Friday, November 14, 2008

McDowell's Trilemma Argument - Part 1

There are three main arguments in support of Christianity that you can find in most books that defend the truth of Christianity:

Trilemma - Jesus claimed to be God.
Prophecy - Jesus fulfilled Old Testament Messianic prophecies.
Resurrection - Jesus rose from the dead.

If these three arguments are all weak or invalid, then not much of a case can be made for the truth of Christianity. I don't think that any of these arguments is strong or cogent, so I don't think that a good case can be made for the truth of Christianity.

I have done a lot of reading, thinking, and writing about the resurrection, and intend to write many posts on that topic over the coming months. But I don't want to neglect the other two arguments, so I will start doing some reading, thinking, and writing about the Trilemma argument.

I'm going to begin with an analysis of Josh McDowell's version of the Trilemma, as found in Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Chapter 7 (revised edition). This argument has been presented by many different Christian apologists and philosophers. Here are a few examples of other authors who use this argument:
  • John Stott: Why I am a Christian (p.43-46)
  • Paul Little: Know Why You Believe (3rd edition, p.40-43)
  • Pat Zukeran: Evidence, Answers, & Christian Faith (p.140-143)
  • John Ankerberg & John Weldon: Ready with an Answer (p.67-74)
  • Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli: Handbook of Christian Apologetics (p.158-171)
  • Kenneth Boa & Robert Bowman Jr.: 20 Compelling Evidences that God Exists (p.203-215)

McDowell's version of the Trilemma might not be the best, but it is probably the best known, so that is where I will begin my analysis.