Saturday, October 10, 2009

Apologetics & Recommended Reading List

As mentioned in my very first post, I have a keen interest in Christian Apologetics. That said I want to tell you a little about what that term means to me and give a recommended reading list for anyone who might be interested.

First, my interest in apologetics means that while I am a person of committed faith and believe that without such faith one cannot experience true salvation and communion with God, I also believe the Christian world view is legitimate because it is rational and holds up to the tests for truth. I believe it is my duty, as a Christian, to be able to tell other people not only what I believe, but why I believe. While faith remains an inextricable part of the Christian world view and experience, one thing we as Christians should emphasize more often (IMHO), is the overwhelming evidence and rationality that makes our faith in Christ not just one way but the way to God and salvation.

Most Christians can tell you with a minimal amount of trouble and stress what they believe, but far fewer can explain to you why. I have a bit of an issue with this. In the world I live in, fewer and fewer people will seriously consider what they interpret as a blind faith (as real and legitimate as it may be for you) sufficient to address the puzzling questions they have about life, meaning, purpose, and ultimate destiny. Faith is scary to those who lack it and this means some very tough and legitimate questions rooted in general skepticism, misinformation, lack of study, or even some tainted experience are going to be raised. This is further reinforced by a fiercely secular university system that does everything in its power to ingrain a purely humanistic and naturalistic view of the world on it's students. Interestingly and thankfully, most come out on the other end of their experience admitting they are not convinced the world came to it's current state by purely naturalistic causes and the attempt to erase "God" from our thinking has not been successful. I believe this is because, contrary to what some would have us believe, all who believe in an intelligent creator are not dim-witted mystics who hold to an empty, groundless faith.

I think there are things we Christians have done that have been wrong headed in addressing these challenges over the years by not being more proactive in understanding human nature and the importance of critical analysis on the claims of our faith. Since the claim is the Christian world view is the truth, there can only be value in it withstanding criticism and the highest level of scruitiny. For the person willing to examine the evidence, there is more to be gleaned from archaeological, scientific, philosophical, and historical scrutiny than can be conceived - upholding the Christian world view. It is true, attempts to suppress these facts are hard at work but where there is truth, whether men choose to acknowledge it or not, it will remain the truth. We live in a world governed by truth but are surrounded by a popularized notion of relativism. The problem is that most people think it is better to live out life in ignorant bliss (regardless of their faith or lack of it). This is called apathy - deep down, those folks will have unexplored and unreconciled questions, doubts, and fears. We cannot live a life of agnosticism with any real comfort and peace.

It only stands to reason then that if there is a Creator who made the world and those in it, that they will ultimately be accountable to that Creator and the rules created by Him. In my experience, those who deny this do so not so much for lack of evidence, but because they do not want it to be so. They do not want to believe in a creator because they understand the ramifications. They think ignorance and denial will somehow save them from accountability. For this person, there is little that can be done in terms of convincing, for their lack of faith is not grounded in rationality but irrationality. I believe that if Christians would choose to become even just a little better informed - asking and understanding the tough questions about our faith in their own lives - perhaps we could help answer some of the questions being asked by contemporary society and give the ultimate answer to meaning in life - the person of Jesus Christ. A future generation of people are being raised in ignorance of God because they think such belief is foolish. Romans 1:21 - 32 says, "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."

The Bible offers prescriptive truths for modern living. I want to help people who were not raised in faith or have become faithless to find answers as I have. I want them to know God and understand that real freedom and peace comes not from things attained by our own efforts but from God alone. When Christ was asked, "Teacher, what is the greatest commandment?" He responded with the first, "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind." All of these elements deserve equal emphasis.

Some recommended reading for those who may be interested in understanding more of the why behind the what of Christianity:

Orthodoxy - G. K. Chesterton
The Rationality of Theism - Paul Copan and Paul K. Moser
Mere Creation: Science, Faith, and Intelligent Design - William Dembski
Answering the New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkins' Case Against God -Scott Hahn & Benjamin Wiker
I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist - Norman L. Geisler
Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith - Norman L. Geisler
God, The Evidence: The Reconciliation of Faith and Reason in a Postsecular World - Patrick Glynn
God, Revelation, and Authority - Carl F. H. Henry
The Confessions - Augustine of Hippo
Darwin on Trial - Phillip E. Johnson
The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism - Phillip E. Johnson
The Reason for God - Timothy Keller
The Richard Dawkins Delusion - Daniel Keeran
The Abolition of Man - C. S. Lewis
Mere Christianity - C. S. Lewis
The Problem of Pain - C. S. Lewis
The Screwtape Letters - C. S. Lewis
Evidence That Demands a Verdict - Josh McDowell
Evidence for Christianity: Historical Evidences for the Christian Faith -Josh McDowell
Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life - Alister E. McGrath
Christ and the Media - Malcolm Muggeridge
Christianity and the Nature of Science - J. P. Moreland
The God Question: An Invitation to a Life of Meaning - J. P. Moreland
Does God Exist: The Debate between Theists and Atheists - J.P. Moreland and Kai NielsenPhilosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview - J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig
Warranted Christian Belief - Alvin Platinga
Defending Your Faith: An Introduction to Apologetics - R. C. Sproul
Reason to Believe: A Response to Common Objections to Christianity - R. C. Sproul
A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism - Ravi Zacharias
Beyond Opinion - Ravi Zacharias
Can Man Live without God? - Ravi Zacharias
Jesus Among Other Gods - Ravi Zacharias
The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists - Ravi Zacharias

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