In the last few years, William Lane Craig has surpassed Ravi Zacharais as evangelicalism’s foremost Christian Apologist. Craig’s name is most often associated with his ministry organization Reasonable Faith, which is also the name of his most popular book and his weekly podcast. Here are three things you need know about William Lane Craig.
1. Craig is a Professional Philosopher
Craig was once touted by popular Atheist intellectual Sam Harris as “the one Christian apologist who seems to have put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists.” Though Craig is indeed most notable for being a Christian Apologist, he is a philosopher by trade. He holds a Ph.D in Philosophy from the University of Birmingham, where he studied under John Hick and has served as Research Professor of Philosophy at Biola University since 1996. His philosophical contributions include extensive study and writing on Divine Aseity and God’s relationship to time. His philosophical background has certainly assisted him in his numerous debates on the existence of God with atheists and skeptics. His philosophical mindset tends to dominate his biblical hermeneutic thus causing him to come to questionable conclusions when interpreting certain scriptural passages. In fact, Craig is so inclined towards a purely philosophical worldview that he recommends no extant systematic theology text, tending to view the existing material as philosophically lacking.
2. Craig is a proponent of “mere Christianity”
Craig sees himself primarily as an evangelist (he served on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ for two years) and defender of what he believes to be the “core” doctrines of the Christian faith. These “core doctrines” include the Trinitarian nature of God, the bodily resurrection of Christ, and salvation by grace through faith. Craig is an formidable defender of both classical theism and these “core doctrines.” His defense of Trinitarianism against Islamic Unitarianism is especially good. However, Craig goes out of his way to avoid controversy and seeks to appeal across denominational lines. This can lead Craig to affirming the brotherhood of or failing to adequately condemn heretical sects like Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Although he personally affirms it as a Biola University faculty member, he makes a point of not defending the doctrine of inerrancy or any other doctrine he views as secondary or tertiary.
3. Craig Borders on the Unorthodox
Though Craig is a member of and a Sunday School teacher at a Southern Baptist Church, he is Wesleyan in terms of soteriology. He is also a Molinist and social trinitarian. He has proposed a controversial Neo-Apollonarian Christology. Although Craig rejects Open Theism, he has stated (in the course of explaining Transworld Depravity) that God must play the cards He has “been dealt.“ Craig has been known to make strange analogies, such as comparing the Trinity to the mythological three-headed dog Cerberus and comparing the two-natures of Christ to a character from the science-fiction film Avatar. Craig not only rejects Young Earth Creationism but has shown disdain for those who defend it. He ardently rejects Calvinism but has been quite lenient on Roman Catholicism. His apologetic for Progressive Creationism stands out among his otherwise solid work as a “god of the gaps” ad-hoc explanation for a biblical difficulty. In the course of trying to make Christianity easier to believe for people, he can almost leave it or, at the very least fail to provide, a doctrinally deep picture of the religion.
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.
**William Lane Craig teaches a weekly Sunday School class called Defenders. Though I find myself in disagreement with many of Craig’s perspectives, I have found it to be a beneficial source for systematic doctrinal study. I also published an in-depth paper about him here.
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