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on June 30, 2009
This collection is wonderful, especially in combination with the previous collection Passionate Conviction. It really does provide excellent essays to rationally and reasonably defend the truth of Christianity.

The best thing about this book is that it deals with numerous contemporary issues and concerns. It is hard since the popularization of Dawkins and Erhman for one to simply jump to the gospel, without first having to sort out "delusional" issues or "mistranslations" or "corruptions."

This book provides some of the necessary tools. Now looking at the essays covered, one will realize that other issues that are important are missing, namely that of relativism or comparative religions. So it is not a complete guide, but if one picks up passionate conviction those issues are addressed.

Therefore one might want to see which issues are of most concern to you and thus pick volumes accordingly.

The minor let down, was getting the book and starting to read Craig's critique of dawkins only to find that it was about 3 pages (other authors give a more substantive analysis). Although it did address some issues, I wanted a lot more. Additionally, if one owns a huge collection of apologetics textbooks, one may ask is it worth it? For example Craig Evans has a chapter on Fabricating Jesus, but he has written a whole book on the issue. There are other instances of this (mostly with the Jesus of History section), in which I owned the book, in which the expert has written and from which the article may have been derived or adapted.

Moments like those made me wonder if I was getting my full money's worth (or if i own too many books !) , but in the end I was pleased as it was a great recap and so there is so much good material in a portable compact volume.

It is an excellent volume, especially recommended for those new to the issues and challenges of the New Athiests.

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OUTLINE OF THE BOOK

Table of Contents:
Preface vii

PART 1 THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
Chapter 1 Dawkins's Delusion
William Lane Craig
2
Chapter 2 At Home in the Multiverse?
James Daniel Sinclair
6
Chapter 3 Confronting Naturalism: The Argument from Reason
Victor Reppert
26
Chapter 4 Belief in God: A Trick of Our Brain?
Michael J. Murray
47
Chapter 5 The Moral Poverty of Evolutionary Naturalism
Mark D. Linville
58
Chapter 6 Dawkins's Best Argument Against God's Existence
Gregory E. Ganssle
74

PART 2 THE JESUS OF HISTORY
Chapter 7 Criteria for the Gospels' Authenticity
Robert H. Stein
88
Chapter 8 Jesus the Seer
Ben Witherington III
104
Chapter 9 The Resurrection of Jesus Time Line
Gary R. Habermas
113
Chapter 10 How Scholars Fabricate Jesus
Craig A. Evans
126
Chapter 11 How Badly Did the Early Scribes Corrupt the New Testament? An Examination of Bart Ehrman's Claims
Daniel B. Wallace
148
Chapter 12 Who Did Jesus Think He Was?
Michael J. Wilkins
167

PART 3 THE COHERENCE OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE
Chapter 13 The Coherence of Theism
Charles Taliaferro and Elsa J. Marty
184
Chapter 14 Is the Trinity a Logical Blunder? God as Three and One
Paul Copan
205
Chapter 15 Did God Become a Jew? A Defense of the Incarnation
Paul Copan
218
Chapter 16 Dostoyevsky, Woody Allen, and the Doctrine of Penal Substitution
Steve L. Porter
233
Chapter 17 Hell: Getting What's Good My Own Way
Stewart Goetz
249
Chapter 18 What Does God Know? The Problems of Open Theism
David P. Hunt
265

Contributors
283
Author Index 287
Scripture Index 290
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on April 26, 2011
This collection of essays is not for the weak of mind, as there are plenty of places to go deep in the thinking realm of Christianity and a response to the New Atheists. As with any compilation of essays, there were good ones in this volume and others I just skimmed through--probably at least 4 or 5 did not grab my attention at all, and thus the 4-star rating. But the good ones make the book worthwhile reading. My favorites were ch. 1 (Dawkins' Delusion, Craig), ch. 10 (How Scholars Fabricate Jesus, Evans), and ch. 15 (Did God become a Jew? A Defense of the Incarnation). What I enjoy about compilation books like these is that the reader can pick up at any chapter and get something out of it. Again, it's a worthwhile pick, but not if you are opposed to books making you think deeply.
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on July 13, 2009
This is an excellent collection of essays defending the Christian faith and doctrines. Starting from William Lane Craig's knockout to Richard Dawkins (no wonder Dawkins is to afraid to debate Craig) and continuing with victory blows from an all-star cast of Christian thinkers. This isn't an end all debates collection but it's powerful nontheless. Some surprises here too, like Chapter 16 on the doctrine of Penal Substatution and Chapter 12 "Who did Jesus think he was?", which took an approach I didn't expect (defending Mark 8:29-30). Chapter 9, "The Resurrection of Jesus Time Line" by Gary Habermas is a very important essay for every Christian to read and ought to be taught in every church. Chapter 10 by Craig A. Evans covers some of the information he gives in his "Fabricating Jesus" book, which is worth reading on it's own.
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on September 16, 2009
"Contending With Christianity's Critics" is the second book in a series on "cutting-edge Christian apologetics". It includes 18 essays from various Christian scholars on a number of different subjects. So, how much a person likes or dislikes the book would, in part, be influenced by how interested she is in the topics that are addressed.

