Five Books to Get Started in Apologetics
Having our faith challenged is often a difficult experience. When the foundations of our reality are questioned, we can feel pressured and uncomfortable. However, challenges are essential to strengthening our faith because an unchallenged worldview is a fragile worldview. It can certainly be tempting to hold our worldviews tightly with a closed fist, but we can learn from those who are unafraid to grapple through hard questions about their beliefs.
As Christians, we ideally want to foster better dialogue while having grace towards the opposing party and still holding strong to our convictions and beliefs. When the legitimacy of the Christian faith is challenged, we want to give an answer that is informed and accurate, if not convincing. To do this, we need to be prepared.
I hope to challenge practicing Christians to be bold enough to seek answers to difficult questions and to be diligent in extending their understanding of the faith. For those interested in equipping themselves to engage in these sorts of conversations, giving an informed apologetic in defense of the faith, or simply enriching their understanding concerning what they believe, here’s a brief analysis of five helpful books.
- Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Those struggling with where to start or who don’t feel that they have substantial knowledge of their Christain faith would benefit greatly from this small book. Mere Christianity gives a cohesive overview of the fundamental values that make up the Christian faith and does an outstanding job appealing to all Christian denominations. The original form was published as a BBC talk in 1944 and is split into four separate sections/books. In the first section, Lewis makes a case for Christianity based on the argument for the existence of an objective moral standard that all men acknowledge. After establishing the argument for the presence of God, he delves into the core theological components that make up Christianity in section two. Lewis then describes the Christian behavior that derives from those doctrines in section three. In the final section, Lewis focuses on the nature of God and explains complex principles such as the trinity and omnipotence. He then addresses difficult philosophical questions such as the problem of evil and the perceived conflict between the sovereignty and goodness of God.
This book is ideal for those who have philosophical questions concerning God’s character or would like to know some philosophical arguments they can use to argue for the existence of God and the legitimacy of the Christian faith. Additionally, Mere Christianity is a great starting place for those who want to get their foot in the door of apologetics since the book not only gives cohesive arguments regarding the existence of God but also explains and defends four fundamentals of Christian doctrine.
- I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norman Geisler.
I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist is the perfect apologetic handbook. Covering a range of topics, it defends Christianity from all sides. It protects the scientific evidence for a theistic universe, discusses the plausibility of miracles, considers the accuracy of Scripture, and explores the historical Jesus. It also covers philosophical standpoints and logical tests that can help the reader understand how people come to conclusions, whether for or against Christianity. The piece is written specifically to help people wanting to use apologetics to evangelize and there are various examples of potential conversations throughout the book. Remarkably practical and intellectually astute, the volume is witty and easy to read.
- Unbelievable by Justin Brierley
The author of Unbelievable, Justine Brieley, pulls from his experience as a Christian broadcaster who organizes discussions on various topics surrounding faith, God, science, and religion. For over a decade, his podcast “Unbelievable?” has drawn Christian, atheist, and agnostic thinkers to have conversations and debates on philosophy, science, history, moral ethics, and a variety of other topics. Because of Brieley’s experience monitoring these debates between atheists and Christians, he has a substantial amount to say about the subject of apologetics. In this book, he explains his reasons for staying a Christian after years of having his views challenged and contested by some of the brightest minds in their given fields.
The book comprehensively addresses some of the most salient aspects of Christianity. Starting with the probability of existence, Brieley clarifies some of the scientific proofs for God. The following chapters then address the need for an objective moral standard and explain the human propensity to look for purpose everywhere. Brieley next delves into the evidence for the historicity of Jesus, Biblical reliability, the problem of pain, and the impact of Christianity on the world. Additionally, the Unbelievable Podcast is a wonderful resource for emerging apologists who would like to hear all sides of the argument, understand different viewpoints, and sharpen their beliefs.
- Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Sean and Josh McDowell
In contrast to the last recommendation, Evidence that Demands a Verdict is substantially longer as it provides a very thorough overview of the evidence for the life, death, and resurrection of Christ and the reliability of Scripture. It will give readers a comprehensive understanding of the subject and is especially useful for people interested in doing additional research concerning Christian apologetics, specifically regarding the historical legitimacy of the Bible. It does not skimp on research and is a great reference guide for students that would like to delve deeper into the subject.
After first establishing the reliability of Scripture and the evidence for the historical Jesus, the last part of the book enters a slightly more philosophical realm as it addresses some postmodernist questions regarding truth.
Additionally, one of the authors, Sean McDowell, consistently posts helpful content on his Instagram concerning apologetics and often addresses commonly asked questions and concerns regarding what it means to live a Christian lifestyle.
- More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell.
Written by the same author as Evidence that Demands a Verdict, More than a Carpenter is much shorter and mainly focuses on the life of Jesus and the evidence surrounding his life, death, and resurrection. It opens with Josh Mcdowell’s testimony and then goes through the historical evidence for Jesus. Throughout the book, the author skillfully identifies the practical significance of Christ and the implications of His actions if they happen to be true. Because Jesus is at the center of Christianity, understanding His importance in Christian doctrine and the historical evidence of His existence and actions is essentially the foundation of all Christian doctrine. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain.” The book is a quick read and is great for those with questions about the historicity of Jesus.