Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts for you to check out.


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Is Evidence That Demands a Verdict Fundamentalist Apologetics?

Two of the current apologists that I appreciate very much are Randal Rauser and Sean McDowell. So I was quite interested to read Randal Rauser’s review of Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh and Sean McDowell that was published in the Christian Post.

Evidence That Demands a VerdictWhile Randal Rauser has a different style than the McDowells, he doesn’t take the opportunity to totally slam them. When he appreciates something they have done in the book, he is willing to give them the credit. I appreciate that about Randal.

At the same time, Randal has some major concerns, not just about the book in particular, but what it represents. This is seen by the title of the review, “Fundamentalist Apologetics Comes of Age.”

This surprised me, as I have been able to get to know Sean a bit, even if only online. We have emailed back and forth and I have contributed to one of his projects. The last thing that comes to mind when I think of Sean is fundamentalist. I see him as representing the brightest and most respectful of young evangelicals.

It all comes down to what Randal means by fundamentalist. The term fundamentalist came from the summary of the fundamentals of the faith that were developed at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. These included:

  • Biblical inspiration and the infallibility of scripture
  • Virgin birth of Jesus
  • Belief that Christ’s death was the atonement for sin
  • Bodily resurrection of Jesus
  • Historical reality of the miracles of Jesus

By this definition, Sean would probably accept the description of fundamentalist, as would I. But that is not what Randal means by fundamentalist, nor what most people mean in contemporary conversation.

I don’t want to get into the full discussion of the historical background, but I would like to point you to Roger E, Olsen’s article, What Distinguishes “Evangelical” from “Fundamentalist?”

Thankfully, Randal provides the definition that he uses for his purposes. Randal states, “These characteristics include biblicism, biblical literalism, rationalism, triumphalism, and binary oppositionalism.”

Having read carefully Evidence That Demands a Verdict, I think that while there are hints of these characteristics, Randal is stretching things for his own purposes. For example, in this book and elsewhere, the description of “biblical literalism” is an over-simplification of the hermeneutic used by Sean. Sean is a solid biblical scholar who understand very much the complexities of genre and rhetoric.

Really what Randal describes, and what he expresses concern over, is simply evangelicalism. The type of beliefs presented in Evidence is reflective of much of evangelicalism and not just the small segment that would self-identify as fundamentalist.

Randal knows very well what happens when he describes something as fundamentalist, even if he defines it precisely in the body of his article. “Fundamentalist” is a term that is used to identify something as dangerous, isolationist and irrational. We have been trained to be very concerned about anything described as fundamentalist.

For example, we would walk away with a much different impression if Randal had titled his article, “Evangelical Apologetics Comes of Age.” Despite “evangelical” beginning to receive negative reactions, it is still a much more positive term than fundamentalist.

By describing Evidence as “Fundamentalist Apologetics,” Randal has dismissed the value of the book with a label, aside from the specific concerns listed in the body of the article.

As I said in my introduction, I’m thankful for the work of both Randal and Sean and all they do to present a Christianity worth considering. But in this case, labeling Evidence as fundamentalist distracts us from what could have been helpful critiques of the book.


You can read my review of Evidence That Demands a Verdict here.

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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts that I came across this week. Go and check them out.

 

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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts I came across. Go and check them out.

 

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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts I came across this week.


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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts that I came across this week. Go and check them out.


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Midweek Apologetics Blog

Here are some apologetics-related posts I came across this week.


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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts that I came across and that are worth checking out.


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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts I came across this week. Go and check them out.


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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts that I came across this week.


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What’s So Confusing About Grace? – Review

What's So Confusing About Grace?Randal Rauser is one of the most intriguing Christian authors that I have read. I have read a number of his books. I will admit that generally my reactions to Rauser’s ideas move back and forth from “he is right on” to “where is he going with this?” His book What’s So Confusing About Grace? is no exception.

I would describe this book as a semi-autobiographical reflection on the nature of the gospel. Much of it follows his life from the decision as a child to be a friend of Jesus into his adulthood.

Rauser inserts a tremendous amount of humour and is not afraid to point fun at some of weird things that the church does and says. It is a very enjoyable read.

I identified with a lot of what he shares is the book, While I was raised in a mainline denomination, I did end up spending a number of years in the Pentecostal church, the same tradition Rauser was raised in. I remember going up for prayer to receive the gifts of tongues and having the evangelist walk away when it didn’t happen. I participated in the rock music burnings.

Reading What’s So Confusing About Grace? I recognized a number of experiences of myself and others I know. Rauser is right on that we have not always articulated the gospel in either a clear or a healthy way.

I really enjoyed his talk about music. Both the reactions against secular music and his attempt to embrace Christian rock. I suspect Rauser and I have similar tastes in music.

While this was not the aim of the book, Rauser also presents on of the best apologetics for being Baptist. He doesn’t try to convert people to the Baptist tradition, but his reasons for being Baptist are the same reasons that I’m Baptist.

I thoroughly enjoyed What’s So Confusing About Grace? If you don’t have a sense of humour, you probably won’t like it. But if you are okay with some acknowledging the silliness of some of the things Christians do, you will like this book.

What’s So Confusing About Grace? is both a fun read and a helpful reflection on the nature of the Christian gospel.


