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Tim Challies

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apologetics

1 year 7 months ago
The French have a phrase I love: plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. The more things change, the more they stay the same. While time marches on, and while the Christian faith marches on, the objections to it remain very much the same. Likewise, there are only so many arguments for the existence of God and the accuracy of the Bible. But even while the arguments remain much the same, it can be helpful to present them in fresh ways.

In the late 90’s Lee Strobel exploded onto the scene with The Case for Christ. His unique angle was approaching the Christian faith as a journalist. “Retracing his own spiritual journey from atheism to faith, Lee Strobel, former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, cross-examines a dozen experts with doctorates from schools like Cambridge, Princeton, and Brandeis who are recognized authorities in their own fields. … Strobel’s tough, point-blank questions make this book read like a captivating, fast-paced novel. But it’s not fiction.” It was an effective book that sold millions of copies and one that continues to sell today.

J. Warner Wallace’s Cold-Case Christianity may well be The Case for Christ for a new generation. He has a unique approach of his own. Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective who dedicated much of his career to solving homicides that had been left unsolved many years before. He would re-open old investigations, take a fresh look at the evidence, interview the witnesses and suspects, and see if he could bring closure to old crimes.

Wallace was at one time an atheist who had been challenged with the claims of the gospels. As he began to read the Bible and consider its claims, he realized that Christianity was much like the cases he solved as a detective. He saw that there was evidence and there were eyewitnesses and records that could be weighed and considered. He used the skills and disciplines he had learned as a detective and brought them to bear on the Bible and on the Christian faith. He came to see that the case for Christianity was as strong as any case he would bring before a judge. 

In Cold-Case Christianity he approaches the claims of the gospels as a detective. Over ten chapters he shares ten important principles that every aspiring detective needs to master. Some of these are skills and some are attitudes: learning to be objective, learning how to infer, understanding the importance of circumstantial evidence, testing witnesses, properly handling evidence, being prepared to face an attack from a defense attorney, and so on. What is applicable to a detective trying to put a murderer behind bars is surprisingly applicable to anyone investigating Christian claims. After he shares those principles, he puts them to use as he opens up an investigation. Were the gospel writers there? Were they corroborated? Were they accurate? Were they biased? In each case he handles the objections brought by those who reject the Christian claims, often focusing on the claims of men like Bart Ehrman who is committed to destroying confidence in the Bible.

This book is written for two different audiences. It is for skeptics who reject the Bible and who reject the claims of the Christian faith. “My experiences and insights might help you to assess the gospel writers in a new light. … The answers are available; you don’t have to turn off your brain to be a believer. Yes, it is possible to become a Christian because of the evidence rather than in spite of the evidence. Many of us have done just that.” I found his arguments powerful and convincing, but, of course, I read the book as a Christian rather than a skeptic. But he convinced me once again that the claims of the gospels are not only true, but verifiable and believable. 

The book is also for Christians. “My experiences might provide you with a few tools that can help you defend your faith in a more vigorous and informed way. … I want you to become an informed Christian, to worship God with your mind and to prepare yourself as a Christian case maker.” Wallace wants Christians to believe the claims of the gospel, but to believe them because they have investigated them and have weighed the evidence.

Eminently readable and carried along by interesting illustrations from a long career as a detective, Cold-Case Christianity is an excellent book suitable to any audience. It is a book to read if you are a Christian; it will reaffirm your confidence that what you believe is true. It is a book to read if you are a skeptic convinced that faith demands the absence of reason. And it is an ideal book to hand to a friend or neighbor so they, too, can weigh the evidence. I enjoyed it thoroughly and commend it to you.

4 years 9 months ago
Why should the Devil get all the good scientists? It sometimes seems that way, doesn’t it? We hear of scientists like Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins and others who are acclaimed as being at the top of their field and almost inevitably it seems that they are atheists or otherwise committed to explaining the world in terms of Darwinian evolution. Occasionally we find a great dissenting mind, but then we discover that that person is committed to beliefs that seem opposed to the plain account of Scripture. So we have Francis Collins who writes The Language of God but who in the book says that, though God exists, life and creation can be explained in terms of natural laws and processes that do not depend on the Divine hand of God. It is both tiresome and frustrating.

