Practical Apologetics

The Defense of the Faith

“What I am saying is true and reasonable.” With these words, the Apostle Paul presented the case for Christ to King Agrippa some two thousand years ago. Today, Christians are also called upon to make the case for Christ before a skeptical world – at the university, in the workplace, even among family and friends.

In PHI 191: Practical Apologetics, a course being offered at Wisconsin Lutheran College in Summer 2019, students will strengthen their ability to engage in apologetics – the defense of the Faith. Topics include: apologetics and evangelism, the reliability of the Scriptures, evidence and miracles, the existence of God, faith and reason, and scientific apologetics.

The intensive, one-week course is ideal for teachers, evangelists, administrators, students, and motivated lay-people who wish to be better equipped with grace and knowledge to win souls for Christ. The course can be taken for one undergraduate or graduate credit. On-campus housing is available.

The required textbook for the course is Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh and Sean McDowell. The (tentative) course syllabus and scanned pdf files of some of the assigned readings for the course can be found behind the following links.

  • Summer 2019 course syllabus
  • Berg, Michael. Postmodernism and the Theology of the Cross.
  • Tolkien, J.R.R. On Fairy-Stories. An example of literary apologetics.
  • Riskin, Jessica. The Restless Clock. Chicago And London, The University of Chicago Press, 2018, pp. 1-10. This book by a philosopher of science has an insightful discussion of the centuries-old debate of what it is that makes living things alive.
  • Stanley, Matthew. Huxley's Church and Maxwell's Demon. Chicago And London, The University of Chicago Press, 2015, pp. 1-9. A historian of science discusses the rise of atheistic science during the victorian era.
  • Dembski, William. No Free Lunch. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2007, pp. 1-44. Dembski is one of the leaders of the so-called intelligent design movement; in this book he argues that design, chance, and necessity are legitimate forms of scientific explanation.
  • Donahue, William H. Selections from Kepler's Astronomia Nova. 1635. Green Lion Press, 2004, pp. 1-28. Beginning on page 18, Kepler describes how he approaches the relationship between holy scripture and scientific theory.
  • Schumacher, E F. A Guide for the Perplexed. Harper Perennial, 1977, pp. 1-14. Schumacher is good at articulating how contemporary science differs from traditional science; he is a critic of scientific materialism.
  • Gould, Stephen Jay. Rock of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life. Random House, 2002, pp. 3-10, 49-67. A famous biologist argues that science and religion constitute "non-overlapping magisterial": science alone deals with nature and religion alone deals with ethics and meaning.
  • Craig, William L. The Cosmological Argument From Plato to Leibniz, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001, preface. This (and the next) bibliographic entry are from Craig's excellent study of a classical argument for the existence of god.
  • Craig, William L. The Cosmological Argument From Plato to Leibniz, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001, ch. 3. In chapter 3, Craig lays out the arguments of arabic philosophers and theologians. This is somewhat long and detailed; you should read up until page 61, unless you'd like to tackle some of the detailed arguments of Al-Kindi, al-Farai, Avicenna, Ghazali, and Averroes.
  • Lewis, Clive Staples. Miracles, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1978. In chapter 3 of this book, Lewis argues that naturalism is self-refuting.
  • Montgomery, J W. The Suicide of Christian Theology, 1970, pp. 267-313. John Warwick Montgomery is one of the most renowned living apologists. In this selection, titled "The Theologian's Craft", he explains how science and theology are related to one another in their methodologies.

Below are some readings that we've found to be useful and interesting. We hope to assemble a full bibliography of recommended readings for the apologist.

  • Dembski, William A, and Michael Ruse. Debating Design, Cambridge University Press, 2004.
  • Lewis, C S. The Discarded Image, Cambridge University Press, 2012.
  • Lewis, Clive Staples. The Abolition of Man, Scribner Paper Fiction, 1947.
  • Libby, W F. Radiocarbon Dating. Nobel Lecture, December 12, 1960, 1960.
  • McGrew, Timothy, Marc Alspector-Kelly, and Fritz Allhoff. Philosophy of Science, John Wiley & Sons, 2009.
  • Parton, Craig A. Religion on Trial, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2008.
  • Parton, Craig A. The Defense Never Rests, 2003.
  • Polkinghorne, J C. Quantum Physics and Theology, Yale University Press, 2007.
  • Saint Athanasius. On the Incarnation, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2011.
  • Schiaparelli, G V. Astronomy in the Old Testament, 1905.
  • Schrodinger, Erwin. What Is Life?, Cambridge University Press, 2012.
  • Wegener, A. The Origin of Continents and Oceans.(Translated From Fourth Revised Edition, 1929, by J. Biram.) 246 Pp, 1966.
  • Wright, G. “The Niagara Gorge as a Chronometer..” Science, 1885.