A.B. Bruce on Apologetics

K8436RAPHAEL-3‘Apologetic, then, as I conceive it, is a preparer of the way of faith, an aid to faith against doubts whencesoever arising, especially such as are engendered by philosophy and science. Its specific aim is to help men of ingenuous spirit who, while assailed by such doubts, are morally in sympathy with believers. It addresses itself to such as are drawn in two directions, towards and away from Christ, as distinct from such as are confirmed either in unbelief or in faith. Defence presupposes a foe, but the foe is not the dogmatic infidel who has finally made up his mind that Christianity is a delusion, but anti-Christian thought in the believing man s own heart “A man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” The wise apologist instinctively shuns conflict with dogmatic unbelief as futile. He desiderates and assumes in those for whom he writes a certain fairness and openness of mind, a generous spirit under hostile bias which he seeks to remove, a bias due to no ignoble cause, animated even in its hostility by worthy motives. But, on the other hand, with equal decision he avoids partisanship with dogmatic belief. He regards himself as a defender of the catholic faith, not as a hired advocate or special pleader for a particular theological system. He distinguishes between religion and theology, between faith and opinion, between essential doctrines and the debateable dogmas of the schools. There are many special views held by believers, of which, whether true or false, he takes no cognisance; many controversies internal to faith, such as that between Calvinists and Arminians, with which he does not intermeddle’. – Alexander Balmain Bruce, Apologetics; or, Christianity Defensively Stated (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1892), 37.


  1. A fine extract from one of Scotland’s most persuasive apologists for thoughtful Christianity rooted in personal devotion to Jesus. His influence on James Denney was deep and lasting, even if Denney was far too independent a thinker to borrow all of Saul’s armour! Another of Scotland’s unexplored and therefore unappreciated theological treasures from the nineteenth century. And isn’t his Humiliation of Christ a great book – alongside Mackintosh’s Doctrine of the Person of Christ. Och there I go, desiderating Scottish theology again!


  2. Thanks! It is fascinating to study how people define and give the scope of apologetics, no doubt this historical reference from the turn of the nineteenth century is quite revealing.


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