But here at last comes Edgar Andrews whose list of academic credentials include more letters than all the names in my family: BSc, PhD, DSc, FInstP, FIMMM, CEng, CPhys (which, according to a site I consulted, is together an anagram for disbenching tscpf fpsps chym- cmd ‘m). No, I don’t know what any of those degrees mean, but they sure sound impressive. He is Emeritus Professor of Materials at the University of London and an international expert on the science of large molecules (not small ones, mind you, only the large ones). His credentials include things that sound like they must set him apart; things such as this: In September 1972 he was one of four specially invited speakers at the dedication symposium of the Michigan Molecular Institute, two of the others being Nobel Laureates Paul Flory and Melvin Calvin.

Put it all together and you find that Andrews is one smart dude. He’s smarter than you and me and the rest of us put together. And in his new book Who Made God? he launches a full front assault on the new atheists. He does this not through a point-by-point refutation of their books, but by an insightful look at science and the existence of God. An excellent writer who mixes a subtle British sense of humor with a powerful intellect and a deep understanding of science, he very quickly picks apart the arguments we have for so long been hearing from the likes of Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking and even Francis Collins. Yet he still crafts a book that is readable and, best of all, understandable. Even the chapter dealing with string theory is comprehensible—no small feat for a smart guy writing about what lies at the very frontier of science.

The topics Andrews covers range from the existence of God to the nature of hypotheses to the abilities of mutations to create. Through it all, he shows how the claims of atheism and naturalism fall short—how they rely on bad science, how they require bad logic or unfair hypotheses and how they are beneath the very minds that create them. He draws the reader to inevitable conclusion that there is a Creator who is pre-existent and who is living and active in the world today. By the end he draws the gaze of the created to the majesty of the Creator and calls the reader to see God for who he is.

A powerful book and one that is exceptionally well-written, Who Made God? is just the book I’ve been waiting for. It aptly refutes the claims of the new atheists but does so without giving away the farm in the meantime. And I couldn’t ask for much more than that.

 

5 years 8 months ago

A couple of days ago I was a guest on a radio program, discussing my favorite books from 2008. At one point the host asked what books I am looking forward to reading next year. I thought I’d share just a short list here. This is based only on books that have been announced or that I’ve somehow discovered in my online wanderings.

As you probably know, 2009 marks the 500th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth. Hence we are going to see several Calvin biographies. It is actually surprising how few there are today; I’ve little doubt that this will be remedied next year. So for those of us who are indebted to Calvin but who know little about him, next year should offer a bounty of good resources. I hope to read at least two or three of those biographies.

2009 also marks Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday. The New York Times says “Throw in the fact that the next president of the United States, like Lincoln, is a former state legislator from Illinois, and an African-American who says he has been reading the writings of the man who wrote the Emancipation Proclamation and you have, well, Lincoln-mania.” Because his birthday is in February, we can expect several biographies and other resources in the early months of the year. It’s not like we are suffering from a lack of top-notch biographies on Lincoln, but I expect to see the field grow even more crowded. Ronald C. White’s A. Lincoln: A Biography looks as if it may be the best of the bunch.

There are two books releasing on almost the same day (and for almost the same price—only $0.01 separates them) titled Finding God in The Shack. I’ll probably read them.

We will undoubtedly see a deluge of good Christian books next year. Some of the ones I am looking forward to are:

  • The Bookends of the Christian Life by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington (disclosure: I’ve already read it and written an endorsement for it. It’s a very good book)
  • Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will or How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random … Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc. by Kevin DeYoung. Of the writing of books dealing with God’s will there is no end; but this one looks both interesting and unique.
  • Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God by Bruce Ware.
  • The Disappearance of God: Dangerous Beliefs in the New Spiritual Openness by Albert Mohler.
  • This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence by John Piper. He waited many years to write this book and I’m looking forward to reading it.

