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A Reasonable Response: Answers to Tough Questions on God, Christianity, and the Bible Paperback – September 1, 2013
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: In the lengthy introduction to A REASONABLE RESPONSE, Joseph Gorra writes, "I think that the key to victorious Christian living is not to have all your questions answered— which is probably impossible in a finite lifetime—but to learn to live successfully with unanswered questions. The key is to prevent unanswered questions from becoming destructive doubts." A REASONABLE RESPONSE is a collection of letters from individuals asking William Lane Craig questions and his responses to those questions. Sometimes the responses are answers. Other times they are re-directions to what is the real question or the more important questions. In both cases, Craig's breadth of knowledge is remarkable and his defense of the Christian faith solid.
This is a lengthy book (over 400 pages in my version), and it is structured to not be necessarily read straight through from beginning to end. In fact, it lends itself more to browsing the table of contents and finding topics of personal interest. If you have not read William Lane Craig or seen his debates, He is a brilliant man. Be aware that if you do not have a strong grounding in philosophy, syllogisms, and the advanced mechanics of how arguments work; the first third of the book might not mean much to you. I admit much of it was over my head. Once you get past the "knowing and believing what is real" section, the questions and answers become easier to follow for the average reader who did not major in philosophy.
Craig tackles all of the tough questions from the existence of God, the problem of evil (several times), origins of the universe, atheism, scientism, homosexuality, morals, Jesus' resurrection, etc. At the beginning of each section, Gorra includes lists of suggested readings divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced. It is telling that several of the letters begin with the writer stating that they are atheist, but that they respect Craig's work. Craig is not one to mince words. If someone has not done their homework or simply has shoddy thinking, he tells them so up front. He always goes on to explain and address their questions piece by piece.
One of my favorite responses is in regards to Stephen Hawking's book - "The answer to your question, Matthew—'how can physicists make these statements?'—was given long ago by Albert Einstein, when he remarked, 'The man of science is a poor philosopher.' Hawking and Mlodinow’s book bears witness to Einstein’s sagacity."
If you are a student of apologetics, philosophy, and the Christian worldview; I would recommend this book. There are appendices that give recommendations for how to use the book for small group studies on apologetics and answering those tough questions. In our world today, which is so hostile to the Christian worldview, this book is a blessing."
Reviewed by Tom Marshall, September 2, 2013, LibraryThing.com
Praise for A Reasonable Response
No sincere question about God is out of bounds. Here, one of the world’s foremost apologists offers insightful answers to challenging inquiries sent to him—and models how to help people get past their spiritual sticking points.
—Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith
The premise of this very helpful volume is stated up front: “questions are our friends.” I couldn’t agree more, and that’s why I love this new book. Dr. Craig’s responses to questions he’s been asked over the years will stretch you, but with Joe Gorra’s assistance you’ll gain the benefit of understanding new insights. You won’t regret the journey.
— John Stonestreet, author and speaker for Colson Center for Christian Worldview (BreakPoint.org) and Summit Ministries (Summit.org)
What a book! Combining a top-notch reference work with solid, practical instruction, Bill Craig and Joe Gorra have created a unique and innovative title that will help all Christians grow and minister. Bill’s sharp insights answer the biggest questions surrounding Christianity, while Joe’s analysis and framework provides real-world wisdom that can be employed by the evangelist as well as the philosopher. A Reasonable Response not only gives you the answers but shows the value of apologetics and helps the reader be a more effective communicator of the gospel message. This is a rich resource for the pastor and apologist, and an effective tool for personal growth.
— Lenny Esposito, founder and president, Come Reason Ministries (ComeReason.org)
As a pastor for more than 30 years, I know firsthand the importance of apologetics in the life of the church and the personal journey of believers. I’ve faced the questions of confused believers and disgruntled skeptics. A Reasonable Response has comprehensive content yet a user-friendly approach that leverages a Q&A format. Dr. Craig strikes an impressive balance between gifted philosopher and compassionate sage. Of special interest are the appendixes, which provide practical advice to pastors on recommendations for doing apologetics in the local church.
