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Friday, April 12, 2013

"Tough Topics: Biblical Answers to 25 Challenging Questions" (Sam Storms)

TITLE: Tough Topics: Biblical Answers to 25 Challenging Questions (Re: Lit Books)
AUTHOR: Sam Storms
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway Publishers, 2013, (352 pages).

Culled from his 40 years of Christian ministry, Sam Storms has distilled the many difficult questions of faith down to 25 top questions that demand answers. It is the author's earnest effort to bring about some light for people seeking understanding, even among Christians. This book aims to reduce the level of anxiety, and also be a helpful resource for future research. The ultimate aim of the book is to help readers reach a point where they desire not answers, but to worship the one true God who has all the answers. The questions can be roughly categorized according to their different theological emphasis. There are questions about the nature of God such as "Does God ever change his mind? (Immutability of God). There are questions pertaining to the Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), about the sinlessness of Jesus (Christology), about salvation (Soteriology), Bible, about Christian living, and other practical concerns such as legalism, tithing, death of infants, healing, and others.

The 25 questions are:
  1. Is the Bible Inerrant?
  2. What is Open Theism?
  3. Does God ever change his mind?
  4. Could Jesus have sinned?
  5. What Did Jesus Mean When He Said, “Judge Not, that You Be Not Judged?”
  6. What is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?
  7. Does the Bible Teach the Doctrine of Original Sin?
  8. Are Those Who Die in Infancy Saved?
  9. Will People Be Condemned for Not Believing in Jesus though They’ve Never Heard His Name?
  10. What Can We Know about Angels?
  11. What Can We Know about Satan?
  12. What Can We Know about Demons?
  13. Can a Christian Be Demonized?
  14. Does Satan Assign Demons to Specific Geopolitical Regions? Are There Territorial Spirits?
  15. Can Christians Lose Their Salvation?
  16. Does Hebrews Teach that Christians Can Apostatize?
  17. Will There Be Sex in Heaven?
  18. Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?
  19. What Is Baptism in the Spirit, and When Does It Happen?
  20. Should All Christians Speak in Tongues?
  21. What Was Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh?
  22. Is There Healing in the Atonement?
  23. Why Doesn’t God Always Heal the Sick?
  24. What Is Legalism?
  25. Are Christians Obligated to Tithe?

This book could have easily become another theological treatise, weighty in scholarship and hard for the layperson to read. Storms has wisely refrained from doing that. Instead, he approaches it from the angle of seeing where the seeker is seeing, looking at how the questions are pointing, and most importantly, accompanying the questioner patiently and gently. Using questions to guide the logical flow, Storms is able to present his answers to difficult questions with simplicity and clarity. At appropriate places, he inserts in biblical support as well as scholarship. Key theological words are italicized to help readers take special notice of its importance. The author is also able to touch of the many threads in each question, giving the reader an opportunity to decide for himself the logical flow and the rationale behind each thought. I like the way Storms anticipate questions to a particular point. For example, when talking about inerrancy, rather than beginning with a biblical verse, he lets the arguments lead readers toward a biblical verse, lest the answers become circular, that is, using the Bible to talk about the Bible. Circular arguments do not impress non-believers, doubters, or the skeptic.

I appreciate the contemporary debates Storms has included, like open theism, spiritual warfare, as well as the evergreen questions which people never seem to get tired of asking. Are these questions really tough? Maybe. Surely, there are tougher ones. That said, Storms have gotten most of them in this over 350 page book. I am quite curious about why the topic of suffering is missing. While there are snippets of references to suffering in various chapters of the book, personally, I think the topic of suffering deserves one full chapter itself, even two. For pastors and teachers, this book can easily be a set of 25 ready made sermons. For the rest of us, it can be another resource that helps us explain the faith in a clear, logical, and simple manner. One does not need a theological background in order to understand this book. Storms will guide you along.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Crossway Publishers and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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