How about you? What books are you looking forward to reading next year?

6 years 3 weeks ago
As of January 1, 2008, Al Mohler was the author of one book, and it was an edited volume to which he contributed only a single chapter. By the time January 1, 2009 rolls around, Mohler will be the author of five books. The first, Culture Shift (my review), was published by Multnomah and offered biblical perspectives on cultural issues. The second, published by Crossway, is Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New Atheists. In September will come He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World (by Moody) and Desire and Deceit: The Real Cost of the New Sexual Tolerance (by Multnomah).

Like Culture Shift, Atheism Remix is a small hardcover volume geared to a general audience. Where the genesis of Culture Shift was a series of blog posts, Atheism Remix is based on the W.H. Griffith Thomas Lectures Mohler delivered at Dallas Theological Seminary early in 2008. This series, like the book that has come from it, is geared to a general audience.

The book follows a simple format. In the first chapter, Dr. Mohler introduces the new atheism by discussing the history behind this new brand of atheism—one that has gained widespread credibility and popularity. He sets it in its historic context as the endgame of secularism—a necessary consequence of philosophies that have shaped our postmodern world. In the second chapter he introduces the “Four Horsemen of the New Atheist Apocalypse”—Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. He provides brief biographical information about each of them and describes that man’s unique contribution to the rise of the new atheism. Here he also offers eight characteristics that set apart the new atheism from older forms of atheism. The third chapter is given to a defense of theism by way of a biblical response to atheism. “At the worldview level,” writes Mohler, “the New Atheism presents Christian theology with the need for a sustained and credible defense of theism—and of Christian theism in particular. … Atheism is not a new challenge, but the New Atheists are perceived as presenting a new and powerful refutation of theism. Their challenge deserves and demands a cogent Christian response.” This is exactly what this chapter offers. In the final chapter Mohler, taking it as a given that the New Atheism will continue to present a challenge to twenty-first century Christianity, he suggests that Christians must frame their thinking about the future of Christianity with this reality in mind.

Dr. Mohler’s book is only one of many to respond to the challenge of the new atheism and it is a welcome contribution. A reader who wishes to acquaint himself with the leading proponents of atheism, the arguments they use, and the most effective ways of thinking biblically about those arguments, will want to read this book. It is an ideal addition to any church or public library. I benefited from Mohler’s wisdom and am convinced you will also.

6 years 1 month ago
I’m on vacation this week and today we’re heading across the border into the U.S. of A. to spend some time at the Buffalo Zoo. And, if we have some time left over, we’ll swing by Niagara Falls since we haven’t taken the kids to see that site in some time. Today I just wanted to post a short review I wrote quite a while ago but haven’t yet had opportunity to post. It’s a short review because the book was just so utterly stupid, three paragraphs was all I could stand to write.

This may well be the dumbest book you’re ever likely to read. And that is saying something if you’ve read Hedges previous effort American Fascists. In American Fascists Hedges took on the Christian right, a group he (rather conveniently) left undefined, though he seemed to indicate that it was really any Christian who actually took his faith seriously. His purpose in writing the book was to warn Americans that Christians are rising in great numbers and are waiting only for the next national disaster before attempting to seize power and to create some kind of an American theocracy. He offered little proof and gave the reader little reason to trust or believe him.

In his follow-up, Hedges sets his sights not on Christians but on atheists and somehow manages to entirely alienate both those who love God and those who deny His existence. The danger, it seems, is not just Christian fundamentalists, but fundamentalists of every stripe. In I Don’t Believe in Atheists Hedges does the hatchet job on atheists, though he does have to pause every now and again and affirm his disgust towards Christian fundamentalists as well. He affirms the value of faith and the possible existence of God, but describes a God that is of his own making. He believes the Bible is merely a collection of moral fables that are designed to guide us toward some version of a useful deity.