If you're considering buying the book, do this: look at the Table of Contents. If this has you longing to explore further then: #1) you're likely to be something of an apologetics book nerd like me--that's the bad news; and 2) go ahead and dive in, you've hit pay dirt.

The book is divided into three parts: 1) The Existence of God; 2) The Jesus of History; and 3) The Coherence of Christian Doctrine.

I found part one on "The Existence of God" to be the most interesting. And the final chapter deals with Open Theism, I found it to be a helpful take on the subject.

If you're even reading this far you might as well get the book because it's clear that you like this stuff. On the other hand, if you're on this page by accident all I can say is: "See what happens when you're not careful with your mouse."
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on February 8, 2010
There have been a number of books written in response to what some call the "New Atheism." Contending with Christianity's Critics, edited by Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, is different in that it is the "fruit" of annual conferences of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, a society that is "dedicated to (among other things) addressing these challenges." The book has 18 chapters written by 18 authors. These authors all have advanced degrees in philosophy, theology, or a related area, and most hold an academic position at a university, most in the United States. The level of discourse and the wide ranging areas presented are in stark contrast to Christianity's critics such as Richard Dawkins. As the subtitle suggests, the "critics" responded to in this book include the New Atheists, but are not limited to them. Other critics addressed include naturalistic philosophers, naturalistic scientists, critics of the historical reliability of the Bible, and critics of Christian theology. As with any book with numerous authors the quality of the individual chapters varies somewhat, as well as the theological and philosophical positions held by those authors. However, the overall result is a compelling presentation of those who have thought deeply about the subjects addressed. This book may never achieve the financial success of, say, The God Delusion, but those who genuinely wish an intelligent discussion of issues raised by the New Atheists, as well as those by other objectors, will find this book to be a good read.

Paul Copan is Professor and Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He is the author of Loving Wisdom: Christian Philosophy of Religion, Chalice Press, 2007, along with William Lane Craig, Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration, Baker Academic, 2004, as well as several others. William Lane Craig, who holds two doctorates (one from the University of Birmingham and one from the University of Munich), is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology. Craig has authored or edited over thirty books.

The book under review contains three parts and, as mentioned above, eighteen chapters. Part 1 is titled The Existence of God, and contains the first six chapters with the following titles: Dawkins's Delusion; At Home in the Multiverse?; Confronting Naturalism: The Argument from Reason; Belief in God: A Trick of Our Brain?; The Moral Poverty of Evolutionary Naturalism; and Dawkins's Best Argument Against God's Existence. Part 2 is titled The Jesus of History, and contains chapters 7 through 12 with the following titles: Criteria for the Gospels' Authenticity; Jesus the Seer; The Resurrection of Jesus Time Line; How Scholars Fabricate Jesus; How Badly Did the Early Scribes Corrupt the New Testament? An Examination of Bart Ehrman's Claims; and Who Did Jesus Think He Was?. Part 3 is titled The Coherence of Christian Doctrine, and contains chapters 13 through 18 with the following titles: The Coherence of Theism; Is the Trinity a Logical Blunder? God as Three and One; Did God Become a Jew? A Defense of the Incarnation; Dostoyevsky, Woody Allen, and the Doctrine of Penal Substitution; Hell: Getting What's Good My Own Way; and What Does God Know? The Problems of Open Theism.

Part 1 is primarily responses to the claims of atheists, and I offer below comments on most of those chapters. My primary reason for reading this book was for what is contained in Part 1, and therefore I stress it in this review.

