Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. By Norman L. Geisler. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1999. 841 pp. Cloth, $49.95.
Baker Book House has several excellent reference works that compose their Baker Reference Library. No doubt, many readers of this journal are familiar with some of these popular works which include the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, and Topical Analysis of the Bible, all edited by Walter Elwell.
The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics by apologist Dr. Norman Geisler is the latest work to be released into the Baker Reference Library. In short, this work captures a lifetime of Geisler’s study in the area of philosophy and Christian apologetics and is a must-have for any believer who is interested in obeying the biblical mandate to defend the faith (1 Pet 3:15; Jude 3).
The Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics has a multi-faceted presentation of Christian apologetic evidences. First, Geisler provides an abundance of positive apologetic evidence. “Positive Apologetics” is the presentation of philosophical, theological, and biblical evidence that defends the Christian faith as the only true faith. Foundational philosophical questions such as “Is truth absolute or relative?,” “Is the use of logic valid in matters of faith?,” and “Does God exist, and, if so, what is He like?,” are answered with precision and clarity. Also, Geisler provides theological and biblical answers for many of the challenging questions raised against the faith such as “Is the Bible the reliable Word of God?,” “Did Jesus really rise from the dead?,” or “Is Jesus God?” Indeed, much of the encyclopedia is concerned with the presentation of the overwhelming amount of evidence that proves Christianity is the one true faith.
Second, Geisler attacks false belief systems by presenting negative apologetic evidence. “Negative Apologetics” is the presentation of evidence that exposes the fallacies of non-Christian philosophies and theologies. For instance, Geisler ably answers philosophical objections to the Christian Faith such as the problem of evil, an atheistic objection to theistic proofs for the existence of God. Also, excellent argumentation is given against Atheism, Deism, Pantheism, Panentheism, Polytheism, and Finite Godism—the world views that compete against the Christian theistic world view. Moreover, Geisler defends the Christian Faith against opposing theologies such as Islam, New Age, the Jesus Seminar, and religious pluralism. For instance, he gives convincing argumentation that the Qu’ran cannot be divinely inspired. There is also an overview and evaluation of such non-Christian doctrines as reincarnation, apparitions of Mary, annihilationism, universalism, and modalism. With accuracy and clarity, Geisler defends the Christian Faith against these, and many more, objections found in the marketplace of ideas.
Third, Geisler has included helpful information on Christian philosophers and theologians and the important contributions made by these believers. For example, philosophers/ theologians Augustine, Aquinas, and Anselm are featured along with succinct presentations of some of their beliefs, such as their arguments for the existence of God, their views on man, faith and reason, and truth. Also, Geisler has articles about Reformation theologians such as Calvin and Luther, highlighting the contributions to apologetics made by each. Other Christian philosophers and theologians that have been included are Simon Greenleaf, C. S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Soren Kierkegaard, and Jonathan Edwards.
Fourth, Geisler presents insightful information concerning non-Christian philosophers and theologians. For instance, he presents and answers the views of prominent atheists such as Anthony Flew, Carl Sagan, Jean Paul Sartre, Bertrand Russell, Ayn Rand, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Sigmund Freud. Moreover, he gives much space to answering objections to the Christian faith that are derived from an atheistic world-view, such as evolution. Also, Geisler has included and answered other non-atheistic philosophers and theologians such as the “prophet” Nostradamus, the founder of Islam, Muhammad, Finite Godist William James, Universalist John Hick, and Jewish theologian, Martin Buber.
Truly, this book has so much excellent and useful content that this review barely scratches the surface. I highly recommend The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics.
Jeffrey M. Spencer
Maranatha Bible Church