After steady application, the Bible study group I attend has finished 36 weeks of a 43 week series on apologetics. Yes, that's quite a lengthy course, but it's been worth it, and every single topic is essential to our understanding of why we believe the Bible. Questions like "How do We Know the Bible is True?" "Did the Resurrection Really Happen?" and "How do we know the Old and New Testaments are Reliable?" We've looked at formal and informal logic, and why it's important to understand these concepts in evangelism. We looked at how to address different religions--Atheism, Mormonism, Islam, and others. We're ending the study by looking at biblical responses to gay marriage, abortion, statism, and other hot-button issues in today's society.
We've come a long way.
And as this topic of apologetics drew to a close, I was very excited to find two books that packed everything that we had learned in written form. (Not nearly as much detail, but enough to help me recall the studies themselves to mind.) One of them was Daniel Shayesteh's Christ Above All. The other came from a much more surprising source, and one to be honest, I'm not entirely sure about.
This year, Norman Geisler and Patti Tunnicliffe partnered to produce an excellent book Reasons For Belief. Addressing ten essential questions of the Christian faith, the easy-to-read style made finshing this a breeze, without compromising on the content. Geisler and Tunnicliffe have the capability to say what they need to say while putting the cookies on the bottom shelf, easily grasped by their readers. The challenges they answer are as follows:
Challenge #1: "Real Truth Does Not Exist. 'Truth' is Just Truth to You"
Challenge #2: "God Does Not Exist"
Challenge #3: "If God Exists, He Isn't Necessarily the God of the Bible"
Challenge #4: "Miracles Don't Happen"
Challenge #5: "The New Testament's Many Errors Make It Unreliable. It's More Like a Collection of Myths and Legends"
Challenge #6: "Jesus Never Claimed to be God"
Challenge #7: "Jesus Didn't Prove He is God"
Challenge #8: "Jesus Did Not Rise From the Dead"
Challenge #9: The Bible isn't the Only True Religious Book"
Challenge #10: "Christianity is Too Narrow. There Are Many Ways to God Besides Jesus."
These authors use sound logic (such as the law of non-contradiction), numerous examples of prophecy and archaeology, and Scripture itself to soundly prove each of their premises. The face is, if Christianity falls at any one point, then it is not a true religion. But Christianity has never been proven false by any discovery throughout history. Not any of its facts, not any of its prophecies. God exists, and Jesus Christ exists, and they are both inextricably linked to one another. We Christians must learn to stand on every detail of the Christian faith. Granted, there may be some concepts that are not yet clear to our understanding; but the abundant evidence that has proved the Bible true thus far shows us that the rest of the concepts we need to know will be proven true as well, as God reveals them to us.
Certainly the author of this book must have raised a few eyebrows at the beginning of my article. Norm Geisler, while well known for his stellar work on proving the Bible true, takes a very disappointing old-earth stance on creation. While this concept does not come up very often in the text itself (once, maybe twice) it's obvious that he's trying very hard to avoid a hot-button issue. Because of this, his weakest chapters are right at the beginning of the book when he addresses the challenge "God does Not Exist". His proof is reasonable--but anyone who's aware of the old earth/young earth debate can read between the lines, and the elephant in the room distracts from the proof of his premise. He makes a good start, but it's not enough. Please note, however, that though Geisler uses the term "Big Bang", he's not referring to the macro-evolutionary theory of it...I don't think. But that whole section on pages 36-39 can be taken to mean the evolutionary Big Bang, or the single point in time where God brought the earth into existence. You choose, because Geisler won't make it clear to you. Geisler spends the whole book proving that the Christian faith is something we can depend on. But he doesn't depend on a literal interpretation of Genesis 1, and therefore I couldn't give his book to someone who I was trying to convince that the Bible was real. I can take what he says and give it verbally to someone, and everything he says is sound Biblically. But because of his Genesis stance, and the deplorable resources section in the back directing readers to Hugh Ross and John Ankerberg for more help, his foundation is compromised. And that's very disappointing.
Geisler and Tunnicliffe don't give as detailed a look into other religions as Shayesteh does in Christ Above All, but they touch on some interesting points, including Mormonism and Seventh Day Adventists, which Shayesteh never mentions. First they break down the religions into four groups: Atheism, Pantheism, Deism, and Theism. After narrowing it down to Theism (All the groups contradict each other, and there cannot be two contradictory beliefs that are both true) they then separate Theism into Islam, Judaism, and Christianity and further narrow it down from there.
The best thing about this book aside from its easy to read format are the charts and graphs included. Graphs about who the different religions say Jesus was, graphs comparing Jesus to leaders of other religions, and graphs about what God must be compared to who Jesus was, clearly summarize the information with accompanying Scripture verses.
Reasons for Belief covers some very important questions in a sound and understandable format. Due to Norman Geisler's stance on creation, I wouldn't give this book out to a non-believer. But I will use some of his sounder answers to equip me in my discussions, and I think it's a handy book to have on any seasoned apologetic's shelf.
*Bethany House provided this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to give a favorable review.*
Can you defend the faith? If someone were to challenge you with any of the statements listed above, could you answer them? We live in an increasingly antagonistic culture, and God has called us to be ready for their attacks and questions.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. ~1 Peter 3:15-16