Friends, we recently finished reading Why Does God Allow Evil? by Dr. Clay Jones. It’s the fantastic culminating work of decades of teaching and research. Buy it. Read it. The end.
Last week we briefly summarized Apologetics for a New Generation, but we wanted to emphasize some of the key aspects of application that the authors cover. While this book covered a broad variety of topics, it was all geared toward reaching young people for Christ. To that end, there were plenty of suggestions on how to apply that toward teaching apologetics to students.
In his book, Apologetics for a New Generation, Sean McDowell put together a team of writers who have a heart to minister to young people. They outline the need for a new approach to apologetics, some ideas for new methods in which to apply these apologetics, and some of the different challenges now facing our culture.
In the first section of the book, the new approach is characterized as relational. In the context of relationship, people build trust without which the application of apologetics falls flat. It is through relationships that the Holy Spirit instills belief and people are drawn to the gospel message. Students should be empowers to be ambassadors of Christ and “agents of transformation to their generation” once these personal relationships have been established.
El Puerquito y el Oink Accidental is hot off the presses! Thanks to translator, Carlos Pamplona (M.A. Christian Apologetics, Biola University 2014), Picture Book Apologetics’ Pig and the Accidental Oink! is now available to our Spanish speaking friends. Paperback copies are available on Amazon and a free PDF download of the full book is available from PictureBookApologetics.com.
It’s been quiet on our blog the last two weeks, but not quiet in our home! Our boys have returned to school (we are a public school family), and getting back in the swing of things for our house takes a little extra time. We have taken a step back to see how we can improve our parenting and the discipleship of our children. One of the tools we picked up last week was “The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden,” written by Kevin DeYoung, illustrated by Don Clark and published by Crossway.
It is a beautifully illustrated book (seriously wonderful), but more importantly than that, it will help us tie together the stories that our boys have been learning since they’ve joined our family. The Bible isn’t a disjointed collection of books and stories and we want them to be able to see the overarching story and purpose. Plus, right now their vocabulary isn’t quite large enough to understand most of what we read straight from the Bible, so we are still relying on assistance from other books.
Why am I sharing this on an apologetics blog? Well, if we aren’t well-rooted in Scripture and the firm faith that grows out of that foundation, what are we bothering to defend?
Check out an excerpt and description here: The Biggest Story
Buy it on Amazon here.
Here is the book trailer:
This week, we were pleased to receive a review copy of White Sail Film’s Mining for God.
The documentary was birthed through a successful Kickstarter campaign spearheaded by director and narrator Brandon McGuire. We were hooked by the man-on-the-street perspective shown in the trailer, as well as the special appearance list (Lee Strobel, Mike Licona, Gary Habermas, William Lane Craig, Paul Copan, Mary Jo Sharp, J. Warner Wallace, Craig Hazen, and the list goes on), so setting aside 64 minutes was a no-brainer.
Initially, we were a bit let down as we realized the street interviews were used to illustrate the reason McGuire started the project but were not the primary style of the film (a la Ray Comfort), however as the documentary unfolded, the interviews with excellent apologists did not disappoint and definitely outweighed our expectations.
Once the question of “What is Christianity?” is posed and answered poorly, McGuire asks what has brought us, as a culture, to this point where religious doctrines are often treated like options at a cafeteria. Topics ranging from naturalism and the Kalam Cosmological Argument (Have you seen the children’s book about that?), to the uniqueness of Christianity and the Minimal Facts approach are discussed in response to his question. Ultimately, naturalism and relativism are identified as key components of the root problem.
The dialogue is compelling and certainly seems like a great conversation starter with teens, as well as a handy overview for parents and ministry leaders.
Movie review left you interested? Visit the official website and order a copy: Mining For God Website
This week we were pleased to receive a review copy of Tipping our Kings: Finding the Truth in a World Full of Options by Jack Crabtree.
