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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

"Christ or Chaos" (Daniel A. DeWitt)

TITLE: Christ or Chaos
AUTHOR: Daniel A. DeWitt
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway Publishers, 2016, (144 pages).

Is Christianity rational? Which worldview can best explain the origin of the world? Is life's best explanations in terms of cosmos or chaos? Beginning with the arguments between Thomas (Christianity) and Zach (chance and chaos), author and pastor Dan DeWitt explores the journey of faith by Thomas whose' Christian belief was challenged by the questions posed by Zach. Can Christianity stand on its own when challenged by the non-Christian worldviews? Believing that Christianity is true, DeWitt asserts CS Lewis words as follows:

"One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important."

As one who reads and teaches on CS Lewis a lot, DeWitt helps readers to work through the questions surrounding the objections to faith. He ponders on the accusations of skeptics and on the reasons why some Christians left the faith. He notices with concern on Taunton's summary reasons why young believers move away from faith toward skepticism.

  1. They had some religious background but lack of relevant answers to life's questions
  2. They felt the mission and message of their churches were vague
  3. Answers to skeptics tend to be superficial
  4. They respect those who take their questions seriously
  5. Those aged 14-17 are crucial
  6. The emotional factor is the primary reason for leaving the faith.
The onslaught on young believers is not just by the New Atheists, there are other resources like Peter Boghossian's "A Manual for Creating Atheists," and skeptic missionaries like Guy Harrison's "50 Simple Questions for Every Christian," all aimed at debunking the Christian faith. Even debates between Christian and non-Christian experts do not bring one beyond their initial presuppositions. Wanting to contribute to the defense of Christianity, DeWitt chooses instead to begin with the building blocks of faith in order to support the Christian worldview. Slowly, he argues that the alternative worldview has their own weaknesses.
  • Matter must be eternal, otherwise it came from nothing
  • The impersonal nature of "matter" cannot explain the personal reality
  • Matter has to be nonrational as it cannot truly explain all of life. 
He looks at the "cosmic song" and ponders upon the creation of the world and how the world came into existence. Any position, both Christian and non-Christian requires faith. Every worldview makes basic assumptions. We need to tune our ears to listen to the sounds of nature and the evidence around us. Even the opposing view like naturalism makes a huge assumption. Often, people's rejection of Christianity is more emotional than factual. Out culture's assumption of the need for good in this world brings into question about science, matter, and naturalism which have to grapple with this personal characteristic so desired by all. Can good appear by itself? What do we make of trancendence? How much can evolution explain the world? 

Slowly and gradually, DeWitt lands us at the case of the resurrection of Jesus. Any worldview must explain the historicity of this person who walked this earth, who performed many miracles, who claimed to be God, and whose prophecies came truth. For all the discussions and arguments surrounding nature and science, evolution and the religious perspectives, it boils down to how each worldview can grapple with Jesus. With lots of references of CS Lewis's books and thought, DeWitt deals with each objection and various worldviews with care. Hoping to help readers know the differences between the Christian and non-Christian worldview, DeWitt begins with the comparison of "Cosmos or Chaos" and settles on the basic question: Is Christianity hoax or hope? Throughout the book, DeWitt tries to demonstrate that it is the latter view. If you enjoy CS Lewis, this book covers lots of familiar territory. If you have previously believed but are now more on the atheist camp, maybe, this book can bring into focus some missing links. Perhaps, the biggest reason to read this book is this: Do not be afraid to challenge one's faith. Like GK Chesterton's analysis of the Christian faith that there are really two ways to look at it. The first way is from the inside where one be near enough to love it. The second way is to walk around, away, or outside of the house, and to eventually come back to the house as the best explanation of life. This book is very much for those in the second camp.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Crossway Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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