What do I think of James Sire’s latest? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
James Sire has been a vanguard in apologetics for several years. He was doing apologetics when most of us didn’t even know what it was and is part of what has been called the first wave of American apologists in our modern times. For review purposes, IVP sent me a copy of his book “Apologetics Beyond Reason.”
In this one, Sire looks at works of literature and makes the argument that literature points us to God. This is a position that I do agree with. In fact, I agree with Sire that in reality, everything that we see in some ways points us to God and too often we get caught up in looking at the pointer instead of what it is pointing to.
I also appreciate when I read Sire on these kinds of topics that he does give a different perspective on looking at a writing. Sire is very much a lover of literature and that comes through strongly in all of his writings. Of course, to be a good apologist, one must love the written word.
I do disagree with some of Sire’s stances however. I don’t agree with the kind of presuppositionalism that he holds to as he speaks often of autonomous human reason. I’m really not convinced there truly is such a thing. All reasoning that is true is simply thinking God’s thoughts after Him regardless of how one does it. Now if we mean thinking without Scripture, sure. That has definitely existed.
Of course, there can be an over-emphasis on reason where it is said we don’t need revelation of any kind, which is problematic, but at the same time, let us not underestimate reason. It is possible to reason to God. Aristotle did so and we have numerous arguments today that use reason to get to God.
Granted, someone could say that this isn’t necessarily the God of the Bible. I agree. However, it is a deity that is fully consistent with the God of the Bible. It is for this reason that I disagree that we reason from God. In actuality, we reason to God. When it comes to the arguments, ontologically, God comes first as reason shows that without God, nothing else can be, but epistemologically, we must start with where we are and what we do know.
Also, while I appreciate many of Sire’s assessments of the arguments from literature based on writers like Woolf and Lem and others, I also found myself increasingly lost at times. This would be because of a lack on my part as I do not have the time to read much fiction. Those who do read the authors I’m sure will get much more out of this.
I did find myself coming back in with the last two chapters. One was a narrative story of someone coming to Christ through the works of literature. Perhaps sometime Sire should write a whole book in this way that will be a narrative exploring what would be called “The Great Works.”
The last was the argument from Jesus and this is something that I find skeptics do not take seriously enough. Jesus is a totally unique and amazing figure and it has been reported that someone has said that if there was no Jesus, then please point me to whoever invented Him because that person should be worshiped. Jesus is really not the kind of character that you create. Could it be it is our unfamiliarity with our fellow man today that keeps us from recognizing one who does not fit the mold?
If you like to read works of fiction, you’ll probably like Sire’s book. If not, you might not get as much as you can, but you should still see a unique way of looking at literature that you can apply to other forms of media out there.