This book is utterly ridiculous. The very few reasonable sections of the book are by far overshadowed by the sheer stupidity of the vast majority. I suppose I could spend time analyzing his arguments and even refuting them, but it’s just too hard to take this seriously. This truly is an almost inconceivably stupid book and one that is not worth anyone’s time to read. Avoid it!

6 years 4 months ago
Mormonism seems to be on the rise. I read recently that some estimates suggest that by the end of this century there may be close to 300 million Mormons in the world. With the Mormon obsession with proselytizing and with their skill at winning converts, it seems a given that we will hear more and more in years to come about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Once considered little more than a fringe cult, it is fast entering the religious mainstream.

Many Christians seem unsure of how to react to the rise of Mormonism. Mormons are adept at using Christian language and in affirming their love of the Bible and of Jesus Christ. But behind the language and behind the similarities is a whole world of difference. Christians do well to arm themselves with some knowledge of this religion and of those who adhere to it. In his new book Mormonism Explained, Andrew Jackson offers a book that can do just that. A short study and one geared to the popular level, the book, well, it simply explains Mormonism. I do not mean to be flippant but in this case the title really summarizes the book. Jackson looks at the religion’s origins, its teaching and then spends several chapters teaching about the Mormon concept of salvation. In about 200 pages he gives a ground-level introduction to this religion and shows how it is not consistent with the Christian faith.

Perhaps a useful way of summarizing the book would be by providing this, an endorsement I wrote for it many months ago: Mormonism Explained is a lucid and steady guide to the beliefs and practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Relying on Mormonism’s original sources, Andrew Jackson shows what Mormons believe and how they practice their faith. With this religion ever more in the mainstream and with much confusion as to what it really teaches, this book is a valuable, accessible and timely contribution.

6 years 9 months ago
Though many people use the name of Jesus in our day, it often seems that one Jesus bears very little resemblance to another. While almost everyone claims to love Jesus, few seem to know the real Jesus. It is to this problem that Erwin Lutzer, pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, addresses his new book Slandering Jesus.

The format is a simple. An opening chapter introduces the problem and the author’s rationale for addressing it. “Living as we do at the beginning of a new century, many new Jesuses are being fabricated year by year; this is the age of designer Jesuses.” “This book is about a few of the attempts that have been made to remake Jesus of Nazareth into a different kind of Jesus—a Jesus more in tune with the times, or a Jesus who will blend more nicely into the tolerance that our culture prizes so highly.” Lutzer introduces six assumptions that give scholars permission to reinvent Jesus according to their own liking:

  1. take a lesser aspect of His teaching and present it as the heart and soul of His ministry.
  2. the Jesus of history should be separated from the Christ of faith.
  3. history is subjective and that one historical viewpoint is really no better than another.
  4. antisupernaturalism, the notion that all miracles are to be summarily dismissed as impossible because of the supposed consistency of natural law.
  5. whatever is new is true.
  6. all religions of the world are essentially the same.

Lutzer than examines six views of Jesus that are common in our day, explaining each and then showing how it falls short of the truth. He does this under the headings of six lies people tell about Jesus.

  1. Lie #1 - Jesus’ family tomb has been discovered. This answers the ridiculous and widely-debunked claims of Simcha Jacobovici and James Cameron (in both a book and a film under the title of The Jesus Family Tomb) that archaeologists found the tomb of Jesus, his wife (Mary Magdalene, of course) and His son.
  2. Lie #2 - Jesus was not crucified. Here Lutzer primarily answers the claims of the Koran which says that Jesus did not actually die but that Judas was made to look like Jesus and died in His place. Of course the Koran is far from the only text to make such a claim.
  3. Lie #3 - Judas did Jesus a favor. This section deals with The Gospel of Judas, which claims that Judas handed over Jesus only because that is what Jesus wanted. Hence Judas has been misunderstood and should actually be regarded more as a hero than a villain.
  4. Lie #4 - Jesus was only a man. Though multitudes have made this claim, Lutzer turns here mostly to the Jesus Seminar and to their constant attempts to discredit Jesus and to remake Him into someone who was merely human.
  5. Lie #5 - Jesus has a dark secret. Here the author deals with the claims that Jesus was not born of a virgin but was conceived entirely naturally (and, as many claim, by a Roman soldier named Panthera).
  6. Lie #6 - Jesus is one way among many. This final lie is the one that is most prevalent in our society and one whose leading advocate may be Oprah Winfrey. Lutzer looks at what Oprah teaches and in that context discusses Jesus’ uniqueness.

