Christianity Explored, What’s the Best News You’ve Ever Heard? (Leader’s Handbook 4th Edition)

This handbook accompanies a student manual and is designed to lead a small group of unbelievers on a seven-week study through the Gospel of Mark.  Attention is focused on three threads that are traced throughout the Gospel.  The identity of Jesus is examined during the first two sessions; the mission of Jesus, what He set out to achieve, is the subject of sessions three through five; finally Jesus’ call to us is explored in sessions six and seven. The Leader’s Handbook begins by providing necessary information to prepare the leaders of the study, guiding them through each session with discussion questions, suggested answers to those questions, and biblical insights.  Each of the studies is broken into four sections: Explore – in which the Bible is read together and examined. Listen – via watching a downloadable video and taking notes on the material given. Discuss – where some of the...

The Battle Belongs to the Lord, the Power of Scripture for Defending Our Faith by K. Scott Oliphint

As a professor of apologetics and systematic theology, and an authority on the works of Cornelius Van Til, we would expect K. Scott Oliphint to be a strong promoter of presuppositional apologetics.  He is that and more.  The stated purpose for the book is “to get us to open our Bibles again when we think about apologetics” (p. 4), and in our defense and proclamation of the faith we “must use the weapons, not of this world, but of the Lord” (p. 8).  The primary resource for contending for “the faith” (which is the body of truth – pp. 58-59), is to expound the truth of the Bible (p. 67).  The Bible, Oliphint correctly concludes, is a closed book; that is, nothing needs to be nor will be added to it (p. 184).  He writes, “With the finished work of Christ came the finished work of Christ’s Word (see...

Making Sense of God, an Invitation to the Skeptical by Timothy Keller

Timothy Keller’s popular The Reason for God presented a case for belief in God and Christianity, but Keller does not believe it began back far enough for the true skeptic, and thus the reason for this present volume (p. 4).  He wants to demonstrate to secular readers that Christianity is “sensible and desirable” (p. 216).  More than that: My aim from here on through the book is to do just that, and, I hope, to show that Christianity makes the greatest sense in every way–emotionally, culturally, and rationally.  In the process, I hope to show readers that Christianity offers far greater and richer goods for understanding, facing, enjoying, and living life than they had previously imagined. In order to do this Keller tackles the primary philosophical issues with which modern humans wrestle, devoting a chapter to each:   the delusion that religion is waning, the myth that secularism is not...

Biblical Apologetics, Advancing and Defending the Gospel of Christ by Clifford B. McManis

McManis believes that the five traditional apologetical approaches (classical, evidential, cumulative case, Reformed and presuppositional) make major mistakes. Each approach attempts to defend the Christian faith by largely ignoring the Bible and offering philosophical answers instead. Even presuppositionism, with which McManis identifies, tends to be mostly philosophical rather than biblical. Therefore the author provides a sixth view which he calls “biblical apologetics.” He writes, “In the following pages I propose that apologetics needs to be explained from a biblical perspective, not a philosophical one” (p.28). He defines biblical apologetics as the “biblical mandate for every Christian to advance and defend the gospel of Jesus Christ…exposing and subjecting all contrary beliefs to Christ’s revelations as found in Scripture” (p.29). Throughout the book McManis exposes in great detail what he sees as flaws in the five major apologetical views, offering numerous quotes from key apologetics within each system. He especially dislikes...

Against the Gods, The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament,by John D. Currid, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013), 153 pp., paper $17.99

One of the strongest criticisms facing biblical Christianity today is that much of Scripture, especially Old Testament stories, is borrowed from ancient accounts found in pagan mythologies. Since there are numerous narratives within ancient Near East studies that are very similar to biblical stories (e.g. creation, the flood, the exodus), it is now accepted by secular and liberal scholarship that the authors of Scripture merely borrowed these myths and invented a Jewish monotheistic storyline (pp. 22-23). In other words, biblical accounts of those stories are just as mythical as pagan accounts. Many evangelical scholars are drifting in this general direction as well, claiming that the Old Testament stories are “firmly rooted in the worldview of its time” (p. 23 – Peter Enns). As a result John Walton states, “The early accounts of Genesis are ‘culturally descriptive rather than revealed truth.’” This leads Currid to conclude, “Many evangelical Old Testament...

