RSS

Book Review of Ron Rhodes’: The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say To A Catholic

512c5LD0vjL._AC_US320_QL65_.jpg

Explains Key Differences Between Catholicism and Protestantism 

Reviewed By Dr. David P. Craig

I have a deep love for those who have been raised in the Catholic Church. As a Protestant we share many cherished beliefs and values. However, we have some significant differences of belief as well. In this book Rhodes tackles nine of the major areas where Catholics and Protestants disagree.

Here are the nine areas of conflict addressed by Rhodes: (1) Catholics believe that the Apocryphal Books should be included in the biblical canon – Protestants do not; (2) Catholics believe that tradition is authoritative for belief and practice, whereas, Protestants believe the Bible alone is authoritative for faith and practice; (3) Catholics believe that Peter was the first Pope, Protestants on the other hand hold that he was a great apostle (among various apostles in the early church); (4) Catholics hold to the infallibility of the Pope, the Bishops, and the Magisterium of the Church; whereas Protestants hold to the Bible as being infallible, but not the human leaders of the Church; (5) Catholics venerate Mary as a co-redeemer and mediatrix, a perpetual virgin, and various other views that conflict with Protestant views. Protestants simply view Mary as simply the godly mother of Jesus and nothing more. (6) Catholics mix justification and sanctification – adding human merit/works to one’s salvation; whereas Protestants view salvation as solely and entirely by grace through faith in Jesus – justification is instantaneous and once and for all. (7) Catholics and Protestants have a very different view on “mass” or the “Lord’s Supper.” Catholics hold to transubstantiation whereas Protestants hold to consubstantiation or the memorial/symbolic view. (8) In Catholicism Penance must be done to absolve sins, in Protestantism Confession of sin is to be made to God, not a human priest. (9) Catholicism believes in Purgatory (second chance after death); Protestants hold to no second chances after death.

For each of these views Rhodes offers the Catholic argument first, followed by a Protestant rebuttal and defense. The chapters are short and only the most salient points are made. For each chapter Rhodes uses different icons to identify points made by Catholics and Protestants. Each chapter contains points to use with caution, helpful witnessing points, and supplementary and more detailed material that can be found in Rhodes’ larger book entitled “Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics.” As of this review Rhodes has written a few other short books of this ilk on Creation and Evolution; Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam, and Masons.

I highly recommend this resource. It’s short and to the point, and yet delineates some key points to help Protestants share the good news with their Catholic friends.

 

Tags: , ,

Book Review of David Murray’s: The Happy Christian

022013.jpg

Applying This Book Will Make You Happier Indeed

Book Review By Dr. David P. Craig

I have always battled discouragement and depression as a Christian since I was a young boy. As a pastor for close to 30 years I still battle discouragement and depression to varying degrees. Therefore, I am always on the look out for anything that can help me in the process of becoming happier and more joyful. Even when I find myself being happy and full of joy I’m often around people in my church and the world that are struggling with depression and discouragement. Therefore, I am glad that David Murray – a pastor-theologian has written and given this wonderful resource for me personally to increase my own happiness, and to help others pursue happiness in a gloomy and dreary land.

Murray tackles ten specific areas that can increase our happiness in the chapters that make up this book. In a nutshell here’s what he tells the reader to focus on: The first thing we need to do is change the way we think. Oftentimes we can’t change our circumstances, but we can change what and how we think about them. Murray says that 40% of our happiness (he gives research evidence to back up this statistic) depends on how we think about things. Murray states, “Our hopes of living positive lives depend largely on getting our thoughts about the facts right. Most unhappy people are unhappy not because of their situation but because they let their feelings rule their thoughts, or they think about things in the wrong way.” Murray goes on to explain how the Psalmist changed his mood in Psalm 77 by honing in on proper facts, leading to right thoughts, resulting in positive feelings. He delineates the steps we can take in this process for any feeling or thought we encounter. I found chapter One to be immensely helpful. He gives four fundamentals for getting our thinking right: (1) Prioritize the facts; (2) Gather the facts; (3) Interpret the facts; and (4) Use the facts. “Ninety percent of your long term happiness is predicted not by your external world , but the way your brain processes the world.

