The Augustine Way
Retrieving a Vision for the Church’s Apologetic Witness
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What can we learn from Augustine about apologetics? This book shows how Augustine defended the faith in late antiquity and how his approach to engaging the culture has great significance for the apologetic task today.
Joshua Chatraw and Mark Allen, coauthors of the award-winning Apologetics at the Cross (an Outreach magazine and Gospel Coalition Resource of the Year), recover Augustine's mature apologetic voice to address the challenges facing today's church. The Augustine Way offers a compelling argument for Christian witness that is rooted in tradition and engaged with contemporary culture. It focuses on Augustine's best-known works, Confessions and The City of God, to retrieve his scriptural and ecclesial approach for a holistic apologetic witness.
This book will be useful for students as well as for pastors, church leaders, and practitioners of Christian apologetics. It puts pastors and churches back at the center of apologetics, transcending popular contemporary methods with a view to a more effective witness in post-Christendom.
Introduction: Time to Make Room at the Table
Part 1: Going Back for the Future
1. A Prodigal Son Returns Home . . . as an Apologist
2. An Augustinian Assessment of Contemporary Apologetics
Part 2: An Augustinian Vision for Today
3. A Renewed Posture
4. An Ecclesial Pilgrimage of Hope
5. A Therapeutic Approach
Conclusion: The Return of the Bishop
"To discover a great thinker of the past as an exciting and challenging contemporary is always a wonderful moment. This book--lively, honest, humane, and wide-ranging--introduces us to one of the most brilliant of all Christian writers and lets us realize just how much good news he has to give amid the muddles and longings of our age."
Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury
"How refreshing it is to find apologetics in this book being recovered in its more ancient forms, such as Augustine and his philosophical forebears represented so richly: not as an imperialistic imposition, nor as a merely dispassionate assessment, but as a quest for truth in its deepest sense, which draws in every element of human longing and aspiration."
Rev. Canon Sarah Coakley, FBA, Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity, emerita, University of Cambridge
"A superb account of how one of the world's greatest classical theologians can give new depth and vitality to contemporary apologetics. This 'apologetics of retrieval' opens up some theologically rich and apologetically compelling approaches, which will be invaluable to us today as we face new cultural challenges. Essential reading for apologists!"
Alister McGrath, Oxford University
"In the twenty-first century, it often seems more natural to apologize for the church than to see the church as the privileged context of Christian apologetics. Yet the New Testament teaches that the church manifests 'the wisdom of God in its rich variety' (Eph. 3:10). This truth animated and informed Saint Augustine's pastoral and evangelical activity. Chatraw and Allen have done Christians an immense service in retrieving the bishop of Hippo's thought for a contemporary apologetics that is robustly ecclesial, culturally responsive, intellectually rigorous, and--most beautifully of all--generously ecumenical."
John Sehorn, academic dean, Augustine Institute Graduate School of Theology
"With keen attention to the social imaginary of late modernity, The Augustine Way enlargens our imaginations for how we might persuade others of the truth, beauty, and goodness of the gospel within our current age of anxiety. By placing the historic writings of Augustine in conversation with authors and issues of today, Joshua D. Chatraw and Mark D. Allen beautifully remind us of the centrality of the local church and the importance of humility as we engage in the hard but important work of persuasion."
Kristen Deede Johnson, dean and vice president of academic affairs, Western Theological Seminary
"I teach a whole course on what makes theology Augustinian because I believe Augustine has much to offer today's church. I therefore welcome and resonate with the thought experiment behind The Augustine Way--namely, to articulate what Augustine would likely say and do as a pastor and defender of the faith if he were alive today. One thing is sure: Augustine would direct his appeal to hearts as well as minds by commending desires as well as doctrines in preaching the truth, goodness, and beauty of the gospel."
Kevin J. Vanhoozer, research professor of systematic theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
"At a time when modern-day Tertullians are telling Christians to withdraw from culture and politics, and when modern-day Eusebians are envisioning a new Christianized eternal city, Joshua Chatraw and Mark Allen's The Augustine Way strikes a powerful, challenging, and deeply biblical note. Augustine's way neither demonizes nor dominates culture but critically engages with its complexity, speaking both within and against dominant cultural narratives as it seeks to bring them under Christ. This book is no nostalgic plea for a return to an imagined past, nor is it peddling a supposedly novel way of engaging with culture. More usefully than both of these simplistic solutions, it connects us with a long tradition of biblically soaked thinking that brings ever-fresh perspectives to bear on today's problems. Readers of this book will find in its pages a Bible-shaped way of inhabiting late modernity that combines clarity with compassion, critique with constructiveness. It is a word that both the culture and the church sorely need to hear."
Christopher Watkin, associate professor and ARC Future Fellow, Monash University, Melbourne
"Far more than a thoroughly researched, beautifully written work of retrieval, this book is a sorely needed plea to mend what has come undone in our attempts to defend and commend the faith to our late-modern contemporaries. Herein is a theologically informed approach to apologetics that takes seriously the fact that we are doxological creatures with disordered desires, that we are more than intellects but are storytelling, story-consuming, and culturally situated creatures. Chatraw and Allen urge readers to recognize the vital role of the life of the church both as an apologetic itself and as the essential context in which apologetic practitioners must be spiritually formed. Drawing primarily on Augustine's Confessions and The City of God, they remind us that Augustine's apologetic work was done not as an academic but as a shepherd of God's people. He was, as the authors put it, a 'pastor-theologian-apologist.' How the church needs such leaders today! This volume is a valuable aid for preparing those leaders."
Keith Plummer, dean, School of Divinity, Cairn University
"In contemporary times, it is easy to associate apologetics with winning rather than witnessing, where apologetic training becomes an exercise in controlling the conversation. Chatraw and Allen show us a more excellent way: a nonanxious posture of persuasion that is critical and constructive, intellectual and imaginative, humble and hopeful. This accessible retrieval of an Augustinian apologetic calls us to recenter the local congregation and to renew the polluted cultural ecosystems where we live."
Justin Ariel Bailey, Dordt University
"The insights of St. Augustine are like a treasure in the church's attic. The Augustine Way brilliantly continues the overall project of dusting off this treasure and displaying its ongoing value for today."
Curtis Chang, author of Engaging Unbelief: A Captivating Strategy from Augustine and Aquinas
"Very highly recommended as an essential and informative addition to church, seminary, and academic library Christian Theology and History collections, as well as supplemental Augustinian curriculum studies lists."