What Is Apologetics?

William Lane Craig at 2012 On Guard Conference

The Church at BattleCreek, Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States – July 27, 2012

Dr. Craig opened the 2012 On Guard Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma on the subject "What is Apologetics?" The conference was presented by The Reasonable Faith Tulsa chapter and held at The Church at BattleCreek.

From the "What is Apologetics?" description:

The term "apologetics" comes from the Greek word apologia, which means "to give a defense." In 1 Peter 3:15, Christians are urged to engage in this task: "but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense (apologia) to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." People often have challenging questions about Christianity that deserve a thoughtful, respectful and gentle response, including

• How can an all-loving, all-powerful God allow so much suffering?
• What about all of the contradictions in the Bible?
• Does science disprove Christianity?
• Why did Jesus have to die on a cross?
• Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
• Is Jesus the only way to God?

This introductory session on the important role of apologetics will be presented by one of the world's leading philosophers of religion and arguably the foremost Christian apologist in the world today, Dr. William Lane Craig.


I hope that you are as half as excited as I am to be here tonight. This is a unique conference and I am so thrilled to be a part of it. The roots of this conference go back a couple of years when Hayden Steele posted excerpts of my debate with Christopher Hitchens on Facebook. In response to this video there came posting after posting after posting from students saying things like, “Why have I never heard these arguments and evidence before?” or “Why don’t our churches teach this material?” And then other students saying, “I need to become intellectually engaged with my faith. I have not been intellectually involved with my faith and I am going to do that now. I am committed to becoming equipped to defend my faith and give a reason for the hope that is in me.” Other students in response to that challenge said “I’m in, too. I’ll do the same.” One student after another responded, “I’m in!” “I’m in!” “I’m in!” “I’m in!” One after another committing himself to intellectual engagement and the defense of the faith. As I read these Facebook posting, my heart was deeply moved; I was inspired by these students and their commitment and I thought I cannot turn a deaf ear to the plea of these students to be equipped and trained in the defense of the faith. And someone said, “Why couldn’t we have a conference out here in Oklahoma where we would bring together Christian scholars and have training in the defense of the faith?” And I said to Chris Shannon, who is the Directory of Local Chapters for ReasonableFaith, “Let’s put together a conference like this. I want to go to Oklahoma and I want to bring with me a team of fellow Christian scholars who can provide training in the equipping of Christians in the defense of the faith.” Caleb Steele then began to organize this conference which is now finally come to fruition this evening.

What makes this conference unique and sets it apart from any other apologetics conference I have ever been involved in is that, whereas other conferences are simply a potpourri of random speakers speaking on random topics without any overall theme or coherence, this conference has a unifying theme and a logical order in its development that is designed to equip you to train you in the defense of the Christian faith. So if you pay attention, if you take notes, if you read the book, you should come away from this weekend better equipped to give a reason for the hope that is in you. We will be talking about things like arguments for the existence of God, answers to the problem of evil and suffering in the world, and evidence for the person and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. To help you, we’ve given each one of you as part of your conference fee a copy of this book On Guard. So we hope that as a result of the stimulus from these various workshops and sessions you’ll be in, you’ll complement that by studying the book and mastering the arguments that are described in the book. This will, I promise you, equip you to answer 95% of the objections and challenges that you will confront as you speak with unbelievers about the Christian faith.

What I want to do this evening with you is to give you a sort of overview of the disciple of apologetics – a kind of bird’s eye view of what this field is all about. If you look at your handout and follow along, we are going to talk first about the definition and divisions of apologetics.

What is apologetics? Very simply, apologetics is that branch of Christian theology which is devoted to providing a rational justification for Christianity’s truth claims. It is that branch of Christian theology that tries to give a rational justification of Christianity’s truth claims. What that implies is that apologetics is first and foremost a theoretical discipline though it has a practical application. Apologetics is not training in evangelism or training in debating or training in persuasive speaking. All of those apply apologetics but apologetics itself is a theoretical discipline which studies the arguments and the evidence for the truth of the Christian faith.[1] So our focus during this weekend together is not going to be on matters of practical evangelism or persuasive speaking or argumentation and debate. It is going to be on the content of the rational justification for Christianity’s truth claims: arguments and evidence for the existence of God and his self-revelation in Jesus Christ.

In the opening chapter of On Guard, I discuss the value of apologetics and so I am not going to say anything about that this evening. I want to encourage you to read the opening chapter of the book. There I explain that apologetics is very useful, and I think in fact vital, in our culture today to shaping culture, strengthening individual believers, and winning unbelievers to Christ. In this threefold fashion, I think it is critical that all lay people, at least in the Western world today, be trained in the art of apologetics.

