by Zaher Alajlani
William Lane Craig is one of modern Christianity’s best apologists and philosophers. His work is both famous online and well-regarded in academic circles. No wonder, therefore, that Reasonable Faith, his “signature book” (11), does a great job of systematically laying a philosophical foundation for Christianity. The book is the accumulation of Craig’s academic lectures on apologetics, and its primary purpose is to “serve as a textbook for seminary level courses on Christian apologetics” (12).
The term “apologetics” is often misunderstood and is sometimes taken for a simple matter of “debunking” someone else’s argument. That is far from the truth. Apologetics is a complex intellectual exercise that entails understanding intricate ideas from different disciplines. As an adept theologian, Craig is very aware of that. He rightly defines apologetics as the “branch of Christian theology” whose objective is to give a “rational justification for the truth claims of the Christian faith” (15).
From Craig’s point of view, apologetics, though of a theoretical nature, still retains essential practical functions, notably “shaping culture” (16), “strengthening believers” (20), and “evangelizing unbelievers” (21). He divides apologetics into two categories: “offensive (or positive)” and “defensive (or negative)” (23). The former attempts to construct a “positive case” for Christianity, while the latter deals with “objections” to that (23).
In terms of structure, despite tackling incredibly complicated concepts from philosophy, metaphysics, theology, history, physics, and even biology, the book still manages to make it easy for the readers to trace such arguments and the sociohistorical settings in which they emerged. For example, Craig uses Philip Melanchthon’s notion of the loci communes (or the common places in Protestant theology) as a blueprint, dividing his book into five main parts: De Fide, De Homine, De Deo, and De Creatione, and De Christo with the aim of “build[ing] a case for Christianity” (13).
Each part focuses on specific apologetics arguments, their common criticisms, and the logical responses to such objections. The moral, ontological, cosmological, and teleological arguments for God’s existence and the issues of fulfilled biblical prophecies, Jesus’s claims of divinity, and the reliability of the Gospels are all thoroughly discussed and properly contextualized by Craig. He cites many philosophers and scientists, from Plato to Kuhn, Popper, and Kurtz. At the same time, Craig offers a rational critique of some of the ideas put forward by new atheist thinkers, who, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, began “denouncing religious belief in general with an almost evangelical fervor” (95).
What sets Reasonable Faith apart from other textbooks is how Craig includes some of his encounters with unbelievers who had a change of heart because of Christian apologetics. These serve as real-life applications of an otherwise theoretical field and as evidence of how a person, no matter their education, still hungers for some of the most fundamental Christian truths about God. When Craig writes about such experiences, the reader can detect a beautiful shift towards a more personal and intimate tone—one of a philosopher whose work is not purely intellectual but also spiritual.
In the last pages of the book, Craig makes it clear that the end of apologetics transcends mere academic discussions, difficult scientific theories, and philosophical arguments. Instead, it is to bring oneself and others closer to Christ. In the book’s conclusion, he writes that the “ultimate apologetic involves two relationships: your relationship with God and your relationship with others” (405), ending the book with a statement that lingers with the reader: “For the ultimate apologetic is—your life” (407).
Zaher Alajlani is a Syrian short-story author, researcher, and translator living between Romania and Greece. He has published three short story collections in English and one in Arabic. His short stories and articles have appeared in various publications, including The Infinite Sky, Revista Echinox, Active Muse, Bandit Fiction, The Creative Launcher, Visible Magazine, Agape Review, The Journal of Romanian Literary Studies, Metacritic Journal for Comparative Studies and Theory, The Experimental Museum of Literature in Greece, Masharif, and Tadween.
He is a prose editor for Agape Review and a proofreader for the peer-reviewed Metacritic Journal for Comparative Studies and Theory. He previously worked as a prose submission reader for Bandit Fiction. Zaher is now a Ph.D. candidate in literature at the Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania. He speaks English, Arabic, Romanian, and Greek.