William Edgar, Dr. Oliphint’s colleague at Westminster Theological Seminary, certainly no stranger to the field of apologetics, wrote the Forward to Dr. Oliphint’s Covenantal Apologetics. Basically, Edgar gives us a brief history/survey of Christians apologetic in the 20th and 21st century. I was reminding, when reading his first sentence, of Walter Martin’s The Rise of the Cults In his chapter “The Sleeping Giant of Orthodoxy,” Martin pointed out that the church has been asleep (i.e. not teaching sound doctrine, and not defending the faith) while the cults have won individuals over to their particular heresy.
Edgar writes “Apologetics, the defense and commendation of a Christian worldview, went into something of a hibernation, if not an eclipse, in the twentieth century.” Men such as Spurgeon claimed (for different reasons) that apologetics was not necessarily, Edgar points out that one will find plenty of material in their writing and preaching that would constitute as an apologia.
Abraham Kuyper to the rescue! Edgar claims that “in some ways, Kuyper is the father of Reformed apologetics,” while at the same time, as Edgar acknowledges, Kuyper was not favorable toward apologetics. He major contribution thought, was “his insight into worldview and the way in which we must oppose the deep principle of belief to the deep principle of unbelief, rather than simply arguing from the detail.”
Van Til, built on the work of the giants of the faith, and “constructed a truly biblical apologetic for the twentieth century.” And as many have recognized, Van Til was satisfied with assuming the biblical and theological foundations for his apologetic, the faculty at WTS today (and certainly others) have filled in this gap; providing for us with the exegetical and theological groundwork for a covenantal apologetic (c.f. Revelation and Reason: New Essays in Reformed Apologetics).
Scott Oliphint, a disciple of Van Til, has picked up the Van Tillian torch, teaching and writing on the theory and practice of a biblical apologetic. While Edgar begins his Forward on a sour note, but he ends, looking forward to a bright future, stating “If my hunch is right, this book represents the next step and an assured future for the movement that began so long ago in Holland.”
More on all this later…