Apologetical Advice

March 29th, 2009

Austin Farrer, “The Christian Apologist” in Light on C.S. Lewis, Jocelyn Gibbs, ed.

[Speaking of differences in apologists] There is what one might call the Munich school, who will always sell the pass in the belief that their position can be more happily defended from foothills to the rear. Such people are not commonly seen as apologists. They are reckoned to be New Theologians. They are too busy learning from their enemies to do much in defence of their friends. The typical apologist is a man whose every dyke is his last ditch. He will carry the way into the enemy’s country; he will yield not an inch of his own.
The day in which apologetic flourishes is the day of orthodoxy in discredit; an age full of people talked out of a faith in which they were reared. To say that they want to believe if they could only see how is doubtless to simplify, for who are they? Which is the self, among all the warring selves in any breast? The very thing that reconversion does is to persuade a man to take a believing self as his fundamental self. We may say at the best that belief is a real (if smothered) attitude in such minds; and it is that offers an opening to the apologetic approach. ‘You have been rattled and browbeaten,’ says the apologist. ‘You have been sold a false image of faith and an inflated estimate of her enemies. Give faith her rights, and you will again believe.’’Thank you, we will,’ replies a grateful audience.
It is commonly said that if rational argument is so seldom the cause of conviction, philosophical apologists must largely be wasting their shot. The premise is true, but the conclusion does not follow. For though argument does not create conviction, the lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish.
A voice which says ‘You must adopt the posture of an admittedly de-Christianized world; you may wriggle into a Christian attitude if you can’ is presuming that neither the authority of revelation nor the doctrine of original sin can be taken seriously.

A Threefold Love of God

March 6th, 2009

Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, III.8,5

A threefold love of God is commonly held; or rather there are three degrees of one and the same love. First, there is the love of benevolence by which God willed good to the creature from eternity; second, the love of beneficence by which he does good to the creature in time according to his good will; third, the love of complacency by which he delights himself in the creature on account of the rays of his image seen in them. The two former precede every act of the creature; the latter follows (not as an effect its cause, but as a consequent its antecedent). By the love of benevolence, he loved us before we were; by the love of beneficence, he loves us as we are; and by the love of complacency, he loves us when we are (viz., renewed after his image). By the first he elects us; by the second, he redeems and sanctifies us; but by the third he gratuitously rewards us as holy and just. John 3:16 refers to the first; Ephesians 5:25 and Revelation 1:5 to the second; Isaiah 62:3 and Hebrews 11:6 to the third.