Apologetics falls into two very broad divisions. What we might call offensive apologetics and defensive apologetics. Offensive apologetics offers a positive case for the truth of the Christian faith. Now I am aware of the unfortunate pun with “offensive.” What I mean here is a positive case for Christianity. We don’t mean that you should be offensive. You can go on the offense without being offensive, right? So offensive apologetics is positive apologetics – giving a positive case for Christianity’s truth claims. Defensive, or negative, apologetics seeks to answer the objections and the challenges to Christian faith that are posed by unbelievers.

Let’s look first at offensive apologetics together. Offensive apologetics falls again into two very broad subdivisions: natural theology and Christian evidences. Natural theology comprises arguments for the existence of God. It is not for the Christian God. This would simply be for a creator, a designer of the universe, a ground of moral values, or some such being. So the arguments and evidences of natural theology would be common property to all of the great monotheisms of the world – Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and even Deism. So the arguments of natural theology are intended to justify the existence of God. Christian evidences then are intended to take you from this general concept of God to the Christian God, the God who reveals himself in Jesus of Nazareth. If you can get people across the Grand Canyon of atheism to theism then you have gone most of the distance. Then it will be an easier step to get them across the little ravine from theism to Christian theism. So natural theology is a fundamental and very important disciple in the defense of the Christian faith.

What is the relationship of natural theology to general revelation? General revelation is God’s self-disclosure in the created world. Romans 1:19-20 say that ever since the creation of the world, God’s invisible nature – namely, his eternal power and deity – have been clearly perceived in the things that have been made so that men are without excuse. God has revealed himself, or disclosed himself, in creation. The arguments of natural theology are a human attempt to formulate arguments inspired by God’s general revelation in nature for God’s existence. So these arguments are not the same as general revelation; these are human formulations. These are human attempts to formulate arguments for the existence of God often based upon his general revelation in nature. What that means is that these arguments didn’t fall from heaven. They need to be constantly revised every generation as new challenges arise and as new discoveries are made. They may not all be good arguments.[2] I think these arguments that I am going to share with you are good arguments. I am persuaded these are sound arguments. But I want you to think for yourself and if you find some of these arguments to be unsound then that’s fine. These are human formulations and you are free to reject them. These did not fall from heaven as I say. But I do think there are good arguments for God’s existence and I hope that you will find at least some of these persuasive.

Let me review with you then a few of the arguments for God’s existence that I have defended in my work.

The first of these is the cosmological argument. This comes in at least two versions – the contingency version and what we might call the temporal version. The contingency version goes something like this:

1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence: either in the necessity of its own nature or in some external cause.

That is to say everything that exists is one of two types: either something exists necessarily by its own nature or something exists contingently and therefore has an external cause.

2. If the universe has an explanation for its existence, that explanation is God.

This is generally agreed to by atheists. Atheists typically say that if God does not exist then the universe has no explanation of its existence. That is logically equivalent to premise (2) that if the universe does have an explanation of its existence then God exists – that explanation is God.

3. The universe exists.

What follows from those three premises?

4. Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence.

5. Therefore, the explanation of the universe is God.

This contingency argument gives you a metaphysically necessary being who transcends the universe, is beyond space and time, is therefore immaterial and spiritual in nature.

The temporal version of the cosmological argument is sometimes called the Kalam Cosmological Argument. It has three simple steps:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore the universe has a cause.

And you can provide both philosophical argument and scientific evidence for each of those two premises. If you are interested in learning more about the cosmological argument and how to defend its premises then go to the workshop tonight that is being taught by my colleague Doug Geivett because Doug will be handling the cosmological argument.

The second argument that I have written on is the teleological argument or the argument for design. The traditional argument for design has typically focused upon instances of design in biology. But the cutting edge of this argument today is no longer biology; it is in astrophysics and cosmology. Scientists have been stunned by the discovery that universe, from its very inception in the Big Bang, is fine-tuned for the existence of intelligent, interactive life with a delicacy and precision that is literally incomprehensible. This forms the basis for a nice design argument that goes like this:

1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either: physical necessity, chance, or design.

Now if you can think of another alternative, we will add that to premise (1) and consider it in premise (2) but these are the three options that are currently discussed in the literature.

2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.

