I am not a huge fan of apologetics. So is is a bit odd that I picked this book to read and review. I am not trying to be disingenuous, but rather I hoped that the focus would be on the subtitle “Living the Faith We Defend“. But this book still started with some of the assumptions that I dislike about the general field of apologetics. In the introduction Ravi Zacharais tries to introduce the purpose, but only succeeds in marginalizing an important part the the audience. He asserts that we are “fashioned by God to be thinking and emotional creatues. The emotions should follow reason, and not the other way around.” But it is unclear to me why he would start with that assumption. Aren’t some drawn to God because of emotional issues? And some drawn by intellectual issues? The correct response would seem to be to address those with emotional issues with emotional responce and those with intellettual issues with an intellectual response. But as Zacharias points out just a few pages later, the intellectual issues may hide a deeper emotional issue or vise versa. A complete person is made up of both emotion and intellect, it is not possible, or even desirable, to separate the two. Christianity should encourage a view humans as complete, not broken pieces.
The second issue I have with apologetics is that most of the time it minimizes the actual issues that it brings up or does not actually present the questions fairly. Just pages into the first chapter, Amy Orr-Ewing tries to dismiss Foucault’s isssues with knowledge and power by just asserting that if Foucault really believed his own ideas then he should have just kept quiet so he would not assert his power over anyone. This completely misses Foucault’s point. He was not asserting that we should not have ideas so that we do not assert power, but that the very act of having an idea is a form of power. We as Christians believe this. That is the root of apologetics. We believe that the words and ideas of scripture, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, can change people. The ability to change someone with an idea is the very definition of power.
It continues on so that by page 10, the author has tried to show that we can find the objective historical truth of long distant events, that we can know the permanent significant idea of words and that she has solved the problems of the cannon and many gnostic gospels. Of course I am being a bit facetious here. But thoughtful Christian philosophers have spent entire careers dealing with just parts of one of these ideas. Of course a book like this cannot adequately deal with all the ramifications of these ideas. But a book like this that attempts to use “real integrity” (as it says it is doing) should admit that there really are issue to be dealt with and 10 pages is barely enough space to introduced them, let alone adequately address them.
All I have done at this point is finish the first chapter. Each chapter is written by a different member of Ravi Zaharias International Ministries or people that have taught with them. According to the back cover, Ravi Zacharias decided that this book needed to be written when he “was…sharing his faith with a Hindu when the man asked: “If the Christian faith is truly supernatural, why is it not more evident in the lives of so many Christians I know?” The question hit hard, and this book is an answer. Its purpose is to equip Christians everywhere to simultaneously defend the faith and be transformed by it into people of compassion.” I hope that is really what the rest of the book is about.
Beyond Opinion was provided by the publisher for the purpose of review. The book will be given away when I have finished the review.