Category Archives: Apologetics

Forensic Faith by J. Warner Wallace

Wallace, J. Warner. Forensic Faith: A Homicide Detective Makes the Case for  a More Reasonable, Evidential Christian Faith.  Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 224 pp. $18.99. Purchase at Amazon or on Kindle for less.

Introduction

J. Warner is a living, breathing cold-case detective with a master’s degree in theology. He lives in California with his wife and four children. His detective work has been featured on television shows like Dateline and Fox News. He has written Cold-Case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene. You can follow him on Twitter where he is pretty active.

Summary

Divided into only four chapters, Wallace sets this book up as if you were a police officer sworn to serve and protect the community. This community, however, has eternal consequences for the one investigating the claims. Chapter one calls the reader out for their distinctive duty as a “Christian Case Maker.” Chapter 2 offers targeted training as the reader prepares to become part of the front-line defense of the faith.

Chapter three offers five practices to help the reader, and consequently, help others examine the claims of Christianity like every good detective approaches a tough case. The fourth chapter offers five principles to help you communicate this evidence as if you were a prosecutor on the case. Even if you have all of the evidence in your favor, you still need to be able to share it with others in such a way that the verdict you are striving after is beyond a reasonable doubt.

There are a few appendices that offer answers to common challenges as well as resource recommendations to help build your apologetic library.

Review

Apologetics was one of my first “loves” after I was saved. I have a fairly large collection of resources dealing with a wide range of apologetic topics including Geisler’s Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics and Koukl’s Tactics as two resources that I have referred to over and over.

I wish I had Forensic Faith. It is designed well with the illustrations to help cement the principles as well as the “forensic faith” boxes interspersed throughout the book that offer investigative guidelines, training recommendations, definitions, challenges, and even assignments. As a seasoned Christian and apologist (I could never get over how other Christians could not articulate what they believed and why they believed it), the principles in this book are extremely sound and written in a very memorable way.

The caution with apologetics is always the concern that one begins to believe they can argue someone into the faith. If you can convince someone they need Jesus apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, then you run the risk of making someone twice the person of Hell. Fortunatly, Wallace takes the time to explain that he is only offering a training course of sorts to help the Christian better articulate his faith. This is specifically helpful for your teenager who is looking to go to college where the Christian faith is regularly attacked and undermined and even mocked and derided.

Recommendation

If you are a youth pastor or you engage a college-age crowd in the ministry, this is a must own resource. If you want to become better equipped to defend the faith, you could not do much better than beginning with Forensic Faith. Wallace’s style is both engaging and informative and, before you know it, you will be out on the streets as it were tracking down a lead and showing all the evidence of the Christian faith and, Lord wiling, leading people to Christ.

 

Philosophy in Seven Sentences by Douglas Groothuis

Philosophy in 7 SentencesGroothuis, Douglas. Philosophy in Seven Sentences: A Small Introduction to a Vast Topic. Downers Grove, 2016. 160 pp. $16.00. Purchase at Amazon and for Kindle for much less.

Introduction

I have reviewed one other book by Dr. Douglas Groothuis here at Christian Book Notes. It was what I consider his magnum opus work on Christian Apologetics. It is such a large, sweeping resource that I reviewed it in two parts. You can read the first part here (there is a link to the second part there as well). Dr. Groothuis continues to serve as professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary.

Summary

Appropriately, the book is divided into seven chapters with an introduction and conclusion. Each chapter looks at a particular philosopher from history. The chapters, and the accompanying sentences are:

  • Protagoras – Man is the measure of all things.
  • Socrates – The unexamined life is not worth living.
  • Aristotle – All men by nature desire to know.
  • Augustine – You have made us for yourself, and restless is our heart until it comes to rest in you.
  • Descartes – I think, therefore I am.
  • Pascal – The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.
  • Kierkegaard – The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all.

Review

This work is obviously written from a Christian perspective which is to be greatly commended. For many today believe that Christian theology and philosophy are diametrically opposed to one another. Once again, Dr. Groothuis sounds the bell of clear thinking for the modern Christian wrestling with the world as it is. His biblical worldview is fully on display in this short little work.

