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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

How to engage unbelievers with intelligence and imagination

Throughout history there have been great and articulate defenders of the faith. But with the new challenges of scientific atheism we see in our day, there is a need for a fresh and flexible approach to apologetics. Rather than supplying the fine detail of every apologetic issue in order to win arguments, Mere Apologetics teaches a method that appeals not only to the mind but also to the heart and the imagination.

After discussing the biblical basis for and historical uses of apologetics, McGrath offers various approaches to sharing your faith with others. He outlines pointers to faith, such as our innate sense of longing for justice, our appreciation for beauty, the order we see in the physical world, and much more. He also shows how there are many right ways to share your faith--through explanations, arguments, stories, and images--and helps you decide which works best for your personality and your audience.

"Apologetics is not to be seen as a defensive and hostile reaction against the world," says McGrath, "but as a welcome opportunity to exhibit, celebrate, and display the treasure chest of the Christian faith." If you long to commend your faith to those outside the church, Mere Apologetics will show you how to do so gracefully and effectively.

"This is a fresh, clear, and practical introduction to apologetics from someone who doesn't just talk about the subject but actually does it brilliantly. It is especially helpful because it avoids the fruitless wrangling between apologetic schools that stops many people from getting on with the task. "--Os Guinness, author of Long Journey Home

"Mere Apologetics helps readers work out their own way to effectively communicate and defend the gospel. An excellent text for courses in apologetics. A great read for both beginning and experienced apologists."--Jim Sire, author of The Universe Next Door

"Over the years I have found Alister McGrath to be an insightful, wise guide on many topics. So I am pleased to recommend his book on apologetics. It is foundational, practical, and creative as well as faithful to Scripture. A fine resource indeed!"--Paul Copan, author of Is God a Moral Monster?

Alister E. McGrath is professor of theology, ministry, and education and head of the Centre for Theology, Religion, and Culture at King's College, London, and president of the Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics. He is the author and editor of numerous books, including the award-winning The Passionate Intellect: Christian Faith and the Discipleship of the Mind. A former atheist, he is respectful yet critical of the New Atheist movement and regularly engages in debate and dialogue with its leaders.

About the Author

Alister E. McGrath (DPhil and DD, University of Oxford; Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts) is professor of theology, ministry, and education, and head of the Centre for Theology, Religion, and Culture at King's College, London, and president for the Oxf
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Books (January 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801014166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801014161
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alister E. McGrath is a historian, biochemist, and Christian theologian born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A longtime professor at Oxford University, he now holds the chair in theology, ministry, and education at the University of London. He is the author of several books on theology and history, including Christianity's Dangerous Idea, In the Beginning, and The Twilight of Atheism. He lives in Oxford, England, and lectures regularly in the United States.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Alister McGrath's Mere Apologetics is an informative, practical, and well rounded introduction to the discipline of apologetics. Apologetics, as a subdiscipline of theology, is the practice of defending and commending the faith, clearing away boulders on the path to faith. It is intended both to dispel doubts and to present Christianity as reasonable for both the skeptic and the faithful, and to equip those convinced of Christian truth with the necessary tools to present the core claims of the faith in accessible and persuasive ways.

The other reviewers have done an excellent job of covering the basics, so as not to belabor points that have already been made, a prospective reader of this book should know that McGrath accomplishes the following in this accessible guide:

1. Establishes a well-rounded definition of apologetics.
2. McGrath helpfully acknowledges that apologetics and evangelism differ. While apologetics helps Christianity appear reasonable, evangelism invites people to believe.
3. Notes that apologetics can help us make persuasive arguments, but it is the Holy Spirit that brings people to faith.
4. Elucidates the differences between modernity and postmodernity, and sheds further light on the import for apologetics.
5. Provides a theological motive for engaging in apologetics.
6. Gives sound pastoral wisdom concerning how to relate Christian truth within various contexts, using Acts as a locus of examples.
7. Engages with the discipline of science and the critiques of the "New Atheism" (Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens) in a respectful manner.
8. Outlines various "points of contact" for conversation with skeptics and believers concerning the reasonableness of faith (morality, beauty, desire, hope, creation, etc.).
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The nature, outline and purpose of McGrath's newest contribution, Mere Apologetics ("MA"), is best captured in a footnote in Chapter 6 whereby he borrows from American poet Edna Millay who spoke of a "`meteoric shower of facts' raining from the sky. These facts are like threads that need to be woven into a tapestry, clues that need to be assembled to disclose the big picture . . . we are overwhelmed with information, but cannot make sense of the `shower of facts' with which we are bombarded. There seems to be `no loom to weave it into fabric.' We need a way of making sense of this shower of information. Christianity gives us a way of bringing order and intelligibility to our many and complex observations of the natural world, human history, and personal experience. It allows us to integrate them and see them as interconnected aspects of a greater whole" (page 93). McGrath lays out the same purpose in MA on page 11, and the second paragraph rehearses what is laid out above. Even his conclusion alludes to the tapestry.

Like McGrath's spectacular onslaught of rich, insightful and (many) true statements about the Christian worldview, this book reads more like a book written by Dallas Willard--it is not the number of pages that makes the book slow to read--it is the depth and richness packed in every paragraph.

This is not a book on apologetics, although some creative "existential apologetic arguments (called "threads") are certainly unpacked--and some may may complain that McGrath pays too much homage to the impact and utility of post-modernity, but McGrath does dissect the bad from the usable aspects of postmodernism.
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What C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" was to "Moderns" this book is a very helpful primer in how to communicate and build foundational bridges of truth leading to the gospel in a postmodern context. Tim Keller's book "The Reason for God" would be the 21st equivalent of Lewis' aforementioned book - addressing post moderns, rather than moderns. In McGrath's book we have a bridge building handbook of sorts in how to show post moderns that the Christian ship is safe to board and sail in troubled waters and land on islands of truth in this journey of life.

Dr. McGrath shows how apologetics has changed over the years, what remains the same, and what we can learn from the biblical and historical apologists as they have cogently articulated the faith in their own cultural milieus, as we seek to reach post moderns in the 21st century with the unchanging gospel. He makes an excellent case for the fact that we need many approaches as we address the differing mind-sets of those we encounter with the gospel - just as Jesus, Paul, Peter, Jonathan Edwards, and C.S. Lewis did in their times. He then gives numerous examples from our own times in how we can dialogue and build bridges with the "new atheists" and others to pave a way for the gospel.

Throughout the book McGrath weaves in and out of discussions applying the benefits of apologetics as a precursor to evangelism. Perhaps the best description of this aspect of the book is noted in chapter five where he writes, "Yet conversion is ultimately the task of evangelism. Apologetics is about preparing the way for such conversion by showing that it makes sense to believe in God. It's about clearing away rubble and debris in the path of evangelism. We may not be able to prove--in the absolute sense of the word--that there is a God.
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