You can provide good physical arguments against both of those alternatives. From which it logically follows,

3. Therefore, it is due to design.

So on the basis of the fine-tuning of the universe we have an argument for a transcendent, cosmic designer of the entire universe and nature’s laws. If you are interested in learning more about the fine-tuning argument then you will want to go to the workshop with Guillermo Gonzalez who is a professional astronomer who has written on fine-tuning.

These two arguments give us a transcendent, intelligent, creator and designer of the universe but they don’t say anything about his moral nature. To learn about that we need to turn to number three – the moral argument – and it goes like this, at least in one version:

1. If God does not exist then objective moral values and duties do not exist.

By objective moral values and duties I mean values and duties which are independent of human opinion – mind independent values and duties.[3] This is widely agreed upon by many atheists that if there is no transcendent anchor or plumb line for moral values and duties then they are simply the spinoffs of biological evolution and social conditioning – everything is relative.

2. Objective moral values do exist.

In moral experience we apprehend a realm of moral values and duties that impose themselves upon us from which it follows:

3. Therefore, God exists.

I find that this is one of the most powerful arguments for the existence of God with university students today because students are typically committed to the truth of both premises. They give lip service to relativism which is premise (1) but they actually believe premise (2) – they are deeply, deeply committed to the value of things like tolerance, open-mindedness, fair play, love and respect for other persons, and so forth. They just never put two and two together and seen that those two premises imply (3) – that therefore God exists. If you want to learn more about the moral argument, go to Paul Copan’s workshop which will be on the moral argument for God’s existence. Paul has written extensively on this argument for divine existence.

The forth argument is one that isn’t covered in On Guard or this conference but it is covered in my book Reasonable Faith – the ontological argument. In this argument we argue that from the very possibility of God’s existence it follows that God exists. In order to understand this argument you would need to understand the concept of a greatest conceivable being. By a greatest conceivable being I mean a being which is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good, and metaphysically necessary in his being – not contingent. The argument goes like this:

1. It is possible that a greatest conceivable being exists.

2. If it is possible that a greatest conceivable being exists then a greatest conceivable being exists in some possible world.

3. If a greatest conceivable being exists in some possible world then it exists in every possible world. That is part of what it means to be a greatest conceivable being.

4. If a greatest conceivable being exists in every possible world then it exists in the actual world.

5. If a greatest conceivable being exists in the actual world then a greatest conceivable being exists.

6. Therefore, a greatest conceivable being exists.

If you are interested in learning more about the ontological argument I commend to you my book Reasonable Faith where this argument is unfolded and defended.

There are many, many other arguments for God’s existence but these five at least I have found to be very powerful and to me at least persuasive arguments which give you a powerful cumulative case for a metaphysically necessary, eternal, uncaused, spaceless, timeless, immaterial, personal creator and designer of the universe who is the source and locus of absolute goodness and moral value.

The question is – has this being revealed himself to us in some more specific way? This takes you into the transition to Christian evidences. Here there are a variety of Christian evidences that might be offered to show that this God is in fact the God who has revealed himself in Jesus of Nazareth. For example, there is fulfilled prophesy – that Jesus fulfilled various prophesies from the Old Testament that could not have just happened by chance. Second would be Jesus’ radical personal claims. One of the revolutions that has taken place in New Testament scholarship over the last generation is that it is no longer thought that Jesus’ radical personal self-understanding and claims are something that was written back into the Gospels by the later church. That was what used to be held by New Testament scholars – these claims to be the unique Son of God and the Son of Man prophesied by Daniel were not claims uttered by the historical Jesus but these were later claims that the early church wrote back into the narratives about Jesus. That position is now widely abandoned as it has become appreciated that the Gospels are reliable and credible sources for understanding the life of the historical Jesus.[4] It can be shown, I think, using the standard criteria for authenticity that Jesus of Nazareth understood himself to be and claimed to be:

1. The Jewish Messiah

2. The unique Son of God that set him apart from any other Hebrew King or holy man

3. The Son of Man – that is to say, that divine human figure prophesied by Daniel to whom all judgment and authority on earth would be given

Were those claims true? Oh, and by the way, if you want to hear more about a historical defense of Jesus’ radical personal claims then you will want to be here for Mike Licona’s lecture tomorrow on who Jesus thought himself to be.

Were those claims true? That leads us to Jesus’ miracles and resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus is not an anomalous event occurring without a context. It occurs in the context of, and as the climax to, Jesus’ own unparalleled life and radical personal understanding. If this man has been raised from the dead by God then God has publically vindicated those radical personal claims for which he was crucified as a blasphemer.

