Since the first century, the church has been involved in one way or another in the ministry of apologetics. Within the last few decades, as atheists have seemed to ramp up their religious efforts to discredit and eradicate the belief in God and Christianity more specifically, Christians have ramped up their apologetical focus with matching intensity.
Among the many contemporary apologists Paul Copan, current president of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, and William Lane Craig, perhaps the most well-known and active Christian apologist and debater, have teamed up to edit a series of books that seek to address many of the contemporary issues within Christian apologetics. Passionate Conviction: Contemporary Discourses on Christian Apologetics and Contending With Christianity’s Critics: Answering New Atheists and Other Objectors were the precursors to the third book in the series Come Let Us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics. All three books are edited by Copan and Craig and include a host of different contributors.
As its subtitle indicates this book is a collection of a variety of essays (sixteen in all). The essays focus on the following five areas: 1) apologetics, culture, and the kingdom of God 2) the God question, 3) the historical Jesus and New Testament reliability, 4) Ancient Israel and other [ANE] religions, and 5) Christian uniqueness and other religions (such as Islam). Since there is no one theme that is developed throughout the book this review will provide some general thoughts on the book overall with some comments on specific chapters.
First, while the ministry of apologetics throughout Christian history has been dominated by men, this book features two women contributors and one chapter by Toni Allen (a man) dedicated to understanding how to train women in apologetics. While many of the contributors may not believe in women pastors, I venture to say that most, if not all are welcoming to women teachers and theologians within theological institutions and religious studies programs at various Christian and secular schools. Personally I think this is fine and good. The chapter by Allen is unique and one that would serve pastors and women ministry leaders well in learning how to better train women theologically.
Second, in the section on the historical Jesus and the reliability of the New Testament, the reader can see the far reaching and deeply entrenched effects the vast work of Bart Ehrman has had on these studies. Almost every contributor in this section interacts with him. The various contributors do a great job pointing out the smoke and mirrors hiding the hollow claims and arguments Ehrman makes. Also in the this section is a well written chapter by Mark W. Foreman in which he breaks apart the claims of the popular Zeitgeist documentary written and produced in 2007 by Peter Joseph. The essential claim of Joseph is that Christianity as a religion is nothing more than a copycat from other ancient religions. Foreman breaks down the main claims of the film and demonstrates why most scholars have abandoned the copycat apologetic against Christianity.
Finally, as is clear, this book is an apologetics book. But unlike so many other apologetics books, this work underscores the far reaching nature of Christian apologetics. What I mean is, while many people have a more simple view of apologetics as the defense and proclamation of Christianity, this book shows the reader that apologetics encompasses a defense of all of Scripture. Apologetics is more than just a defense for creation out of nothing or the historical reliability of the death and resurrection accounts in the NT. In its broadest sense, apologetics is a defense of the entire canon of Scripture and all things contained therein. This is a sobering thought as we realize how much content we as Christians are responsible for defending. None of us can know it all but we must be willing to learn more and stretch ourselves for the sake of the lost.
Come Let Us Reason Together is a great collection of recent essays on various apologetic issues. There are no pat answers here. There is great respect for the Scriptures and for the God who inspired them. I don’t expect this book to have too broad a reading but for those who venture to dig in, it will prove rewarding.
About the Editors
Paul Copan is a professor and the Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Marquette University.
William Lane Craig is research professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California. His Ph.D. in Philosophy is from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.
Craig Hurst received his BA in Church Ministries from Clearwater Christian College and is pursuing the MA in theology at Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary in Lansdale, PA. He currently lives outside of Grand Rapids, MI and attends Grace Community Church, where he serves as a volunteer youth worker (along with his wife), and teaches some elective classes. He blogs at Theology for the Road.