In subsequent chapters Murray shares how to control your exposure to the media (which is largely negative); how are salvation is based on what Jesus has done for us (not on what we can do for Him); How Christ – not other believers should be our focus; how to focus more on the future than on our past; how to see grace everywhere; how to become more of a praiser than a criticizer; how giving increase happiness more than getting; and how both work and being around racial diversity lead to tremendous fulfillment.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It is chalk full of statistics, psychological studies, case studies, great quotes, illustrations, examples, and practical ways to be proactive in becoming a happier Christian. Murray defines Christian happiness as “a God-centered, God-glorifying, and God-given sense of God’s love that is produced by a right relationship to God in Christ and that produces loving service to God and others.” He demonstrates from Scripture and through a deep theological understanding that “Christianity doesn’t deny the difficult and painful reality of sin and suffering that runs through our lives, but with one vertical line from heaven to earth, with the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus, Christianity promises to change the equation of our lives into a positive result.”

Murray’s book is wider, more theologically deep, and biblically accurate tun other books of this ilk – which tend to be shallow and thus unhelpful. Therefore, Murray has done a great service in writing a book that gives Christians foundational resources based on theological sound bedrock truths that can help one withstand the storms of life. I find myself at least 40% happier since I’ve read and applied some of the principles of this book. I believe that any Christian will be happier, and more useful in helping others be more like Jesus as a result of reading and applying the principles of this fantastic resource. Most importantly, God is glorified when we delight in Him and His creation – we were made to delight in the One who delights in us.

 

Tags: , , , ,

Book Review on Dwight Bernier’s – One: A Gospel Guide to Pre-Marriage Counseling

41ejAghbU4L._AC_US320_QL65_.jpg

God-glorifying One Stop Resource For Counselors and Pastors

Book Reviewed by Dr. David P. Craig

As a pastor for the past thirty years I have done my share of pre-marital and post-marital counseling. I have found more and more that couples spend more time planning their wedding day, than they do preparing for being married to a partner for life. A man and a woman will spend four to eleven years post high school for their careers, but often will not even crack open one book to help them with their marriage. This book provides seven guided sessions for a Christian couple to be well-prepared for marriage.

Bernier wisely writes at the outset, “The great challenge in marriage is to lose ‘me’ and become ‘us’ while our hearts, in contrast, want to glorify ‘me’…the great hope in marriage is that Jesus is changing ‘us’ and our hearts…The Spirit of God begins the process of morphing our motives to be more in line with the kingdom of God rather than the kingdom that we once belonged to.” In seven sessions Bernier provides a Christo-centric approach as being absolutely essential and foundational to building a great marriage. In seven sessions there are assigned readings from three excellent resources (not included – these books need to be purchased apart from this guide): Dave Harvey’s When Sinners Say I Do; Timothy Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage; and Justin Buzzard’s Date Your Wife.

In the seven sessions Bernier includes homework assignments from the readings; questions to discuss based on Scripture; personal application questions; and helps the counselor weave the gospel into the story of marriage. Each session contains a list of tasks to complete before each subsequent meeting. The various topics the book covers are: biblical love, friendship, glorifying God through marriage, roles and God’s design for marriage, how to be merciful and forgiving, implementing soul care via the gospel, and sex.

Bernier has provided a wonderful resource for pastors and counselors. It’s literally a step by step guide that is gospel centered, Christ glorifying, and covers the biblical foundations for establishing a God-glorifying marriage. I think it’s the best resource of its kind that I’ve seen and thus highly recommend it as an effective resource for those who value God’s design for marriage.

 

Tags: , , , ,

Book Review on Tim Keller’s and Sam A Sam Allberry’s. Explore By The Book: 90 Days in John 14-17, Romans, and James.