Who Made God? by Edgar Andrews

In recent times the so-called “new atheists,” most notably Richard Dawkins, have launched an aggressive attack on the existence of God in general and the God of the Bible in particular.  In books such as Dawkins’ The God Delusion, the “new atheists” have taken their agenda to the masses with a popular writing style that is both winsome and distortive.  Wrapping their arguments in scientific concepts outside the realm of most people’s expertise, they have been able to shake the faith of many and make their conclusions appear indisputable.  It is within this context that we wholeheartedly welcome Who Made God?  Edgar Andrews is himself a highly regarded scientist, often serving as an expert witness in court cases in Great Britain, USA and Canada, and even has had the opportunity of formal debate with Richard Dawkins.  He is a man who understands science and is not deceived by high-sounding...

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

Strobel was for many years an investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune.  He was converted after carefully examining the evidence for the claims of Christ as found in Scripture and subsequently became a minister.  In The Case for Christ, he uses his investigative training and skills to lead his readers through the same spiritual journey that he traveled some twenty years ago. The author’s methodology was to interview some thirteen scholars and authorities over a two year span.  He endeavored to match the best evangelical thinkers in each field under his study.  The result is a highly readable and reliable manual which presents documented evidence, from the reliability of the biblical texts to archaeology to the historicity of Jesus to the resurrection.  Many questions posed by the skeptics are given excellent answers and resources for further study and therefore, The Case for Christ is helpful to the Christian needing...

Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias

In a pluralistic society all religions are equally true.  Zacharias claims that this is an impossibility because the various religions do not give the same answers to the vital issues and questions which confront life.  When these issues are thoroughly worked out, it is discovered that Jesus Christ is unique—He is not like other gods, nor is His message the same as other religions. To demonstrate this thesis Zacharias considers six questions that Jesus answered differently from all other major religious.  Jesus’ answers prove His uniqueness but, more than that, they provide evidence for His claims.  The questions deal with: • The false claim of pluralism.• The true claims of Christ.• The purpose of life.• Troublesome concerns such as pain and evil.• The role of our presuppositions.• The inroads of Eastern religions into the Western world. Zacharias defends the Christian faith primarily from the accounts found in the Gospels and then contrasts these findings with...

The Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel

The Case for the Real Jesus is Lee Strobel’s follow-up to his excellent 1998 book The Case for Christ.  This volume seeks to answer some of the more recent objections to Christianity popularized largely through the internet, novels such as The DaVinci Code and new aggressive forms of atheism.  Skeptics, taking advantage of the ignorance and gullibility of many, have been able to plant seeds of doubt in and occasionally shipwreck the faith of some through unsubstantiated claims, poor but impressive sounding scholarship, and distortion of the truth.  Strobel attempts to counteract these attacks on Christianity through the same methodology as in his previous book: interview the best conservative Christian scholars on the subjects of their expertise.  The result is most gratifying as the myths, rumors, misrepresentations and false claims melt away quickly when exposed to the light of truth. This volume deals with six major challenges to Jesus...

The Reason for God, by Timothy Keller

Timothy Keller has pastored Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan since 1989. In the course of twenty years in New York, Keller has encountered many skeptics who vocalized sincere concerns about the Christian faith. The Reason for Goddescribes Keller’s approach to handling the most pressing questions of our time, especially those of young people. The first half of the book deals with what Keller believes to be the seven biggest objective doubts about Christianity: exclusivity, suffering, absolute truth claims, injustice, judgment and hell, science in opposition to Scripture, and literal interpretation of the Bible. The second half of the book is devoted to examining the arguments underlying Christian beliefs. Through use of personal conversations and careful reasoning, Keller not only provides helpful answers to good questions, he also demonstrates for us how to dialogue with those who have rejected biblical teachings. There is much to commend about The Reason for...

A Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig

Craig was for many years a professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he taught apologetics. This book is a product of those classes and, as such, is a weightier apologetic work than many would desire. But for those up to the task A Reasonable Faith offers a gold mine of information. Craig defines apologetics as “a theological discipline that tries to answer the question, what rational defense can be given for the Christian faith?” By this definition Craig certainly delivers as he gives a rational defense for faith, man, God, creation, Scripture and Christ. The book sketches the historical development and discussion concerning each of these topics as well as recent arguments. For example, the old “Jesus is either a liar, lunatic or Lord” was cutting edge two hundred years ago. But since 1835 the battle shifted to legend, i.e., are the events found in the Gospels myths...

Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? by James K. A. Smith

For a basic understanding of postmodernism, and its affect upon the church, you could not do much better than this little volume. Smith rightly traces postmodernity to three French philosophers, Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault, then summarizes, illustrates (through literature and film) and clarifies what they really are saying. He then “takes these philosophers to church” to see how their ideas are playing out, especially in the emergent church movement. It should be understood that Smith is sympathetic to the emergent church although he believes much tweaking needs to be done. He actually proposes a middle ground between conservative Christianity, which he views as modern, and the emerging church, which he feels is in danger of being shaped by the postmodern culture much as the seeker-sensitive church was/is shaped by modernity (pp. 123-126). This middle ground Smith labels “Radical Orthodoxy.” Radical Orthodoxy would adopt many postmodern philosophies, yet be “thickly...

Truth Decay by Douglas Groothuis

This is an absolutely marvelous defense of truth in our age of postmodernity. Groothuis cuts right through the rhetoric and pierces the very heart of postmodernists, both outside and within the evangelical church. He deals well with both the philosophical – the elite who challenge objective truth, and the practical – the filtering down of these concepts into the lives of Christians. He ably shows how postmodernism is the foundation for the market-driven approach to church life. And he exposes forces such as television for their part in the popularizing of these ideas. There were only two areas for concern and caution, which I found in Truth Decay. In chapter 10 Groothuis makes his case for objective beauty. While I enjoyed reading and considering his views, I believe that he was reaching considerably, and in no way proved his case to any but those already in agreement. Of far...

Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey

Pearcey is a disciple of Francis Schaeffer. In Total Truth she reintroduces Schaeffer and his apologetical approach (sadly, many today need to be introduced) to a new generation. But she does much more than that as she traces the historical and philosophical underpinnings of Western culture as we experience it today. Pearcey develops three separate but overlapping themes. The first is worldview, sort of a buzz word today but nevertheless an important one. Our worldview will determine how we process information, which explains how a creationist and a Darwinian can handle the same data and come to different conclusions. It is true, Pearcey affirms, that “all truth is God’s truth,” but such a statement makes sense only if one possesses a Christian worldview (p. 313). Every philosophy has to answer three questions: How did it all begin? What went wrong? What can we do about what has gone wrong?...

Time for Truth by Os Guinness

I thoroughly enjoy reading Guinness. He always stretches me, gives marvelous quotes, and is usually on the money in his evaluations. Time for Truth is no exception as it deals, in overview fashion, with the beliefs and consequences of postmodernism. What Guinness does so well is to carefully document the past philosophies that have taken us to where we are today. The Western world did not just wake up one day and decide that “truth” was out and “relativism” was in. No, it began with the thinkers in the past and has slowly filtered down to the people on the street, many of whom have never heard of postmodernism or Nietzsche. Books like these are important for two reasons – to tell us how we became the people we are today, and to warn us of what we might become tomorrow. Little errors in thinking can ultimately lead to...

Think Biblically by John MacArthur (General Editor)

This excellent volume written by The Master’s College and Seminary faculty, deals with the need to recover a Christian worldview. Chapters deal with authority of Scripture, creation, postmodernism, music, gender roles, education, science, economics and much more. I found the book thought provoking and full of helpful insight. It would be a useful read for any Christian leader or thinker....

The Right to Die, Caring Alternatives to Euthanasia by Mark Blocher

Blocher’s goal in The Right to Die is to give “sound biblical, moral, and practical reasons for rejecting assisted suicide and euthanasia” (p. 10). In this, I believe he has done well. On the biblical front, he presents what Scripture he can on this subject, which is sparse. There simply are not volumes of biblical texts that deal directly with some of the modern issues facing society today. Principles, such as the sanctity of human life since man is created in the image of God, the condemnation of murder in any form, the sovereignty of God, and so forth are clearly presented. It remains for Blocher to build upon this biblical foundation a case, which includes the study of history, philosophical reasoning and theological deductions. He realizes that, even in the Christian community convictions will differ, but he clearly states his and gives reasons for them. Toward the end...