It may shock you to learn that the fundamental facts undergirding the inference to the resurrection of Jesus are widely acknowledged by New Testament historians today. I want to repeat that. These are not the views of just conservative scholars or evangelical scholars. These represent the mainstream view of the majority of New Testament scholarship today. What are those facts?

1. There are four facts established concerning the fact of Jesus of Nazareth after is crucifixion:

a. His burial by a man named Joseph of Arimathea

b. The discovery of his empty tomb by a group of his women followers

c. His post-mortem appearances to various individuals and groups of people

d. The very origin of his disciples’ belief in his resurrection from the dead.

Those facts are agreed to by the majority of New Testament historians writing on the historical Jesus today.

2. They hypothesis ‘God raised Jesus from the dead’ is the best explanation of these facts.

When you compare what I call the Resurrection Hypothesis to alternative hypotheses like Hallucination Hypothesis, the Conspiracy Hypothesis, the Apparent Death Hypothesis, and so on and so forth, I think you can show that the Resurrection Hypothesis outstrips all of these other rival hypotheses in terms of its explanatory power, its explanatory scope, its degree of plausibility, and so on and so forth which makes it the best explanation of the facts.

3. The hypothesis ‘God raised Jesus from the dead’ obviously entails that the God revealed by Jesus of Nazareth exists.

4. Therefore the God revealed by Jesus of Nazareth exists.

So that moves us from a generic theism to Christian theism. This would constitute a positive case for Christian theism: the existence of God and his self-revelation in Jesus Christ.

Now, on the negative side or defensive apologetics, we want to answer objections and challenges raised against Christianity. Again, defensive apologetics fall into two broad divisions that correspond to natural theology and Christian evidences. Corresponding to natural theology would be objections to God’s existence. Here the principal objection to God’s existence is certainly the problem of evil and suffering in the world. This will be the topic of my talk that I will give on Saturday. Let me just give you a sort of overview.

It seems to me that the problem of evil comes in two varieties – either an intellectual version or an emotional version. This intellectual version also comes in two versions; namely, a logical version and a probabilistic version. The logical version says it is impossible that God and evil coexist.[5] Therefore, given the evil in the world, it follows that God does not exist. It is logically impossible for God and the evil and suffering in the world to exist. The probabilistic version of the problem is more modest. It says only that it is improbable that God and the evil in the world coexist. So given the evil and suffering in the world it is improbable, if not impossible, that God exists.

How might one go about responding to these two versions? Look at the logical version of the problem of evil and suffering. The question here is, is there a logical contradiction between the two statements:

a) God is all-powerful and all-loving and,

b) Evil exists.

Certainly, there is no explicit contradiction here is there? One is not the negation of the other. So if the atheist is saying that these are somehow inconsistent with each other he must mean that there is an implicit contradiction between them. But in that case, he must be assuming some hidden premises or some hidden assumptions that would bring out this contradiction and make it explicit. So what are those hidden assumptions? Well, they seem to be two:

1. If God is all-powerful then he can create any world that he wants.

2. If God is all-loving then he prefers a world in which evil and suffering do not exist.

My claim is that neither one of those can be shown to be necessarily true. For the atheist argument to work, he has to show that both of those assumptions are necessarily true and I don’t think he can do it. It is not necessarily true that an all-powerful God can create just any old world that he wants and it isn’t necessarily true that an all-loving God would prefer to create a world that involves no suffering in it. We will talk about that a little more tomorrow. In fact, I would say not merely has the atheist failed to show a contradiction between a) and b) we can actually give a good argument for the consistency of a) and b). In order to show that both of these are consistent, all you have to do is find a third proposition which is consistent with a) and implies b). And here is an example of one:

c) God could not have created a world which had as much good as the actual world but less evil and God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting the evil that does exist.

Now, is c) true? I don’t know! God knows! But as long as c) is even possibly true it shows that there is no contradiction between a) and b). Therefore, the logical problem of evil simply evaporates.

Therefore, most anti-theists have retreated to the probabilistic version of the problem of evil – that it is improbable that God exists given the evil and suffering in the world. However, I think three responses can be developed to the probabilistic version.

1. Probabilities are relative to background information.

That is to say, you could actually admit that if all you take is just the evil and suffering in the world, taken in isolation, you could admit that relative to that alone God’s existence seems pretty improbable. If that is all you consider, God’s existence is improbable. But that is not the really interesting question, is it? The interesting question is when you consider the full scope of the evidence is God’s existence probable? Here the theist can maintain that, given the good arguments from natural theology, God’s existence remains very probable even given any improbability that evil might be thought to throw upon God’s existence. So the evidence for God simply out balances the arguments against it which leaves you on balance with a positive probability that God exists.

