Thursday, January 19, 2012

Outline of William Lane Craig's On Guard--Chapter 1

"We’ve got to train our kids for war. How dare we send them unarmed into an intellectual war zone? Parents must do more than take their children to church and read them Bible stories. Moms and dads need to be trained in apologetics themselves and so be able to explain to their children simply from an early age and then with increasing depth why we believe as we do. Honestly, I find it hard to understand how Christian couples in our day and age can risk bringing children into the world without being trained in apologetics as part of the art of parenting." ~ William Lane Craig

I now commence my study of William Lane Craig's On Guard: Defending Your Faith With Reason and Precision by summarizing Chapter 1.

1. Apologetics is about defending rather than apologizing for one's Christian faith.

2. The Bible (e.g., 1 Peter 3:15) commands Christians to respond gently and respectfully to nonbelievers' challenges with good reasons for their faith.

3. Defend the faith and present arguments for it without being defensive and argumentative.

4. The better reasons one has for one's faith, the less defensive and argumentative one will be.

5. Apologetics is biblical. (e.g., Luke 24:25-27, John 14:11, Acts 14:17, Romans 1:20, 1 Cor. 15:3-8)

6. There are three reasons why apologetics is important:

   I. It can shape culture to make non-believers more receptive to conversion through apologetics and other means.

   II. It can strengthen believers in three ways:

      A. Make them more confident and assertive in sharing their faith.

      B. Help Christians sustain their faith through difficult circumstances.

      C. Make Christians deeper and more interesting persons.

   III. It can lead others to believe, especially by converting the most intelligent and influential people in society (e.g., doctors, lawyers, engineers, C.S Lewis).

7. Read and study the logical structure and premises of the arguments presented in the rest of the book. If you can respond to non-believers challenges with sound arguments, you make it harder for them to reject or ridicule them or you.


argument map


  1. Interesting...I think he makes some good points. I believe Christian parents should investigate their faith and the foundations that hold it up and teach those to their children if they desire it to be a faith that continues in their children's lives.

    I believe that never before has the Christian been more challenged in their beliefs. Our modern times are times of science and reason. Yes, there might be plenty of Christians that are carrying on the torch to future generations but at the same time when it comes to the Christian that goes on to college especially, they will undoubtedly find their views challenged. To have some arguments and reasons that support their beliefs would,I'd imagine, help them considerably deflect the criticisms and help assure them of their faith, which seems one of the primary goals of apologetics.

    I think Craig gives some pretty good reasons for why the Christian should become familiar with apologetics. Great post. :)

  2. Jessica, I agree with you and Craig that Christians should study the elemental assumptions of their religion and be prepared and eager to defend them in a substantive and respectful manner to non-believers who challenge them. Craig seems to make a solid case for how the Bible itself enjoins Christians to do this, and he also presents cogent extra-biblical arguments for it. And I can think of no better way for Christians to begin equipping themselves for this than to study carefully a book such as "On Guard."

    Moreover, I can think of no better way for critics of Christianity to examine their assumptions and to bolster their arguments against Christianity than to study the works of formidable apologists such as Dr. Craig and acquire a solid understanding of what it is that they're criticizing. For I believe that it's too often the case that we non-believers criticize simplistic, straw man versions of Christianity, just as many Christians criticize simplistic, straw man versions of non-Christian worldviews. I think we all need to understand one another much better, and, if we disagree, let us know, really know what it is that we're disagreeing with and have sound reasons for that disagreement.

    1. The arguments of Dr. Craig are worthy of consideration. He provides arguments that can be supported or criticized. Argument helps develop understanding when the rules of logic are applied.

  3. I object to the association of apologetics with war. Consider how the Islamic term "jihad" has contributed to sectarian conflict. It translates as "spiritual warfare" for non-sectarian theists. It is only extremists who apply it literally as a call for armed conflict. Nevertheless, sectarian judeo-christians have used it as a justirication for military invasion and regime change.

    Judaic law has always maintained a degree of separation from the civic code of law. It is a moral codification. This separation has good and bad aspects. It is good insofar as idealism is used to keep realism from total immersion in cruelty. It is not so good insofar as too much concession has been granted to the "success" of cruelty in "controlling" society.

    When we look at the ten commandments separately from the punishment for infraction, we can see a moral code that provides direction for showing love for God by loving others. When it is learned that the death penalty could have been applied based on collaborative accusation, somehow the love of the law is tainted with worldly realism.

  4. sbkidde, thanks for your comments.

    I agree that Dr. Craig's arguments are worth considering, and I appreciate how he spells them out very clearly so that their premises, logic, and conclusions can be evaluated more readily. And, if I understand you correctly, I agree that the word "war" inclines its soldiers to violent conflict. This violence may be physical or it may be psychological, but, in any case, it seems likely to do more harm than good.