Defending the Christian faith against intellectual attacks from secularists and unbelievers can be challenging, difficult, and even frightening. The late Dr. Greg Bahnsen shows us in Always Ready that such opposition is no more than smoke and mirrors, an obscuring of the truth in order to live in unrighteousness and the illusion of human autonomy.
As the apostle Paul states plainly in Romans chapter 1, everyone is born with knowledge of God—as the creator of all that exists, He has left his imprint in creation and on the human heart, and this imprint cannot be ignored. Atheism isn't really a disbelief in God based on lack of evidence, it's a sinful suppression of the truth of God's existence. What motivates such suppression? The desire to live without the constraint of God's law and without worry about a future judgment.
This suppression in unrighteousness leads unbelievers to rest all their beliefs about themselves, the world, and everything on presuppositions that are inherently self-refuting. A presupposition is an idea that must be assumed before any other ideas or observations can make sense. Because God exists and has revealed Himself in creation, the Bible, and Jesus Christ, the only legitimate presuppositions are those that accept the preeminence of this revelation.
All other presuppositions must borrow from these true presuppositions, and are thus logically invalid. For instance, for a secular naturalist to suggest that logic and human reason are the only standards for determining what is real and true, he must first implicitly affirm that there is a universal standard of logic that transcends individual minds....an affirmation that makes no sense outside of the Christian system of thought.
Bahnsen exhorts us time and again throughout this manual on Christian apologetics to bring every thought in subjection to Jesus Christ and to hold the Bible central in all our thinking, whether theological, philosophical, or apologetic in nature. He reminds us that the end goal of apologetics is evangelism, and that we can only accomplish this goal by complete adherence to God's Word.
Always Ready presents the apologetic method of Cornelius Van Til in terms most readers can understand. Bahnsen was one of the most brilliant Christian thinkers of the last 100 years, but he writes as a humble servant of Christ, not as one parading his intelligence. There are challenging passages, but some focused mental effort will yield its fruit.
As far as presuppositional apologetics texts go, this one is pretty accessible. Richard Pratt's Every Thought Captive is a superlative starting point, and Always Ready is perfect as a follow-up before heading into Van Til's The Defense of the Faith. The book ends with a long examination of Romans 17, where Paul demonstrates the presuppositional method in action on Mars' Hill in Athens.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
Did you find this review helpful?