When I first read of this project, I recall thinking it an impossible task. I mean, how can you offer a succinct overview of philosophy in a mere seven sentences?! What really makes this book invaluable is his willingness to delve deep but not too deep. Hence, the subtitle “a small introduction to a vast topic.”

One may call this book an open door to a new universe. Each chapter can serve as an introduction to a lifetime of study on one particular philosopher. Groothuis shows how they all relate to one another and, whether intentional or not, how they all influenced one another and influence us today.

Recommendation

I was impressed with Dr. Groothuis’ ability to keep it short and simple. He has done a great service (once again) to the Christian philosophical community with the publication of Philosophy in Seven Sentences. I heartily commend this book to all Christians – especially those studying philosophy either at an introductory level or even as a discipline.

 

The Genesis Factor Edited by Ron J. Bigalke Jr.

Genesis FactorBigalke, Jr. Ron J. The Genesis Factor: Myths and Realities. Green Forest: Master Books, 2008. 260 pp. $13.99. Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for much less.

Introduction

Ron Bigalke Jr oversees Eternal Ministries which is a ministry devoted to discipleship and evangelism dedicated to teaching and proclaiming the Word of God. This work is a conglomeration of many authors speaking on subjects from fossil evidence to geologic and historic evidence in order to “reinforce the validity of the Scriptural account of Creation, the Great Flood, and the Tower of Babel.

Summary

Divided into nine chapters with an introduction and an appendix, Ron assimilates nine different authors to speak to specific topics in which they are most equipped.  Henry Morris is the only author to write more than one chapter (he writes the introduction in addition to a chapter).

Morris does introduce the book with the importance of a literal 6-day creation account. Christopher Cone offers a survey of the Biblical/Scientific Creation conflicts throughout history. Next, Terry Mortenson discusses the boundaries on Creation as well as Noah’s Flood.

Eugene Merrill explains why Genesis 1-11 is a literal history while Ron adds a chapter on the preeminence of Biblical creationism. Tas Walker shows how the geological evidences point to a young earth and Jonathan Henry explores the evidence beyond earth for a young earth. Lary Vardiman concludes this mini-subsection with evidences of a young earth from the ocean and the atmosphere. Finally, John Whitcomb writes a chapter on the Genesis Flood while Henry Morris is back to discuss neocreationism.

Don DeYoung concludes with an explanation of the RATE Project.

Review

The value in this book is found in the many different authors and scientists and theologians who contributed to it. Some of the chapters are based on presentations and lectures while others are articles that have appeared elsewhere. By bringing all of these together in one source, Ron Bigalke has compiled a condensed encyclopedia of who’s who in the creation discussion.

By having various individual writers focus in on their specialty, each chapter is, in essence, the strongest in the book on that particular perspective in the larger conversation that is young earth creationism. I personally found the first chapter to be very interesting as Christopher Cone showed how the debate has evolved (intended) through the years and how Christianity has largely given ground to science in order to understand the Scriptures rather than allowing the Bible to formulate our worldview on all things…including Science.

At the end of each chapter is an introduction to the author and some of the works they have written. Further, as you read through the book you will be introduced to a number of additional resources in the footnotes. If one is industrious and wanting to compile a library of young earth creation apologetic resources, they would do well to comb through The Genesis Factor and cull the notes.

Recommendation

Granted this resource is a bit older (published in 2008), it is worth your time and money to invest in. I recommend this resource for all who are interested in understanding the intricacies of the young earth creation account of Genesis 1-2 and the historicity of Genesis 1-11.

Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary Edited by Ronald F. Youngblood

Nelson's Illustrated Bible DictionaryNelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary: New and Enhanced Edition. Ronald F. Youngblood, General Editor. Consulting Editors, F.F. Bruce and R.K. Harrison. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2014. 1,280 pp. $49.99. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

The Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary was first published in 1986 with Herbert Lockyer , Sr. serving as the first general editor. This enormous resource was revised and updated in 1995 with R.K. Harrison serving as general editor and now again in 2014 with Ronald F. Youngblood as general editor. The reason for the massive update is so that Christian teachers, leaders, and laymen can have the “most current, dependable findings and insights” literally at their fingertips.

