found at the end of each chapter. In these respective sections, Morley provides a lengthy list of questions for the reader to ponder that both reflect back on the information provided in that chapter and challenging the reader to engage the information discussed on an even deeper level of thought and action. For instance, in his chapter on John Frame, Morley asks the salient question of “Can the believer and nonbeliever know the same thing?” Now Morley covered Frame’s position on that question so the reader can certainly reflect on what Frame thought; however, the intent of asking such a question is to help the reader examine that particular apologists’ train of thought and apologetical methodology and whether that approach can answer some important theological questions.
Other added bonuses provided in this book are definitions of key apologetical terminology and an excellent collection of recommended resources by the specific apologists Morley explores in this book as well as texts written on those apologists and their respective apologetical methods. I would venture to say that even those well versed in the field of apologetics and familiar with the various apologists discussed in this book will find that after reading Morley’s excellent book, they will have added to their body of knowledge and understanding of apologetics in general and the methods by which apologetics is conducted.
This would make an excellent Bible College or Seminary text on apologetics, it would be a valuable book for a church small group to use, and it also is a wonderful tool for all believers to have as it contains a wealth of information on apologetics. As we noted earlier, doing apologetics is not just the responsibility of academics and those who like to debate. All believers are called to defend the faith and to share why it is they believe God’s Word to be truth. Morley’s book will go a long way to helping believers understand the various ways of doing apologetics. I highly recommend this book.
This book is available for purchase from IVP Academic by clicking here.
I received this book for free from IVP Academic for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”