The opening chapter, written by William Lane Craig, responds directly to Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, by all accounts enormously successful. However, Craig, a philosopher, finds Dawkins' arguments, well, less than convincing. A few quotations from this short chapter should suffice to give Craig's impressions: "the argument is patently invalid", "The only delusion demonstrated here is Dawkins's conviction that this is `a very serious argument against God's existence'", "Several years ago my atheist colleague Quentin Smith unceremoniously crowned Stephen Hawking's argument against God in A Brief History of Time as `the worst atheistic argument in the history of Western thought.' With the advent of The God Delusion the time has come to relieve Hawking of this weighty crown and so recognize Richard Dawkins's accession to the throne." Has anyone written a positive, yet critical review of the phenomenally successful The God Delusion? I haven't read one yet! What does that say about how to write a book that will sell millions of copies? What does that say about the readers of those copies?

Chapter 2, written by James Daniel Sinclair, has the subtitle of "Critiquing the Atheist Many-Worlds Scenario." One of the strangest phenomenons of our time is the seemingly serious proposal of multiple universes, and that mostly by those who are suppose to be scientists! There isn't a shred of evidence for any such thing, and assuming these imaginary universes are disjoint, nor could there be! Yet, these supposedly unbiased and evidence-driven "scientists" want us to take them seriously about multiple, perhaps infinite, universes! One may ask, what could possibly be motivating them to go down this path, given that it is not evidence. Could it possibly be something other than love of the truth wherever it may lead by these "unbiased scientists"? Well, the problem is that this universe, the one we live in and know something about, just looks too well designed for life as we know it! Not only does the biosphere here on planet earth look designed, as acknowledged even by Dawkins, but our solar system, our galaxy, and the universe itself looks suspiciously like it was designed with us (you and me) in mind. Now this causes a problem for atheists and materialistic scientists, to the point even of proposing evidence-free multiple universes to try and somehow get around this difficulty! The idea being that if there are perhaps even an infinite number of universes, then the probability of at least one of them being compatible with life as we know it will end up being at least something greater than zero.

Chapter 4, written by Michael J. Murray, is concerned with the increasing scientific evidence that we humans have a natural, innate, belief in God with at least some notions of what it means to be moral. This seems to be increasingly acknowledged by atheists and theists alike. Many atheists believe it is something that we need to overcome, being a remnant of our barbarian past, whereas many theists consider it to be there by virtue of being created in the image of God. In other words, the old concept that we are born with a mind that is a blank slate, is being replaced by "conclusive evidence that human minds come into the world with all sorts of `software' both preinstalled and booted up." It would appear that this simply adds more to the claim that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made."

Chapter 5, written by Mark D. Linville, makes his case that naturalism, at least intellectually, does not provide a foundation for morality. The issue of morality is a long-standing debate between theists and atheists, or naturalists. A complicating factor is that theists are not arguing that atheists are necessarily immoral, or even that theists are more moral than atheists. Rather, is moral conduct intellectually consistent with theism or atheism? Another factor at issue is that morality is not just about how you behave, but how you think you ought to behave. That is, the question at issue is are there any true oughts or not? Are there objective moral standards or not? Approached this way, as Linville develops, regardless of how you may actually conduct yourself, it is difficult to see how there could be any objective moral standards if all that exists is the material universe.

Chapter 6, written by Gregory E. Ganssle, gives the most generous review of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion that I have seen. Actually, it is not a review of the book The God Delusion, but of one of Dawkins' arguments against God's existence in that book. Ganssle expresses his conviction that this argument against God's existence is Dawkins' best. What is that argument? Dawkins does not attempt to prove that God does not exist, but rather provides his evidence that this universe in which we live fits better within an atheistic worldview than it does within a theistic worldview. Clearly, evaluating the evidence that Dawkins provides as to which conclusion is most valid is subjective, but Ganssle attempts to look at the evidence as fairly as he can. One of Dawkins' arguments is that biological systems develop gradually over time through the mechanism of natural selection. Theists as well as atheists agree with this, at least to some extent, as the natural world testifies. Ganssle agrees that this seems to fit better within an atheistic worldview than it does within a theistic one. This, Ganssle believes, is Dawkins' best argument. Since Dawkins has long been a champion for Darwinian evolution, it is not surprising that he would put forth this argument. However, Danssle counters by offering four observations that he believes fits far better within a theistic worldview than within an atheistic worldview: 1. A world that is ordered and susceptible to rational investigation fits better in a theistic universe. 2. A world with consciousness fits better in a theistic universe. 3. A world with significant free agency fits better in a theistic universe. 4. A world with objective moral obligations fits better with a theistic universe. Ganssle develops each of these observations and concludes, perhaps not surprisingly, that his arguments better Dawkins'. One might add, of course, that if natural selection cannot be shown to be the "origin of species," as Darwin put it, but can only account for what is sometimes referred to as microevolution (see, for example, Michael Behe's book The Edge of Evolution, Free Press, 2007, where he attempts to determine just what evolution can and cannot do), then Dawkins' best argument is completely undermined!

