Covenantal Apologetics by KS Oliphint

Apologetics is a complete discipline that tends to defend religious faith on the basis of systematic arguments. It tends to prove the religious doctrines with the use of arguments and examples. Scott Oliphint is a Ph.D. holder in theological studies. He wrote a book named Covenantal Apologetics. The Covenantal Apologetics book defends the Christianity beliefs using arguments. The book presents pre-suppositional apologetics and the methods that can be used to shield a religious belief. This paper is intended to summarize the whole book.

Oliphint has divided the book into two parts. In the first part, he used the biblical principles and theological beliefs for the Covenantal defense of Christianity. While in the other part, he described how these principles can be used in defending the objections against Christianity. Let’s discuss the book according to the chapters.

Chapter 1- Always Ready

The first chapter is intended to lay down a foundation that can help to study the insights of pre-suppositional apologetics[1]. The biblical and Christian foundation has been used to define the study of Covenantal Apologetics. Basically, Christianity is based on the rules and principles defined by Bible. According to Bible, Christianity apologetics is based on the lordship of Christ. Christ is defined as the founder of Christianity. Bible has provided a pathway within which the believers should always remain. The one who goes outside these fence lines may be tossed out of Christianity. The objections to Christianity arise solely outside the fence line of the Bible.

The first chapter also provides ten points that lay the foundation principles for CovenantalApologetics. [2]

  • The defense of Christianity should start with the triune of God (Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit).
  • The defense of Christianity Apologetics should be based on the God’s Covenantal
  • The Covenantal change from Adam to Christ depends solely on God’s revelation and the work of the Holy Spirit.
  • Male and female are the image of the covenant of triune God as a matter of eternity.
  • All people in Christianity believe in true God and His Covenantal Obligations in the religion.
  • Adam and his followers suppress the truth while the followers of Christ always strive to reveal the truth.
  • Christianity is true and any opposition to it is false because of the absolute and Covenantal antithesis between Christianity and any other opposition.
  • The unbelieving positions have Christianity context in them in some or other form because the suppression of truth is not absolute but total.
  • The persuasion in apologetics is due to the Covenantal and true knowledge of God in everyone.
  • All the facts and experiences in Covenantal apologetics are based on the controlling plan of God.

Chapter 2- Set Christ Apart as Lord

In this chapter, the author K.S. Oliphint has tried to ground the Covenantal apologetics with the use of understanding of the triune God[3]. The Covenantal apologetics are defined using the rules and regulations made by God (Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit). In this chapter, the author has described the difference between reason and faith using Immanuel Kant’s division. The difference between reason and faith lays the foundation of Covenantal apologetics. The author has interacted with these differences in this chapter.

Interaction with an argument needs different theories and approaches. The author has discussed this interaction using two types of methods. In the first method, the event of interaction between Richard Dawkins and the Sceptical society has been quoted in which the arguments about Christianity have been discussed. In the second method, the arguments of Anthony Kenny were discussed which were against Classical Theism. These arguments define how to argue about the belief in Christianity.

Chapter 3- Proof to all Men

The basic concept of Chapter three is to clarify the concepts of people about Covenantal apologetics[4]. The author has related ten points discussed above with the covenant apologetics. He did these using different types of discussions and arguments. He also used Paul’s address to Greeks in Aeropaus in the 17th Act. The evidence to prove the reality and righteousness of something is very important. The chapter discusses and gives a brief analysis of those pieces of evidence and how this evidence can be collected. The burden of the proofs helps to define the doctrine of Christianity.

The existence of God has always been opposed and challenged by many types of people and there always have been people who have been proving His existence. The classical demonstrations about the existence of God have been discussed in this chapter. Humanists are the people who tend to deny the existence of God. They believe that human beings are doing what they want to do and there is no force above them. The author has discussed the conversation of a covenant apologetic person with a humanist in which the covenant tries to prove the existence of God and pursue that humanist.

