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Category Archives: Apologetics

Apologetics (Greek, apologetikos), means “suitable for defense.” The endeavor of apologetics is to provide a reasoned account of the grounds for believing in the Christian faith.

Book Review of Rosaria Champagne Butterfield’s “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.”

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“Insightful Thoughts From a Beautiful Follower of Jesus”

Book Review By Dr. David P. Craig

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield (what a beautiful name) has written a delightful book highlighting her conversion to Christ and instruction on many topics that are thought provoking and insightful. Among the variety of topics covered in this book are evangelism; hospitality; education; homosexuality; church planting; male and female roles in complementarity; hermeneutics; dating; marriage; parenting; foster care; adoption; and worship.

The author writes in an entertaining way, and yet shares insights with tremendous depth and cogent logic. My wife and I have both enjoyed discussing the variety of topics brought forth by Butterfield and are grateful for her wisdom and biblical insight. Though we don’t agree with all of Butterfield’s conclusions we especially appreciated her honesty; critique of Christian legalism; and insights into reaching out to those who identify themselves in any way other than “Christian.”

As a pastor in a very secular community I was given many illustrations that will help me become better at reaching out to those who are “outsiders” of our church community. I am grateful that Rosaria has shared her “secret thoughts” publicly. As a result I think that my wife and I have been equipped to be “salt and light” in our community and will be more effective in our outreach to those who desperately need Christ (as do we) in our community.

Rosaria is to be commended for her service to our Lord as a Christian wife, mother, educator, evangelist, and disciple maker. Any follower of Christ would be encouraged in their pursuit of Christlikeness and better reflect His inner and outer beauty as a result of reading and practicing the wisdom articulated in this delightful book.

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Book Review on Cabal’s and Rasor’s “Controversy Of The Ages”

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A Good Example of Civil Discussion on A Controversial Topic

Book Review by Dr. David P. Craig

As a pastor who tries to keep current with the latest discoveries and teachings in science and how they mesh with the Bible I found this book immensely helpful from a Christian perspective. The author’s do several things really well in this book:

(1) They give a good overview of the history of the interplay between science and biblical interpretation with a very interesting analysis of The Copernican Conflict; The Advent of Darwinian Evolution;  The Scopes Trial and its results; and the more recent controversy over the age of the earth.

(2) They present a consistent hermeneutic learned from Galileo that assumes biblical inerrancy, not inerrant interpretation and the objective truth that nature and and biblical revelation cannot be in conflict/disagree. There must be a striving for both theologians and scientists to pursue truth in special (biblical revelation) and nature (general revelation).

(3) They give a very interesting discussion of evolution and how it was received by both scientists and theologians within a short time following his completing his Origin of the Species. They discuss some of the main issues of conflict brought on by the acceptance of Darwin’s theory from its inauguration until modern times between theologians and scientists of note.

(4) They demonstrate that the resulting world view of Darwinian Evolution has resulted in many liberal theologians and scientists buying into “metaphysical naturalism, that everything interesting about the world reveals there is no God;” as well as how, “human experience rather than the Bible has become the ground of Christian knowledge.”

(5) Throughout the book the author’s give a helpful analysis of the three main views among Theologians and Scientists today as exemplified by Young Earth Creationists (as propounded by Henry Morris, Ken Ham, and Andrew Snelling) and their largest organization: Answers In Genesis; by Old Earth Creationists (as propounded in particular by Hugh Ross and those in his ilk), and its primary organization; Reasons To Believe; and lastly, the most recent organization that sings the praises of Evolution: BioLogos – with its influential proponents like C. Francis Collins.

(6) There is a fascinating discussion of flood theories, fossils, and dating mechanisms in dating the earth – pro and con for both old and young.

(7) One of the most helpful aspects of this book is its discussion of first, second, and third level doctrines that are essential to Christianity. The author’s refer to Albert Mohler’s “Theological Triage of three levels to ascertain theological urgencies.” For example, first level or essential doctrines to Christianity would include “doctrines such as the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, justification by faith, and the authority of Scripture.” Second order or level doctrines would include issues that often separate congregations and denominations like the mode and method of baptism and whether women can serve as pastors. Third level doctrines would include the eschatological unfolding of the plan of God (e.g. pre-millennialism, post-millennialism, a-millennialism) and issues like the one the authors are addressing. The authors apply the principle of theological triage to the three main views today with reference to science and theology. It is a very interesting and enlightening discussion of the relative unimportance of “age” with reference to the essentials related to the gospel and what makes one a Christian.