Part 2 is primarily concerned with responding to liberal theologian critics and atheists who question the historicity of the New Testament, and more specifically that of Jesus. This part addresses the authenticity of the Gospel accounts, the person of Jesus, and the resurrection.

Part 3 is concerned primarily with questions of Christian theology. The overall theme is that Christian theology is consistent and makes sense. The chapter on the Trinity (chapter 14) made the most impression upon me, as I think the author (Copan) is correct, that Christians do not know this doctrine as well as they should, and this is the most important doctrine about who God is. There is also a chapter on the incarnation, and another on penal substitution, one on hell, and the last one critical of developments in open theism.

As mentioned in the opening paragraph, this book presents a strong contrast with those written by the New Atheists, in particular Dawkins and Hitchens. It is scholarly, informative, challenging, helpful and insightful, both as a response to the new atheism, and as a reasoned presentation for some of the other issues confronting evangelical Christianity.

For more information, please click on my name at the top of this review, and then click on my personal web page as shown on my profile.

Larry D. Paarmann
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on January 14, 2010
If you are looking for a book with many of the same authors and arguments as are in the new Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, by Craig and Moreland, but don't have the $159.00, I would recommend Christianity's Critics for a fine summary that the layman can understand (with some work, of course).
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on April 29, 2010
This book is a collection of essays by top Christian apologists and scholars covering a wide range of topics. Not only does the book deal with the "new atheism", but it also deals with groups like the Jesus Seminar, questions about God's attributes, and even open theism. The essays are fairly short (15-20 pages) and very readable with many references for further study. The cases that are made are strong.

One essay that I found particularly interesting was Gregory Ganssle's essay on Dawkin's best argument against the existence of God. As a credit to the ability of the author, he was able to take Dawkin's best argument and actually make it seem reasonable by putting it in a syllogism and carefully arguing for the truth of the premises. Of course, the author does this to avoid a straw man and to make sure that he is representing the other side as fairly and as best he can. The author then of course goes on to dismantle the argument he has just built up and even goes so far as to give a similar argument as to why theism is more probable than atheism.

Another essay that I found very helpful was the essay debunking open theism. This is a topic that one doesn't read too much about most apologetics books, so it was helpful to see the arguments that the open theists put forward and responses to them. The author of this essay is a former open theist and thus in a position to thoughtfully critique open theism.

The book is a good reference and an important contribution to modern apoloegtics.
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on March 23, 2011
The biggest aspect I like about this book is the diversity of the arguments. Before this book I didn't even realize that there was an argument for consciousness, I also like hearing views from non-mainstream apologists as well. Gregory E. Ganssle stood out the most for me, and after reading his remarkable essay to answering Dawkins best argument, I am now getting a book from Ganssle. He is very respectful, precise and brings up amazing points against naturalism. Mark D Linville is another one that caught my eye.

The views on Jesus were great, even though I don't think anyone will ever top NT Wrights "Resurrection of the Son of God" this arguments for Jesus were on point. Paul Copan himself does a great job grasping the case.

The only knock I have is I wanted a bit more from the Elite apologist William Lane Craig, however I think this book shines with the others. It would have been nice to see Swinburne make an appearance as well, as I think Swinburne is part of that "Elite" group of apologists.

Great book = more ammunition

All and all this book will make you a better defender of your faith!!!!!
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on February 14, 2011
I purchased the kindle version of the book two days ago. As stated by a number of individuals here, it is a collection of essays in defense of God and Christianity. The essays use logic to prove their thesis statements and can be difficult reading for those not used to reading this type of work. I recommend this book if you want to read the sound arguments.
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on September 10, 2010
A great collection of essays covering a range of topics from Dawkins to many worlds to naturalism to Biblical textual criticism. Tends to lean more toward the professional than the popular - probably not the best place to start. But if you've already gotten a taste for apologetics and want to take the next step it's well worth the effort.
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