Book Reviews From 2017

Attend To The Questions

“For people burdened to say and defend the goodness and truthfulness of Christianity, it is tempting to hurriedly skip past the questions in our rush to demonstrate our answers. Such an impulse makes sense. Christianity, after all, has the most profound answers to offer the world’s most difficult questions. But if the work of apologetics involves more than building up the faithful, its primary orientation should be toward helping those who are already traveling to arrive. It is persuasion that apologetics hopes for, not only defenses or justifications of the Christian position as true or reasonable. We should point the way home rather than shout from the balcony of our bedrooms about how good looking it is. We have to care about the means of travel, not just the intellectual destination. We have to attend to the questions if we are going to help people find answers.” —Matthew Anderson, in A New Kind Of Apologist

For other quotes from this book, please click here.

Evidence That Demands A Verdict (book review)

The Apostle Peter wrote a letter to Christians in which he called them “aliens and strangers” because of their belief in a personal Creator and Lord. In this letter, he tells Christians to “always be prepared to give an answer” to those skeptics who want to know about their faith in God. In Evidence That Demands A Verdict, Josh and Sean McDowell have given Christians a key component to help them be prepared to give sound answers.

This book is massive (at just under 900 pages)! But it is an encyclopedia of evidence that will prepare Christians to respond to any argument that an atheist or skeptic may bring up. To be honest with you, the Table of Contents is usually one of the first places I study in books I’m reading, but I usually end up skimming through it pretty quickly. But in Evidence, I was pleasantly surprised at the layout. Not only will you find a listing of the chapters, but a brief description of the contents. At the opposite end of the book, the Subject Index is also quite extensive. I know these are not things usually bragged on in a book review, but for a book this size—and for the numerous times you undoubtedly will be returning to prepare to answer a skeptic—these two reference points are extremely handy!

The first edition of Evidence (written by just Josh) came out nearly 20 years ago. If anything, the evidence for the beliefs that Christians hold has been further validated through research, archeological discoveries, and the like. So it was time for this classic book to be updated. The additional apologetic insights from Sean in this edition is a very nice addition.

Whether you read Evidence when it was first released or not, every Christian that wants to answer Peter’s directive for preparedness needs to get this new edition.

I am Thomas Nelson book reviewer.

12 Quotes From “A New Kind Of Apologist”

A New Kind Of Apologist is edited by Sean McDowell and contains a collection of fabulous essays to prepare Christian apologists to be effective in this current generation. You can read my full book review by clicking here. These quotes mainly deal with the attitude that a Christian apologist should adopt.

“Truth must be wedded to grace, and what we say is important…but how we say it is equally critical.” —Sean McDowell 

“To listen to a person will require that we temporarily set aside our objections to what a person is saying and allow him or her to speak openly without fear of being challenged.” —Tim Muelhoff

“Our character and relationships with others have a greater capacity for attracting those around us to the Christian message than do our arguments or rhetoric.” —Ken Wytsma & Rick Gerhart 

“If our beliefs are not expressed in love and by example, we miss the greatest command of all, which is loving God and loving others.” —Dan Kimball

“The Barna Research Group found that twentysomethings who stay in church were twice as likely to have a close personal friendship with an adult inside the church. Those who had an adult mentor at church, aside from the pastor, were almost three times as likely to stay as those who did not.” —Jeff Myers

“Any fully-orbed presentation of the truth about ourselves and God’s plan for us cannot be a disembodied, purely intellectual truth; it must truthfully reflect our nature as created beings.

“Part of being incarnate means that it is good and right for us to have emotions and express them—as our Lord did, for example, by weeping at the tomb of Lazarus and getting angry with the money changers in the temple. The fact that little children wanted to come to Him suggests that He had a welcoming physicality and a warm personality that they instinctively trusted and found attractive. He wasn’t just a walking dictionary of Christian theology.” —Holly Ordway

“At its core, apologetics is the art and science of defending the faith. However, practically understood, the work of the apologist is simply to answer with integrity, clarity, and compassion the questions critics are asking about the gospel (1 Peter 3:15). The context of this passage implies a lifestyle on the part of the apologist that engenders and welcomes questions from their audience. The encouragement of Peter seems to be that we avoid the telemarketer approach of simply enduring questions solely for the sake of closing the deal. Rather, Peter calls us to anticipate and patiently answer the questions of our unbelieving friends, family members, and neighbors in an uncompromising and yet humble manner.” —Christopher Brooks

“We must be Christians first and apologists second, which means our intellectual lives must be primarily shaped by seeking to understand the faith we live within rather than debating, disputing, or even persuading those who do not believe it.” —Matthew Anderson 

“It is our responsibility to share the message of hope through Christ ‘with gentleness and respect’ and ‘with grace,’ as Peter and Paul taught. The gospel message is already offensive to some. We need not make it more offensive by presenting it in a manner that lacks gentleness, respect, and grace.” —Mike Licona

“Truth without grace is abusive and arrogant. Grace without truth is mushy sentimentalism. … As much as possible, always deal with the person in grace and the issue itself in truth.” —Glenn T. Stanton

