Bill Edgar offers a historical look at Christian apologetics while demonstrating how an awareness of popular culture can give the insightful apologist opportunities to better understand her audience and to offer a gospel of genuine hope. Dr. Edgar performs jazz on the piano, and offers fascinating analyses of film, art, and jazz.


01. Christian Apologetics

Does the Christian message and worldview, which we represent, challenge and interface with the surrounding culture or merely respond to it?  In this session Dr. Edgar introduces a series of talks about Christian apologetics and discusses being temperature setters rather than responders.  Becoming students of the surrounding culture, digging into Scripture, and learning to relate our faith to that culture in appropriate ways are presented as the basic principles of cultural apologetics.  How do we handle the cultural questions of our day? What role do phenomenal and noumenal view points play in our apologetics?  What hope can we offer?

TagsMartin Luther King, Jr., culture, globalization, urbanization, September 11, cold war, iron curtain, Berlin wall, philosophy, Nietzsche, Heidegger, metaphysics, atheism, David Hume, persecution, Karl Barth, liberalism, Schleiermacher, nazism, Bruner, natural revelation, special revelation, Immanuel Kant, Schaeffer, postmodernism, rationalism, Francis Turretin, Plantinga


02. Foundations

What is the central issue of apologetics today? Dr. Edgar addresses the need to understand and engage apologetic questions.  Are the questions being asked the right questions? Are the questions formulated well? Examining Woody Allen as a cultural voice, Dr. Edgar asks, how would we engage him in a credible apologetic?  How could existential questions about evil, death and meaninglessness be considered? Then, looking in depth at many early apologists ranging from Justin Martyr to Thomas Aquinas, Dr. Edgar discusses how the cultural questions of their day were being addressed.  What can we learn from these early apologists?

TagsWoody Allen, death, existentialism, eternity, fear, Heidegger , Descartes, Pascal, Catholicism, Justin Martyr, apologetics, ad hominem, Tertullian, heresy, Gnosticism, Irenaeus, Enlightenment, Augustine, St. Anselm, Platonism, reasonable faith, ontological proof, cosmological proof, philosophy, Thomas Aquinas

03. History

Dr. Edgar completes his historical overview of apologetics,  covering Luther to Pascal and ending with the post-Christian society. What epistemological and philosophical influence did the Reformation have on apologetics?  Given our imperfections, what role do reason and authority play in relating to God and special revelation? In a post-Christian era, the existential questions of identity, relationship and evil become predominantly important.  Dr. Edgar builds a case for worldview apologetics in a highly pluralistic and mobile world.  We must be ready to address questions like, “Where was Christ in the crumbling of the World Trade Center?”

Tagsapologetics, Renaissance, Reformation, John Calvin, Martin Luther,  Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Stephen Toulmin, human reason, Jansenism, Theodosius, the problem of evil, Montaigne, Schleiermacher, skepticism, Gefühl, liberalism, evidentialism, Paul Tillich, Karl Barth, Reinhold Niebuhr, realpolitik, realism, Cornelius van Til, Francis Schaeffer, Os Guinness


04. Art & Cultural Analysis

Dr. Edgar demonstrates a cultural analysis of the higher arts through presenting 21 paintings, allowing the audience to interact with them as he discusses what they represent about the arts, history and culture of their times.  Themes of abstract expressionism, transcendence, aesthetics, beauty, evangelism, hope and the didactic approach to reality are discussed.  Other important themes are light, impressionism, the quest for meaning, perception, and cultural apologetics.  What can we learn about mankind’s response to God through art?  What role do higher arts play in our cultural apologetics?

