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Humble Apologetics: Defending the Faith Today Paperback – July 20, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Classic Christian apologetics involved a defense (apologia) of the faith, often in the face of questions generated by non-Christians. Generally, the practice of apologetics has gone out of fashion in an era of ecumenical dialogue and religious pluralism, leaving mostly fundamentalists to engage in the hard-nosed form of apologetics that is more a condemnation of other religions than a defense of Christianity. Stackhouse, who teaches theology and culture at Regent College in Vancouver, rather shakily attempts to restore the dignity of apologetics in the contemporary world. He examines several of the challenges that today's apologists face, including the relativism of postmodernism and pluralism as well as the self-centered nature of consumerism. He argues that apologetics involves more than a defense of the faith; its goal is conversion, though this should be achieved by competently defending the Christian faith, not unduly condemning other religions. Finally, Stackhouse offers helpful guidelines for apologetic conversations, such as "teach first, preach second," "clarify the most important questions," "focus on Jesus" and "read the Bible." Stackhouse's examination of postmodernism and pluralism depends too heavily on second-hand evangelical sources for definitions of these phenomena, and sets up a false picture of the challenges facing Christian apologetics. At the same time, his emphasis on conversion misses the point of apologetics, and it is perhaps more proper to say that Stackhouse has here offered a humble theory of proselytizing rather than a humble apologetics. Unfortunately, Stackhouse's simplistic guidelines will not go very far toward reviving apologetics from disuse.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Stackhouse (theology and culture, Regent Coll., Vancouver; Can God Be Trusted?) provides an overview of the difficulties of engaging in Christian apologetics in the postmodern, "post-Christian," pluralistic 21st century. His goal is to instruct Christians on how best to present their faith to others. He argues, for instance, that contemporary apologists do not have the luxury of the homogeneous, largely receptive audience available to C.S. Lewis when he wrote his classic Mere Christianity. Though a conservative evangelical, Stackhouse states that all he can do is to affirm that Christianity presents the best belief system of all the religious faiths with which he is familiar and to explain why this is true for him personally. He encourages apologists to tailor their message to their specific audience and to listen and empathize as much as to talk. He makes a lucid and thoughtful case that this humble approach, will be the only effective one for sharing one's faith with others in these times. Though literal evangelicals will bristle at the author's compromising approach, this book will have broad appeal and is recommended for public and undergraduate libraries.
Richard S. Watts, San Bernardino Cty. Lib., CA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (July 20, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195307178
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195307177
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 0.6 x 5.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #597,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
John Stackhouse book is lucid, winsome, and profoundly Christian - I commend it to all those who take Scripture seriously, are theologically orthodox, and desire to be a humble, earnest, and reflective witness for Christ in a world marked by relativism and religious skepticism on one hand, and defensive and insular biblicism on the other.
With reference to the previous reviewers, this book is good enough that I must defend it against those who seem to have missed the point.
To begin, Stackhouse in no way "bows to contemporary intellectual trends." He is thoroughly orthodox but merely recognizes the fact of ethical and religious pluralism (look around), and never encourages Christians to affirm the truth of other faiths. Instead, he clearly and humorously helps one understand the current epistemological situation... then encourages the Christian community to witness by example and through humble and earnest dialogue. Instead of flagrantly and arrogantly condemning other faiths, he encourages the Christian to thoughtfully and respectfully commend the Christian faith, arguing if necessary, but always in a spirit of respect and love. This seems to me the most effective, and most Christlike, approach - lovingly bringing in the Kingdom of God one relationship at a time.
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Format: Hardcover
John Stackhouse Jr., is professor of theology and culture at Regent College, Vancouver, Canada. He is an award-winning historian, philosopher, theologian, journalist, and teacher. In this stirring volume Stackhouse draws upon each of these areas of expertise in order to persuade us that defending the faith (much-maligned as it is) can be and ought to be undertaken humbly. For Stackhouse, the practice of apologetics can be interesting and important, or offensive and therefore self-defeating; to ensure that it is the former and not the latter which prevails, Stackhouse has authored this volume with the intent of presenting a way "of engaging in worthwhile apologetical conversation without perverting it into a destructive exercise in triumphalism" (p. xvi).

Not dissimilar from recent texts on apologetics and evangelism by a number of L'Abri related authors (e.g. Os Guinness, Bill Edgar, Dick Keyes and Jerram Barrs); Humble Apologetics also shares some affinity with the apologetic writings of the late Francis Schaeffer. This is true not merely in terms of tone and awareness of cultural crosscurrents and their impact upon the task of witness-bearing, but perhaps most especially in the way that Stackhouse exhibits his concern for the ones to whom our apologetics are directed. (Like Schaeffer, Stackhouse is eager that our practice of apologetics open up and illumine a way forward and not wound, shut down, or cause someone to turn back from faith).

Full of sage advice and helpful pastoral notes, Humble Apologetics is nevertheless uncluttered and can be outlined quickly and easily. Parts one and two helpfully delineate the milieu in which we are called upon to defend the faith and explain what defending the faith means and involves.
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Format: Hardcover
I think Stackhouse hits the nail on the head. Apologetics is a means to an end and not an end in itself. Stackhouse is concerned that people far from God have an opportunity to see Jesus and His life and teachings in ways that are relevant to their lives. I too have been embarrassed by Christian apologists who may "win" the argument, but repel people from the truth by their smug arrogance. In the postmodern context of our culture today the messenger is, in some sense, the message. The message and the manner in which it is delivered is critical. Jesus, the Bible says, was full of truth, but he was also full of grace. Stackhouse restores a Biblical balance to the issue of apologetics
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Format: Paperback
This was recommended to me by a friend and I found it to be excellent. The book generally got better as I turned the pages. At first Stackhouse had a habit of saying things about pluralism, postmodernism and consumerism that I already knew but when I reached the second and third parts of the book where he speaks of conversion and communicating apologetically, I was hooked. I found myself whispering "yes" out loud in those parts of the book as he clearly articulated many points that I've thought in my reflections on the proper use of apologetics in evangelism as well as the nature of conversion. Reading this book was like emerging from forty days in the proverbial desert of conservative evangelical thought on this aspect of Christianity.

This book clearly refuted the evangelistic methods of Ray Comfort in my mind. (If you don't know who Ray Comfort is consider yourself fortunate.) Ray separates evangelism and apologetics in his mind, embracing a crude caricature of the former while completely discounting the latter. In reality, apologetics and evangelism go together because one has to put on the evangelist's hat to communicate the good news of the gospel and use apologetics when one is challenged about the veracity or goodness of that news. Apologetics, meaning the art of defending the faith and advancing the faith intellectually to others, needs to be conducted with humility always in mind, since God incarnated himself here on Earth in humility. Also, the current challenges of postmodernism and pluralism to the Christian message can't be dealt with if we are puffed up with pride. The apostle Paul had this principle in mind when he spoke to the Corinthians not in "lofty words" but in "fear and trembling." Intellectual honesty was also stressed in this book.
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