981228.jpg

A Devotional That Helps You Think About and Apply God’s Word

Book Reviewed By Dr. David P. Craig

There are several great features in this devotional. (1) It feels like you are sitting down with   the authors and having a Bible study with them in an intimate setting (Sam Allberry writes the sections on John 14-17 and James; and Tim Keller writes the section that takes you through the book of Romans). (2) Each author walks you through verse by verse exposition and interjects thought provoking questions related to interpretation and application. (3) The devotional aspect of the study relates to guidance in ways to think, pray, and act on the basis of what the passage for the day articulated.

Allberry and Keller ask great questions and draw excellent practical implications from each daily devotional. It is recommended by the author’s that you take notes and record the following for all 90 studies: (1) Record the highlight of the passage – the truth about God that most struck you; (2) Record the questions you have about what you have read and your best attempts at answering them; (3) Record the way/s you want to change on the basis of how the Holy Spirit is prompting you to change your attitudes and actions on regard to what you have read from Scripture; (4) After you have finished the study, record one sentence summing up how God has spoken to you through His Word; and lastly (5) Pray a short prayer in response to what you have been instructed to believe and do.

I highly recommend this devotional – especially for new Bible students. It will guide you into becoming a “doer of the Word” as James 1:22 instructs.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Book Review on Randy Newman’s Questioning Evangelism

26510eb.jpg

Engaging People Like Jesus

Book Review by Dr. David P. Craig

As world views become more polarized in the twenty first century we find ourselves as Christians constantly trying to find more effective ways to build bridges with non believers. Randy Newman has written a wonderful resource to help in this very important endeavor. Newman organizes his book into three primary sections: Part 1: Why Ask Questions?; Part 2: What Questions Are People Asking?; and Part 3: Why Aren’t Questions and Answers Enough?

In Part 1 Newman tackles three objectives to help one become more effective in evangelism: (1) He exhibits why questions are more effective than just giving answers; (2) He gives examples from the book of Proverbs in what he calls “Solomonic Soulwinning”; (3) He articulates how questions pave the way for answers.

In Part 2 the author does an excellent job of showing how to maintain an ongoing dialogue with those who ask us the following questions (by devoting a whole chapter to each): (1) Why are Christians so intolerant?; (2) Why does a good God allow evil and suffering such as Columbine and AIDS?; (3) Why should anyone worship a God who allowed 9/11?; (4) Why are Christians so Homophobic?; (5) What’s so good about marriage?; and (6) If Jesus is so great, why are some of His followers such jerks?

The last section in the book hones in on why its important to have more than just good questions and answers in evangelism. He addresses why having real compassion, empathy, and when knowing when to “shut up” are extremely important. Also, in the back of the book there is a helpful section entitled “Unanswered questions” and a study guide for each chapter in the book for group study.

I highly recommend this book for 4 reasons: (1) Newman writes by example. He has been sharing the gospel on University campuses for many years. He gives tons of personal examples of both how, and how not to, begin conversations with skeptics of all stripes. (2) Most of the questions Newman brings up are helpful – he gives lots of scenarios that most ambassadors of Christ will actually encounter in the real world. (3) This book will equip you to grow in the important skill of what Newman calls “dialoging” the gospel. (4) This book will give you more boldness and confidence in establishing meaningful conversations with nonbelievers that are friends, as well as strangers. It will give you various “lead ins” that you can use with confidence and bring naturally into everyday conversations.

Evangelism has always been challenging but this book will make dialoging the gospel more pleasurable. Personally, I’ve already used much from the book in dialoging with skeptics and have found these conversations stimulating, and look forward to more opportunities to share with others what I’ve learned. Most importantly, Newman reminds us to be more like Jesus in our character, the way we ask questions, and share the gospel – and that’s a very good thing indeed!

