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Thursday, March 28, 2013

"Reasons for Belief" (Norman L. Geisler)

TITLE: Reasons for Belief: Easy-to-Understand Answers to 10 Essential Questions
AUTHOR: Norman L. Geisler and Patty Tunnicliffe
PUBLISHER: Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2013, (240 pages).

Know why you believe. Know what you believe. Know the reasons for your belief. These are important considerations for anyone seeking not just to give an answer for the hope they embrace, but to be personally convinced and convicted about their faith. There are many tough questions when it comes to Apologetics. Geisler and Tunnicliffe manage to distill them into ten of the most popular "challenges" that often make it hard for non-believers to come to faith in Christ. These ten challenges are:

  1. On Relativism: "Real truth does not exist. 'Trust is just truth to you."
  2. On the evidence and existence of God #1: "Christianity rests upon God's existence. If God does not exist, Christianity is false," and God does not exist.
  3. On Monotheism: "If God exists, He isn't necessarily the God of the Bible."
  4. On Miracles: "Miracles don't happen."
  5. On the Reliability of the New Testament: "The New Testament's many errors make it unreliable. It's more like a collection of myths and legends."
  6. On Jesus' deity: "Jesus never claimed to be God."
  7. On Jesus: "Jesus didn't prove he is God."
  8. On Resurrection: "Jesus did not rise from the dead."
  9. On Religious books: "The Bible isn't the only true religious books."
  10. On the way to God: "Christianity is too narrow. There are many ways to God besides Jesus."

The cover page visualizes the ten challenges through icons that represent the wide range of challenges. There are issues that range from creation to the resurrection; from the reliability of the Bible to the reality of Jesus as God; from worldview philosophies to Christian theology; to engagement with plural concerns and freedom of belief. The authors hope to equip readers with a ready defense of Christianity. The ten challenges are carefully selected and thought out so that one can argue convincingly that Christianity claims are true. Typically, each chapter goes like this. First, the authors state plainly the challenge. Second, the problem is further described often in a philosophical manner like comparing and contrasting two intellectual assertions.  Third, the reasons, the assumptions, and the preconceived notions are laid out. Four, closing comments from the author about the challenge and how it impacts believers or seekers. Finally, the arguments are summarized.

What I like about the book is its simplicity of approach. Without beating around the bush, the authors state the problem and its assumptions, even bringing in other worldviews so that readers can fairly compare and contrast them on their own. Using scientific knowledge, philosophies of the age, classic and familiar worldviews, together with modern examples and apt summaries, Geisler and Tunnicliffe make apologetics look so easy to understand. Some of the comparisons include:

  • Magic vs miracles
  • Theism vs Atheism / Deism / Pantheism / Polytheism / etc
  • Biblical texts vs others
  • Jesus vs the other religious teachers 
  • Biblical worldview vs other worldviews
  • ...

With the reader in mind, the authors have put together a simple guide for anyone who needs help on explaining their own faith. Being able to put the tough philosophical challenges in a simple statement is not easy. Explaining the steps in a credible manner is even tougher. Kudos to Geisler and Tunnicliffe who help remove the complexity out of important questions, providing reasons for belief and at least, a step forward in the direction of embracing the faith. One thing still remains for the skeptical reader. Understanding the reasons for belief is one thing. Accepting it as a viable answer is another. 

This is not the first work on Apologetics by Geisler. He has written other books like, "When Skeptics Ask," "If God, Why Evil?," "Reasons for Faith," "The Big Book of Christian Apologetics," and many more. Geisler has always been clear and is able to channel his personal convictions through the lectures he gives and through the books he writes. This book is a beneficiary of Geisler's many years of experience, knowledge, and interactions with people. When I read this book, I ask myself the following questions. Why are there only ten challenges? Why these ten? How did the authors decide on these final ten? What audiences are they trying to reach? Let me then leave you with three thoughts.

Firstly, these ten challenges summarize the most popular modern barriers to belief in Christianity. Readers will recognize many of these challenges right away with a nod or an utterance of "Yes!" It addresses some honest questions with honest answers. Secondly, some of them are what I call "classic" or "evergreen" statements of anti-beliefs, among those who are honest seekers or skeptics. They can only be understood through faith. Reasoning can only lead one so far. One still needs the step of faith in order to truly understand. Thirdly and more importantly, the authors have presented a methodology that can be applied to other types of challenges. Readers can do their own research, or read other materials by Geisler. They can ask their own questions and compare with other worldviews. They can even word their own doubts and to work through them honestly with the Bible in hand. After all, if truth is truth, there is no worry that it can ever become false. What readers must be aware is that, truth is often not found out, but revealed. It is like uncovering the blanket to discover the hidden treasure, or having something in our heads light up. When truth is revealed, we will be set free. Clearly written, I recommend this book for those seeking to explain their own faith clearly and reasonably.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Baker Books and Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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