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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related blog posts I came across this week. Enjoy.


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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts that you might want to check out.

Some Additional Resources:


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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts that I came across this week. Make sure to check them out.

Recommend Book:

The Jesus Legend by Paul Rhodes Eddy and Greg Boyd (USA) (Canada)

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Midweek Apologetics Roundup

Here are some apologetics-related posts that I have discovered this week.

From My Archives:

5 Tips For Beginner Apologists

Recommended Book:

Miracles by C.S. Lewis (USA) (Canada)

 

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10 Canadian Apologetic Resources You Need

Today is Canada Day and so I thought I would highlight some resources with a Canadian connection. Canada has made some significant contributions to apologetics ministry. Some of the books I will share are either written by Canadians or by people who now live in Canada (which is almost as good). Make sure to check them out and Happy Canada Day!

Canada

Thinking? by Andy Steiger  (Canada) (USA)

Wrong Jesus by Greg Monette  (Canada) (USA)

Fabricating Jesus by Craig Evans  (Canada) (USA)

How We Got the New Testament by Stanley Porter  (Canada) (USA)

How to Talk to a Skeptic by Donald Johnson  (Canada) (USA)

Why the Universe is the Way it Is by Hugh Ross  (Canada) (USA)

Is the Atheist My Neighbour? by Randal Rauser  (Canada) (USA)

Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period by Richard Longenecker  (Canada) (USA)

Evangelism for Normal People by John Bowen  (Canada) (USA)

Heroes by Andy Bannister  (Canada) (USA)

 

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Top Ten Books I Read in 2013

Just to be clear, not all of these books were published in 2013, I just happened to have read them in 2013. Also, feel free to purchase them by clicking on the image provided. The proceeds go to the apologetics work I do.

How to Talk to a Skeptic by Donald Johnson

FNL

 

At Peace With War by Harold Ristau

FNL

 

Spiritual Rhythm by Mark Buchanan

FNL

God or Godless? by John Loftus and Randal Rauser

FNL

 

Good News and Good Works by Ronald Sider

FNL

Ephesians by Klyne Snodgrass

FNL

Humble Apologetics by John Stackhouse

FNL

 

Mark by Larry Hurtado

FNL

The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard

FNL

 

The Reason for God by Tim Keller

 

 

FNL

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God or Godless

God or GodlessThere are plenty of apologetics book out there. But it is so easy to create a straw man and win arguments against people who don’t really exist. That is why I was excited to see that God or Godless? was going to include both a Christian apologist (Randal Rauser) and an atheist (John Loftus). Both authors shared in determining the questions that they would look at and each responded to the other’s answers. The inclusion of both positions make this a much better book.

In some ways, John Loftus is not the best example of the atheist position. As an ex-Christian apologist and pastor, he brings all the baggage that comes with that deconversion. I certainly could not recognize in his statements anything of my experience with atheism. Loftus brings up many of the standard attacks against Christianity. What really marks his statements is a spirit of anger and bitterness. He seems to have been burned by the church and certain Christians and that seems to drive him more than intellectual reasoning.

I like Randal Rauser and not just because he is a Canadian. His style is different than mine but that is perhaps why I like him. I enjoyed his answers to the more philosophical questions. He had some great insights that I had never thought of before. He has a sense of humour and a way of bringing intellectual concepts down to the level that the average person can understand. I will confess that I was disappointed by some of his answers to the biblical questions. He expressed his discomfort with some of the teachings of Scripture, which is fine, although there are some responses that could be given. It seemed to me that Rauser was not just co-writing a book, he was also reaching out to Loftus. No matter how nasty Loftus got, Rauser never responded in kind.

Overall this is a helpful book that I highly recommend. There is much to be learned about both Christianity and atheism. Both atheists and Christians should enjoy this book.

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You’re Not as Crazy as I Think

There are many apologetics books that give you information on how to pull apart another person’s views, but much fewer on how to communicate effectively and respectfully.

A book that was recommended to me by the Atheist Missionary, is You’re Not as Crazy as I Think by Randal Rauser.  Randal Rauser teaches at Taylor Seminary in Edmonton, Alberta.  What makes this book unique is that it’s main goal is to promote true conversation and not to get other people to change their mind.  Part of this is to see the people we are talking to not as a stereotype or as a label but as people not that different from us.  It also may mean that if we want them to rethink their beliefs that we must be willing to rethink our beliefs.  Our goal should not be to defend our position no matter what but to seek the truth and help others find the truth.  If this is true, there is a time re-evaluate our own beliefs and adjust them to a greater understanding of the truth.  I am sure that there are many people who would be uncomfortable with some of the things that Rauser says.  That is a good thing.  We need to be challenged on our presuppositions.

That is not to say that this book is perfect.  I was disappointed in his chapter on evolution and intelligent design.  My problem was not the position he took but that in this chapter he ignores his own advice.  He seems to accept that intelligent design is a disguise for young earth creationism and that thinking Christians should accept evolution.  While that is a valid position, that is not the attitude he is promoting elsewhere in the book.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book.  I recommend it to all Christians interested in apologetics, not just as an academic pursuit, but as a calling to interact with others.  Even if you don’t agree with all of Rauser’s views, you will be challenged on how you look at others and how you look at yourself.  You will be a better apologist for having read this book.

 

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