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Transcending Proof: In Defense of Christian Theism Paperback – November 9, 2016
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About the Author
Don McIntosh is a Christian, a husband of one and a father of two, who holds graduate degrees in Theology (M.Div.) and Industrial Technology/Human Resource Development (M.S.). Don lives and works in the Houston area.
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I recently received a paperback version of the book and had the opportunity to reread it without the pressure of making mental notes of what I would say in the foreword. As I read it, my thought was that I was glad that I agreed to endorse the book. It is a well written piece of apologetics.
Don McIntosh is a thoughtful writer who truly wrestles with the subjects that he tackles. Don’s aim is not to just give a simple defence, but rather to examine critiques of Christianity in a intellectually honest manner.
One of the things that I really appreciated about the book is the wide range of topics that he writes on. Chapters in this book look at everything from philosophy to archaeology to Gnosticism and more. Reading this book will not make you an expert in every subject but it is a very helpful sampling of the state of apologetics today. If you are looking for an area of apologetics to specialize in, this book will give you some good options.
Transcending Proof is a good example of the type of apologetics material that we need. It is both intellectually rigorous and accessible to those who are not experts. I highly recommend this book.
McIntosh makes an interesting beginning by starting with the problem of evil. One would think this is not where you would begin your case for theism, but it is for him. McIntosh I think spends the most time on this part of the book. He looks at evil and all the explanations for it. At times, I found myself thinking an objection from the other side could be easily answered, but then he answered it later on.
I also like that McIntosh is willing to take on popular internet atheists such as Richard Carrier. Again, this part is a case for theism and relies highly on the usages of the problem of evil. McIntosh makes a fine dissection of Carrier’s argument, though it’s quite likely you won’t follow along as well if you don’t know the argument of Carrier.
The same applies to Dan Barker. Of course, Dan Barker is about as fundamentalist as you could get and is a poster child for fundamentalist atheism. McIntosh replies to an argument he has against theism based on God having omniscience and free-will both and how Barker thinks that is contradictory. Again, it’s good to see popular atheists that aren’t as well known being taken on because you do find them often mentioned on the internet and many popular apologists don’t deal with them.
It was also good to see a section on the reliability of Scripture, which is quite important for Christian theism, and a section on Gnosticism. I see Gnosticism often coming back in the church. This includes ideas like the body being secondary and a sort of add-on. (Think about sexual ethics. People who think sex is dirty and a sort of necessary evil and people who think “It’s just sex and no big deal what you do with it” are both making the same mistake.) I also see Gnosticism with the emphasis on signs and the idea of God speaking to us constantly and personal revelation being individualized.
That having been said, there are some areas that I do think could be improved. One of the biggest ones is it looked like I was jumping all over the place when I went through. It was as if one chapter didn’t seem to have any connection to the next one. I would have liked to have seen a specific plan followed through. If there was one, I could not tell it.
I am also iffy on critiques I often see of evolution. I am not a specialist in the area to be sure, but yet I wonder how well these would do against an actual scientist and I still think this is the wrong battle to fight. I also found it troublesome that the God of the living could not be the same as the one described as the abstract deity that was Aristotle’s prime mover of the universe. I do not see why not. I think Aristotle’s prime mover is truly found in the God of Scripture and that God is more living and active than any other being that is. I am not troubled by God using an evolutionary process to create life than I am by God using a natural process to form my own life in the womb and yet I can still be fearfully and wonderfully made.
I also would have liked to have seen a chapter focusing solely on the resurrection and giving the best arguments for and against it. I think it’s incomplete to have a look at Christian theism without giving the very basis for specific Christian theism. It’s good to have the reliability of Scripture, but there needs to be something specific on the resurrection.
Still, I think McIntosh has given us a good start and there is plenty that could be talked about. I do look forward to a future writing to see what it will lead to. We need more people who are not known willing to step forward and write on apologetics and especially those willing to engage with the other side.
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