After discussing those six lies, Lutzer presents a final chapter entitled “Finding a Jesus You Can Trust.” Here he tidies up a few loose ends and shows that the historical evidence for Jesus is strong—that He did exist and that He did die. And here he shows that only Jesus claims exclusive right to present us before the Father. This is a Jesus worth trusting and a Jesus who we must learn to know just as He is. In this chapter and in this book Lutzer shows that those who follows Jesus—the traditional Jesus—have nothing to fear about all of these lies that are being told in His name. Jesus is as controversial today as when He walked this earth. And He is still God.

This book aptly answers many of the claims that slander Jesus’ name. He does so in a way that is easy to read and easy to understand. Anyone can read and enjoy this book. I hope many do.

Notable Quotes

“The cross is the hub that holds the spokes of God’s eternal purposes.”

“Christians do not measure sin by comparing one person with another, or by how good we might feel about ourselves. Christians measure the seriousness of sin by the suffering needed to atone for it.”

“Our greatest temptation is to create a God just like us: forgiving, inclusive, and endlessly tolerant. We are tempted to think that because we are quick to excuse ourselves, that God is also very forgiving, no matter what we do or believe.”

“All other religions fall short in their understanding of God and therefore cannot understand the seriousness of sin.”

“The only holiness God accepts is His own.”

“The reason we think there are many ways to God is that we have lost our capacity to despise our sin.”

“Whenever we try to add to Christianity, we subtract from it. … Those who surrender the uniqueness of Christ do not simply surrender a part of the Christian message, they surrender it entirely.”

7 years 2 weeks ago
Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion is a mega-seller, having been a long-time fixture on the New York Times list of bestsellers. Easily the world’s most prominent atheist at this time, Dawkins is becoming still more popular and gaining a wider and wider voice. Just recently he has introduced his “OUT” campaign which seeks to convince atheists to come out with their beliefs and to stop hiding in shame. He is leading the charge for society to regard atheism as a valid and respectable worldview.

Alister McGrath is no Richard Dawkins, but he certainly could have been. In his new book McGrath says, “Dawkins and I have traveled in totally different directions but for substantially the same reasons. We are both Oxford academics who love the natural sciences. Both of us believe passionately in evidence-based thinking and are critical of those who hold passionate beliefs for inadequate reasons. We would both like to think that we would change our minds about God if the evidence demanded it. Yet, on the basis of our experience and analysis of the same world, we have reached radically different conclusions about God.” Though they came from similar backgrounds and received similar education, Dawkins and McGrath have gone in completely different directions when it comes to the question of God’s existence.

In The Dawkins Delusion? McGrath seeks to respond to the most notable charges Dawkins raises in The God Delusion [Do note that the book is attributed to both McGrath and his wife but that the majority does come from the pen of Alister]. Rather than writing what would be a dry, exhaustive and exhausting point-by-point rebuttal, McGrath replies simply by challenging him “at representative points” and then allowing readers to draw their own conclusions about the overall reliability of Dawkins’s evidence and judgment. After all, “Religion to Dawkins is like a red flag to a bull—evoking not merely an aggressive response but one that throws normal scholarly conventions about scrupulous accuracy and fairness to the winds.” If Dawkins really does engage in such poor argumentation, McGrath should have an easy task. He says also, “Dawkins simply offers the atheist equivalent of slick hellfire preaching, substituting turbocharged rhetoric and highly selective manipulation of facts for careful, evidence-based thinking. Curiously, there is surprisingly little scientific analysis in The God Delusion. There’s a lot of pseudoscientific speculation, linked with wider cultural criticisms of religion, mostly borrowed from older atheist writings. Dawkins preaches to his god-hating choirs, who are clearly expected to relish his rhetorical salvoes and raise their hands high in adulation.” And so McGrath sets out to do just one thing: to assess the reliability of Dawkins’s critique of faith in God.

