Knowing just enough about Jim Thomas to be dangerous, I feared that Coffeehouse Theology would take a postmodern approach to Christianity. I was pleasantly surprised to discover this was not the case. Thomas has written what might be described as an apologetic book for laymen, much along the line of Paul Little’s famous work, Why I Believe, from the 1970’s. Like Little, Thomas deals with the existence of God, Scripture, Jesus, doubt, pain and suffering, truth and salvation. He believes that in order to know truth we must “gather evidence, make use of our reason, and come to rational conclusions” (p. 56) – a thoroughly modernistic approach postmoderns would complain. But when we understand that ultimate truth emerges from the Bible, as Thomas believes, then this is the only approach by which truth can be found.
Thomas is biblical, interesting and winsome in Coffeehouse Theology. My only major concern were his constant quotes and examples of Roman Catholics such as G. K. Chesterton, John Henry Newman and, of course, who else but Mother Teresa (with Martin Luther King). Couple this with his statement that Catholics, Anglicans and Protestants are all Christians because they adhere to the Apostle Creed (which says nothing about redemption) and a confusing tone is interjected. While Thomas accurately describes the salvation plan and while there surely are a few Christians in even apostate denominations, the fact is that there exists a wide gap between the biblical teaching of the gospel and the beliefs of Chesterton and Mother Teresa.