Today we continue with chapter eighteen of Read Along with Apologetics315, a weekly chapter-by-chapter study through Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Christianity by Douglas Groothuis. Please leave a comment on your reading below. This is where you can interact with others reading the book, ask questions, or add your own thoughts. Series index here. Click below for the audio intro, chapter 18 study questions PDF, and summary:
Chapter Eighteen: Deposed Royalty: Pascal’s Anthropological Argument
Chapter eighteen digs into an argument developed by Blaise Pascal: the anthropological argument. This is the argument from the human condition, which attempts to explain both the wretchedness and the greatness of man. Pascal argues that the doctrine of the fall of man is the best explanation for the riddle of human nature. Man is great, but he is also wretched; he is “deposed royalty,” having the marks of former greatness.
Groothuis, an authority on Pascal, unpacks the multiple layers of Pascal’s argument. He shows how this is an abductive argument; an argument to the best explanation. As he has done throughout the book, the author also shows just what role this argument plays in a cumulative case for the Christian worldview.
Man’s greatness and wretchedness are so evident that the true religion must necessarily teach us that there is in man some great principle of greatness and some great principle of wretchedness. (Blaise Pascal, Pensées 149/430, ed. and trans. A. J. Krailshaimer [New York: Penguin, 1966], p. 76., quoted in Christian Apologetics, pp. 420-421)
The case for human fallenness […] cannot be verified historically (apart from the biblical texts). It is, rather, a theological postulate used to explain historical phenomena. Pascal stipulates that the true religion must explain human nature if it is to be credible. (Christian Apologetics, p. 428)
The fall of humanity is admittedly difficult to fathom; however, once it is admitted into our worldview, the enigmas of the human condition are explained and the human landscape is illuminated as never before. (Christian Apologetics, p. 434)
When combined with a robust natural theology, the anthropological argument further strengthens the Christian apologetic by helping to explain human beings to themselves and to others. (Christian Apologetics, p. 437)
- Why do you think the anthropological argument may be compelling?
- What examples does Pascal give that show man’s greatness and fallenness?
- How would you weave this argument into your overall apologetic?
Chapter Nineteen: Jesus of Nazareth: How Historians Can Know Him and Why It Matters