2. We are simply not in a position to assess the probability that God has morally sufficient reasons for the evils that we experience with any sort of confidence.

Given our inherit cognitive limitations, we are simply not in a position to make these kinds of probability judgments with any sort of confidence. When the atheist says it is improbable that God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing, say, the shootings in Colorado, he is making a probability judgment that so outstrips his cognitive limitations that there is no way he could make that judgment with any sort of confidence.[6] Therefore, the argument is simply based upon probability judgments which are ones that we cannot make because we are not in a position to have any confidence in them.

3. You can argue that evil actually serves to prove God’s existence.

Paradoxically, even though evil seems to call into question God’s existence, evil as such would not exist apart from God to serve as an absolute plumb line or standard of what is good and evil and therefore the existence of evil in the world actually necessitates the existence of God rather than disproves God’s existence.

Much, much more can be said about this but that gives you a kind of overview of how one might deal with this argument against the existence of God.

The other argument that atheists will often use against God’s existence is the so-called hiddenness of God. That is to say, God’s existence is not patently obviously. He could have made his existence a lot more obvious had he wanted to. He could have created a neon cross in the sky that says, “Jesus saves!” or written his name or “Made By God” on every atom or molecule in the universe. God could have made his existence a lot more obvious and he has chosen not to – he remains hidden. Therefore, atheists say this shows that God does not exist.

There are a number of things wrong with that argument. First of all is the aphorism that is beloved by criminologists – namely, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Just because you don’t have evidence that the butler did the crime doesn’t mean that therefore he didn’t do it. He could still be the perpetrator. The absence of evidence isn’t itself evidence of absence. So when does the absence of evidence count as evidence against the existence of something? It would only be in a case which, if the thing did exist, then we should expect to have more evidence than we do for the thing’s existence. For example, the absence of any evidence of a planet between Venus and the Earth is pretty good evidence that there is no such planet because if there were a planet between Venus and the Earth we would certainly have more evidence of its existence than what we do. So, what this would imply is that the atheist must show that if God did exist that we should expect to have more evidence of his existence than the origin of the universe out of nothing at some point in the finite past, than the existence of the fine-tuning of the universe to an incomprehensible precision for the existence of intelligent life, a realm of objective moral values and duties in the world, raising Jesus of Nazareth from the dead and the very possibility of God’s existence implying his being. I don’t think the atheist can say at all that if God existed we should expect to have more evidence than that. God has given sufficient evidence of his existence so that those with an open mind and an open heart can follow it to its conclusion and find God should they be so disposed.

The third point that can be made about the hiddenness of God is the dispensability of evidence. A God who wants us to know him would not leave it up to us to figure out by our own cleverness and ingenuity whether or not he exists. Rather he himself would pursue us and seek to draw us to himself. This is exactly what the Bible says God has done. Through his Holy Spirit, God convicts and draws upon the hearts of all people to bring them to a saving knowledge of himself. Therefore, evidence in one sense, though beneficial and sufficient, it really dispensable. It is not necessary for someone who responds to the convicting power and drawing of the Holy Spirit upon his own spirit. This can be formulated in terms of an argument:

1. Beliefs which are appropriately grounded may be rationally accepted as basic beliefs not grounded on argument.

Examples would be beliefs like the belief that the world was not created five minutes ago with built in appearances of age or the belief that the external world of physical objects around you exists or the belief that other minds like your own also exist.[7] None of those things can be proved on the basis of the evidence. These are properly basic beliefs grounded in our experience.

2. The belief that the biblical God exists is appropriately grounded – it is grounded in the witness of the Holy Spirit which is an objective and real work of God in the hearts of human beings.

3. Therefore, belief that the biblical God exists may be rationally accepted as a basic belief not grounded on argument.

If that is true then the argument from the insufficiency of the evidence for God simply falls to the ground because God has provided a non-evidential way of knowing him that is available to all persons at all times in history regardless of their education, their library resources, or their leisure time.

Those are some of the principal arguments against the existence of God that need to be discussed. If you are interested in reading more about divine hiddenness take a look again at my book Reasonable Faith where the proper basicality of belief in God is discussed and defended.