Chapter 4- We Persuade Others

Oliphint has discussed the logic and trivium of the Ancient Greeks who didn’t believe in only one God[5]. They used to believe in almost 12 types of different Gods and Goddesses. They had made God for each aspect of life which seemed to be fine at that time. The rhetoric of Ancient Greeks and Medieval period people are not acceptable to the people of today. The trivium of Covenantal Apologetics defines God (Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit). Christianity denied the existence of 12 types of Gods. The author has discussed the difference between the trivium of Ancient Greeks and the Covenantal apologetics.

Apologetics is a wider term consisting of many concepts. It is all about persuasion and belief. The chapter discusses that the Covenantal Apologetics is more about persuasion than the demonstration of facts and figures. The believers of apologetics have faith in Christianity due to persuasion rather than demonstration. Aristotle’s three aspects of Rhetoric have also been discussed in the chapter which is ethos, pathos, and logos. Ethos is about the credibility of the rhetor in front of an audience. Pathos includes the persuasion of the audience using their emotions. Logos mean persuasion of the audience using logic and arguments.


Chapter 5- We Destroy Arguments: The Achilles’ heel

This chapter discusses the engagement of people with negative and positive apologetics(Oliphint 2013, 161-192). Negative apologetics includes the destruction of arguments against Christianity while positive apologetics refers to the arguments that support and recommend Christianity. The concept which is usually brought against Christianity is evil. Oliphinthas discussed negative apologetics using the example of the problem of evil. The problem of evil should be dealt with care. Negative apologetics is used to deal with the problem of evil and arguments against Christianity.

The basic concept that the Oliphinthas take along throughout the book is that the existence of God is real and Christianity is true. The conversation between a Covenantalapologist and an atheist has also been discussed in this book where the atheist has questioned evil and the Covenantal apologist has discussed and answered his question. The reason for discussing the conversations of Covenantal apologists with different types of believers is to define how to defend Christianity and its foundation.

Chapter 6- Walk-in Wisdom toward Outsiders

The persuasion of non-believers is a necessary and crucial task in Christianity. The chapter discusses the methods by which a Christian should interact with a non-believer and how he should persuade that non-believer toward Christianity[6]. Bible states that it is the duty of every believer of Christ to persuade the non-believers to accept Christianity and the existence of God (Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit). The author K.S. Oliphint has defined the method of convincing the non-believers toward Christianity using different types of conversations between the Covenantal apologists and atheists.

The example of a conversation between Covenantal apologists and Daniel Dennett has been quoted in the chapter where the Covenantal apologist has tried to persuade the non-believer about the existence of God and the concept of Christianity. Although this conversation is a fictitious conversation, it clarifies how the Christian should try to interact and persuade non-believers. In order to start a conversation with a non-believer, one should be competent enough to answer all of his questions. The last portion of the chapter discussed the possibility of competence to engage a person in a conversation with an atheist or non-believer. It defines what level of knowledge, the person needs to have in order to discuss Covenantal apologetics.

Chapter 7- You are very religious

The last chapter of the book tends to discuss the conversation of Covenantal apologists with a religious person[7]. Religious persons usually have much more knowledge about their religion and have firm faith. The persuasion of this person is a much more difficult task than the normal person. The author has discussed how Covenantal apologists should talk to and persuade these religious persons about the truth of Christianity. Oliphint has provided a number of examples of discussions and principles of these discussions. The persuasion of these religious people is a difficult yet crucial task. K.S. Oliphint has presented a hypothetical example of a conversation in which a Covenantal apologist has tried to persuade a religious Muslim with logic and arguments.

K.S. Oliphint has briefly discussed Christianity apologetics and the Christianity beliefs. The author takes the concept all along with him throughout the book that Christianity is a real and firm belief and the truth about Christianity eternally exists. Oliphint has quoted three principles of Aristotle to defend the arguments of Covenantal Apologetics. The book includes some difficult and technical terms about apologetics which can make it difficult to read for someone but the book contains the information about Covenantal apologetics with the use of arguments which are good examples and a good outline to study Christianity.

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