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Book Review: Talking About Good and Bad Without Getting Ugly

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Abortion, gay marriage and euthanasia are just three of the issues facing our society at this very moment. As Christians we have strong opinions on each of these issues, believing them to be in direct contradiction with the will of God. So how do we go about discussing such difficult topics in our pluralistic society. The truth is that we often shy away from such discussions rather than risk offending others or appearing intolerant. Yet as Christians it is our responsibility to share what we know to be true. Talking About Good and Bad Without Getting Ugly, written by Paul Chamberlain, director of the Institute of Christian Apologetics and professor at Trinity Western University, offers a solution to this dilemma.

Chamberlain believes that meaningful dialogue on the difficult moral questions is not only a possibility but is a responsibility. It is crucial that Christians engage the culture with this issues for two reasons. First, this allows us to hone our own positions on these issues. It is easy to think we have all the answers, but a good challenge can benefit us by forcing us to think through the deep and difficult issues. Second, this can be our way of contributing to our culture as it struggles with new questions of morality. “My hope is that this book will be something of a map, or should I say an atlas, to help us talk about good and bad without getting ugly; a guide for engaging issues that so often leave us confused and exasperated” (page 13).

Through fictional dialogue, clear examples and strong teaching, Chamberlain leads us toward that goal. He shows how the spirit of relativism that pervades our age has undermined the very moral foundations our nations were built upon. “The wide acceptance of this moral perspective has not only left us with few firm moral principles to guide us through the tough moral questions we face, but it has also produced a generation of people who not only have trouble distinguishing right from wrong but who actually question whether such standards exist at all” (page 28). In short, we have been thrown back to a type of moral stone age.

Chamberlain covers difficult topics such as the nature of truth, tolerance and truth in an age of pluralism, subjective versus objective standards of morality, the foundational truths of relativism and the battle for change. In the final chapter the author holds up William Wilberforce, a crucial role in the abolition of slavery in Britain, as an example of a man who had a profound influence upon his country simply by standing for an absolute standard of morality. He shows how Wilberforce achieved his goal and the moral foundation that kept him strong.

On the whole this was an excellent book and one I can highly recommend. Chamberlain is clearly a gifted teacher and he does justice to his topic. He provides the framework to an apologetic that any Christian can follow to understand the issues and provide a defense. He does so in a short format (126 pages), and with grace and clarity. He uncovers the tough issues and shows how we can discuss them without “getting ugly.”

There is not a lot of theology, but what is present is solid.
Makes a difficult topic as simple as it can get.
Unique in the author’s ability to explain the issues.
Every Christian should read at least one book about this topic.
A very good book and one I recommend to any believer.
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