Cornelius Van Til defined apologetics as the “vindication of the Christian philosophy of life against the various forms of the non-Christian philosophy of life”. Voddie Baucham uses this definition as a framework to build a solid apologetic methodology in his newest volume Expository Apologetics: Answering Objections with the Power of the Word. Before you object to the title and claim that Reformed folk are running around creating new titles for a decades-old method, let’s dive into this material and find out what’s at the heart of the matter.
More than once Voddie claims “the goal is the Gospel”. He contends that we must move people from skepticism, or even outright atheism, into a more biblical world view by using the Word as a “bulwark against the tendency to forget how hard it is to believe in the face of constant opposition”. He also argues, repeatedly, that we must be committed to apologetics as a consequence, not an innocent bystander of, our commitment to evangelism. That single point makes this volume stand out from the rest not only as an apologetic tool, but one we can all use in our evangelistic enterprise.
This volume does three things very well that I have not found among other introductory works on this vast subject. In Chapter Five we explore the ancient Creeds, Confessions, and Catechism of the church in order to create thriving disciples of Christ. He dispels the myth that apologetics is for the PhD trained Christian in telling us right off the bat that, “when most Christians think apologetics training, they think philosophy, logic, and debate. However the key tools for training the expository apologist are creeds, confessions, and catechisms.” He pounds this point in even further by saying that catechism is the best apologetics training tool we have in our arsenal. A bold statement when one thinks of what type of volume this is.
Alright, I know what you’re thinking at this point. “Isn’t all that other stuff useful though?” Baucham does not seek to dismiss those other disciplines but they must be in service to the Word of God. We must begin our foundation for any argument on the self-revelation of God. He does not mean that everything needs to be quoted chapter and verse in every conversation, though that wouldn’t hurt, but we need to move people in the direction of the gospel. That I confess is impossible without mentioning the Word in the process.
The second unique aspect of this volume is the use of the Decalogue or what us commoners call the Ten Commandments. Voddie expands this content across two chapters. He begins by showing the division of the Ten Commandments in that the first four are vertical, meaning that the first four emphasize our duty to God, and the last six emphasize our duty to other people. I admit I have not thought even that deeply about the commandments or their ethical implications in my day-to-day life, an area I plan to build in the coming days. If we’re honest many of us have not thought of these Ten Commandments, and why should we? Not many of us are murders, not many of us steal or bear false witness do we?
Many of us forget that God has set a standard of righteousness not only for the believer but for those outside the fold. Voddie does a masterful job of making the material at this point entirely understandable. He points to the three-fold use of the law in expounding on the commanded obedience which has gone out to us and yet we suppress. He tells us that the “Moral Law encompasses laws that have always been and always will be the same for all people in all places and for all times. These laws reflect the very character of God.”
Do you see what he did there? He brought us all into account under the Moral Law by saying that it is a reflection of the very character of God. When we are not acting in accord with the Moral Law we are acting in a manner inconsistent with the character of the very God who fashioned us in His image. We are what Paul called, “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18), a very serious indictment indeed. C.S. Lewis thought very highly of the Moral Law which is why he dragged out his material for four chapters in Mere Christianity.
The final thing I think Voddie does extremely well is putting it all together in a way that is imminently useful for the budding apologist. He gives us three steps to uncovering error in peoples world views. Step One tells us that we must show the other person in the conversation that their world view is inconsistent. We can do this by simply beginning a dialogue on almost any topic. Step Two tells us that we must show them where they are counterfeiting the Word of God in their own philosophy. If we are in the Word daily, this step will be a bit easier for us. Step Three drops the bomb on them when we show them what the real thing looks like.
This volume should be handed out like candy on Halloween. Christians need to be soaked in the Word and understand their own world views before they can engage those with opposing ones. We as parents must drench our children in the Word which teaches them how to think and how to hold up world views to the light of the Gospel. Expository Apologetics gives us the tools we need to begin to use our minds for the glory of God. Surely we must go deeper but this is an excellent foot in the doorway to a house bought and furnished just for us. We have the world at our fingertips and they are desperately searching for something true, good, and holy. We have all of those things living in us by the inheritance of the Holy Spirit. Why not share that with out neighbors, coworkers, and those we meet on the subway?