This is a fairly exhaustive Bible dictionary that can double as a teaching planning and resource guide.

Summary

With well over 1,200 pages this resource is full of information. The Table of Contents indicates one way in which this resource can be used first glean a solid and thorough overview of the Bible in merely the front matter! They begin with 5 easy steps to study the Bible better (perhaps the only criticism I have with this resource since it relies heavily on the resource as its selling point for this particular method of study). The editor then offers an approximate 40 page visual survey of the Bible complete with an introduction and overview. They next give a history of the early world and then move into a study on the history of Israel, the poetic books and the prophetic books.

Next they look at the remnant before jumping right into the life of Christ and the history of the early church in Acts. Staying with the Scripture they look at the epistles (1 Corinthians – Revelation) and then the themes of the individual letters of the New Testament. Finally, they close out the “front matter” with a chart of Bible history.

They then include a Table of Contents articles and teaching outlines on the books of the Bible according to canonical order. One will quickly note that these are not in numerical page order in the body of the book.  The body of the book is arranged in alphabetical order with a “Fan-Tab” clearly indicating the about where the reader is in the alphabet.

Review

Let me first say, “Whoa!” This is an amazing resource.  For only $50 (less on-line), one can have as complete a resource for general Bible study ever.  Everything, and I mean everything, is cross-referenced either to a text in Scripture or within the dictionary itself.

There are numerous outlines that are extremely helpful to arrange one’s thoughts and even kick into gear one’s thinking on a topic.  Hardly a page goes by without a full color photograph. Furthermore, they intentionally set the type at a large enough font that one does not have to strain at reading the text.

One example of how this works: let’s say you want to look up Job. So, you flip to the J’s and find Job. You will then see “JOB[jobe]” and some information on two men in the Old Testament. After that entry, in bold, offsetting font, you will see “JOB, BOOK OF-” followed by subheadings that give you its structure, authorship, date of writing, historical setting, theological contribution, and special considerations.

One can use this resource in a myriad of different ways.  It can serve as a Bible commentary (though it does not go into exegesis). It can serve as a supplement to Bible study. It can actually be used to design a Bible study. In the end, this resource easily becomes a “must-have” for any student of the Bible.

Recommendation

At $50, one may think this resource too expensive. As a pastor and teacher and father and husband, I honestly believe $50 is a steal of a deal.  Do not hesitate to purchase this resource as it will quickly become one of your primary resources in your theological library.

The Lie by Ken Ham

The LieHam, Ken.  The Lie: Evolution/ Millions of Years.  25th Anniversary Edition.  Green Forest: Master Books, 2012.  220 pp.  $13.99.  Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for less.

Introduction

Ken Ham needs no introduction here at Christian Book Notes.  I have reviewed over a dozen of his works as well as having interviewed him for my friend Tony Kummer at Ministry-to-Children.com a few years ago.  The Lie can be said in one sense to be the launching point for Ken Ham and the ministry the Lord has granted him.  It was first published in 1987 and served as a warning shot about the compromising of the book of Genesis and the consequent undermining of Scripture as a whole.  Twenty-five years later, the work has been revised and updated.

Summary

Divided into eleven chapters, Ham begins with the attack on the Christian faith rooted in human secularism.  He challenges the prevailing ideology of evolution and offers a biblical view of origins.  In chapter four, he cuts to the chase so to speak and offers the reason why so many want to deny a literal 6-day creation.  In so doing, he argues, this leads to an erosion of biblical foundations.  As he progresses through this work, he offers practical advice to those who will listen and pleads with the pastors to understand the importance of a literal Genesis.  He concludes with a sermon from 2 Peter 3 that warns against a denial God as Creator.