“Paul doesn’t say that we ought to know how to answer each question [see Colossians 4:5-6]. He specifically teaches us to answer each person. … Paul tells us that we aren’t in the question-answering business. We are in the people-answering business. Today’s apologist must understand that questions don’t need answers; people need answers. … I am convinced that the key to apologetics today is to identify what non-Christians thirst for most and show how the Christian faith alone can slake that thirst.” —Abdu Murray

“The manner in which we communicate the gospel is not a minor add-on to the gospel itself [see 1 Peter 3:15-16]. Very often it is the nature of the communication that determines whether the gospel gets a hearing at all. …

“It remains true that it is not arrogant to make truth claims, it is not arrogant to pursue a knowledge of that truth, and to argue that we’ve found it. It is important that the content of our message is a genuine reflection of the gospel, and that the manner in which we communicate it doesn’t become a stumbling block.” —Tanya Walker

More quotes from A New Kind Of Apologist will be coming soon. You can also follow me on Tumblr and Twitter to read great quotes every single day.

A New Kind Of Apologist (book review)

For years, Josh McDowell has been ranked as a first-class Christian apologist: one who can persuasively defend the Christian faith. Sean McDowell grew up in this environment, being well mentored by his apologist father, and has become a world-renown apologist himself. So when Sean speaks of the need for a new kind of apologist, Christians should take notice.

A New Kind Of Apologist is a collection of essays edited by Sean McDowell. The book also contains short interviews which Sean has conducted with both those defending and opposing Christianity. This book covers everything from how apologists can be the most effective in a new generation of skeptics and seekers, as well as some thoughtful ways to address the issues at the forefront of the minds of this new generation.

The essays in this book are written by seasoned veterans of Christian apologetics, and some who are newer to the scene. But all of them write with a voice that is relevant to this current generation.

Not only will this book inform your brain, but it will challenge your heart as well. The overriding theme through all of these excellent essays is this—Christians must seek to love people more than win an intellectual argument. The new apologist knows his “stuff” but also knows how to develop genuine, caring relationships with those skeptics and seekers that need to hear the good news that Christianity offers.

I loved this book! It is clearly one that I am going to be referring to again and again and again as I seek to hone my apologetic and relationship-building skills.

I am a Harvest House reviewer.

5 More Quotes + 2 Graphics From “The Beauty Of Intolerance”

This is the fourth set of quotes I’ve shared from Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell’s book The Beauty Of Intolerance. You can check out the other quotes here, here, and here; and if you missed my review of this book, please click here to read that.

“Respecting the boundaries of sexual morality and prohibitions for extramarital and premarital sex does bring protection and provision. Here are just a few ways it does this:

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“Although sin has separated us from God, His original intent for us and the reality that we were created in His image have not changed. What we do or don’t do may distort that image, but our worth to God as human beings never changes.”

 “So how has Christ loved you? He values all people for their inherent worth and offers grace freely to all people without exception. Cultural tolerance, on the other hand, claims to accept everyone’s differing beliefs, values, and lifestyles, yet it qualifies that acceptance. …  What distinguishes God’s unconditional acceptance from that of our culture is authentic love. His love is intended to make the security, happiness, and welfare of another as important as His own. It is other-focused, not performance-focused. … Real valuing of another’s personhood expressed in the context of authentic love separates doing from being and sees the acts of sin distinct from the sinner (which, by the way, is all of us).”

“The beauty of intolerance is its opposition to wrong and evil in the world—in alignment with God’s righteous and perfect standard of justice, equality, human rights, and caring for others. Intolerance of evil is not mean-spirited and condemnatory; it is actually the only way to be loving and caring. Far from being judgmental, it advances God’s righteous kingdom.”

“Most people in America subscribe to a view of morality called ‘cultural ethics.’ In other words, they believe that whatever is acceptable in that culture is moral; if the majority of people say a thing is right, then it is right. … But there’s a problem with that. If that is true, then how can we say the ‘aborting’ of six million Jews in the Holocaust was wrong? In fact, the Nazis offered that very argument as a defense at the Nuremberg Trials. They argued, ‘How can you come from another culture and condemn what we did when we acted according to what our culture said was acceptable?’ In condemning them, the tribunal said that there is something beyond culture, above culture, that determines right and wrong.”

“We are all entitled to our own beliefs, but this doesn’t mean each of us has our own truths. Our beliefs describe the way we think the world is. Truth describes the objective state of the world regardless of how we take it to be. Beliefs can be relative, but truth cannot. … Moral truth was never meant to be spoken or understood outside of a loving relationship. Being like Christ and speaking the truth in love are synonymous.”

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Favorite 2016 Posts

Book Reviews From 2016

8 Quotes From “More Than A Carpenter”

more-than-a-carpenterMore Than A Carpenter by Josh & Sean McDowell is a wonderful resource to prepare you to share the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. Check out my book review by clicking here, and then enjoy these quotes that I especially found interesting.

