What a marvelous work! To cite Josh McDowell in the foreward, "the essays contained herein come from some of the greatest Christian minds of our time, many of whom have been trained and influenced by Dr. Norman L. Geisler. It is only appropriate, then, that the book is compiled in his honor".
With 20 chapters, each ranging from 10 to 26 pages in length, 'To Everyone an Answer' is a very readable and helpful work on comtemporary Apologetics, and the defense of the Christian worldview.
While challenging and informative to the more seasoned, apologetics aficionado, it is also relatively accessible to the apologetics neophyte.
'To Everyone an Answer' is divided into five sections, with 3-5 essays per heading. The sections are as follows:
1) Faith, Reason and the Necessity of Apologetics
2) God's Existence
3) Christ and Miracles
4) Philisophical and Cultural Challenges to Christian Faith
5) Religious Challenges to Christian Faith
Each section begins with a brief introduction by one of the three general editors (Beckwith, Craig and Moreland), who, like Dr. Geisler, ought to be regarded as among the most influential Christian thinkers of our time.
While I thoroughly enjoyed all of the essays, I particularly appreciated the contributions of Ronald Nash (The Problem of Evil) and Doug Groothuis (Facing the Challenge of Postmodernism).
Regarding the former, Dr. Nash's 20 page essay covered a remarkable amount of material on the subject that many apologists/ philosophers regard as 'the most serious intellectual obstacle that stands between people and religious faith' (pp 203).
Nash begins his essay by stressing the importance of "worldview thinking", when evaluating the so-called 'problem of evil'. He states, "once people understand that both Christianity and its adversaries...are world-views, they will be in a better position to judge the relative merits of the total Christian system". (pp 204)
Next, after providing a sketch of the 'problem', he draws the important and necessary distinction between the 'theoretical vs. the personal problem of evil'. He rightly observes that, "when someone is troubled by aspects of the theoretical or philosophical problem of evil, the assistance of a good philosopher or apologist may help. But when we are confronted by the personal problem of evil, what we may need is a wise and caring friend, pastor or counselor". (pp 208) Or, as W.L. Craig has said in another context, "the intellectual problem of evil is the realm of the philosopher, while the personal problem of evil is the realm of the counselor".
After considering some alternatives to the Christian worldview (pp 209-213), Nash examines two versions of the 'problem of evil', namely the 'deductive version' and the 'inductive version', or what other thinkers have described, respectively, as the 'logical vs. probabalistic' versions of the problem of evil.
Concerning the former, Dr. Nash argues, following Plantinga, that there is no logical inconsistency or contradiction in the statements "God exists" and "evil exists". Echoing Plantinga, Nash observes, "All that is required to prove our list of propositions is logically CONSISTENT is to add a new proposition that is logically POSSIBLE..."
Here Nash appeals to 'possible world' reasoning, as exemplified in contemporary analytic philosophy, arguing that, as long as it is even POSSIBLE that "God had a good reason for creating a world that contains evil" (even if this proposition turns out to be false), then the so-called deductive (or logical) version of the problem of evil is defeated....and that definitively! (pp 215)
With regard to the 'inductive version' (which argues that, although theism may not be NECESSARILY or LOGICALLY false, it is, nonetheless, PROBABLY false), Nash makes, what I regard to be, a very important, tactical point, namely, that (in arguing for the existence of 'gratuitous' or 'meaningless' evil) the atheist bears the burden of proof!
Nash asks (with tongue-in-cheek), "How did the theist get stuck with the burden of proof? After all, he was simply minding his own business as he went about the task of believing in God and living in the world. Suddenly he is told that unless he can show that none of the evils in the world are gratuitous, belief in the existence of God must be judged to be unreasonble" (pp 219). He concludes by pointing out that "it is not at all clear that the theist has the burden of proof in this matter".
Dr. Nash wraps up his chapter by evaluating 'evil' in the framework of the Christian worldview. Here he considers two passages of Scripture, Romans 8:28 and Romans 8:18, respectively.
When properly understood in context, the biblical notion that "All things work together for good TO THOSE WHO LOVE GOD, TO THOSE WHO ARE CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE" and "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us", the 'problem of evil' is no longer so serious a problem.
Although space (and time) prohibits me from saying nearly as much about Dr. Groothuis' chapter on postmodernism, I absolutely reccomend it to anyone looking to gain a better understanding of this important philosophical challenge.
Here I will simply quote the final paragraph of his essay (as it sums up quite nicely the preceding 15 pages of the chapter), "Postmodernism's rejection of the classical and biblical views of truth, rationality and language is not a fitting tonic to intellectual arrogance. Instead it shackles the intellect in a prison with no windows open to objective reality. While Christian witness must be savvy concerning the realities of the postmodern condition in order to make the historic Christian message understandable and pertinent to denizens of the contemporary world, this does not mean that we should become postmodernists in the process" (pp. 253).
Finally, and on a personal note, if I might dare to pose a single criticism of this excellent volume, I would have liked to have seen some of the contributors mention Dr. Geisler a bit more in their essays. Perhaps a few personal reflections? Perhaps a few more words about how Dr. Geisler has inspired/ influenced them? After all, this was a festschrift to honor Dr. Geisler's 50+ year legacy. Still, this is simply my personal reflection as a layman, and one who is not at all intimate with the nature and character of festschriftim.