Saturday, August 29, 2009

Book Review: The God Who Sits Enthroned by Phil Fernandes

The God Who Sits Enthroned: Evidence for God’s Existence by Phil Fernandes is a helpful overview of the main apologetic arguments for the existence of God and the case for Christian theism. Appropriate for a primer on apologetics for the layperson, The God Who Sits Enthroned is divided into three sections: 1) psychological apologetics, 2) philosophical apologetics, and 3) scientific apologetics.

The first section on psychological apologetics deals with man’s intrinsic need for God. This includes the absurdity of life without God (drawing heavily from the thought of Blaise Pascal), man’s thirst for God, and the paradox of man’s greatness and wretchedness. Fernandes’ aim here is not to offer arguments for God’s existence, but to show that God is the answer to both man’s depravity as well as his inner longing.

The section on philosophical apologetics takes up the majority of the book. Here the author first shows the failure of atheism and other non-theistic worldviews before proceeding to cover the classical arguments for the existence of God. These include: the ontological argument, the teleological argument, the moral argument, and the cosmological argument. These arguments are divided into chapters and offer a brief survey of the arguments and critiques of their main criticisms. Fernandes includes chapters on the problem of evil, miracles, and a refutation of moral relativism. These are by no means intended to provide thorough statements and refutations. Instead, these are but a concise overview written for the layperson to understand.

The book concludes with three chapters dealing briefly with the scientific case for creation and against evolution. This too is a cursory introduction to main themes, giving the beginner a general idea of the apologetic landscape of these topics.

Fernandes’ style is concise and simple as he covers a wide spectrum of worldviews and thinkers. The author draws a great deal from the works of Norman Geisler. However, the author strips away the philosophical language, making the content more accessible to those unfamiliar with apologetics terms and concepts.

Fernandes offers a number of helpful nuggets along the way, including his advice on methodology: “…when doing apologetics, the Christian should adapt his or her argumentation to meet the personal needs of the listener… The goal of apologetics is to lead people to Christ. Therefore one’s apologetics should be tailored to meet the needs of the listener.”1 Fernandes also reminds the reader about the limits of the traditional arguments: “arguments for God’s existence provide strong evidence for the existence of the theistic God. Still, historical evidences are needed to show that Christianity is the true theistic faith.”2

In sum, The God Who Sits Enthroned by Phil Fernandes is a helpful introduction to the most central themes in apologetics, with a focus on the existence of God. It has an easy style, concise content, and it covers a lot of ground for such a small book. Because it introduces many key ideas and thinkers, it can be a good starting point for deeper study.

1 Phil Fernandes, The God Who Sits Enthroned: Evidence for God’s Existence (Fairfax, VA: Xulon Press, 2002), p. 115.
2 Ibid.


Bryan said...

Looks like a great read!

I've really enjoyed listening to Dr. Fernandes' lectures on your MP3 audio page, as I find him instrumental in taking complex issues and breaking them down to the lay level (as you mentioned he does with Geisler).

I like how he tailors his methodology towards meeting the person’s needs. It is useless, for instance, to argue for the Existence of God if you're talking to a Muslim! Simple reminders and nuggets like these are helpful at taking ones perspective out of the philosophical details and back to the overall practical picture of what the purpose of apologetics actually is - which is not merely to win arguments or take pride in out-smarting others, but to lead people to Christ.

Anyways, good review and definitely look forward to reading it!

Brian said...

He also has another book, which is much larger, called "Contend Earnestly for the Faith: A Survey of Christian Apologetics." Although I haven't read it just yet, it does look like it covers all this ground and much more, giving a larger, wider scope. Probably worth picking up for a more comprehensive treatment.

Thanks for your feedback.

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