Stand Your Ground: An Introductory Text for Apologetics by Dean Hardy
The book begins very strongly with a quick overview of basic approaches to apologetics, philosophical issues and logic rules. He clearly favors classical apologetics techniques while dismissing other forms of apologetics rather quickly out of hand (his critique of the other three forms of apologetics seems to question their usefulness in any manner, which seems extreme to me). I tend to believe that each form of apologetics has a time and a place in which it can be effective, despite my general tendencies to prefer the same classical approach as Hardy.
Having established his approach to apologetics, Hardy continues on with an overview of basic philosophical concerns, the rules of logic and how to critique a formal argument, logical fallacies, and finally a summary of the major types of world views. I find these sections to be helpful and well presented, presenting complex ideas in easy to understand language. If you haven’t had a formal course on logic, these are good, quick introductions to some of the basics.
The second half of the book deals with Christian apologetics, and it is here that the book is less adequate than I believe even an introductory text should be. Hardy quickly presents the classic logical arguments for the existence of an unmoved mover, and then moves on to present common arguments against Christianity. Hardy then deals with several arguments against Christianity (the problem of evil, the historicity of Jesus, the reliability of the Biblical text, and criticisms of Trinitarianism).
It is in these key areas of apologetics that I found myself wishing the text included more information. I’m assuming that brevity was a key concern for this book, as Hardy provides succinct arguments to refute each argument against Christianity, but fails in most cases to connect all of the dots, which is likely to lead the student/reader to more questions than are actually resolved.
Each chapter closes with a chapter summary, a list of additional reading for more information on the subject, a list of key vocabulary words, study questions, and a Bible verse for consideration or memorization. These are all helpful inclusions if this book is going to be used in an actual classroom setting (or Bible study setting). Hardy is heavily reliant on Norman Geisler as a source and resource, and for me, the heavy quotation and reliance on Geisler grew tedious by the end of the book, regardless of the applicability.
Be prepared, if you are planning on teaching from this text that there are plenty of places in the book that raise as many questions as are answered, and you’ll need to have significant outside research or familiarity with the subjects to deal with more than elementary questions.
I personally find apologetics to be an increasingly important aspect of Christian faith life. As Christianity is actively marginalized in popular culture and society, we should expect more and more to come into situations where we need to have thought through some of the common criticisms of Christianity so that we have a response. Being Biblical Christians who take seriously the ideas of God and sin and salvation does not mean that we turn our brains off. If anything, it means that we have an obligation to utilize our brains to the fullest in the service of the Gospel and the world around us that is dying to hear it.