He launches a four-pronged attack and the chapter titles tell the story: Deluded About God?; Has Science Disproved God?; What are the Origins of Religion?; Is Religion Evil?. Those who have read The God Delusion will recognize in these headings core components of Dawkins’s argument against religion and against God. Because the book contains so many short arguments, I thought it might be most helpful to simply provide the headings for the various sections as this should show which of Dawkins’s arguments McGrath chooses to interact with.

  • Deluded About God
    • God is a psychotic delinquent
    • Faith in infantile
    • Faith is irrational
    • Arguments for God’s existence?
    • The extreme improbability of God
    • The God of the gaps
  • Has Science Disproved God?
    • The limits of science?
    • NOMAs and POMAs
    • The warfare of science and religion?
    • A clash of fundamentals
  • What are the Origins of Religion?
    • Defining Religion
    • Belief in God and religion
    • The virus of the mind
  • Is Religion Evil?
    • Religion leads to violence
    • The human abuse of ideals
    • Jesus and loving one’s neighbor
    • Christianity and the critique of religion
    • On reading the Old Testament
    • Religion and well-being

It will come as no surprise to hear that I feel McGrath does an exceptional job in assessing the reliability of Dawkins’s evidence and judgment. He shows how, time and again, Dawkins provides half-truths and even outright lies in order to bolster his argument. Ultimately he shows that Dawkins has become a kind of fundamentalist—a scientific fundamentalist who is willing to embrace only that which supports what he believes and is willing to discard everything else. “One of the most melancholy aspects of The God Delusion is how its author appears to have made the transition from a scientist with a passionate concern for truth to a crude antireligious propagandist who shows a disregard for evidence.” Those are fighting words, to be sure, but McGrath shows them to be true.

If you have read or are planning to read The God Delusion, The Dawkin’s Delusion? provides a fascinating and stimulating counterpoint. It is amazing to see how a person can get swept up in Dawkins’s arguments, but just as interesting to see how those arguments can be quickly demolished by a mind as lucid, as capable, as McGrath’s. I was delighted to see an endorsement for this book coming from none other than Michael Ruse, a prominent atheist in his own right. He writes this: “The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist, and the McGraths show why.” I suspect this book will do the same for many atheists. I think McGrath wins this battle.

8 years 7 months ago
Sharing our faith with others is almost always difficult. It is rarely easy to share with another person that he is a sinner and in need of a Savior. The foolishness of the gospel makes us feel like fools. Yet it is our great honor and privilege and responsibility to be fools for Christ and to serve Him by sharing the good news with others. Despite this, we are often unprepared. When friends or acquaintances or even strangers provide us an opportunity to share with them, so often we find ourselves fumbling and stumbling. Some of us turn to “fillibuster evangelism,” hoping to talk our friends into the kingdom by never giving them a chance to voice their questions or disagreements. Others say little, perhaps finding ourselves intimidated at having been challenged.

Charlie Campbell, pastor of Calvary Chapel Vista in southern California, believes that we should be able to provide one-minute answers to the most common questions posed by skeptics. “When someone asks me, ‘What evidence do you have that the Bible is actually true?’ I do not attempt to walk them through a whole pile of evidence (‘The eighth reasons is…’). I try to answer their question in under a minute or two. Frankly, that is all the time people often have before their cell phone rings, the baby starts crying, or they have to get back to work. If they want to hear a more in-depth response to their question, I let them know that I would be glad to go on.” This book, One Minute Answers To Skeptics’ Top Forty Questions seeks to provide just enough information to answer questions thoroughly yet without taking too much time.

