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Friday, July 27, 2012



By Forrest Schult´╗┐

Evangelical Agonistes:

The Struggle To Attain and Maintain The Biblical World View

A review of

Donald T. Williams Reflections From Plato's Cave: Essays In Evangelical Philosophy (Lantern Hollow Press, 2012)
                                 288 pp   $14.99   ISBN-13: 978-0615589107   ISBN-10: 0615589103

Reviewer: Forrest W. Schultz

     Donald Williams has become one of our premier Evangelical thinkers, who is following in the footsteps of his mentors C. S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer. In his essays in this collection, which deserve careful reading and reflection, Williams sets forth the Biblical world view and contrasts it with various prominent false philosophies. And he does so in depth, continually showing, as he states at the very outset on page 5, that " the reason why logical argument is possible", thereby unmasking the illogicality of any view not based on God.

     Unfortunately, he is not always consistent in this, because at times he lapses back into the old notion of trying to prove the existence of God, thereby forgetting that God is the very basis of proof itself. Maintaining a consistent Biblical world view is indeed a struggle!

     It is also a struggle to perpetuate the Biblical world view in today's church. A long time ago R. J. Rushdoony lamented the disgusting fact that most evangelical churches have no concern for history -- even recent history! Williams recounts for us how he learned this in 2005, when he discovered that almost none of his students in his "Western Thought and Culture" course had heard of Francis Schaeffer!!! Outrageous as this sounds, this really happened.

     Williams does a masterful job in the essays in this book showing the great contributions which Francis Schaeffer and C. S. Lewis made in helping us to understand the Christian view of many different subjects. About half the chapters are devoted to this. There also are chapters attacking deconstruction and other postmodern notions. And there is a very interesting literary and philosophical analysis of Milton's Paradise Lost pertaining to Satan's declaration of mental autonomy as the basis for his rebellion against God, a philosphical insight that was not widely known until the twentieth century.

     In between the essays Williams places "Interludes", which are witty poems which are not just literary embellishments, but which are thought-provoking and helpful in deepening our understanding of the points covered in the essays.

     One of my favorite chapters was a very special one, which, unlke the rest, is not an essay but is an imaginative "meeting of the minds" type discussion among four panelists -- Socrates, Erasmus, a "New Critic" and a deconstructionist. This is well done and quite helpful in showing the contrasting ideas in their respective viewpoints.

     After the essays themselves, there are several book reviews. The one most helpful and meaningful to me was the one about John Beversluis's second edition (published in 2007) of his polemic against C. S. Lewis, which, apparently is very different from the first, of which I made a careful study back when it first came out in 1985. I intend to check out this second edition, which sounds more sophisticated than the first one.

     Williams has a lot of fun with word games, so I shall conclude my review with one of my own. Regarding the title of this collection (and of its first essay) I would like to see it reworded to say "Plato IS The Cave!! And his darkness can only be dispelled by the Light of Christ!!" Another favorite of mine is that "I think, therefore I am" puts de' cart before de' horse.


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