Jack is an international missionary in training who isn’t waiting to be in a far off land before he takes part in the great commission. He writes, “Talking to people is easy, but impacting lives is God’s business, not ours. It must be Him working through us.”
Tipping our Kings recounts the true story of two men whose budding friendship is built upon conversations of the utmost importance. Jack candidly shares his initial feelings of prejudice and selfishness as he tries to avoid Nicholas, a philosophy student and professor, after his wife suggests that they should meet. His feelings quickly change as he sees the eternal significance of their conversations.
In Weight of Glory, C. S. Lewis wrote:
“It is a serious thing, to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ‘ordinary’ people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”
Readers will find that the retelling enables them to trace the work of the Spirit throughout the friendship, and will be reminded that no one is exempt from the outcomes described by Lewis above.
The book crescendos with an all-night conversation between Nicholas and Jack that is sure to encourage Christians, and conversely challenge non-Christians.
- Professional book quality. Sturdy paper and a typeface that won’t leave you squinting.
- Quick and enjoyable read. We both read through in one sitting.
- Jack’s writing style and the content of his story is very interesting and encouraging.
- The appendices offer valuable tools for practical apologetic conversations.
- This is not so much a “con” as it is a “heads up.” There are some philosophical discussions included that will likely fly right over the head of younger folks. There are definitions for some of the trickier terms, though, which we find to be a helpful touch. For this reason, we would probably recommend that parents read the book before passing it on to their high school aged child so that they will be able to better answer any questions that arise.
Pick up a copy here: Tipping our Kings: Finding the Truth in a World Full of Options
We didn’t set out to review books written solely by authors from the MA Apologetics program at Biola University, yet once again we find ourselves with just such a book: Resurrection iWitness. Doug Powell, author of the Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics wrote and designed this intriguing, interactive book.
I picked up Resurrection iWitness because it was described as “similar to the Ologies series” and hoped to find that it would be likewise appropriate for the 8 and up audience. After review, 12 and up (the suggested age for Powell’s similar creation, Jesus iWitness) seems more appropriate.
The book is structured around the minimal facts approach to the resurrection, which is an idea pioneered by Dr Gary Habermas and Dr Mike Licona. In short, the minimal facts approach requires that any explanation of the resurrection story must satisfy, at the bare minimum, six widely agreed upon facts: Jesus was crucified, Jesus died, Jesus was buried in a tomb, friends claimed to have seen Jesus, and enemies claimed to have seen Jesus. Though the book is only 32 pages long, Powell presents a comprehensive treatment of the material, and effectively addresses common objections to the resurrection account using the minimal facts approach. The swoon and stolen body theories are two of the seven alternate theories explored.
- Sturdy, hardcover design. Upon receiving the book I was impressed by the hefty size (9.8 x 12 x 0.9 inches).
- Fold out maps, flip up charts and various flaps provide engaging tactile interaction with the material. I suspect that these would not hold up well to energetic use by eager children, but for the 12 and up crowd, they seem sufficiently rugged.
- The typeface choices employed throughout sometimes sacrifice legibility for style, however, all of the content is readable.
- The images used range from paintings by Rembrandt to stock photography (a diverse spread, indeed), but overall the “feel” of the book is cohesive.
I would recommend this book for 12 and up, (possibly even high school age and older) due to the use of some complex terms and reasoning that may be difficult for a younger audience to understand on their own. Overall, the writing style is to the point and pleasantly conversational. Resurrection iWitness would make a wonderful family reading time resource where each page could be used to foster conversation about the evidence, and where adults could immediately clarify difficult concepts for young ones.
Pick up a copy here: Resurrection iWitness written and designed by Doug Powell
Have you checked out our Picture Book Apologetics project on Kickstarter yet?
We were excited to pick up a copy of the first book in the Young Defenders series, How Do We Know God is Really There? by Melissa Cain Travis, this week. Below, we will share briefly what we found to be the pros and cons of the book.
