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Why I Am a Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe Paperback – December 1, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Despite contributions from high-profile writers such as Ravi Zacharias, Josh McDowell and Peter Kreeft, this anthology adds nothing to the age-old genre of Christian apologetics. It opens with essays defending both truth and theism against postmodern atheists, and eventually moves to specifically Christian teachings: "Why I Believe the Bible Is the Word of God," "Why I Believe Jesus Is the Messiah and Son of God," and "Why I Have Chosen to Follow Christ." Some essays, such as J.P. Moreland's autobiographical discussion of his choice to follow Jesus, are stirring. Others are dull and predictable: Barry Leventhal (Southern Evangelical Seminary), for example, tediously rehearses the Old Testament prophecies that he believes Jesus fulfilled. As a collection, the book is unbalanced. There are, for instance, too many contributions from some writers; editor Geisler offers two essays, as does Liberty University's Gary Habermas. Given the abundance of Christian "leading thinkers," one wishes the editors had been a bit more imaginative and included a greater diversity of voices. Particularly troubling is the total absence of female contributors. In an era in which many women leave the evangelical churches for spiritual homes more friendly to feminism, this book would have been strengthened immeasurably by an essay or two by leading women thinkers explaining why they, too, believe. This disappointing collection of apologetic essays will send readers scurrying back to Cardinal Newman and other bolder, more invigorating defenses of the faith.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Divided into six parts, this book presents 16 separately authored chapters on such topics as "Why I Believe in Miracles" and "Why I Have Chosen To Follow Christ." These are not just personal testimonies; each of these well-written chapters engages antireligious assumptions found in today's culture and education. As such, each offers thought-provoking ideas even for those who may disagree. The "leading thinkers" promised in the subtitle, however, turn out to be a group of evangelical professors, many with seminary connections. Few of these names will be familiar to anyone outside of the evangelical community. Contributions from a broad range of Christian thinkers would have widened the book's appeal while strengthening its point. Recommended for public libraries. C. Robert Nixon, M.L.S., Lafayette, IN
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
This book is a collection of essays describing various reasons to accept the Christian faith. The quality of the essays varies, but some include factual errors so great that I can’t recommend this book.
Chapters 1-2 assert that truth is objective and knowable. Chapter 3 teaches that belief in God is properly basic (i.e. atheists really know God exists). Chapters 4, 5, 8 present cosmological, teleological, moral arguments for the Christian God’s existence. Chapters 6 and 7 examine arguments from miracles (including the resurrection of Jesus). Chapters 9 and 10 address concerns that the Bible may not be historically or scientifically accurate. Chapter 11 claims that the weight of this evidence shows that the Bible is divinely inspired.
There were a few gems. Geisler's claim (Chapter 2) that truth is real and knowable is persuasive. Craig's treatment of the cosmological and teleological arguments are comprehensive (although certainly many philosophers would dispute his conclusions). Habermas (Chapter 7) treats the resurrection of Jesus in a way that may challenge some atheists (Chapter 7), and shows that the New Testament has been accurately preserved through history (Chapter 9).
However, other essays had serious problems. In Chapter 3, Budziszewski's idea that all atheists are deluded is accusatory at best, but he at least admits that atheists can argue similarly. Beckwith (Chapter 1) attacks only the simplest forms of relativism, and asserts that natural selection is a product of chance (something any high-school textbook will deny). In Chapter 5, Geisler uses a form of the teleological argument based on Michael Behe's beliefs about irreducible complexity, which is likely to be unconvincing to anyone outside the intelligent design community. Corduan (Chapter 11) asserts that the Bible is divinely inspired, but makes an untenable jump from saying that the New Testament contains some historically accurate details to saying that its claims about Jesus are accurate.
Hugh Ross' essay (Chapter 8) is a good representation of the mixed bag of ideas in this book. Ross presents a version of the teleological argument, with plenty of cited evidence (as we would expect from an astrophysicist). Evidence he gives also serves as evidence against the young-earth creationist. While he includes an impressive list of cosmological constants, he does not address whether any of those constants are codependent, whether there is more than one set of values which will allow life as we know it to exist, or whether there are any sets of values which will allow life not as we know it to exist. He applies the gambler’s fallacy to events in the past, though it can only be used for events in the future (i.e. it is fallacious to say that because a coin is flipped 10 times and lands on "heads" it will give "tails" the 11th time, but it is not fallacious to say that a coin flipped 10 times gave its results by chance). Ross also states his view of a non-mainstream version of biological evolution without so much as a disclaimer of his non-specialist status in this subject. Readers who have knowledge of biological evolution's evidences may have reason to doubt his academic integrity (if he did not research biology well…what else has he been slacking on?).
Walter Bradley’s essay takes the cake for sheer number of factual errors (Chapter 10). He presents a reconciliation of the Bible’s creation accounts with science, blaming the common perception of Biblical inaccuracy on young-earth creationists. Rather than discussing the genre or literary history of the Genesis texts, he appeals to "phenomenal language," a Hugh Ross-style interpretation taking Gen 1:3 as a description of God's viewpoint from which the narratives are written. Specialists in textual criticism will find this argument lacking. Though the author uses mainstream physics to form his view of scientific truth, he presents evolutionary theory as a mistaken hypothesis. Other than some fossil evidence, he does not mention any peer reviewed evidence pro or contra biological evolution (is he aware of any?). Bradley demonstrates ignorance of research in biogenesis and gross misunderstanding of biological evolution, describing a version of theistic evolution that is inefficient and implies limited intelligence of the deity. Further, he makes two statements which contradict a wide body of research: "the extinction rate of species has increased significantly…formation of new species seems to have come to a halt,” and "the production of a new animal species in nature has yet to be documented.” Finally, he uses diet, apoptosis, and stellar radiation to explain long biblical lifespans, but stretches their application far beyond what they are capable of in nature. It seems he is trying to justify his own view of Genesis rather than truly examine mainstream science and the Bible's text. This chapter is insultingly basic in its treatment of the Bible's genres and bizarrely absent of relevant scientific information.
Overall, this book plays more to a segment of popular Christian belief than to scholarly research. It is clear that the editors have very specific Christian beliefs about creation, evolution, and the nature of biblical inspiration and are not about to let other Christians offer opposing viewpoints or evidence.
If you are examining the claims of Christianity, there are better resources elsewhere.