Tags: tabula rasa, abstract expressionism, Mark Rothko, transcendence, aesthetics, beauty, evangelism, hope, didactic art, incarnational art, impressionism, primitivism, Monet, Surrealism, Salvador Dali, agnosticism, Mondrian, Andy Warhol, Giacometti


05. Q&A: Apologetics & Art

Dr. Edgar concludes his formal history of apologetics, answers questions and looks at a variety of topics that are important to cultural apologetics today.  He discusses the various strengths and weaknesses of some popular definitions of apologetics; topics such as the art of persuasion, the role of philosophy, and the role and importance of the arts are discussed. Dr. Edgar also shares some of his personal experiences at L’Abri and with Francis and Edith Schaeffer.  He finishes by discussing the role and importance of knowledge and good contextualization in apologetics.

Tagsevangelism, conversion, Paul, rational, objective truth, subjective truth, the art of persuasion, postmodernism,  agents of change, leadership, influence, plausibility structures, Peter Berger, holistic apologetics, the cultural mandate, aesthetics, arts, music, reformation, hermeneutics, scripture interpretation, modern individualism, deconstruction, L’Abri, Francis & Edith Schaeffer, heresy, persecution


06. Christian Worldview

Dr. Edgar lays the groundwork for a worldview approach to apologetics by postulating that our starting point for a Christian worldview is a God who is utterly sovereign and yet utterly connected to the world. Rather than seeking to have all of the answers, we are then set free to discover the fabric that binds things together.  Edgar examines the themes of creation, fall and redemption as part of the narrative that helps drive such a worldview.  How might the cultural mandate affect our understanding of life?  How do we protect against a false worship of culture?

TagsImmanuel Kant, science & religion, reason, Weltanschauung, Abraham Kuyper, James Orr, Francis Schaeffer, Cornelius Van Til,  creation, fall, redemption, Calvin, non separatio, transcendence, ex nihilo, immanence, the image of God, anthropomorphic language, Aix-en-Provence, Luc Ferry, calling, vocation, idolatry


07. Q&A: Culture 

In this session Dr. Edgar takes time to answer questions from the audience.  Topics such as Paul’s view on marriage and celibacy, the role of the modern day philosophers and the eschatology of Genesis are addressed.  Other topics covered are the role of the gospel message and its relationship to the cultural mandate, the role and function of the preaching gift and the role of personal calling in the Christian’s life.

Tagsmarriage, celibacy, Paul, cultural mandate, Baudrillard, Disney, urbanization, Roland Barthes, modern semiotics, eschatology of creation, suffering, growth, suffering, Perelandra


08. Faith & Reason

Dr. Edgar explores philosophical perspectives on knowledge and God’s relation to man. Do we know by using reason, or is it a faith position?  Edgar explores how faith and reason dovetail so that faithful reason and reasonable faith are both essential.  He addresses common grace as a friend to apologetics whereby the believing and unbelieving world together share in God’s patience and generosity.  Edgar finishes this session by looking again at what the arts have to say about culture and specifically the contrast of nature and the machine as a lead into a discussion on modernity.

TagsFriedrich Schleiermacher, equivocal knowledge, analogical knowledge, Bouguereau, French Impressionism, art, aesthetics, Monet, modernity, Postmodernism, the cultural mandate, Os Guinness, Clines, The Roman Empire, The Enlightenment, European history, rationality, individual consciousness, critical thought, critical theory, Augustine, Marx, market economy, democracy, social differentiation, Peter Berger, privatization, pluralization

09. (Post)modernity  

What facets of modernity and postmodernity are helpful for us in understanding apologetics from Christian worldview?  In this session, Dr. Edgar continues to look at both as they relate to worldview apologetics. Edgar explores the irony of modernism by looking at human resistance, the religious nature of humanity, and extreme poverty. Given the clash of cultures, how is the Christian to understand cultural reform?  Looking at deconstruction, the philosophical ideas of knowledge, power and metanarrative, how can we better understand the role of postmodernism?  How do both modernism and postmodernism relate to God’s transcendence and immanence?

