Comfort, Ray. Mark Twain: A Christian Response to His Battle with God. Green Forest, Master Books, 2014. 160 pp. $12.99. Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for less.
Mark Twain needs no introduction to those who read books. Then again, he may given the perspective of this book. Ray Comfort’s books and movies and study courses have been reviewed quite regularly here at Christian Book Notes. I have also been blessed to interview him.
Divided into 15 chapters, Comfort attempts a conversation with Mark Twain based on Twain’s writings. In the course of the book, Comfort establishes via Twain’s own words, that he was indeed a theist and that he was appalled at the God of the bible. Instead of seeking to understand God on His terms in the Bible, Twain used human reasoning to establish that the God of the Bible was not a God worthy of praise. If anything, the God of the Bible was to be derided and mocked and ridiculed because of His willingness to kill “innocent people” and take virgins captive.
To be honest, the book was a bit difficult to understand at first. I could not tell if I was reading the words of Mark Twain or Ray Comfort. After a few chapters, I figured out how Comfort had organized this work and from there I found it to be quite enjoyable.
I enjoyed how Ray actually penned a conversation with Mark based upon his own writings. The obvious caveat is that Twain was limited to what he wrote and Comfort could easily anticipate the answer.
The charge could be leveled that Comfort was able to ask the question or offer a response such that Twain “loses” or looks bad. The truth is, Comfort is very generous with his conversation. He strives to keep Twain in his proper context and does not commit the sin of eisogesis (stripping a sentence or phrase out of a context in order to make it say something contrary to what was actually said).
Ultimately, however, Comfort did a wonderful job of exemplifying how one should engage an unbeliever and skeptic in the course of conversation. This work ultimately becomes an apologetics class on how to share and defend your faith. In the end, Comfort shows that while Twain was a theist, i.e., he believed that something existed that created everything, he was certainly not a Christian. In fact, he went so far as to mock Christianity and deride those who would worship a god such as the one depicted in the pages of the Bible.
Once I figured out the style of the book, this was a very enjoyable read. I found that as I read I was treated to a plethora of methods of evangelism and apologetics. Further, this work strips away the veneer and shine of the carefully crafted image that is Mark Twain and allows the reader to look underneath and see, in his own words, how genuinely angry he was. I recommend this resource to all Christians. It would make a great gift to the one you know who is a fan of Mark Twain.