Corresponding to Christian evidences would be objections to Christian theism in particular. Here two principal objections present themselves. First would be biblical criticism. Radical New Testament critics, like those in the so-called Jesus Seminar, have claimed that less than 20% of the words of Jesus recorded in the Gospels are really authentic; that is to say, actually spoken by the historical Jesus. And it will be the task of New Testament historians to reconstruct the historical Jesus using the criteria of authenticity to show that Jesus of Nazareth in fact made those sorts of radical claims that I suggested earlier that he has made. So mastering the criteria of authenticity – things like dissimilarity, multiple independent attestation, embarrassment, coherence, historical verisimilitude and so forth will be important for the Christian apologist in dealing with the attacks of the radical biblical critics. Again, to learn more about this, take a look at my book Reasonable Faith where these criteria are discussed and then applied to the historical Jesus.

And the last objection that I think is the burning philosophical and theological issue of our day is the problem of religious diversity. We have become heightened in our awareness of the religious diversity of mankind and many people find it morally unconscionable to say, as Christians do, that Jesus of Nazareth is the only way of salvation and that only through him can salvation and eternal life be found. There is a deep, deep revulsion against Christian particularism in our culture today. Therefore, the last chapter of On Guard is devoted to this question of the challenge of religious pluralism. Here the problem is very parallel to the problem of evil. Indeed, I think that the problem of religious diversity really is a kind of soteriological problem of evil. What the religious pluralist is saying is that there is a logical inconsistency between saying that God is all-powerful and all-loving and some people never hear the Gospel and are lost. So here again the Christian apologist will ask the question, “Is there a logical contradiction between a) God is all-powerful and all-loving and b) some people never hear the Gospel and are lost?” Again, there is no explicit contradiction, right? So the religious pluralist must be making some hidden assumptions that would bring out this contradiction and make it explicit. Now, I have never seen these assumptions identified in the literature on religious pluralism but it seems to me that they must be something like one and two, namely:

1. If God is all-powerful, he can create a world in which everybody hears the Gospel and is freely saved.

2. If God is all-loving, then he prefers a world in which everybody hears the Gospel and is freely saved.

Again, what I want to argue is that the religious pluralist cannot show that those two assumptions are necessarily true.[8] It simply is not necessarily true that an all-powerful God can create a world in which everybody hears the Gospel and freely accepts it. It is logically impossible to make someone freely do something. Therefore, it is possible that in any world of free creatures that God might create some of them might reject him and separate themselves from him forever. Similarly, it is just not necessarily true that if God is all-loving he prefers a world in which everybody hears the Gospel and is freely saved. It might well be the case that worlds involving universal salvation have other overriding disadvantages which make them less preferable. For example, suppose that those are worlds that have only a handful of people in them, say two or three people. And if God were to create any more then at least one of them would freely reject him and be lost. There is no reason to think that an all-loving God would have to prefer one of these sparsely populated worlds over a world in which multitudes freely come to know him and his salvation even though some people freely reject his grace and every effort to save them. So these assumptions made by the pluralist simply aren’t necessarily true.

Finally, I think we can go on the offense and actually give an argument that a) and b) are logically consistent – just find a third proposition which is consistent with a) and entails b). and here is an example:

c) God has created a world which has an optimal balance between saved and lost and those who never hear the Gospel and are lost would not have freely received it even if they had heard it.

Now, again, is c) true? I don’t know! God knows! But if c) is even possible, it shows that a) and b) are perfectly consistent with each other. If c) is true then anybody who wants to be saved or even would want to be saved will be saved.

That is a kind of stratospheric view of the field of contemporary apologetics. As you can see this is a field which is rich in mind expanding questions and issues. Tonight, in the workshops, you are going to have a chance to experience some of these yourself first hand. Let’s close this session with a word of prayer before we go to those workshop sessions.

Our heavenly Father, we thank you so much for each person who is here in this auditorium tonight. You have drawn that person here by your Holy Spirit and we thank you for the work you are doing in his or her life. Father, we pray that as we struggle with these deep, mind expanding questions that you would better equip those of us who are Christians to understand and defend our faith. And Lord we pray for those of us tonight who are still seeking, wondering whether you are there. That you would use these workshops and these sessions to bring those persons one step closer to a personal knowledge of yourself. Thank you that we live in a country where we have the resources and the leisure time and the ability to study and think about these important issues. We give you praise and thanks for this. In Jesus’ name, Amen.[9]

[1] 5:06

[2] 10:00

[3] 15:11

[4] 20:05

[5] 25:04

[6] 30:03

[7] 35:04

[8] 39:58

[9] Total Running Time: 43:42 (Copyright © William Lane Craig 2013)