Tagsmodernity, postmodernism, apologetics, Peter Berger, sociology, fundamentalism, globalization, poverty, Samuel Huntington, homogenization, diversity, David Clines, Aronowitz, The Bauhaus, le Corbusier, François Lyotard, metanarrative, oppression, Auschwitz, Charles Jencks, therapeutic culture, objectivity, Jacques Derrida, deconstruction, Foucault, knowledge, power, idolatry, transcendence, immanence


10. Q&A: History

In this interactive session, Dr. Edgar fields questions from the audience.  Topics include art and music as representatives of culture, how to approach differing perspectives on history, and critical realism as it relates to N.T. Wright.  Other topics include the application of apologetics to the third world churches, textual criticism, and American culture.  In talking about American culture, Edgar completes this session by talking about social justice, feminism and the positives and negatives of how America is responding.

TagsArt, culture, aesthetics, Rothko, art theory, transcendence in art, subjectivity, avant-garde, Hans Rookmaaker, Francis Schaeffer, music, critical realism, N.T. Wright, Zeitgeist, history, Michelangelo, pre-millenialism, amillenialism, eschatology, textual criticism, social justice, feminism, disabled, minorities


11. Q&A: Theology

 Dr. Edgar takes more questions from the audience.  Topics  include the cultural mandate and the idea of God’s original plan for creation to move from garden to urbanization. Edgar offers perspective on the role of women in the church.  Other topics include the ways in which God speaks, and Edgar’s view on open theology.  He also addresses the question of calling.  As ministers, how do we help the people who attend our church understand calling in their lives? He finishes by talking about the theological importance of a Trinitarian view.

Tags: Garden of Eden, Genesis, the cultural mandate, Richard Niebuhr, Malinowski, enculturation, essentialism, women’s roles, revelation, God of the gaps, Open Theology, sovereignty of God, evangelicalism, Karl Barth, wisdom, wisdom literature, Timothy Keller, The Trinity


12. Unbelief

In this session, Dr. Edgar begins to formally explore apologetic methodology.  Looking at the movie Pleasantville, he surveys the themes of freedom and rules as they relate to God’s immanence and transcendence.   Looking at Romans 1, he illustrates how to push unbelieving worldviews gently but firmly towards consistency.  The moves of disclosure and homecoming serve as part of this transcendental method of apologetics.  He looks intently at rationalism and irrationalism.  He finishes by exploring what he calls the apologetics of wisdom, love, hope and gratitude and looks at how the quest for meaning out weighs the need for survival.  

TagsApologetics, methodology, freedom, sin, Pleasantville,  modernity, postmodernity, John Frame, Frame’s frame, mysticism, materialism, contradiction, rationalism, common grace, Francis Schaeffer, Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Michel Foucault, Vaclav Havel, Paul, Viktor Frankl, Ernest Gordon, Goethe, G.K. Chesterton


13. Homecoming  

How can persuasion be misused or misrepresented as coercion?  In this session, Dr. Edgar explores further how disclosure and homecoming play important roles in a transcendental approach to apologetics. He dialogs about the profound depths of sin, evil and truth. Condemnation, order, humor, games, and hope are indices that point to a transcendental moral code within us. Revealing the incapacity of human beings to live consistently outside of Christ becomes the foundation for disclosure and homecoming, and Dr. Edgar looks at some ways to call people home and remind us of the great responsibility to which we are called.  

Tagspersuasion, coercion, Dick Keyes, Oscar Wilde, hedonism, The Picture of Dorian Gray, W.H. Auden, September 11, evil, humanism, Francis Schaeffer, L'Abri, Solzhenitsyn, Stalinism, Peter L. Berger, Rumor of Angels, C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, truth, condemnation, order, humor, games, hope, Erasmus, African-American culture, G.K. Chesterton, paradox, homecoming, prodigal son, Greil Marcus, the blues, Robert Johnson, Isobel Kuhn, Sehnsuch, Jonathan Edwards, Bertrand Russell, Thomas Kuhn, Copernicus, paradigm shift, Groucho Marx


14. Q&A: Apologetics

Dr. Edgar fields questions from the audience.  Topics discussed include finding the contradictions in people’s lives and the use of art and music as persuasion.  Are there lines that can be crossed with music into unethical coercion?  Edgar also offers some wisdom to the present controversy surrounding The Da Vinci Code and the ongoing debates about the Shroud of Turin.  Is every Christian responsible for good apologetics?  Edgar finishes by reinforcing the importance of good apologetic work for all believers including but not limited to the called evangelists in the church.   

