Faith and/or Reason
Bryan A. Follis (Crossway Books: Sep 22, 2006), 208 pages.
As one who awoke to the intellectual richness and cultural depth of the Christian worldview in the mid-1970s through the writings of evangelist-apologist-activist Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984), I often worry that the next generation will fail to heed the challenge and receive the inspiration Schaeffer gave us through both his writings and his life of discipleship. Truth With Love is thus heartening because it winsomely explains both the rational and the relational apologetic of Francis Schaeffer to those who may not have otherwise heard the good news. This book is a revised doctoral dissertation, but one that succeeds in being both intellectually meaty and existentially appealing to those outside the strictly academic crowd. There are plenty of quotations and footnotes, as well as personal interviews with those who knew Schaeffer well. While such a well-documented book needs an index of names and subjects as well as a bibliography, unfortunately, it has neither. ~ Douglas Groothuis at DenverSeminary.edu.
James W. Sire (InterVarsity: Aug 2006), 111 pages.
A Little Primer of Humble Apologetics is just that: a beginner's instruction book on the subject of Christian apologetics; a subject many of us find frightening. As the author, James Sire, points out, we Christians are all called to some extent to be arguers or contenders for our faith, to be prepared at all times to be able to give a reason for the hope that we have found in Jesus Christ. (I Peter 3: 15-16) This primer tells how to defend the faith intelligently, with integrity and humility. Sire contends, in six short but tightly-packed chapters, that Christians can and should learn apologetic arguments through reading the Gospels and through the example and instruction of the early apostles Peter, Stephen, and Paul. Chapter one looks at what nine key Scripture passages say about presenting the gospel, and arrives at a guiding definition for those who hope to defend their faith. ~ Christian Book Previews
W.C. Campbell-Jack, Gavin J. McGrath, C. Stephen Evans, eds. (InterVarsity : April 30, 2006), 779 pages.
The New Dictionary of Christian Apologetics is a must-have resource for professors and students, pastors and laypersons — in short, for any Christian who wishes to understand or develop a rational explanation of the Christian faith in the context of today's complex and ever-changing world. Packed with hundreds of articles that cover the key topics, historic figures and contemporary global issues relating to the study and practice of Christian apologetics, this handy one-volume resource will make an invaluable addition to any Christian library. Editors Gavin McGrath and W. C. Campbell-Jack, with consulting editor C. Stephen Evans, have divided the dictionary into two parts: Part one offers a series of introductory essays that set the framework for the dictionary. These essays examine the practice and importance of Christian apologetics in light of theological, historical and cultural concerns. Part two builds on these essays to present numerous alphabetized articles on individuals, ideas, movements and disciplines that are vital to a rational explanation of the Christian faith. Both essays and articles are written by leading Christian philosophers and theologians. Together, they form an indispensable resource for Christians living in today's pluralistic age.
N.T. Wright (HarperSanFrancisco: Mar. 14, 2006), 256 pages.
Why do we expect justice? Why do we crave spirituality? Why are we attracted to beauty? Why are relationships often so painful? And how will the world be made right? These are not simply perennial questions all generations must struggle with, but, according to N. T. Wright, are the very echoes of a voice we dimly perceive but deeply long to hear. In fact, these questions take us to the heart of who God is and what He wants from us. For two thousand years, Christianity has claimed to solve these mysteries, and this renowned biblical scholar and Anglican bishop shows that it still can today. Not since C. S. Lewis's classic summary of the faith, Mere Christianity, has such a wise and thorough scholar taken the time to explain to anyone who wants to know what Christianity really is and how it is practiced. Wright makes the case for Christian faith from the ground up, assuming that the reader has no knowledge of (and perhaps even some aversion to) religion in general and Christianity in particular. Simply Christian walks the reader through the Christian faith step by step and question by question. With simple yet exciting and accessible prose, Wright challenges skeptics by offering explanations for even the toughest doubt-filled dilemmas, leaving believers with a reason for renewed faith. For anyone who wants to travel beyond the controversies that can obscure what the Christian faith really stands for, this simple book is the perfect vehicle for that journey. ~ Product Description
James W. Sire (InterVarsity: Mar 2006), 205 pages.
You gave it your best shot. You made the best case you knew how, and your friend still wasn't persuaded to follow Christ. Why is it that solid, rational arguments for the Christian faith often fail? For over fifty years James Sire, noted author and public defender of the Christian faith, has asked himself that question. Sometimes, of course, the arguments themselves just aren't that good. How can we make them better? Sometimes the problem has to do with us and not the arguments. Our arrogance, aggressiveness or cleverness gets in the way, or we misread our audience. Sometimes the problem lies with the hearers. Their worldview or moral blindness keeps them from hearing and understanding the truth. With wisdom borne of both formal and informal experience, Sire grapples with these issues and offers practical insight into making a more persuasive case for Christ. Includes an annotated bibliography of resources for framing effective arguments. ~ Product Description
Alexander R. Pruss (Cambridge University Press: Mar 20, 2006), 350 pages.