Cabal and Rasor have written a very civil book on the interplay of the various issues and views in regard to scientific and biblical interpretation. I think they have written a book that helps lay people like me understand the complexity of the issues and yet puts the “cookies on the shelf” so that one can see that though these issues are important – they are not essential to the gospel, but are nevertheless important and demand that extremists be balanced and listen to one another as everyone seeks to interpret all of God’s revelation (the written Word and the natural world) in a gracious manner that is always and ever in pursuit of God’s truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review of Jonathan Dodson and Brad Watson’s “Raised? Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection”

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Why the Death and Resurrection of Jesus is The Bull’s-Eye of The Gospel

By Dr. David P. Craig

Pastor’s Dodson and Watson write two chapters each in this short, yet powerful book, reflecting on what they call the “bull’s eye of the gospel.” They referring to Paul’s substantial treatment of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in 1 Corinthians 15. A big part of the focus on this book is that it is much easier to embrace the reality of the death and burial of Jesus Christ than it is his resurrection from the dead. They demonstrate that believing in the resurrection was just as difficult 2,000 years ago as it is today.

The author’s deal cogently and honestly with how both Jews and Gentiles struggled with the idea of a bodily resurrection when Jesus lived. During the time of Christ there were many doubters–Jesus’ friends, contemporary Greeks and Romans, and countless Jews. They go on to show why they doubted the resurrection and demonstrate that “if you doubt the resurrection, you are in good company. Jesus understands your doubts, and he welcomes them. To those who are skeptical and struggling with belief, Jesus remains ready to receive your questions. He will listen to your doubts.”

This book wrestles with the historical evidence of the resurrection, addresses the doubts related to the supernatural event of Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead (both ancient and modern), and gives in clear and concise answers some of the best reasons to believe that the resurrection of Christ really happened historically. There are also some wonderful applications of this book about how to live the resurrected life in Christ. The resurrection changes everything and this book marvelously makes a case for the practical ramifications of the gospel.

I highly recommend this book to strengthen the faith of believers, and start the journey on the way to faith for non-believers and skeptics. This is a good introduction in answering why millions of people around the world continue to follow Jesus and are convinced in the historical realities and ramifications of his life, death, burial, and resurrection.

 

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Book Review of J. Warner Wallace’s “Alive: A Cold-Case Approach To The Resurrection”

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Great Easter Give-Away

Reviewed by Dr. David P. Craig

J. Warner Wallace was once an Atheist and a Cold-Case Detective. He is now a prolific author and speaker on presenting evidences for the cogency of the Christian world-view. What sets Wallace apart from other modern apologists is that he really puts the “cookies on the shelf” for the general reader to be exposed to great evidence in an understandable and interesting manner.

In this short book – one designed to be cheap and as a giveaway for Easter – Wallace approaches the subject of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection the same way he would investigate a homicide. The minimal facts that Wallace investigates are the following: (1) Jesus died on the cross and was buried; (2) Jesus’ tomb was empty, and no one ever produced His body; (3) Jesus’ disciples believed that they saw Jesus resurrected from the dead; (4) Jesus’ disciples were transformed following their alleged resurrection observations.

Next, Wallace proceeds to tackle the skeptical explanations that deny the above facts: (1) The Disciples were wrong about Jesus’ death; (2) The Disciples lied about the resurrection; (3) The Disciples were delusional; (4) The Disciples were fooled by an imposter; (5) The Disciples were influenced by limited spiritual sightings; (6) The Disciples observations were distorted later – with each of these six skeptical views Wallace demonstrates how each of these views contains at least four to six inherent problems tied to the argument.

The most logical explanation requires a belief in the supernatural: a belief that Jesus had the supernatural power to rise from the dead and thus Wallace defends the position that The Disciples were accurately reporting the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus. Wallace concludes his examination of the evidence with a very important point: “Moving from the most reasonable inference to a decision of trust…It’s one thing to ‘believe that’ Jesus rose from the dead and is who He said he was, but it’s another to ‘believe in’ Him as Savior. Every one of us, at some point in our investigation of the claims of Christianity, has to move from ‘belief that’ to ‘belief in.'”

Wallace’s little book is a great way to get the essence of the Christian message in the hands of the curious and skeptics alike. This is a short book that deserves a wide reading and should be bought in bulk as a giveaway – especially during Easter as we celebrate the great hope of the world – the One who lived, died, was buried, and raised so that we might have salvation by Him and through Him – the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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

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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.

 

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Book Review on Randy Newman’s Questioning Evangelism

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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!

 

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

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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.

 

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