“Why don’t the names of Buddha, Mohammed, or Confucius offend people the way the name of Jesus does? I think the reason is that these other religious leaders didn’t claim to be God.” —Josh McDowell

“It was reserved for Christianity to present to the world an ideal which through all the changes of eighteen centuries has inspired the hearts of men with an impassioned love; has shown itself capable of acting on an all ages, nations, temperaments, and conditions; has been not only the highest pattern of virtue, but the strongest incentive to its practice. … The simple record of these three short years of active fife has done more to regenerate and soften mankind than all the disquisitions of philosophers and all the expectations of moralists.” —William Lecky, one of Great Britain’s most noted historians and a fierce opponent of organized Christianity

“This testimony [that Jesus was God], if not true, must be downright blasphemy or madness. … Self-deception in a matter so momentous, and with an intellect in all respects so clear and so sound, is equally out of the question. How could He be an enthusiast or a mad man who never lost the even balance of His mind, who sailed serenely over all the troubles and persecutions, as the sun above the clouds, who always returned the wisest answer to tempting questions, who calmly and deliberately predicted His death on the Cross, His resurrection on the third day, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the founding of His church, the distraction of Jerusalem—predictions which have been literally fulfilled? A character so original, so complete, so uniformly consistent, so perfect, so human and set so high above all human greatness, can be neither a fraud nor a fiction. The poet, as has been well said, would in this case be greater than the hero. It would take more than a Jesus to invent a Jesus.” —Philip Schaff

“There exists no document from the ancient world witnessed by so excellent a set of textual and historical testimonies, and offering so superb an array of historical data on which an intelligent decision may be made. An honest [person] cannot dismiss a source of this kind. Skepticism regarding the historical credentials of Christianity is based on an irrational bias.” —Clark H. Pinnock

“The Gospels tell us Jesus’ family, including James, were embarrassed by what He was claiming to be. They didn’t believe in Him; they confronted Him. In ancient Judaism it was highly embarrassing for a rabbi’s family not to accept him. Therefore, the Gospel writers would have no motive for fabricating this skepticism if it weren’t true. Later the historian Josephus tells us that James, the brother of Jesus, who was the leader of the Jerusalem church, was stoned to death because of his belief in his brother. Why did James’ life change? Paul tells us: the resurrected Jesus appeared to him. There’s no other explanation.” —J. P. Moreland

“The resurrection takes the question ‘Is Christianity valid?’ out of the realm of philosophy and makes it a question of history.”

“I believe in the resurrection, partly because a series of facts are unaccountable without it.” —Michael Ramsey, former Archbishop of Canterbury

“The Old Testament contains sixty major messianic prophecies and approximately 270 ramifications that were fulfilled in one Person, Jesus Christ. … We find the chances of just forty-eight of these prophecies being fulfilled in one person to be only 1 in 10157. … All of the prophecies about the Messiah were made at least four hundred years before He was to appear. … This description of the manner of [Christ’s] death was written eight hundred years before the Romans used crucifixion as a method of execution.” —Josh McDowell

I am always sharing quotes from More Than A Carpenter and other interesting authors regularly on both Twitter and Tumblr. Please make sure you are following me there as well to see these quotes as soon as they are posted.

More Than A Carpenter (book review)

more-than-a-carpenterHolidays are usually really good times for Christians to start up a conversation about their faith. Especially Christmas. C’mon, Christ’s name is the main part of CHRISTmas, right?! But I realize as well that some folks are reluctant to begin such a conversation because they think they might be at a loss as to what to say. This is where More Than A Carpenter by Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell will be an excellent ally.

Christians and atheists alike found More Than A Carpenter compelling reading when it was first published nearly 40 years ago. Now the book has been given a makeover, incorporating new discoveries that have further validated the book’s content, and adding a new chapter by Sean McDowell specifically addressing the “new atheists.”

Jesus is an historical character. He actually lived and walked and died and was resurrected in places that are verified by historical records. And yet Jesus was so much more than merely a person in history. His life impacted history in ways that are still being discovered today. His life is still changing the trajectory of people’s lives today.

Clearly Jesus was much more than merely a first century carpenter! 

In easily-readable language, Josh and Sean arm you with all of the evidence you will need to have compelling conversations about Jesus.

  • You will learn about the historical accuracy of the authors who recorded the details of Jesus Christ’s life.
  • You will learn what science, philosophy and archeology verify about His life.
  • You will get insight into the arguments that some atheists use to deny Christ’s deity, and how you can offer alternative facts to counteract those arguments.
  • And you will hear about Josh’s personal life-changing encounter with this Carpenter from first-century Israel.

This is a phenomenal book for you to read as we head into this CHRISTmas season. This is also a great resource for you to put into the hands of someone who is skeptical or even antagonistic toward the claims of Christians. In short: you will be better prepared to have meaningful conversations with others after you have read More Than A Carpenter!

I am a Tyndale book reviewer.

If you would like to access a ton of great resources associated with More Than A Carpenter, I highly recommend you check out the Josh McDowell Ministry’s store by clicking here.

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