TagsSolzhenitsyn, art, persuasion, music, worship, coercion, rock & roll, The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown, diminished chords, Irenaeus, Gnosticism, evangelism


15. The Problem of Evil

 Dr. Edgar continues his exploration of apologetic methodology.  Looking at Nathan’s example and the parables, he looks at the apologetic use of imagination and story. He also begins to look at the problem of evil.  What is evil and what are its sources that it should confront us and become what we call a problem? He analyzes various explanations that deal with the problem of evil and presents the pedagogical explanation and the illusion theory in comparison to the reality of death and evil in the world. 

Tags: imagination, David & Bathsheba, Nathan, George Florovsky, Sadducees, Pharisees, C.S. Lewis, The problem of evil, Jean Paul Sartre, John Kennedy, divorce, David Hume, moral improvement theory, perseverance, suffering, Stalin, Ukraine, Helen Keller, felix culpa, Paul Thielicke, Buddhism, Siddhartha, Hinduism, Mary Baker Eddy, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig,  the reality of evil, the reality of death


16. Reflecting on Evil

Dr. Edgar finishes his discussion of the problem of evil.  He looks at optimism, which sees evil as the imperfect of good, and stoicism and existentialism, which are variations on optimism.  He explores free will, or the kenosis view, as another possible solution.  According to Edgar, there is no complete explanation for evil that can be grasped or that will justify its existence. Yet we can still affirm that God stays powerful and good in spite of evil. He looks at God’s sovereignty and predestination, and he finishes by looking at God’s goodness and love found through Christ’s sacrifice.

TagsLeibniz,  Theodicy, Alexander Pope, Voltaire, Candide, optimism, stoicism, existentialism, kenosis, Bertrand Russell, suffering, hope, Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, The Plague, La Pest, bubonic plague, Saint Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Voltaire, pessimism, Le Chambon, Huguenots, Mother Teresa


17. Global Apologetics 

Dr. Edgar explores globalization's relationship to world religions, world missions and world apologetics.  A globalization that leads to pluralistic relativism is in opposition to a globalization that is the fulfillment of the cultural mandate.  As we engage with world religions in apologetics, Edgar suggests we look to their worldview presuppositions.  What have they done with God? What are their standards? How do they deal with suffering? He looks at how specific world religions handle these three questions, and he finishes by discussing apologetics specific to Muslims and Buddhists.

Tags: globalization, pluralism, world missions, Chinese culture, cultural mandate, world religions, Schleiermacher, J.H. Bavinck, Star Wars, Islam, suffering, atonement systems, God’s love, evangelism, Buddhism, transcendence, ethics, ethical standards, religious practice


18. Q&A: Pain & Evil

 Dr. Edgar fields questions from the audience.  Topics discussed include predestination and free will and their relationship to Reformed theology, sovereignty and personal evangelism.  Discussion also addresses the resurrection of the dead and the possibility of purgatory or a second chance.  Other topics include Satan’s fall, the mystery of God, the Trinity, hell, and God’s love for mankind.  The dual nature of Christ, God’s interaction in time, grief, persuasion and coercion, and prayer are also discussed.

TagsCalvinism, reformed theology, predestination, the problem of evil, sovereignty, free will, Turretin, Charles Hodge, Cornelius van Til, John Frame, Os Guinness, Immanuel Kant, metanarrative, universal ethics, annihilation view, Westminster Confession, Psalms, Chalcedonian doctrine, infralapsarian, supralapsarian, time, God’s interaction in time, omnipotence,  C.S. Lewis, discipleship, grief, sanctification, persuasion, coercion, prayer


19. Jazz & Spirituality  

Dr. Edgar, an accomplished pianist, performs a beautiful range of jazz pieces and lectures on jazz and its important place within music, faith and American history.  Jazz represents all that was painful and beautiful about the context of its musical birth in America.  Themes of improvisation, racial reconciliation, redemption, judgment and lament are interwoven within his analysis of live and recorded jazz music.  How does this timeless music speak to us about the gospel and God’s own aesthetic and creative sensitivities?  What can we learn from these musicians who viewed life through such a unique lens of experience?

