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Does apologetic method matter? Helmut Thielicke argues that the method should conform to its own message. He thus rejects traditional apologetic methodologies beholden to supposedly neutral scientific and philosophical paradigms. Seeking to reform Christian conversation, Thielicke discovers a lost way of persuasion, that is, the table-turning approach found in Christ's conversations. Whenever Jesus is questioned, he seldom answers directly. For he refuses to allow the conversation to be framed by an autonomous mindset, and instead responds with a counterquestion. Christ's style of persuasion--as the controller of the question--subverts his hearers' presuppositions and challenges their unbelief. This approach is the reverse of the defensive, answer-giving mode of traditional apologetics. In view of renewing Christ's method, Thielicke insists that the task of apologetics is ""something which is always on the offensive and, far from giving ready-made answers to the doubtful questions of men, turns the tables by putting questions on its own account--aggressive, violent, radical questions--and striking straight to the hearts of men."" Christian conversation must integrate Christ's method with his message in order to advocate the message itself. For it is not the world that questions Christ, but rather Christ questions the world.
""Hamm's valuable study of the very heart of Helmut Thielicke's abiding theological legacy expounds what is perhaps the most vigorous and theologically suggestive intervention made in modern theological apologetics in the 20th century. Thorough, clear and persuasive, Hamm's work invites readers to share in the searching reconstruction of the very idea of Christian apologetics that Thielicke himself undertook. Anyone interested in the pressing questions surrounding the effective communication of the Christian gospel will learn much from these pages.""
--Philip G. Ziegler, Professor of Christian Dogmatics, University of Aberdeen
""If you are a student of apologetics, especially of Reformed apologetics, you will want to read this book by Dr. Jeff Hamm. Using the 20th century German theologian Helmut Thielicke as his guide, Dr. Hamm engages the various schools of apologetics and attempts specifically to advance the presuppositional school by arguing that Thielicke 'out-Van-Tils' Cornelius Van Til by arriving at similar conclusions but in a way that is more biblical than philosophical.""
--Guy M. Richard is Executive Director and Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta
Jeff Hamm is the senior minister of ChristChurch Presbyterian in Atlanta, Georgia.