Review

On one hand, not much has changed in 25 years.  On the other hand, the situation has become more dire.  Ken Ham points to both of these as why the necessity remains to preach and believe in a literal six, twenty-four hour day creation.  Now, twenty-five years later, Ken has the ability to see what he wrote and what has transpired in the church since.  Without saying ‘I told you so”, Ken is able to say “I told you so.”  In essence, while the Southern Baptist Convention had fought and won the battle over inerrancy in the late 70’s and 80’s, Ham ably shows how not taking Genesis as literal history has eroded a belief in an inerrant Bible.

Recommendation

His words need to be read and heeded now more than when he first wrote them in 1987.  To quote another theologian, “a half lie is a whole truth.”  Ham shows that in this book, The Lie.  I recommend this work to all believers including those who do not believe in a literal 6-day creation.  Ham’s work is both logical, concise and consistent with the rest of Scripture.

The Epic of God by Michael Whitworth

The Epic of GodWhitworth, Michael.  The Epic of God. Bowie: Start2Finish Books, 2013.  396 pp.  $16.49.  Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for much less.

Introduction

Michael Whitworth is a pastor in Bowie, Texas.  He is also the mastermind behind Start2FinishBooks, a website dedicated to providing the people of God with resources that will deepen their faith, help them mature in Christ, and better understand the Word of God.  This particular book is an informed look at the Book of Genesis.

Summary

Divided into fifteen chapters, Michael looks at the big picture story units as unfolded in the book of Genesis.  For example, chapter one, “In the Beginning,” looks at Genesis chapters 1 and 2.  “Paradise Lost,” chapter two, consists of Genesis chapters 3-5.  Chapter three introduces the doctrine of deliverance by looking at Genesis 6-10.  He continues on through Genesis in like manner.  From a look at the Cradle of Civilization (Gen. 10-11) to judgment (Gen. 18-19) and family matters (Gen. 32-36), He offers explanation of the entire book of Genesis.

Furthermore, he is not afraid to break up the chapters in his treatment, either.  In chapter five, “Two Steps Back,” he looks at Genesis 12 and 20.  Each chapter ends with a “Talking Points” section.  In this section, Michael offers some perspective and Scripture by which the reader can engage a bit deeper in the discussion.  It is here that he begins to show the importance of Genesis for the rest of the Bible and for the life of the Christian.

Review

I must confess that I was pleasantly surprised by the content of The Epic of God.  There is so much junk floating around claiming to be biblical that is so far from truth that one cannot help but see a ramping up of the prophecy in 2 Timothy 4:3-4.  It was refreshing to read from another’s pen the truth that Genesis 1-2 are to be taken as literally true and that Genesis is the foundation for the rest of the Bible and, consequently, the Christian life.

While you will not agree with everything he says, for example, P. 130 he references the Keswick formula of “let go and let God” which I have a theological problem with but understand the heart of what is being shared there.  Perhaps the best aspect of this resource is found in the footnotes.  Where you do disagree with him, you can trace his arguments to where he found it in Scripture or where he supported it with the writings of others.

Though it is rather lengthy at nearly 400 pages, it is a quick read and will leave the reader with more knowledge about the most important book found in Scripture.  Ultimately, if Genesis is not true, then the rest of the Bible caves in on itself.  This is a point Michael makes over and over again throughout The Epic of God.

Recommendation

I am grateful for Michael Whitworth and his writing of The Epic of God for a number of reasons.  Perhaps the greatest is its centrality of Scripture and his adamant refusal to allow the world to interpret the work of God.  Instead, he appeals to Scripture and allows Scripture to interpret Scripture.  Further, he is a new voice in an age old debate.  Many are familiar with ministries like Answers in Genesis, but not everyone will have heard of Michael Whitworth or Start2Finish Books. He shares the same conviction that the Bible is the Word of God and should therefore not take a back seat to any book or science authored by man.  At only $2.99 for the Kindle version, you would do well to purchase this book and read it cover to cover.

Freedom Begins Here Personal Tool Kit

FBH PTKFreedom Begins Here – Personal Tool Kit.  Purchase at the website for $20.00.

