This week, Craig addresses the role of reason and evidence in Christianity.
Having already argued that it is a direct experience of the Holy Spirit that provides the Christian his justification for "knowing" that Christianity is true, Craig explains that the role for argument and evidence is a subsidiary one, which he terms "ministerial use" in the spirit of Martin Luther: "The ministerial use of reason occurs when reason submits to and serves the gospel. In light of the Spirit’s witness, only the ministerial use of reason is legitimate. Philosophy is rightly the handmaid of theology." So Craig is saying that reason submits to the direct witness of the Holy Spirit but can still be used to supplement the Christian's belief. A sound apologetic "reinforces or confirms" the Spirit's witness while not serving as the basis for belief.
I must object early on. Craig writes that there are "great benefits" to someone having a "dual warrant" of their Christian belief. Several times, Craig makes quantitative statements about Christian belief; he claims that "Having sound arguments for the existence of a Creator and Designer of the universe or evidence for the historical credibility of the New Testament records of the life of Jesus in addition to the inner witness of the Spirit could increase one’s confidence in the veracity of Christian truth claims." Now, earlier in Part One, Craig described the experience of the Holy Spirit as "not only a subjective assurance of Christianity’s truth, but objective knowledge of that truth." Adjectives such as "veridical" and "unmistakable" are peppered throughout Craig's description; the implication is that the assurance of Christianity's truth is absolute, and as such, no greater belief is possible. There exists no higher standard of assurance to be met. This raises the question of how reason or evidence could "supplement" the faith of a Christian. Even if the Christian were to discover evidence for Christianity, it would be useless. Evidence, as used by the scientific community and many philosophers, serves to provide a greater justification for a belief; this implies that any given belief has not reached a level of justification in which it can be said to have transcended contradiction by any other conceivable development. So not only would evidence be useless in disproving Christian beliefs as Craig claims, but it would also be useless in supporting those beliefs. Either evidence has the power to affect justification Christian belief or it does not. If it is does, then a lack of evidence would decrease the level of justification for Christian belief. If it does not, then neither the Christian nor the atheist should spend any time in using evidence to examine Christianity (although I cannot imagine any rational atheist conceding to a Christian that Christianity can be proved or disproved independent of evidence).
My similar, second objection is to Craig's definition of reason and evidence as "ministerial." The problem here is that Craig wants to provide himself with a justification for confirmation bias early on. This strikes me as a sort of "safety net" should he run into any problems later on. If the evidence disagrees with Christianity, Craig can just throw it out, because the Holy Spirit trumps evidential logic. If the evidence agrees with Christianity, then it can (paradoxically) be used to "supplement" the justification for Christianity, although these beliefs are already unmistakable and objective. Again: either evidence is a legitimate means of determining the truth of Christian beliefs or it is not. The validity of evidence must be constant. If it is not valid, it must not be used. If evidence and the Holy Spirit contradict each other, one of them must not be valid, lest we violate the law of noncontradiction.
Craig then responds to some objections about whether we can discern Christianity's claims from other religions which make the same claim to self-justifying experience, which I also found rather disappointing. First, Craig writes that perhaps members of other faiths may indeed be experiencing God, but on a general level, and therefore do not realize that it is the Christian god rather than the Muslim god (assuming there is any difference). Of course, the latent function of Craig's response is that by his own logic, he may be experiencing the Muslim god, but on a very general level.
The last point I will address is Craig's defense of completely unfounded (in my opinion) belief, which I cannot really say too much about. Craig writes that, as we already know, any Christian is justified in his belief simply because he feels the Holy Spirit, and that no evidence or reason is necessary. (This is a strange direction to be taking in a book titled "Reasonable Faith"). Magisterial evidence, Craig writes, is simply incompatible with Scripture, because if evidence took precedence, then insufficient evidence would indeed be reasonable grounds for rejecting Christianity. (Perhaps Craig is thinking of Bertrand Russell, who said that if he were to come face to with God after his death, he would give insufficient evidence as his reason for not believing.) Now, it is perhaps encouraging to see that Craig realizes the futility of relegating religious belief to evidential justification; however, it is even more discouraging to see how he tries to circumnavigate the problem. Craig writes, "The Bible says all men are without excuse. Even those who are given no good reason to believe and many persuasive reasons to disbelieve have no excuse, because the ultimate reason they do not believe is that they have deliberately rejected God’s Holy Spirit."
What can one say to such a statement? Craig condemns all nonbelievers in one sentence. His discomfort in doing so is palpable; however, it does seem to be his only choice- because the Bible says so. Reasonable faith? It's not looking very good so far.