Here are some of the questions Campbell addresses:

  • What evidence do you have that there is a God?
  • Hasn’t the Bible undergone corruption as it was translated hundreds of times down through the centuries?
  • If God is so loving, why does He allow evil and suffering?
  • How can a loving God send somebody to hell?
  • Doesn’t the Bible have scientific errors in it?
  • Can God make a rock so big that He cannot move it?
  • Why aren’t dinosaurs mentioned in the Bible?
  • Isn’t being a good person enough to get to heaven?

On the whole the author does quite a good job of answering the questions. He continually refers back to Scripture, allowing the Spirit to convict the heart of the person asking the questions. Having said that, there were a couple of answers that I felt were quite poor. In answering, “What about those who have never heard of Jesus? Will they be condemned to hell?” the answer contains the words, “I personally believe…” In this case Campbell goes outside of Scripture to suggest that if there is a person alive who would receive Jesus, if only he could hear about Him, God will somehow save that person, perhaps through a missionary, a vision or so on. The answers to “How can a loving God send somebody to hell?” and a couple of the other questions are, as we might expect, based on an Arminian understanding of Scripture. Still, most questions are answered well.

I had a couple of disappointments with the book. First, I am not entirely sure who the audience is. At times the author uses fairly advanced language such as “the inspired, infallible Word of God.” Yet the book closes with a section outlining steps to peace with God. It seems that the book has something of a dual purpose and it would perhaps have been better to focus on either believers or unbelievers. It is rare that a book can be targetted successfully at both groups. Second, most of the chapters close in a quote or two relevant to the topic that has just been discussed. Several of the quotes were by people who may lead the reader to read books that would not prove conducive to sharpening his faith. I would suggest that the author could have been more selective in choosing quotes.

One Minute Answers To Skeptics’ Top Forty Questions is an easy read and provides valuable answers. Perhaps its greatest value, though, at least as in so far as it applies to believers, is that it will help convict Christians that they need to be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Christians should think through the most common questions and objections and be prepared to give an answer that is convicting and biblical, but not necessarily exhaustive.

9 years 8 months ago
Open Theism, once a doctrine known only to Christian academics, is slowly becoming mainstream among evangelicals. While it continues to be a minority position, it is gaining wider acceptance and several popular Christian authors are teaching it or teaching principles derived from it, even while denying their belief in it. This represents one of the battle-lines of the contemporary church and it is important for Christians to know what this doctrine teaches and be prepared to give a defense of the traditional view of God. This short book, written by Bruce Ware, sets out to teach believers the basics of what they need to know to defend the traditional doctrines.

Put simply, open theism is a doctrine that teaches that God does not fully know the future, for he cannot see what humans will do with the free will He gives them. Therefore, God has taken a great risk in giving us freedom. Of course this contrasts with the biblical teaching of God’s omniscience - that He sees and knows everything in the past, present and future - as well as God’s omnipotence - that He not only knows these things, but controls them as well. More than just a minor difference in doctrine, open theism threatens some of the beliefs Christians hold most dear. How can we have confidence in a God who does not know what will happen minutes, hours or days from now? How can we trust a God who is constantly making errors in judgment as He guides our lives the best He can, using only the information that He is able to see at the time? Why should we pray to a God who values our opinion as highly as our own? This is not the God of the Bible! As the title of the book tells us, the God of open theism is too small, having been created in the image of man.

Their God Is Too Small introduces the main proponents of open theism, explains the basics of their beliefs and shows the implications of this doctrine. The author concludes that open theism undermines the believer’s confidence in God as the One who can be trusted to walk with us through pain and suffering; as the one who gives us a hope for the future. The constant theme is that this God is just far too small to be the God we learn of from the Scriptures.

This book, at only 129 pages, serves merely as an introduction to this doctrine, but it serves that purpose well. It is easy to read and understand, even for those who know little about theology. The reader will be left with an accurate depiction of the arguments for and against this doctrine as well as a strong sense of just what is at stake. I am glad to give it my recommendation.

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