TagsJazz, music, ecclesiology, hope, jazz history, improvisation, music history, faith, the gospel, dancing, expression, expressions of faith, African American culture, blues, lament, poetry, judgment, redemption, call and response, Nietzsche, music and life, philosophy, African American music, West African music, European music, swing, harmony, pentatonic scale, hope, Christian message, slavery, dancing, ethnomusicology, suppression and reemergence, Jim Crow, Ken Burns, call and response, lament, Huguenots, underground railroad, poetic scripture, biblical poetry, wisdom literature, Job, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, theodicy, marching bands, baroque music, New Orleans, aesthetics, Duke Ellington, racial reconciliation, racial justice


20. Pluralism & Truth 

Dr. Edgar discusses pluralism.  What is truth? Is it observable reality? Is it a set of rules that remain consistent over time?  Edgar suggests that truth, biblically speaking, is a person.  He explores pluralism that leads to relativism in comparison to pluralism that leads to unity in Christian faith.  He looks at both modern and postmodern relativism. He finishes with reasons why good pluralistic structure is important to the cultural mandate.  He suggests that we need to encourage justice, truth and compassion within the structures we are operating in, rather than challenging the creational structures themselves.

Tagspluralism, relativism, truth, Peter Berger, Roman empire, diversity, cultural sensitivity, philosophy, ethnocentricity, ethnocentric missions, plausibility structures, television, entertainment, choice making, world religions, wisdom, Confucius, Confucianism, modern relativism, postmodern relativism, human rights, structures, government, structural norms, justice, civil rights, gay marriage, state-craft


21. Worship

In this heartening session Dr. Edgar brings a summary ending to his series by discussing Romans 12, Hebrews 5 and 1 Peter 3.  He calls us to worship.  What does it mean to present our lives as an act of worship?  Transformation doesn’t just mean having your intellectual mind change on certain ideas, but it's a transformation of the self, of the soul and of the intentions. Edgar summons us to the quietness of the restful hard working soul, saying we should be transformers by worshipping God out in this pluralistic world as we proclaim his name to the nations.

Tagsworship, panic evangelism, evangelism, apologetics, Luther, gospel, anger, Saint Augustine, transformation, maturity, spiritual formation, spiritual maturity, the love of God, Christian education, theology, rest


22. Q&A: Redemption

Dr. Edgar takes questions once more from the audience.  Topics discussed include the cultural mandate and pluralism.  Should diversity be considered differently when considering it in light of the creation, the fall and redemption?  He briefly addresses how to approach apologetics with our children.  Finally, he discusses the importance of being involved in pleading for and helping to shape governments and legislation for the sake of justice, mutual benefit and help, and rescuing people who are vulnerable.

Tagscreation, fall, redemption, apologetics, pluralism, world missions, evangelism, cultural mandate, the fall, diversity, Government, children, state craft, parenting


23. Reflections

Dr. Luder Whitlock leads a discussion on cultural apologetics with Gordon Pennington, Dr. Edgar, and John Frame.  The discussion ranges over open theism, evangelism and reality.  Has Christianity been marginalized in American culture?  What role does community play in our authentic love for God and each other?  What about the emerging church?  What important role does tradition and history still play?  What about authenticity and communication?  What does it mean to reflect deeply as believers?  How do we hear God speak to us?  How can we bear the responsibility of power?

Tagsopen theism, sovereignty, free will, God's foreknowledge, choice, hypocrisy, consistency, transcendental apologetics, fiction, fact, fantasy, reality, right of privacy, parenting, community, culture, communication, authenticity, time, abortion, morality