Introduction/Summary

Let’s be honest, pornography is one of the greatest cancers in the church and world today.  It is destroying marriages, friendships, churches and ministries.  We are seeing the effects play out publicly each night in the news with the seeming rise in sex crimes.  Thankfully, there are a number of ministries looking to change this.  Enter FreedomBeginsHere.org.  Here is a video explaining their personal tool kit set.

Review

The personal kit is a 30 day, daily journey that will equip you to overcome your addiction to pornography.  Rooted in Scripture and designed to make you think each day deeper and deeper about the holiness of God and His view of the sin of pornography can and will be used of the Lord to be a light to your path as you seek to leave the dark world of porn.

The videos are co-hosted by Dr. Gary Smalley and Pastor Ted Cunningham with instruction from Dr. Mark Laaser.  The DVD is not meant to be watched everyday but is designed to be an encouragement and a challenge to your soul.  The work is found in the devotional journal.  In essence, if you devote the time you spend to looking for pornography to working through this journal, it could very well have eternal consequences.

Recommendation

While all may not agree with Dr. Gary Smalley (I have been critical of him in the past). He is in his element in this course.  Because it is rooted in Scripture, I can highly recommend this study to anyone, male or female, struggling with pornography.  There is a ton of information available for free on their website as well.  Check it out.  Indulge yourself and be free!

From the Cauldron to the Cross by Shari Hadley

From the Cauldron to the CrossHadley, Shari.  From the Cauldron to the Cross: My Journey from Wiccan to Christian.  Enumclaw: WinePress Publishing, 2012.  204 pp.  $17.99.  Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for less.

Introduction

From the back of the book:

Shari Y.S. Hadley, MSW, LCSW was raised in the beautiful Ozarks Mountain Country of Southwest Missouri. She earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Southwest Baptist University and a Master of Social Work from Missouri State University. She is a licensed clinical social worker and works as a hospice social worker and as the bereavement coordinator for Citizens Memorial Healthcare Hospice. Shari also teaches at Bolivar Technical College and is an accomplished public speaker. Shari is a member of the Association of Death Education and Counseling (ADEC), National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and National Association of Christian Social Workers (NACSW). She is working toward her Fellow in Thanatology.

You can find out more at her website.

Summary

In Cauldron to the Cross, Shari shares her own story of how the Lord led her out of the occult into His loving arms of genuine redemption.  Along the way, she shares the often painful details of what she endured as she sought to fill the emptiness inside.  While she still wrestles with  many questions, she now has found fulfillment in Christ.  She did not have a “Damascus Road Experience” so to speak where she at once renounced her former way of life and was born again there on the spot.  Rather, her coming to faith was more a process than an experience.  In the end, she learned to trust Christ for her everything.

Review

This autobiography is riveting.  Shari holds nothing back as she shares her story.  I do question her influences (not that I question whether she was influenced by) as being biblically substantiated in their respective ministries.  Dr. Neil T. Anderson, the founder of Freedom in Christ Ministries has come under fire for his teachings on sin and bondage to sin.  Joyce Meyer, another “recommended author” is a well-known prosperity teacher espousing what is commonly called the health and wealth gospel wherein God wants supposedly wants you to be both healthy and rich in this life.

While Shari’s biography is subjective by its vary nature, I would be cautious with the finer details of her theology and breaking the bonds of sin.  Yes, she talks of Christ and the Cross, but she also gives much credit to those teachers whose teachings are questionable at best.  Regardless, in this fallen world, we must be able to accept that even with bad theology, the Lord will save men and women from their sin.

Recommendation

If you know someone in the occult, specifically, Wicca, then this may be a good read for you.  Regardless, as you read, you must be discerning to understand that not everything Shari now espouses is rooted in sound application of Scriptural truths.

Defending the Faith by Henry Morris

Defending the FaithMorris, Henry.  Defending the Faith: Upholding Biblical Christianity and the Genesis Record.  Green Forest: Master Books, 1999.  266 pp. $12.99.  Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for less.

Introduction

I have reviewed a couple of Dr. Morris’ (October 6, 1918 – February 25, 2006) books here.  He was a reputable young earth creationist.  As with anyone who stands for biblical truth, he has been criticized even after his death.  Regardless, Dr. Henry Morris was a man of faith and truth and he wrote to that end.

