Why All of Us Need to Learn from Timeless Truth Seekers
Theologian Kenneth Samples has written an important book for the Church, Classic Christian Thinkers: An Introduction. It’s important because Ken (a scholar at Reasons to Believe) makes the rich legacy of Christian thinkers accessible in a compact, powerful apologetics resource. It’s a true beginner’s guide, offering a concise but meaningful look at nine “timeless truth-seekers” as it outlines how these historic Christians can help all of us defend the truth of Christianity. I recently had the opportunity to ask Ken a few Questions about his new book:
J. Warner: Ken, what made you decide to write a book about these historic Christian thinkers? Why should every Christian want to know more about them?
Ken: Many evangelicals know little about church history and historical theology so they are often at a loss about how Christendom came to affirm such critical doctrines as the Trinity and the Incarnation. I decided to introduce key elements of church history and historical theology through biography. So my book introduces theological, philosophical and apologetics ideas through revealing the lives of the people who presented and defended them.
Contemporary Christians stand to learn a great deal from Christendom’s past thinkers in such areas as doctrine, apologetics and evangelism. These past thinkers have also written classic books that are masterpieces of both Christianity and Western civilization that today’s believers can greatly benefit from reading.
J. Warner: Why did you pick these particular thinkers? What is unique about them historically?
Ken: The nine men I write about are some of the most influential scholars in both the history of Christendom and Western civilization. They span the different eras of church history through the centuries (church fathers, middle ages, reformation, scientific age, modern). They are also some of my personal favorites who are strong in such fields as theology, philosophy and apologetics.
J. Warner: What, in general, did you learn from this collection of thinkers?
Ken: I view these scholars as Christian teachers, mentors and even my friends in the faith. They uniquely speak to me about the great truths of the Christian world-and-life view. In my book I discuss their most influential books, quotes, spiritual insights, as well as their theological and apologetics contributions.
J. Warner: Why should the Church be interested in thinkers?
Ken: Christians should be interested in their faith’s great thinkers because Christians hold truth to be sacred. Embracing truth and loving God with one’s mind involves interacting with the best and most challenging ideas. Fortunately church history is filled with some of the brightest minds to ever live on planet earth.
J. Warner: Which is your favorite historical Christian thinker and why does this person stand out for you?
Ken: There are several historic Christian scholars and writers that I hold in high regard. But St. Augustine (354-430) clearly stands out. I think outside the biblical authors, Augustine is arguably the most influential Christian thinker in history. His books Confessions and The City of God are both theological and literary classics. Augustine has probably influenced Protestants as much as he has Catholics.
J. Warner: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
Ken: Reasons.org provides information about me and lists many of my apologetics articles and books.
Critics of Christianity sometimes ridicule the faith as un-thoughtful or anti-intellectual. Ken’s new book will help you answer that objections and misconception, even as it prepares you to defend the truth of Christianity in a manner befitting our rich intellectual tradition. Get Classic Christian Thinkers: An Introduction, and be sure to follow Ken at Reasons to Believe.
J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adjunct Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.