The Consequences of Ideas by R. C. Sproul

  Sproul has written an excellent volume highlighting some of the most important philosophers throughout history. These are the movers and shakers of philosophical thought ranging from Socrates (and even before) to Darwin and Freud. Each chapter outlines the concepts of at least one major thinker including: Plato, Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, Kant and Nietzsche and several others. Foremost in Sproul’s mind is how these men have impacted our view of God and life in general. While I have little interest in mastering the philosophies of men, preferring rather to devote my time to the understanding of Scripture, still I believe a working understanding of the movement of thought throughout time, and how those thoughts have impacted our culture today, is valuable. To that end Sproul has done us a great favor by putting all these well-known philosophers and their philosophies in one handy, clearly written volume. It would take...

Soul Cravings by Erwin Raphael McManus

Soul Cravings is sort of an apologetic aimed at the postmodern generation. Rather than persuade his audience with biblical proofs, scientific evidence or logical arguments, McManus has chosen a philosophical approach. His reasoning is that our souls crave three things: intimacy, destiny and meaning. The fact that all human beings have these cravings is evidence for the existence of God. The big question is, if these cravings do point us to God, just where and how are we to find Him? The underlying theme throughout the book is that we will find Him in ourselves as we allow our cravings to lead us. In the introduction (it should be noted that McManus “creatively” does not use page numbers, rather he has 68 “entries” of various lengths) he writes, “This is not a book focused on empirical evidence for God. It is about coming to know ourselves…It is about our...

Love Your God with All Your Mind by J. P. Moreland

Moreland’s thesis is that the evangelical church has become anti-intellectual. If the church has had any revival in modern times it has been a revival of feeling, not of the knowledge of God. As a result, Christians are being guided more by their emotions than by their convictions; by enthusiasm more than informed commitment (see page 19). With Moreland’s thesis I heartily agree. With much of his reasoning and suggestions I am also in agreement. There are some cautions that must be given here however. Moreland places too much faith in reason and logic for my taste. While I understand and appreciate the value of these things, it must be remembered that reasoning is not any more infallible than emotion. Logic, too, has been affected by the Fall. Only the Scriptures can be trusted completely, and while I am certain the author would agree with this statement I do...

Darwin on Trial by Phillip E. Johnson

Darwin on Trial is a useful addition in the war against naturalistic evolution. Johnson himself is a creationist but not an “uncompromising literalist,” meaning that he believes that God created all things, but may have used evolution as one of His methods. He rejects the literal 24-hour day explanation of Genesis 1, implying that only narrow-minded fundamentalists, who know little about science, hold to such a view. Fortunately the author is not out to prove his progressive creationist views, quickly moving on to his subject, which is to demonstrate the weakness of the naturalistic evolutionary position and make evident that evolution has much more in common with religion than with science. Johnson is a lawyer, not a scientist. Therefore, his interest lies not so much with scientific data as with the interpretation of that data: “The question I want to investigate is whether Darwinism is based upon a fair...

Christian Apologetics by Norman Geisler

Geisler has written an excellent book on apologetics, although its’ contents may not be what some readers expect. The volume is arranged in three sections: methodology, theistic apologetics and Christian apologetics. Part one evaluates various systems of truth such as agnosticism and rationalism, demonstrating why they ultimately fail. In section two, worldviews such as deism and pantheism are examined and the conclusion drawn that only the theist worldview is adequate. The final section contains chapters on subjects such as the deity of Christ and the inspiration of Scripture, matters more commonly understood as apologetics....

Can Man Live Without God? by Ravi Zacharias

Zacharias is an able apologist in the tradition of Frances Schaeffer. He writes well, mixes heavy thoughts with interesting stories and stays within the framework of conservative biblical Christianity. Having said that, it should be recognized that not all of Zacharias’ concepts emerge from Scripture. Unfortunately, there is good evidence in this book that the author has swallowed a great deal of secular psychology, which he freely interlaces with biblical truth. As a matter of fact, this whole volume is built on the foundation that man has the need for meaning and security (see p.113), a standard understanding of several wings of psychology but not found in Scripture. If the reader can leap over this admittedly large crevice there is much delicious fruit waiting on the other side. Zacharias handles well many philosophical questions. He proposes wonderful insights into the reasoning and views of the secular mind, offering alternatives...