Summary

Divided into eight chapters, Dr. Morris explains the importance of being equipped and ready to defend your faith as a believer in Jesus Christ.  In the first chapter, he speaks of a general defense of the faith.  Chapter two, he narrows the reader’s focus to a defense of Christ.  Chapter three becomes the springboard to which Dr. Morris returns to his first apologetic love – creation.  Chapters three through seven serve that purpose.  Chapter eight concludes the book with a defense against compromises to a literal reading of Genesis 1-2.

Review

I have always enjoyed Dr. Morris’ work and this work is no different.  Before one “tees off” on the Genesis debate, we must understand that this is where Dr. Morris believes the argument must be won.  For if we call into doubt the historicity of Genesis 1-2, then we call into question the entirety of the Bible.  To that end, Dr. Morris is to be commended.

I do think, however, he shot himself in the foot a bit with a somewhat lengthy section on a defense of the King James Bible.  It was only four pages, but, as I read the book, it seemed to me to undermine the rest of the work.  He merely introduces this discussion and, in essence, calls into question anyone who might read anything other than the KJV.

Nonetheless, four pages in a 266 page book do not destroy the veracity of the argument for the historicity of the account of creation.  Dr. Morris defends the faith and in so doing provides a model for all of us to engage Christians and non-Christians on the important matters of Scripture

Recommendation

For anyone wanting to understand the importance of defending the Christian faith, I highly recommend Dr. Henry Morris’ work Defending the Faith.  As with all apologetic resources, we must be in tune with the Spirit and bathe our conversations with those we disagree in much prayer.  We may not always agree on the non-essentials, but the essentials must be affirmed if we are to be genuine Christians.

The Mormon Missionaries by Janis Hutchinson

The Mormon MissionariesHutchinson, Janis.  The Mormon Missionaries: An Inside Look at Their Real Message and Methods.  Everett: Cross and Pen Ministries, 2011.  272 pp.  $14.95.  Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for much less.

Introduction

Janis Hutchinson has a heart for those who are involved in cults. Especially for those who have no idea they are in a Christian cult like Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.  She has written another book on the subject, Out of the Cults and Into the Church. She draws from her personal experience as a Mormon missionary and has completed both a B.Th and an M.A. degree in theology.  You can read more from her at her personal website.

Summary

Divided into 12 chapters, Janis offers what amounts to a theological biography of sorts as she details how she first encountered the Mormon church through their missionaries on her college campus.  Chapter two discusses the “sacred canopy” of their media campaigns on television and in print.  She next offers the underlying motive for why the Mormon church sends out so many missionaries.

The next few chapters seek to expose the strategies of their “gospel” and the importance of the first message of the “heavenly Father.”  Chapters 6 and 7 look a bit closer at the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith and how he brought together ultimately magic and the Masonic Lodge.  The final chapters look at the strategy of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th missionary presentations.

Review

Janis does indeed write from an “insider’s perspective.”  Some of this information was new to me, but most of it is known to those who have studied the cult ministry at any length.  Her third chapter on the underlying motive for the number of missionaries will cause some ripples (as evidenced by comments on various book sites) as she shows how the Mormon church is seeking a corporate and ultimate government monopoly.

This book is more than a “how do I respond to the Mormons.”  Rather, Janis attempts to offer insight into motivations and reasoning.  Her look at the founder, Joseph Smith, while is information that is readily available with a few strokes of the keyboard, offers keen insight into how a con man founded a religious movement.  Finally, as she offers the scripts and agendas of the first four missionary discussions, the reader will be equipped to engage with biblical acumen and derail the conversation in order to point them to the biblical Christ.

Recommendation

I appreciated Janis’ straightforward approach.  This work, The Mormon Missionaries, is a fine resource to add to one’s collection as they are seeking to deal with Mormons who just won’t go away.  Instead of slamming the door, you can read Janis’ work and be more equipped to defend your faith and scale their language barrier to get to the heart of the issue…that they worship a false god.