Warfield and Triperspectival Apologetics

February 7, 2012 — 4 Comments

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[This post is part of the Perspectives on Triperspectivalism series]

Up until this year, I hadn’t really done any kind of lengthy interaction with B. B. Warfield. As much you can envision such a thing, I’ve metaphorically danced around his ideas (go ahead and picture that) but haven’t really read much of his writings.

This was changed first, late last year, when I read and reviewed Right Reason and The Princeton Mind, which had a chapter more or less centered on his approach to theology, which defended him against charges that he overly concerned reason alone when it come to theology.

Now, it is further changing as I’m working through The Theology of B. B. Warfield. On top of that, I also took advantage of Logos FREE Book of the Month, and picked up Volume 1 of his Works: Revelation and Inspiration (which you can also see dovetails into the focus I mentioned yesterday).

All of that is merely to introduce 5 areas that Warfield thought constituted the specific focus of apologetics. For Warfield, apologetics was a kind of “ground clearing” activity that preceded theology and laid the foundation for it. You can see that in his outline of these 5 areas that were indispensable for the apologist to cover (p. 67):

  1. The existence of God as personal being (philosophical apologetics)
  2. Religion, which entails the study of man’s religious sense, philosophy, comparative religions, and the history of religions (psychological apologetics)
  3. Revelation, which entails the establishing of supernaturalism, God’s government of the world and how he has made himself known
  4. Christianity, which entails establishing “the divine origin of Christianity as the religion of revelation in the special sense of that word” (historical apologetics)
  5. Scripture, which seeks to establish the trust-worthiness of the Christian Scriptures as the revelation of God for the redemption of sinners (bibliological apologetics)

I found this helpful in laying exactly what I should focus on as a developing apologist. I may have an opportunity in the next couple of months to teach apologetics to some UCF students as part of an on campus ministry. As I prepare for an adventure like that, I want to think through how I would organize a talk, and looking at Warfield’s areas, I think I’m off to a good start if at least introduce each of those.

But, being the triperspectivalist that I am, I thought Warfield’s 5 areas could possibly be simplified to 3:

  • Theological apologetics (normative)
  • Historical apologetics (situational)
  • Psychological apologetics (existential)

Theological apologetics would combine #1 #3 #5 above, while #2 and #4 can stand alone and be fleshed out further.

Since I know you’re thinking it already, here’s how #1, #3, and #5 make an additional triperpsectival parsing within the normative perspective:

  • Philosophical (normative since it addresses the existence of God)
  • Revelation (situational since it addresses the situation in history of God making himself known)
  • Bibliological (existential since it addresses how persons can trust Scripture and see it addressing existential issues)

I suppose we could probably do the same for the other two areas (historical and psychological) but you get the idea. I think Warfield lays out the task of the apologist nicely, and I think Frame’s perspective helps us organize it.

What do you think?

Nate

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I'm an avid reader, musician, and high school Bible teacher living in central Florida. I have many paperback books and our house smells of rich glade air freshners. If you want to know more, then let's connect!

4 responses to Warfield and Triperspectival Apologetics

  1. Thanks for the analysis. I’m not nearly as familiar with Warfield as I should be. Interestingly, Zaspel has (humbly) charged Van TIl with misrepresenting Warfield on his apologetic method. Any thoughts?

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  1. Weekly Recap: 2.11.12 | Marturo - February 13, 2012

    […] Warfield and Triperspectival Apologetics Up until this year, I hadn’t really done any kind of lengthy interaction with B. B. Warfield. As much you can envision such a thing, I’ve metaphorically danced around his ideas (go ahead and picture that) but haven’t really read much of his writings. […]

  2. Perspectives on Triperspectivalism | Marturo - February 13, 2012

    […] Warfield and Triperspectival Apologetics […]

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