As a professor of apologetics and systematic theology, and an authority on the works of Cornelius Van Til, we would expect K. Scott Oliphint to be a strong promoter of presuppositional apologetics. He is that and more. The stated purpose for the book is “to get us to open our Bibles again when we think about apologetics” (p. 4), and in our defense and proclamation of the faith we “must use the weapons, not of this world, but of the Lord” (p. 8). The primary resource for contending for “the faith” (which is the body of truth – pp. 58-59), is to expound the truth of the Bible (p. 67). The Bible, Oliphint correctly concludes, is a closed book; that is, nothing needs to be nor will be added to it (p. 184). He writes, “With the finished work of Christ came the finished work of Christ’s Word (see Hebrews 1:1-4)” (p. 186).
Armed with a solid understanding of biblical truth, the believer need not be anxious when defending the faith or presenting the gospel (pp. 189-192). Skillfully expounding texts such as Romans 1:18-32 and Acts 17:15-34, the author, while recognizing that the Holy Spirit is the ultimate persuader (p. 152), encourages his readers to use persuasive arguments designed to entice unbelievers (p. 151). This is not manipulation but rather “a persuasive apologetic [that] takes something that the non-Christian has already claimed to be true, and uses it to the advantage of the Christian defense” (p. 151). Such arguments can be effective because embedded in the hearts of every human is the knowledge of God – there is therefore no true atheist (p. 126). At the heart of a sinner’s rejection of Christ is not ignorance, but suppression of the truth (Romans 1:18-19) (p.126). As Bertrand Russell demonstrated, there is never enough evidence to convince a dedicated truth suppressor (pp. 131-132). Our task, then, is not to be clever or out-debate the unbeliever, but to present him with the truth, beginning with a point of agreement. Oliphint offers Paul’s example at Athens as a model of this strategy (pp. 146-173). As an added bonus it is insightful to read of how similar the worldview of ancient Stoics and Epicureans was to that of modern secular humanity (pp. 171).
Oliphints’s acceptance of Replacement Theology briefly makes an appearance (p. 99) and his mutualistic theism is evident (pp. 114, 168) in which he believes God has taken on new attributes with the creation (pp. 114, 168). But neither of these issues is germane to the thesis of the book. The Battle Belongs to the Lord is a helpful call to a biblical approach to apologetics, accompanied by useful instructions on how to proceed.
The Battle Belongs to the Lord, the Power of Scripture for Defending Our Faith by K. Scott Oliphint (New Jersey: P&P Publishing) 206 pp, paper $14.99
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-teacher Southern View Chapel