A Dozen Good Books on Apologetics

John ArmstrongApologetics

I am often asked, by readers of my blogs and by students in my graduate classes on apologetics, to suggest a basic library of books that are good surveys in the field of Christian apologetics. The following list includes works that provide overviews, both historically and philosophically. I do not include primary works by authors such as C. S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, E. J. Carnell, Cornelius Van Til and various Roman Catholic scholars in this field. I assume that the interested reader will want to consult such primary works as they explore this vast field.

Listed alphabetically my top-twelve are:

Bahnsen, Greg L. Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings and Analysis. (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1998). Van Til’s presuppositional approach is best understood by the late Greg Bahnsen. This is a book recommended for those who get more deeply into this subject.

Burson, Scott R. and Jerry L. Walls. C. S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer:  Lessons for a New Century for the Most Influential Apologists of Our Time. (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 1998). Lewis and Schaeffer are the two most popular evangelical apologists in the last half of the twentieth century. This is a good overview of both men on the subject.

Cowan, Stephen B., editor. Five Views of Apologetics. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000). This is the best way to get into the various systems of apologetics.

Dulles, Avery. A Handbook of Apologetics. (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1999). Dulles, a cardinal of the Catholic Church, provides a solid historical and theological survey of twenty centuries.

Evans, C. Stephen. Why Believe? Reason and Mystery as Pointers to God. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996). This is simply one of the finest short books available. Highly recommended as a reasonably short primer.

Kreeft, Peter and Ronald Tacelli. Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions. (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 1994). A great book that relies heavily on Thomistic and Catholic approaches.

Richardson, Alan. Christian Apologetics. (London: SCM Press, 1947). When I asked J. I. Packer to recommend one book, some years ago, this is the one he told me to read.

Sire, James W. Why Should Anyone Believe Anything at All? (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1994). A trenchant and effective apologia for faith.

Sire, James W. A Little Primer on Humble Apologetics. (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2006). I read this in manuscript form last year and found it extremely useful as a small primer.

Sire, James W. Why Good Arguments Often Fail. (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2006). I also read this in manuscript form and gladly endorse it.

Stackhouse, John G. Humble Apologetics: Defending the Faith Today. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002). Stackhouse is a fine theologian and thus his apologetics reflects both his theological and philosophical strengths. 

Wright, N. T. Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. (San Francisco: Harper, 2006). One of my favorite books in 2006! Wright’s work is destined to be very important for years to come.