Presbyterian & Reformed Publishers has just released The Certainty of the Faith by Richard Ramsay. Ramsay is a presuppositionalist, but proposes what he calls an “integrated” approach to apologetics. While maintaining his pre-commitment to God’s revelation in Scripture, he seeks to find a place for evidences and rational arguments provided they do not undermine the self-attesting Word. Although I consider myself a Van Tillian, given Ramsay’s definition I perhaps might better be called an “integrationist.” I find the term helpful in a clarifying sense, but true Van Tillians do not shy away from evidences provided they are put in their correct place and never used as an appeal to autonomous reason.
As a matter of triangulating Ramsay’s own sympathies, he liberally cites John Frame and Nancy Pearcey, whom both have written books I have thoroughly enjoyed. Some ardent students of Van Til may find this book slightly too broad in its presuppositional approach, but I suggest that this book is still valuable to the staunch Van Tillian and its method can fit snugly into the Van Tillian system. Regardless, Ramsay’s book is a practical introduction to presuppositional apologetics and acts as a manual for those seeking to defend the faith.
Ramsay begins with an overview of apologetics and includes chapters on key figures in the history of Western Philosophy and Christian apologetics. These chapters are very helpful in providing a survey for those who have not studied philosophy or are not familiar with various Christian approaches to apologetics. Other presuppositionalists have written about the role of evidences and rational arguments (Thom Notaro, John Frame, and even Cornelius Van Til), but the value of this book lies in the practical approach it takes to actually doing apologetics. While many other books address the philosophical side of apologetics or the theoretical aspect of methodology, this book provides the reader with a practical method that is faithful to Scripture. Ramsay presents his method in a helpful acrostic.
- Demonstrate interest
- Explain your faith
- Furnish answers to his questions
- Expose his basic presuppositions
- Navigate through the inconsistencies of the non-Christian view
- Direct the person to Christ
The last few chapters of the book seek to apply the DEFEND method to the more common apologetic questions regarding God and the Bible, the existence of other religions, the challenge of evolution, the doctrine of hell, and the problem of evil. Ramsay navigates through these difficult issues and helps the reader see how the DEFEND method can be applied to these questions. These chapters will be especially valuable to people who may have a theoretical foundation in presuppositional apologetics, but are left asking “Now how do I do this?”
I wish this book would have been available when I was in college. This is a great book for college students and all those seeking to learn how to defend the faith in a manner that honors God and His Word. The Certainty of the Faith would be great to read alongside Richard Pratt’s Every Thought Captive. I trust these two books will spark a desire to go deeper.