Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen was an intellectual giant when it came to Christian Apologetics and the sphere of Christian Ethics in relationship to God’s Law (Theonomy) as the only just yardstick of righteousness available to image bearers today. For the number of up and coming Christian thinkers who have never heard of his work, I would highly recommend a few excellent reads. Even if you struggle with adopting Bahnsen’s conclusions on some issues my bet is that you will be much better off if you took the time to work through the material his produced in his 48 year life (Bahnsen passed in December of 1995).
On Christian Apologetics here are three books of his that I have read, and I am adding a fourth, which I am currently in the process of reading through.
The first book that I would offer when it comes to Christian Apologetics is entitled Always Ready. This book (a compilation of various articles) contains very short chapters that are easy to digest for even those that say they struggle to read. The book avoids (for the most part) philosophical jargon that tends to confuse the uninitiated, but stimulating enough material to please even the most egg-headed among us.
***Bahnsen, Greg L. Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith. Edited by Robert R. Booth. Nacogdoches, TX: Covenant Media Press. 1996. Digital Edition 2011.
The second book, entitled Van Til’s Apologetic is both a tribute and an unfolding of his personal friend and professor Cornelius Van Til’s monumental work in the field of Christian Apologetics. Van Til was a Reformed Dutch philosopher who broke foundational ground in favor of the Christian worldview (faith-system) in his life. Van Til was an expert at dismantling the worldviews of his opponents (or opposing faith-systems) by stripping them down to their bare necessities. What Van Til lacked was Scriptural citation to support his conclusions. This is no way insinuates that he lacked biblical precedent for his conclusions…he didn’t.
However, he seemed to assume that his readers, students, or peers would readily acknowledge those truths drawn from Scripture. In this work Bahnsen more fully develops or builds upon the work that his predecessor did by providing various proof-texts from the Bible. This, in some part, helps shore up some of what others might perceive as a weakness of Van Til’s.
If I may be so bold, I would say that for Van Til two teachings provided the necessary framework that substantiated his methodology in the field of Presuppositional Apologetics. The first was that the Triune Creator God is absolutely Sovereign over all His Creation. The second is that mankind as God’s duly created image bearer is to reflect God’s mind in every area of life. This book is a tome. It will require dedication and an attentive mind on the part of the reader to get through it all. But it is well worth the effort.
***Bahnsen, Greg L. Van Til’s Apologetic: Reading & Analysis. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing. 1998.
The third work, entitled Presuppositional Apologetics is one that Bahnsen had been working on, but had never sent to a publisher. In fact, this book was later found after his passing “…behind one of thirty filing cabinets bulging with Bahnsen’s written, received, and clipped materials” (p. 7). This work is Bahnsen’s definitive work on Christian Apologetics from a Reformed perspective. As the editor Joel McDurmon opines, this book, what might only properly be referred to as Bahnsen’s magnum opus, “…help[s] bring the clearest, most rigorous statement and defense of presuppositional apologetics—from perhaps Van Til’s most gifted disciple…” (p. 8).
***Bahnsen, Greg L. Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended. Edited by Joel McDurmon. Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press & Nacogdoches, TX: Covenant Media Press. 2011.
The fourth work, entitled Against All Opposition, is a work produced by American Vision from one of the last recorded lecture presentations provided by Dr. Bahnsen “…at American Vision’s second Life Preparation Conference…” (p. xxii, PDF e-book). Those lectures were transcribed and edited by Bahnsen’s friend and former pupil Gary DeMar, as well as John Barach. Each chapter offers a concise lesson with a few key terms defined along with some discussion questions to get the reader thinking. Personally, I am a little more than halfway through the book. The way that it is presented makes it very useful for home school students, Church Bible studies or a Sunday school format, or if you are like me—in a position that teaches others and as a result must be consistently/costantly learning and sharpening my own abilities—this book seems to be perfect for personal reflection about the consistency of the Christian faith.
***Bahnsen, Greg L. Against All Opposition: Defending the Christian Worldview. Edited by Gary DeMar and John Barach. Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, Inc. 2020. PDF e-book.
There are many other books that I believe are a great benefit to the young (or old) Christian that wants to tackle the subject of defending their faith. But I believe that these works by Bahnsen are some of the best on the subject at hand, and thus my recommendation. In a future post I will offer some of his works in the area of Christian Ethics that I have found beneficial in my personal/pastoral life.