How Should I Earnestly Contend for the Faith? Part 4

by Jared Abbott

The third method of apologetics presented in Five Views on Apologetics is the cumulative case method, and is defended by Paul Feinberg. Until he passed away in 2004, Paul Feinberg was the professor of systematic theology and philosophy of religion at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Before he Taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Professor Feinberg taught at Moody Bible Institute 1966-1970, and at Trinity College 1970-1972. After this he served as a field representative for American Board of Missions to the Jews (now known as Chosen People Ministries) until 1974 when he began teaching at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where William Lane Craig was one of his students. In addition to his academic career, Professor Feinberg was an ordained minister in the Evangelical Free Church of America, and served as president of the Evangelical Philosophical Society in 1977.

The cumulative case method is sometimes referred to as inference to the best explanation. Like the classical and evidential methods, the cumulative case method of apologetics seeks to argue the case for Christianity based on evidence, but argues in a different way. Rather than formulating formal arguments that seek to either prove Christianity or show that it is probably true, it presents an informal case for Christianity. Although classical and evidential apologists often build a cumulative case for Christianity by using a variety of different arguments, this is not the same as using the cumulative case method of apologetics.

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The model for defending Christianity is not to be found in the domain of philosophy or logic, but law, history, and literature. This does not mean that the apologist may ignore the deliverances of philosophy or logic, but that the nature of the case for Christianity is to be found in a different feild. …

Because the term cumulative case is used in apologetics in ways other than the way I am using it, it will be helpful to try to explain my precise terms.

First, the argument for theism and Christianity is an informal one. There are neither premises nor derivations. It is more like the brief that a lawyer brings, or an explanation that a historian proposes, or an interpretation in literature.
– Paul D. Feinberg, from Chapter Three: Cumulative Case Apologetics, Five Views on Apologetics

Personally, I find that I know what Paul Feinberg means better by writings of of cumulative case apologists, than by his description. Professor Feinberg lists two of my favorite authors as cumulative case apologists–G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis. Lewis is arguably the most influential Christian apologist of the 20th century, and he himself cited G.K. Chesterton as an influence in his own conversion to Christianity from Atheism…

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How Should I Earnestly Contend for the Faith? Part 4 | Think on These Things