ANNOUNCING the publication of “Christianity–Is It Really True? Responsible Faith In a Post-Christian Culture”

I am excited to announce the publication of the book that includes 48 revised and edited essays from last year’s series “Is Christianity True?”

Perhaps you know an undergraduate or graduate student who could benefit from reading it. Perhaps you want to lead a small group on this theme. Perhaps you simply want a copy for yourself.

If you enjoyed the series I hope you will recommend the book to your friends. I set the price near the minimum allowed by Amazon.com, $8.95.

It is available also in Kindle. $3.49.

Read the PREFACE, which describes the contents and aims of the book:

Preface

This book is second in a series of books I’ve written in weekly installments on my blog ifaqtheology (Infrequently Asked Questions in Theology). It contains in revised form the 48 essays I wrote between August 2014 and July 2015 on the question, “Is Christianity True?” I hope that publishing them in printed form will make them accessible to individuals and groups that want to study the topics of Christian evidences and Christian apologetics. I have long felt that the most popular works on evidences and apologetics don’t quite get it right. As a whole they try to prove too much and do not take adequately into account our fallibility. They underestimate the role of the will in belief. And they too readily accept the burden of proof, which puts the case for Christianity at a decisive disadvantage. They do not take the best logical and rhetorical path from nonbelief to full Christian faith. Specifically and most disturbingly, they attempt to prove the Bible’s authority independently of faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In this book I develop a different understanding of the path to faith, a different vision of the role of the will in belief and a different way of establishing the authority of the Bible.

Part One sets out the ground rules for Christian evidences. The chapters in this section will clarify the purpose, methods and limits of evidences. We will ask who bears the burden of proof and what conditions must be present before an inquirer can make a reasonable judgment to believe the Christian gospel and a responsible decision to take up the Christian way of life. We define such relevant terms as truth, reality, certainty, knowledge, faith and opinion. Finally, we will map the path from nonbelief through four decision points to full Christian faith.

Part Two takes us through the four decision points we must traverse on our way to full Christian faith. First, we must decide between atheism and belief in God. I argue that this decision depends on our choice between matter and mind as the most fundamental explanation for our world. Is the beginning and end of all things spirit or matter, life or death, intelligible or unintelligible, mind or machine? Having decided that believing in God is the most rational choice, we now confront the second decision point where we ask, “Is the mind that is evident in the intelligible order of the world impersonal or personal?” If we opt for a personal God, a third decision point confronts us with the choice between thinking of God as the highest aspect of nature or as transcendent over nature. Is God supernatural or natural? Is the world God’s creation or God’s body? The issue can also be framed as a decision between theism and panentheism, which is the idea that God is an aspect of the world neither wholly different from world nor fully identical to it. If we accept theism as the best answer to this third question, we come to the fourth decision point at which we must decide whether to remain mere theists or move into full Christian faith. At this crossroads we are required to discuss the possibility and actuality of a revelation of God in history. At the moment of decision we must assess the evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and reflect on the meaning of this event for the nature, identity and significance of Jesus.

Part Three marks the transition into a new phase of the argument for Christianity’s truth. The previous chapters presented an affirmative case for making a reasonable judgment for Christianity’s truth and a responsible decision to become a Christian. But now we must deal with some misunderstandings and objections to Christianity. The positive side of the argument is often called “Christian Evidences” and the defensive side is often called “Christian Apologetics” or “Defense of Christianity.” The necessity of the defensive phase of the argument rests first on the propensity of people to misunderstand what Christianity actually is and what it really teaches. How can we make a reasonable judgment or a responsible decision about Christianity unless we possess an accurate understanding of its teachings? Some people find certain versions of Christianity incredible or morally offensive or insufferably superficial, and hence hesitate to accept them. Others adopt a form of Christianity that is defective when compared to the original form taught by Jesus and the apostles. It is questionable whether one has really made an authentic decision about Christianity if the form they know is not the real thing.

The second reason for the pursuing the defensive phase of the argument arises from the barrage of objections that nonbelievers hurl against Christianity. Some raise objections to the existence of God, theism or divine revelation. They raise the problem of evil or assert that the world needs no explanation beyond itself. Others object to the moral teachings of the Bible or deny its historical accuracy. Some offer objections to the reliability of the apostolic witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus or object to the very possibility of miracles. The list is endless. And even if one thinks the case I made in the first phase of the argument is very strong, one may still be disturbed and caused to doubt by the many objections that are raised. Hence I want to reply to some of the most potent objections. Some of these objections may turn out to be based on misunderstandings of Christianity. But some may accurately represent Christianity and yet still suggest reasons to doubt or reject it.

How to Read This Book

I wrote this book as a sustained and step-by-step argument, and reading it from beginning to end may be the best way to get the most from it. But I think there are several points at which readers could enter the argument without getting lost. If you are not interested right away in the question of methods in apologetics, you could skip Part One and move directly to Part Two, which develops the four decision points on the way to full Christian faith. And even within Part Two, you could read the chapters on the fourth decision point, which focuses on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, without reading the first three. Or, you could begin with Part Three, which deals with objections to Christian faith. No matter where you begin, I hope you will read the whole book so that you can see the big picture argument.

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