The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) says that all contingent facts must have explanation. In this volume, the first on the topic in the English language in nearly half a century, Alexander Pruss examines the substantive philosophical issues raised by the Principle Reason. Discussing various forms of the PSR and selected historical episodes, from Parmenides, Leibnez, and Hume, Pruss defends the claim that every true contingent proposition must have an explanation against major objections, including Hume's imaginability argument and Peter van Inwagen's argument that the PSR entails modal fatalism. Pruss also provides a number of positive arguments for the PSR, based on considerations as different as the metaphysics of existence, counterfactuals and modality, negative explanations, and the everyday applicability of the PSR. Moreover, Pruss shows how the PSR would advance the discussion in a number of disparate fields, including meta-ethics and the philosophy of mathematics.
Sam Harris ( W. W. Norton : October 10, 2005), 224 pages.
Sam Harris cranks out blunt, hard-hitting chapters to make his case for why faith itself is the most dangerous element of modern life. And if the devil's in the details, then you'll find Satan waiting at the back of the book in the very substantial notes section where Harris saves his more esoteric discussions to avoid sidetracking the urgency of his message. Interestingly, Harris is not just focused on debunking religious faith, though he makes his compelling arguments with verve and intellectual clarity. The End of Faith is also a bit of a philosophical Swiss Army knife. Once he has presented his arguments on why, in an age of Weapons of Mass Destruction, belief is now a hazard of great proportions, he focuses on proposing alternate approaches to the mysteries of life. Harris recognizes the truth of the human condition, that we fear death, and we often crave "something more" we cannot easily define, and which is not met by accumulating more material possessions. But by attempting to provide the cure for the ills it defines, the book bites off a bit more than it can comfortably chew in its modest page count (however the rich Bibliography provides more than enough background for an intrigued reader to follow up for months on any particular strand of the author' musings.) Harris' heart is not as much in the latter chapters, though, but in presenting his main premise. Simply stated, any belief system that speaks with assurance about the hereafter has the potential to place far less value on the here and now. And thus the corollary — when death is simply a door translating us from one existence to another, it loses its sting and finality. Harris pointedly asks us to consider that those who do not fear death for themselves, and who also revere ancient scriptures instructing them to mete it out generously to others, may soon have these weapons in their own hands. If thoughts along the same line haunt you, this is your book. ~ Ed Dobeas
Anthony Kenny (Continuum: Jun 15, 2005), 232 pages.
In direct contrast to recent philosophical quarrels about the existence and nature of God, and human relationships with the divine, Kenny, a former Roman Catholic Priest and Master of Balliol College, Oxford, asks a few simple and startling questions: Is it possible, as humans, to prove the existence of God? Are such efforts merely exercises in painting God with an anthropomorphic image? In this collection of essays written over the last 15 years, Kenny describes how limited literal descriptions of God are, given the limits of theology and philosophy, and compares the efforts of poets working within agnosticism, Arthur Hugh Clough and Matthew Arnold. His final essays compare the thought of John Henry Newman with that of Leslie Stephen and explore the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein on the mind. ~ Book News
Kenneth Richard Samples (Baker Publishing Group: Jul 2004), 288 pages.
It can be difficult to answer questions about the Christian faith-even for Christians who regularly read their Bibles and attend church. What can they say to a skeptic who questions Christian doctrine or truth claims? What about young Christians who want answers to their tough questions? Without a Doubt covers questions on everything from the doctrine of the incarnation to religious pluralism, from evolution to moral relativism, with rational answers for even the most stubborn skeptic. Chapters contain charts, relevant biblical texts, and outlines to help readers grasp key ideas relevant to proclaiming the gospel to an unbeliever or discussing doctrine with another Christian. ~ Product Description
Gregory A. Boyd, Edward K. Boyd (FaithWorks: March 25, 2004), 192 pages.
Edward Boyd's agnosticism rested "not ... too much on any positive position ... but rather on a host of negative ones" about Christianity. In an attempt to address these negative issues, his son Greg, a professor of theology, asked his father, a strong-willed, highly intelligent, and stubborn 70-year-old, to enter into a correspondence in which "all of their cards would be laid on the table." Greg would give his father the opportunity to raise all his objections to the veracity of Christianity, and Greg would "answer these objections as well as give positive grounds for holding to the Christian faith." Three years and more than 30 letters later, Letters from a Skeptic was published and Edward Boyd came to accept Christ. During his journey, he and his son hash through such topics as why the world is so full of suffering; why an all-powerful God needs prayer; how you can believe in someone who rose from the dead; and how another man's death can pardon others. Despite their brutal honesty, both men exhibit respect and love toward one another as they address these volatile subjects.