- Presents important Christian apologetic arguments in a children’s medium.
- The flow of conversation seems natural, and the young character’s imagination is endearing.
- The young character’s father is patient and thorough as he shares evidence for God’s existence.
- This book addresses the gap. That is, the lack of Christian apologetics materials available to families with young children. We look forward to seeing the next topic addressed by Travis!
- Written by a graduate of the well-respected Christian Apologetics Masters program at Biola University. We didn’t have to be as apprehensive about the theological undergirding of the material.
- Good Quality. The physical product is a sturdy, 48 page, hardcover book.
- The words are legible and readable.
- The illustrations are full-color and full-page. From artist Christopher Voss.
- At times complex for the assumed age range. At times, the language seems appropriate for young children, but at others, it seems to be for 5th grade and older. An adult can help clarify for younger kiddos.
- The illustrations have a “rough draft” flavor. Part of us wishes they had been polished a bit more, and the other part of us realizes children will probably not be bothered by this at all!
Do We Recommend it?
Despite the cons that we laid out above, we think that this book is a useful, entertaining tool that can help families begin conversations about why they believe in the Christian God. It is so important to begin these discussions at a young age, and to assure our children that asking questions is encouraged and biblical. We look forward to more Young Defender books, as well as other authors stepping into the youth apologetics gap.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)
And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’” (Matthew 22:37)
Read more about Melissa Cain Travis’ quest in Biola Magazine.
Pick up a copy here: How Do We Know God is Really There? by Melissa Cain Travis (2013)
Today we are reviewing a children’s book written by renowned apologist, William Lane Craig, titled Dr. Craig’s “What is God Like?” God is Spirit: The Attributes of God for Children. Dr. Craig is also the author of On Guard and Reasonable Faith and is a research professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. Marli Renee illustrated the book and is based in California.
God is Spirit is the first of ten booklets written by Dr. Craig as part of his “What is God Like?” series. The series presents theological truths about God(such as omniscience and eternity, yikes!) in child-friendly language, and each booklet contains a memory verse that summarizes the attribute covered by the story. For example, God is Spirit’s memory verse is John 4:24, “God is Spirit.” Pretty straightforward, right?
In each of the booklets, the story follows Brown Bear, Red Goose and their two children, John(a bear) and Charity(a goose). The biologically perplexing family discusses truths about God as they go about daily activities in their home and around town in conversations that focus on the concept rather than a storyline. I appreciated the boiled down wording and the plain delivery of the information. Also wise is Dr. Craig’s decision to devote a separate booklet to each attribute, rather than condensing all of the theology into one or two dense sittings. The illustrations are straightforward like the writing, but are full-page and colorful enough to -hopefully- intrigue a fidgety listener. The wee little goose, Charity, is especially charming.
There is one point in the story where the mother, Red Goose, asks the father, Brown Bear, if it is because God is spirit that He can’t be seen. This struck me as a bit odd, because while the question would be appropriate for one of the children to ask, it seemed a bit strange for the grown(presumably Bible literate) mother to ask such a thing. It is not a major issue, but I will likely substitute one of the children’s names for “mom” when I read that portion to kids. Minor complaints would be that some of the illustrations are inconsistent in quality, and some small punctuation errors were overlooked; though children will likely overlook those things, as well. The overall quality of the booklet was surprisingly good in spite of the very affordable price and the self-publishing route selected by Dr. Craig. Don’t fear the word “booklet”; it is a proper book.
Dr. Craig and Renee manage to convey an important attribute(well, they are all important, aren’t they?) of God in a way that children can digest. Though not an apologetics resource, per-say, these ten booklets will help you lay the groundwork of proper understanding that is essential for biblical understanding and faith defense for your children.
Pick up a copy of this and the other nine booklets here: Dr. Craig’s “What is God Like?” God is Spirit by William Lane Craig, illustrated by Marli Renee