William Lane Craig recently defended Andy Stanley against Albert Mohler:
i) I think the format was inefficient. An interviewer asked Craig to respond to Mohler's interpretation of Andy. So Craig presumes to speak on Andy's behalf, as Andy's interpreter, explaining what Andy really meant. That's very convoluted Too many layers. It would be preferable if Craig just stated his own position without the intermediaries. In addition, Craig is far more sophisticated than Andy, so I can't shake the feeling that he's improving on Andy's position. Craig is putting words in Andy's mouth, then criticizing Mohler for failing to engage Craig's reformulation. But, of course, Mohler wasn't responding to Craig, and he couldn't very well respond to something before it was on the table.
ii) I found Craig's analysis confused and contradictory. He begins by distinguishing apologetics from theology. Up to a point, there's nothing wrong with that distinction. It's true that in theology we take the authority of Scripture for granted, whereas in apologetics, we assume a burden of proof.
iii) That said, what is the task of Christian apologetics if not to defend the subject matter of systematic theology? Sure, when you're discussing Christian theology with an unbeliever, you don't expect them to concede the authority of Scripture, or to stipulate any particular doctrine. But that's why you provide reasons for the authority of Scripture or the doctrine at issue.
iv) It's true that when doing evangelism or apologetics, you probably won't lead with Noah's flood, the virgin birth, Biblical creation, or Biblical inerrancy. That's not your opening gambit when initiating a discussion with an unbeliever. If it's just a generic question of the best starting-point, then that's not your first move.
However, it's often the unbeliever who initiates a discussion of Biblical creation, Noah's flood, the virgin birth, or inerrancy in general. In addition, Christian apologetics is hardly confined to pre-evangelism. The jurisdiction of Christian apologetics is to defend the Christian faith on all fronts.
v) BTW, one can certainly preach an evangelistic sermon centered on Noah's flood. Indeed, both 1 and 2 Peter outline that approach.
vi) There is, moreover, a basic difference between not mentioning biblical creation, Noah's flood, the virgin birth, or inerrancy because that doesn't happen to crop up in the course of a sermon or apologetic dialogue, and telling someone they are not obliged to believe those things to be a Christian. There's a difference between not telling someone something because there was no occasion to mention it, and telling them that they have no duty to believe it. In the former case, it never came up. In the latter case, you bring it up in order to tell someone that's optional.
vii) At one point the interviewer recast the issue in terms of the local flood interpretation v. the global flood interpretation. But that's not what Craig said, and it's unlikely that Craig was talking about interpretation. When he mentions the flood in the same breath as inerrancy or the virgin birth, I think it's clear that he's referring to questions of historicity rather than interpretation.
viii) In addition, there's a fundamental difference between rejecting six-day creationism or a global flood because you don't think that's the best interpretation of the text, and rejecting them because you think the text is wrong.
ix) Furthermore, even if a person thinks the creation account, flood account, and nativity accounts are intentionally fictional rather than erroneous, that is just as bad in a different way.
viii) On the one hand Craig indicates that inerrancy is expendable. That belief in the historicity of Noah's flood or the virgin birth is expendable. On the other hand, he says Christians should believe in what Jesus teaches us; as his disciples we accept his teaching regarding Biblical authority. Well, which is it? Optional or obligatory?
ix) Finally, he says such issues can be decided later once you've made a commitment to Christ. But what does that mean? Shouldn't conversion involve informed consent? Craig makes it sound like signing a contract before you agree to all the terms. Is this a provisional commitment that's conditional on whether you subsequently resolve those issues to your own satisfaction? Is there an escape clause?
What's wrong with resolving those issues right up front? What makes them unbelievable now, but believable later on?
What does Craig think commitment to Jesus means? Is that a bright line–before and after? As a freewill theist, does he think something happens when you make a commitment to Christ? Does that change you in some essential respect? Or is commitment a continuum? Degrees of commitment or gradations of belief? What's the difference between Craig's view and Peter Enns? A difference of kind or difference of degree?
x) It's important to explain to unbelievers that Christianity claims to be a revealed religion. God spoke to and through the prophets. And Scripture is the revelatory record. You can take it or leave it but it's a package deal.