Apologetics to the Glory of God

Collision Gets A Bad Review

While I have had Collision for some time now and have watched parts of it, I did not get to sit down and soak up the entirety of the movie until today. In my opinion, it was rather well done and fills a gap in the world of apologetics by seeking to engage the layperson in a way other apologetic presentations cannot. Of course, others may have extremely different opinions.

Well known apologist Douglas Groothuis does not share my sentiments concerning the movie. He has written a less than positive review which may be found here – http://theconstructivecurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2009/11/colision-dvd-review.html Allow me to start out by stating that I do recommend the work of Douglas Groothuis and would encourage you to get a copy of his book Truth Decay which was an extremely important resource for me when I first started college years ago. There are no doubt apologetic tools that I picked up by reading that book that help me immensely even now.

What I find odd about the review by Groothuis is that the movie is described as a recounting of “several debates between atheist Christopher Hitchens and Christian pastor Douglas Wilson” but just one sentence later Groothuis complains, “While billed as a ‘debate,’ there is no linear presentation of ideas in a classic debate forum”. Visiting http://www.collisionmovie.com does not leave me with the impression that the movie was ever billed as a debate. The cover of the DVD itself does not describe the movie in this way nor does Groothuis in the very first sentence of his review.

Groothuis may have valid points concerning the “postmodern sensibility and aesthetic” of the movie, but this does not substantiate his claim that “It is maddening to anyone trained in linear logical thinking and analysis”. I happen to be “trained” this way, and I did not suffer from the problems Groothuis writes about. While he apparently had some difficulty keeping track of the settings in the movie and being able to determine sufficient context for the arguments presented I did not. I sincerely doubt that most viewers will.

Groothuis takes a bit of a shot at Van Tillian presuppositional apologetics in his review, stating that the method “has deep limitations” because “it can marshal no genuine constructive arguments based on natural theology, science, and history”. By way of reply I will simply point out that Groothuis has this backwards. It is the non-presuppositionalist method that is incapable of consistently presenting any constructive arguments at all because Christianity must be presupposed in order to make any such arguments intelligible. While many arguments to this effect are offered on www.choosinghats.org, it is important to call attention to the biblical nature of such a claim by way of mentioning a verse like Colossians 2.3. Groothuis also asks the outdated and refuted rhetorical question, “how can you build a logical or evidential bridge with the unbeliever?” given that “Wilson seems [is this postmodernism?] to concede that he and Hitchens inhabit different thought worlds entirely”. Again, while many arguments have been offered to show the differences between believers and unbelievers in terms of thought, the point has already been sufficiently established in Scripture. As for the question, I dare say that some of the most basic books on the presuppositional method of apologetics answer where the point of contact between believers and unbelievers is and is not found. I am not sure why Groothuis would not be familiar with this literature. The point of contact is certainly not found in some kind of allegedly neutral “logic” or “evidence”; no such neutral entities exist since Christ is Lord of all. This is God’s world and we are all created in His image. It is hardly the case that the cumulative case apologetic method is a better method than the presuppositional method, and  I am left wondering why Groothuis is not satisfied with the success that he recognizes Wilson as having made. He writes, “For example, Wilson claims that Hitchens has no philosophical grounding for his moral pronouncements, and Hitchens admits as much while denying God as a foundation for morality” and “He reduces Hitchens worldview to this at the end: ‘There is no God: s–t happens’” [emphases mine]. What else need we ask for?

While I have argued against the points raised by Groothuis in his review, I certainly mean him no disrespect and in actuality I more or less agree with his conclusion.

We need more Christians, who, like Wilson, are willing to engage in meaningful debates with unbelievers. However, we need less DVDS in which the original debate form is debauched through the insane postmodern insistence on fragmentation and incoherence.

Let this be a warning. If you pick up Collision and think that it is going to follow a traditional debate format then you will quite likely be terribly disappointed. If, on the other hand, you are open to something rather new in the realm of apologetics that can be used to generate more serious discussion about ultimate matters among even friends and family who do not care for traditional debates then you will likely enjoy this movie. There have been some bad reviews. There always are. It is a movie. I highly recommend it.


One response to “Collision Gets A Bad Review”

  1. […] my post on the Groothuis review of Collision. Jeff Downs also mentioned the review in a post over at Alpha […]

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