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Love, the Ultimate Apologetic: The Heart of Christian Witness Paperback – May 24, 2008
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. . .his explorations and ruminations are thoughtful and provocative, nothing mushy, always balanced and solidily Biblical. (Byron Borger, Hearts & Minds Books, June 9, 2008)
Lindsley points out how there is often a contradition in many church families. Love is spoken about, but often not felt. This book wasn't light reading, but it is worth the time. I learned a lot. (Tricia Brasky on Book Bargains Review, June 2008)
"Art Lindsley enriches modern apologetics with his thorough and careful exploration of Christian love. Lindsley winsomely shows how atheism and a host of world religions subvert or compromise the concept of love when these worldviews are taken to their logical conclusions." (Chuck Colson, founder, Prison Fellowship)
"A simple, clear and effective argument for Christianity as the only worldview that justifies the thing we all, deep down, know is life's highest meaning and value: charity, unselfish love. Simple but irresistible." (Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy, Boston College, and coauthor of Handbook of Christian Apologetics)
"Lindsley is right: Love is the final apologetic. But what does that mean? Read this book. Don't just agree with it. Act on it. You'll be living kingdom apologetics." (James W. Sire, author of The Universe Next Door and Why Good Arguments Often Fail)
About the Author
Art Lindsley is vice president of Theological Initiatives for the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics in McLean, Virginia. He is a conference and retreat speaker, and he has taught extensively at several theological seminaries. He is also ordained in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. His books include True Truth, C. S. Lewis's Case for Christ and Classical Apologetics, which he cowrote with R. C. Sproul and John Gerstner. He and his wife, Connie, partner in a teaching and discipleship ministry, Oasis, based in the Washington, D.C., area.
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The framework for the book is love is never sure apart from commitment, love is never sane apart from conscience, love is never safe apart from character, love is never stimulated apart from community, and love is never seized apart from courage. Commitment, conscience, character, community, and courage are the defining qualities that make up agape love. Within this framework Lindsley challenges the Atheistic and Pantheistic worldviews by asking the question: Can either worldview provide an adequate reason for why we should be committed to anyone, feel a need to do what is right in our conscience, do that which we feel is right, love others in community, or be courageous about the future? With wonderful precision Lindley breaks down Atheistic materialism and all levels of Pantheism (New Age spirituality, Buddhism, Hinduism, and occult spirituality) to show that the only worldview that provides a basis for genuine love for another person or God is Christianity. He does this not only through careful scholarship, but by opening and closing each chapter with dialogue between members of an imaginary group of people from all walks of life that is lead by a Christian man name John. John leads the discussion and helps the other characters (an atheist man, a pantheist woman, a nominal Christian man, and a woman "seeking" to learn more about love). Lindsley uses the group to show how many time what people believe and what they do are for the most part inconsistent and uses the chapters to explain why they are inconsistent.
I would recommend this book to all readers of all different faiths and backgrounds. This book is wonderful if you wish to have your mind engaged and your heart stimulated.
Lindsley focuses on love as being the chief characteristic of Christianity. He contrasts this characteristic with the materialism and sentimentalism of atheism and new age spirituality. Both of these, he writes lack the truthful, life-changin substance of Christianity.
He discusses love and commitment, love and conscience, love and character, love and community, and love and courage. This is a relatively short book that does not delve deep enough into these topics to make a strong case as an apologetic. He more than anything introduces the topics, provides some Scriptural and theological support for them and also contrasts the Scriptural basis with atheism, etc.
He leaves some holes in the apologetics unaddressed...for example, if love is the ultimate apologetic then why do Christians not stand out in our culture more than they do. He also is easy on the Western church that has eased into a lifestyle barely distinguishable from non-Christians. I think to be fair Lindsley needs to challenge the church in addition to challenging non-believers.
This is a good introduction to the topic, but Christians need more challenge and substance and so do non-believers who want a greater witness of love from Christians. Lindsley does identify the contradictions that abound in atheistic and new age worldviews.
Lindsley uses a motif of a fictional small group discussion throughout the book. This fictional discussion consists of an atheist, a new age person, an agnostic, a new Christian and a Christian leader who discuss issues related to the book. I thought this was creative but ultimately a distraction to the subject matter.
This book can serve well to initiate small group discussion among Christians or general readers.
This book is an excellent read for people of all faiths. Art shows great respect for both Atheism and Pantheism (New Age Spirituality) while taking the premise of each faith to its logical conclusion.
Thanks for a great read Art.