Dr. William Lane Craig is my favorite Christian apologist. I’ve read countless articles he has authored and several of his books, listened to virtually every debate he has participated in as well as his podcasts and Defenders lectures, and even read his weekly Q&A on reasonablefaith.org. I could rightly be called a Craigite, and yet I had never read his signature book, Reasonable Faith, which is now in its third edition.
I finally purchased the book and read through it with slobbering delight. I must confess that having followed Craig for so long, there wasn’t much in the book that I had not encountered before. But that is more of a personal commentary, and does nothing to detract from the wealth of information contained in this book.
Craig begins the book by answering the question, How can one know Christianity is true? After surveying what important past and present thinkers have to say on the matter, Craig adopts a Plantingian-based model in which we can know Christianity is true in virtue of the witness of the Spirit in our hearts. Craig makes an important distinction, however, between how we personally know Christianity to be true, and how we demonstrate to others the truth of Christianity. While the witness of the Holy Spirit is sufficient for the believer to be persuaded of the truth of Christianity, we demonstrate the truth of Christianity to unbelievers through evidence and rational argumentation.
Next Craig turns to existential matters, pointing out what is at stake in the debate over God’s existence. Craig argues that if God does not exist and there is no life beyond the grave, then life is objectively meaningless. While this is not evidence for God’s existence, it does show the unbeliever that if he is to make any sense of his longing for meaning and purpose, he must adopt theism.
After having established what’s at stake in this debate, Craig turns to the topic of God’s existence. This is where Craig shines as a philosopher. He surveys all of the traditional arguments for God’s existence, including the ontological, cosmological, moral, and teleological argument. Most of his attention is directed at the kalam cosmological argument. He wrote one of his doctoral dissertations on this argument, and is credited for reviving this argument in modern times such that it has become the most widely discussed philosophical argument for God’s existence in academia.
Having established the evidence for the existence of a theistic being, Craig turns his attention to establishing the identity of this being as the Christian God. He accomplishes his task by first establishing the legitimacy of miracles, and then by arguing specifically for the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection.
In his discussion of miracles, Craig first tackles the problem of historical knowledge. He argues that historical knowledge is possible, contrary to the hyper-skepticism of some historians. This is crucial to his case because our knowledge of Jesus is entirely historical in nature. If we cannot have historical knowledge, then we are bereft of any reliable information about Jesus, including information about his resurrection.
While many think that science has shown belief in miracles to be absurd, and others think that Hume has undermined the intelligibility of belief in miracles, Craig argues that there are no good reasons to exclude the possibility of miracles a priori. Because Hume’s critique of miracles is so important, Craig spends a great deal of time assessing and dismantling his arguments.
An entire chapter is dedicated to Christ’s self-understanding. Craig does a good job at showing that Jesus did conceive of Himself as the Messiah, and as God’s special son who predicted his death and resurrection.
When Craig finally turns his attention to the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection, his scholarship really shines. After all, Craig’s second PhD was centered on the historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, having studied under the great German scholar, Wolfhart Pannenberg. One of the great aspects of this section is that Craig surveys the arguments of apologists from previous centuries. I was quite astonished to learn that so many of the arguments modern apologists make for the historical veracity of Jesus’ resurrection were made by others before us. Craig develops his case for Jesus’ resurrection on three established historical facts – the empty tomb, the resurrection appearances, and the origin of the Christian faith – arguing that the resurrection is the best explanation of these facts. Finally, he interacts with rival hypotheses and demonstrates that none of them have the explanatory power and scope as the resurrection hypothesis.
If you are looking for an intermediate introduction to Christian apologetics – particularly an apologetic for the existence of the Christian God – then Reasonable Faith is the book for you. I cannot recommend it highly enough.