Review of Greg Bahnsen’s “Always Ready”


[Another short review of an Apologetics book] Dr. Greg Bahnsen was a smart man, and as such, a lot of what he said went over my head.  I am not all that into philosophy and all the argumentation that is involved in such circles, but I will comment on those parts which I found helpful, and or had an issue with.
His first section on neutrality was excellent (p. 9), and really eye opening.  It made me wonder if modern apologetics was not over-reacting to post-modern thought.  Just as in the first “apologetic” ventures the Church really was over-reacting to philosophy and its stance that Christianity was barbaric, maybe current “apologetics” is over-reacting to post-modernism, in the fact that as a post-modern, neutrality is upheld as essential to understanding.  To be honest, my understanding of the apologetic world is not all that comprehensive, but I enjoyed Bahnsen’s remarks on the fact that giving neutrality was giving too much.  We must look to Scripture – never coming to Scripture with a system and look to prove it.
When Bahnsen takes a closer look at the word “philosophy” it was very informational for me, especially since I have heard the whole debate (with another brother) that philosophy is merely the “love of wisdom” so we should not shy away from using it.  But Bahnsen shows that while the word may mean literally “love of wisdom” that does not mean that all philosophy is created equal, rather Paul brings us to see that “philosophy is fine as long as one properly finds genuine wisdom – which means, for Paul, finding it in Christ (Col. 2:3).  But even with Bahnsen’s explanation, I wonder if it is still a good idea for Christians to freely use the word philosophy, as it has been so tainted by the world.  Perhaps it is a good reminder that we must define our terms very carefully, not assuming those we are speaking to understand or even take the same definitions that we do.
Bahnsen refers to Augustine’s quote, “I believe in order to understand” citing it as a correct statement (p. 20).  But even in hearing this statement before I wonder if it is not clear enough.  For one would take it to mean, that Augustine believed in God only because he wanted to understand.  But that is not a correct reason to believe in God per se.  Rather I think the statement “I believe, therefore I understand” would be better.  I do not believe understanding is the motive of the believer to believe, and to me “in order” delineates motive, rather than result.
Bahnsen states that “no man has the prerogative to call the word of Christ into question” (p. 25).  I agree with his statement, but it made me wonder – if Bahnsen believed that, why take so much time to reason outside of Scripture?  Why not reason with Scripture and show the unbeliever by the authority of the Creator that he is called to repent and believe in the Son of the living God?  Why spend so much time outside the Word, when we believe everyone is under the authority of God’s Word?  It is easy to say we believe Scripture to be authoritative, but it is quite another thing to actually put that “belief” into practice.
I also felt that at times Bahnsen stretched the Text to fit apologetics.  One such stretching was in his “exposition” of Acts 17, “Paul set forth Christianity as alone reasonable and true” (p. 257).  While the Gospel is reasonable – it is not so to the un-believer (as seen in some of the responses at Mars Hill).  Paul was just explaining the Gospel to them – he did not use any lofty arguments, but was simple, to the point, and left them with a decision to make – would they believe or not?  Paul did not have the many methods that modern apologetics has today, and I am not convinced that we need them either.

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