— Dr. Brent Strawsburg, Equipping & Outreach Consultant, Conservative Baptist Association of Southern California
Dr. Craig’s credentials are well known, so it will not surprise the reader that serious questions about God and the Christian life are answered with wisdom and respect. An added bonus to this work is how well the church and pastor are handled. I don’t know of another book that answers the seeker, trains the Christian, and models the apologetic task in the context of the church as well as this one does.
— Phil Steiger, senior pastor, Living Hope Church (Colorado Springs)
Unlike similar books that repackage the same tired answers to perennial questions, A Reasonable Response offers thoughtful and philosophically astute, yet succinct, answers to some of the most challenging queries of both skeptics and believers. You’ll gain valuable insight from reading Bill Craig’s winsome, enlightening approach to apologetics.
— Joe Carter, editor, The Gospel Coalition (TheGospelCoalition.org)
If learning is often by example, then A Reasonable Response can be a valuable source of encouragement to current and emerging leaders in apologetics. Read it for your own equipping. Read it to gain confidence in answering people’s tough questions. Every Christian at every university should have a copy on their bookshelf!
—R ick Schenker, president, Ratio Christi: A Student Apologetics Alliance (RatioChristi.org)
This is a Q&A book that goes well beyond mere questions and answers. It will linger with you, inviting you into the practice of thinking itself. If you study this book carefully, you will certainly gain a rich storehouse of Christian answers. But more importantly, it will equip you to think for yourself so that eventually you’re able to arrive at answers on your own. And when you can do that, you will be well-positioned to help others discover satisfying answers to their deepest questions.
—Brett Kunkle, Student Impact Director at Stand to Reason (STR.org)
Dr. Craig not only tackles some of the toughest questions people are asking today, but we get an “insider’s glimpse” as to how and why he answers them as he does. This book will be helpful to beginners and experts alike.
—Sean McDowell, educator, speaker, and general editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students
When I am preparing for a debate or a presentation before an atheistic college audience, there is no one I rely on more for clear arguments than William Lane Craig. Now the most important of those arguments appear in this one volume! A Reasonable Response should convince anyone who is truly reasonable that Christianity is indeed true.
—Dr. Frank Turek, president of CrossExamined.org and coauthor of I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist
For many years, William Lane Craig has thoughtfully and graciously engaged in answering questions from people around the world. A Reasonable Response combines some of the most difficult questions Dr. Craig has received with the answers he has given into one incredibly valuable resource! Not only will the reader gain insight into Dr. Craig’s arguments, but she will see an excellent model of how to be an ambassador for Christ. Here’s a resource that not only attends to the life of the mind but also challenges Christians in the daily practice of Christianity. This is a timely work in the field of apologetics!
—Mary Jo Sharp, assistant professor of Apologetics, Houston Baptist University, founder, Confident Christianity Apologetics Ministry
William Craig is one of the top Christian thinkers in the world today. A Reasonable Response is a classic collection of his responses to readers’ questions. Readers will be delighted to see how Dr. Craig handles even the most difficult questions people ask today. Read this accessible book to sharpen your own skills in apologetics.
—Dennis McCallum, author, Discovering God: Exploring the Possibilities of Faith, and a lead pastor at Xenos Christian Fellowship (Ohio)
For the Christian ambassador seeking to master his subject and become a tactful communicator, there is no better example than William Lane Craig. In A Reasonable Response, budding apologists will find not only a rich resource of scholarly content but wisdom and insight for engaging others with gentleness and respect.
—Brian Auten, founder of Apologetics315.com and director of Reasonable Faith (Belfast)
A Reasonable Response is God’s gift to Christendom. We not only benefit from Dr. Craig’s cogent and insightful answers to tough perennial questions, but we get a glimpse into what really excites the heart of the author—one who is passionate and dedicated in reaching the genuine seeker through the defense of the truth claims of Christianity. His example is one to emulate. This is a must-read.