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Greg Koukl’s Tactics: A Game Plan For Discussing Your Christian Convictions

282921.jpg

How To Winsomely Build Bridges With Non-Believers

Book Review by Dr. David P. Craig

Living in one of the least churched areas in the USA (Bay Area, Northern California) I am always looking for better ways to build bridges with non-believers. I have found that many of the old ways I was trained in (e.g., 4 spiritual laws, and various tracts) assume a common world-view. However, we aren’t “in Kansas” anymore as the saying goes. Times have changed and are ever changing rapidly. In our cultural climate we can either retreat or engage. Tactics is a tool for those who wish to engage – and a very helpful tool it is indeed.

What I love about this book is that it helps Christians (of all stripes) engage non-believers in a very simple manner. Koukl helps you become a better engager by looking for opportunities, asking good questions, and listening well so as to build bridges toward understanding, and ultimately truth. All truth is God’s truth and Koukl gives examples of how to arrive at moral truth, philosophical truth, scientific truth, and religious truth.

One of the strategies Koukl highlights in his book is letting the other person defeat their own view by asking them to share what they believe. If what the person believes is false it will manifest itself as false eventually through our questioning (essentially they end up shooting themselves in the foot). At this point they may want to consider the truth claims of the Christian worldview. He gives many examples of how to do this from his own experiences in conversations and debates with non-believers.

One of the key illustrations used over and over again in the book is that of the beloved Lieutenant Columbo (the homicide detective played by actor Peter Falk). Columbo would always solve murder cases by asking good questions, being a good listener, and controlling each case (usually unbeknownst to the murderer) until the case was solved. Koukl uses a plethora of examples to drive the “Columbo method” home.

Koukl masterfully weaves case scenarios throughout the book and demonstrates how we can utilize the tactical methods of Columbo to gain a hearing and build bridges with anyone. I highly recommend this book for Christians who are interested in evangelism and apologetics. It’s also filled with ethical examples as well.  I will continue to personally use principles from this book and train those I disciple to do likewise. Koukl has blessed followers of Christ with a wonderful resource to help all believers be better equipped to strategically and effectively influence those of differing views to consider the cogency of the Christian Worldview.

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Book Review on Scott Klusendorf’s: The Case For Life

503207.jpg

A Compelling Case For The Pro-Life Position

Book Review By Dr. David P. Craig

It’s hard to fathom that somewhere in the vicinity of 50 million babies have been legally killed since the historic Roe v. Wade decision made on January 22, 1973. In this book Scott Klusendorf brilliantly and graciously marshals a sound case for the pro-life position; namely, that the unborn are “distinct, living, and whole members of the human species regardless of size or location.”

In Section One Klusendorf clarifies the issue by honing in on the key issue in the debate that divides the pro-choice abortion and the pro-life position. The key issue is “What is the unborn?” He makes a strong case from the science of embryology and from philosophy that the unborn are indeed human and thus valuable and worthy of protection in the womb.

In Part two the author frames the abortion issue around whether or not life has meaning. Are we merely randomly evolved or are we endowed with value because we are God’s special creation. He makes a great case for the existence of God; the cogency of the Christian faith; and the purpose for which human beings are made to worship and bring glory to God.

Part Three gives a plethora of excellent and carefully articulated answers to six of the most used objections from the pro-abortion choice position. Each question is taken up by a whole chapter and in my opinion Klusendorf makes an extremely good case for the pro-life position in answer to each objection.

Part Four is extremely encouraging. All four chapters are full of hope for the days ahead. Filled with practical ways that pro-lifers can work together to bring about an eventual end to the travesty of legalized abortion.

Klusendorf has written a tour de force indeed. This book will encourage pro-lifers with tremendous evidence for their position. It is also encouraging because it seems that the tide is changing – just like it did with slavery earlier in our countries history. There are great resources in this book: review questions for group study; an appendix filled with training resources; and the way that the book is written – scholarly, yet non-technical; practical, and scientifically, theologically, and philosophically sound. Reading this book is like taking a graduate level course on the topic from a distinguished professor. I highly recommend this book and hope that it gains a wide audience and influences the convinced and non-convinced on this crucial issue.

 

Tags: , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: