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Title: Turning the tables on apologetics : Helmut Thielicke's reformation of Christian conversation
Author: Hamm, Jeffery L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6056 8570
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis investigates the reformation of Christian apologetics in the theology of the twentieth century German theologian, Helmut Thielicke. In his view, traditional apologetics—the historical methods of philosophical proof and evidentialism—is practised in a sub-theological way. His theological lifework is to take over the task of apologetics in order to conduct Christian conversation in a “new way” and at a “theologically genuine level,” as he states it. Thielicke's work sets itself to address what he considers to be the three problematic characteristics of traditional apologetics. First, it speaks to unbelievers from an unrealistic and Christianly inappropriate position of rational certainty instead of the authenticate position of faith-crisis (Anfechtung). Second, it removes the scandal and folly of the cross, and attempts to demonstrate the faith on the supposedly common ground of autonomous empiricism and rationalism. Third, it operates in a defensive answer-giving role rather than an offensive counterquestion mode which challenges the interpretive paradigms of unbelief as such. Thielicke looks to circumvent these faulty features where he discovers a new way of Christian persuasion, that is, a table-turning strategy modeled after Christ's conversations. This method coheres with a theological account of the faith-crisis element in the “theology of the cross.” The counterquestion approach integrates the counterdemonstrationism of the cross-centered theology which repudiates the allegedly neutral systems of autonomous science and philosophy. Simply put, he seeks a method that conforms to its own message. Finally, this presentation of Thielicke's apologetic reformation puts him in conversation with Cornelius Van Til, the pioneer of presuppositionalism, in order to consider Thielicke's contribution to developing contemporary Reformed apologetics.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Apologetics