—Harry Edwards, founder and director, Apologetics.com
Christians today have access to tremendous informational resources for defending the faith—but information by itself is not enough. Apologetics is relational; questions and objections come from real people, whether they are family, friends, coworkers, or even strangers on the Internet. A Reasonable Response provides a valuable resource for Christians who seek both to have good answers to questions, and to share those answers in a way that will be genuinely respectful and helpful. The question-and-answer format makes A Reasonable Response a handy reference guide while also modeling how to graciously answer questions. A further benefit of this book is the extensive introduction, conclusion, and appendixes that explore crucial ideas about apologetics dialogue as a ministry.
—Dr. Holly Ordway, chair of the department of apologetics, Houston Baptist University
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Many of the same themes are covered, but A Reasonable Response is meant to provide applications of the subject matter found in his book. This is accomplished by utilizing the 'question of the week' found on his website: reasonablefaith.org. The question of the week provides a springboard to unpack a much more rich and detailed response than one finds posted on his website. The contents are highly accessible and this book is meant for any reader, even those unfamiliar with Dr. Craig's work.
Those familiar with his materials will be very happy to know that this book is not full of cut-and-paste essays. Rather, Dr. Craig uses the questions to expound and clarify many of assumptions and issues not contained on the website. Dr. Craig also hand picks some of the best questions in order to unpack a more extensive response which makes this a great resource, not only in exemplifying how Christians ought to be conversant with their worldview, but this book would also be a great resource to provide to a nonbeliever.
This book also enables the reader unfamiliar with Dr. Craig's academic or advanced materials. The reader is enabled to understand the assumptions that go into his public replies, which makes this an important heuristic tool in learning how to deal with rebutting and undercutting defeaters.
His popular level books and his academic materials some time leave out prerequisite information the respective reader is assumed to know. A good example is Dr. Craig's essay in JP Moreland's "Debating Christian Theism," (see my recent review), a book that liens towards the more academically inclined. In Debating Christian Theism, Dr. Craig's essay, the "Kalam Cosmological Argument," contains scant materials many readers highly familiar with Dr. Craig's writings would be able to locate. Like a Reasonable Response, it is largely devoted to rebutting and undercutting defeaters and unpacking many of the assumptions contained in the premises of his more well-known syllogisms as opposed to simply setting forth arguments most devotees are likely familiar. The paragraph is meant to provide an analogy to the present book.
Those somewhat put off by the cut-and-pasting issue: Craig's new book is perfect, especially for memorization, because the letters and Dr. Craig's responses provide a highly useful medium that enable the reader to memorize Dr. Craig's answers and read how Dr. Craig engages the letters when he applies his responses to arguments raised against Christianity.
Hawking's "The Grand Design" is one example. Unless you have a subscription to `Philosophia Christi' and have read Dr. Craig's 'Much Ado you About Nothing,' you have likely obtained pieces of the primary article that have been provided to the public in a more palatable way. In tackling Hawking on page 191, Dr. Craig brings together both the academic article and the popular writing(s) into single and easy-to-remember responses. In fact, the reader is going to learn more than reading Craig's previous articles as he introduces new materials for the reader.
Another example is an issue of particular import for those interested in more difficult concepts, and one I have not seen sufficiently teased out in the literature: A Reformed Christian that holds to a B-theory of time (e.g., Paul Helm helps corroborate the Reformed view represented herein that unpacks this consequence and can be found in his updated "Eternal God" [pages 218-239]). This view of time presupposes a physical interpretation of relativity that entails a 4-D space-time manifold, a very controversial interpretation among those who are not metaphysical naturalists.
It is here that Craig unpacks a very interesting idea. To paraphrase the argument: one who holds that God remains timeless sans creation (motivated by the ontological truth view of special theory of relativity), must bite the bullet in two ways (1) they cannot adequately answer the question of how a timeless God interacts in time without becoming timeless or changed intrinsically and/or extrinsically (showed to be impossible in other writings laid out in other academic works); and, (2) because the Reformed believer holds to the timeless creation, like Helm who is an eternalist (vs. presentist) and holds that time is an illusion (B-theory), entails the space-time block interpretation. Moreover, human beings (or persons depending on one's locution) are 3-Dimensional slices of the 4-dimensional space-time manifold or bloc. That is, persons or any object are akin to segregated "worms"--persons are "slices" that have different properties at different "times" or spatial coordinates in a geometric view of spactime. Unbeknownst to many of my Reformed friends, this may be possible baggage that comes with a consistent Reformed view, but one that begs to be teased out in the literature. In short, Christians that hold to timelessness and a B-theory of time may find themselves ensnared in a "possible" logical entailment that I have only read in the writings of philosopher David Hunt and Paul Helm.
The reader can picture a slice of bread and one slice represents part of the worm--assuming one is slicing horizontally and not slicing in a crisscross manner raising other issues entirely. Conclusion, on the tenseless view, because each slice represents a completely different person, becomes incompatible with moral responsibility, praise or blame (Craig states "The non-conscious, four-dimensional object of which I am part of cannot be regarded as a moral agent and is, therefore, not morally responsible for anything.)] So, how can God hold a particular worm-representation of "persons" responsible for their deeds? He can't! This is also addressed in another question on the Reformed view and compatablism/universal determination. This argument can be unpacked in a more more logical and sophisticated manner, but this is beyond the scope of this review.
This topic is interesting enough to unpack and read in other books, although it is not a major subject that has been sufficiently addressed as it is implicitly stating that Reformed theologians that hold to "timelessness" are forced to accept this metaphysical and scientific baggage that looks to undermine Christian doctrine. These are very interesting ideas and I am glad that Dr. Craig touches upon them as he is an inspiration to most that read his books.
I have not done justice to the entirety of the book. For example, towards the end of the book Dr. Craig touches on failure, doubt and is very transparent with his own autobiography when addressing the questioner. In summary, the subject matter can be gleaned by looking inside the book. The point of this review is to inform readers of the format of the book: Although it may appear to be a cut-and-paste work, Craig is only minimally culpable, and this enables those who are seeking to understand that their faith is only opposed to sight, not reason or science are all the more better in reading this book.
Craig and Gorra are not only a gifted apologists, but loving evangelists and truly demonstrate how the gospel can be the center piece of all evidence with reference to offensive evidences as well as defending attacks on the Christian faith.
The six sections of this helpful book in answering difficult questions are as follows: (1) Questions on Knowing and Believing What Is Real - questions such as: Does Knowledge require certainty?; What is the criterion for a good argument?; Is there such a thing as objective truth?; and Is the price of biblical errancy too high to pay? (2) Questions About God - such as: Is a Maximally Great Being Possible?; Is Trinity Monotheism Orthodox?; and In What Sense Is God a "Simple Being"? (3) Questions about Origins and the Meaning of Life - like the following: Must the Cause of the Universe Be Personal?; Is there a contradiction in God's creation of time?; Is life absurd without God?; and Is Scientism Self-refuting? (4) Questions about the Afterlife and Evil - like: Does creation benefit the lost?; Do the damned in Hell accrue further punishment?; and Was the slaughter of the Canaanites an act of "Divine Genocide"? (5) Questions about Jesus Christ and Being His Disciple: What does it mean that Jesus is the Son of God?; Can one justifiably infer Jesus' resurrection on the basis of the empirical evidence?; and What does it mean to have a personal relationship with God? (6) Questions about Issues of Christian Practice - such as: Do we live in a Postmodern Society?; How might we think about a Christian marrying a non-Christian?; and "Can someone be a "Christian Homosexual?"
Also of immense help are the three appendixes which include: (1) Tips on using the book for small group study; (2) Fostering question-asking and answer-seeking environments; (3) Civility guidelines for (online) "third places."
Perhaps nobody will agree with 100% of the answers given, or be totally convinced of all the evidence or answers provided. However, anyone reading this book will benefit richly from it. The myriad of questions addressed by both believers and non-believers are answered cogently and practically. I will return to this book again and again as a virtual encyclopedia of great answers to great questions on the Christian faith. You will learn from these seasoned apologists how to "always be prepared to make a defense to everyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you" and you will be guided in how to do this "with gentleness and respect."