According to nominalism, “being” – that which is common or universal in any given category – is no more than a “name,” a concept or term. Accordingly, the doctrine of the Trinity in this philosophy leads to tritheism. Excessive realism, on the other hand, associates the word “essence” with some subsistent thing that stands behind or above the person and so leads to tetratheism or Seballianism. – Herman Bavinck (God and Creation 2004, 299)
Recently, I have noticed a flare-up of interest in philosopher and apologist William Lane Craig among young Reformed Christians in various circles I run in. I have been investigating Dr. Craig’s apologetics and theology on and off for close to seven years now. Because of what I have identified as serious errors in Dr. Craig’s positions on the Trinity and the Incarnation, I think that this is a dangerous development among young Christian thinkers.
I’m not opposed to appropriating good aspects of someone’s thoughts while leaving behind the problems. However, we are not talking about auxiliary doctrines or matters of indifference. Instead, we are talking about core and foundational doctrines which impact every other area of doctrine. It is not the case that our Trinitarian theology is separate from our apologetic. It is not the case that our doctrine of Scripture does not affect our soteriology.
Dr. Craig is a high level, technical, and academic philosopher. It would be presumptuous of me, despite some philosophical training, to assume I understand all the nuances of his writing. However, it is reasonable to think that we should be able to read what a man has written and assess his theology on that basis. As such, I am starting on a project to describe and critique Dr. Craig’s positions regarding the Trinity and the Incarnation. My goal is to publish weekly, but because of the gravity of what I believe the conclusions are I want to ensure that I am taking the appropriate time to properly understand what is being said, and properly critique and respond to it.
If this were an academic paper, it would be ideal to assess and critique based on academic resources. However, this is a series of blog posts, and my concern is not so much with those who are interacting with Dr. Craig academically. Rather, I am concerned with those who are interacting with Dr. Craig popularly. As such I am restricting most of my inquiry to popular resources. While there are a variety of resources that fit into this category, I will be focusing on the ones which are most commonly used, and through which Craig most prolifically spreads his theology. Those resources are:
- Defenders – This is a podcast which is the audio recordings of a Sunday school theology class that Dr. Craig teaches at his home church. I do not know if this is an ongoing class, or if they republish the lectures on an ongoing basis (or a mixture of the two).
- Reasonable Faith Podcast – Dr. Craig has a brief podcast where he discusses various topics with his co-host Kevin Harris. This usually involves discussions of apologetic topics, but he does occasionally speak about his Trinitarian and Incarnation theology.
- Reasonable Faith Website – Dr. Craig responds to questions and writes articles. This is Dr. Craig’s internet footprint and serves as a stable and extensive representation of his popular presentations.
- Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview – This book, authored with JP Moreland, serves as the systematic presentation which will be my primary object of critique. The other resources will be used to fill in gaps or to help offer an explanation of what may seem unclear.
- Bavinck, Herman. God and Creation. Edited by John Bolt. Translated by John Vriend. Vol. 2. 4 vols. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004.
- Craig, William Lane. Defender’s Podcast – Series 1.
- Craig, William Lane. Defender’s Podcast – Series 2.
- Craig, William Lane. Defender’s Podcast – Series 3.
- Craig, William Lane, and Kevin Harris. Reasonable Faith Podcast.
- Moreland, J P, and William Lane Craig. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2003.
- Reasonable Faith. Reasonable Faith. http://www.reasonablefaith.org (accessed February 19, 2017).