Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith
By Greg L. Bahnsen
Atlanta, GA and Texarkana, Ark.
: American Vision and Covenant Media Foundation
8.1 (Spring 1997) : 107-108
The editor writes that this book is "intended to introduce students to important foundational concepts essential to biblical apologetics." It is a collection of some of Greg Bahnsen's previously published works on "presuppositional" apologetics. His syllabus on apologetics makes up Sections One through Four; a series of articles he wrote on apologetic issues comprises Section Five; and the appendix is his exposition of Acts 17.
In the first section, Bahnsen discusses "The Lordship of Christ in the Area of Knowledge." He reasons that since all knowledge and wisdom are hidden in Christ and known through His revelation, then the Christian should not be neutral regarding that revelation, but rather committed to it. Not only is neutrality foolish, it is immoral since Christ requires allegiance to Himself. Reasoning apart from this revelation results in darkened understanding. God's Word, then, is the final authority in the area of knowledge and, as such, it is self-attesting.
In the second section, Bahnsen writes about "The Conditions Necessary for the Apologetic Task." He refutes several objections to this apologetic, namely, that it is absolutist, that it implies unbelievers have no knowledge whatsoever, and that it means there is no point of contact between believer and unbeliever. He develops the biblical view of the believer's point of contact with the unbeliever as man's universal knowledge of God through creation. He demonstrates that common ground with the unbeliever is the entire universe because God created it and sustains it.
In Section Three, Bahnsen tells "How to Defend the Faith." He writes that the believer must reduce the unbeliever's worldview to absurdity, and show that Christianity is the precondition of intelligibility of human experience. Though Bahnsen advocates this method as the one that will leave the unbeliever with no excuse, he is careful to acknowledge that ultimately conversion of the unbeliever will come by a sovereign work of God. He demonstrates that the conflict between believer and unbeliever is a clashing of worldviews, the only resolution of which is at the presuppositional level, and that the believer's presupposition is God's self-attesting revelation. He shows all worldviews to be founded on some presupposition, or logically primitive starting point, and that they need to be compared to determine which makes human experience intelligible. Bahnsen proves that Scripture alone accomplishes this.
In Section Four, "The Conditions Necessary for Apologetic Success," Bahnsen examines the Spirit's role in apologetics, explores the relationship of faith to reason, investigates the nature of saving faith, and considers Eve's example.
In Section Five, "Answers to Apologetic Challenges," Bahnsen responds to specific apologetic issues. He discusses the necessity of apologetics, the role of reason, conflicting worldviews, the impossibility of the contrary, and self-deception. He also delineates a method for critiquing the unbelieving worldview, and he applies it in a blistering critique of Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian. He offers sound solutions to the problems of evil, knowledge of the supernatural, faith, religious language, and miracles.
The book ends with an appendix, "Biblical Exposition of Acts 17."
One of Bahnsen's most important contributions to apologetics was his making of Cornelius Van Til's presuppositional apologetic accessible to the average student, and Always Ready is a comprehensive introduction to this apologetic that is as easy to understand as it is informative. It explains and applies this method in a way that will benefit any reader. Even those who disagree can profit from it as it answers objections and eliminates misunderstanding. In the book, Bahnsen explains and defends this powerful biblical apologetic. It is the ideal introduction to Christian apologetics, and this reviewer cannot recommend it highly enough.