Takeaway: A faith that can be fully understood by science or logic is no longer faith. As Christians we need to embrace that Christianity is above human logic.
I am not a fan of apologetics. In general I do not read it and I think primarily the purpose it serves is to help Christians feel comfortable in their faith. I know that over simplifies things, but if even I, who am a long term Christian with a very good theology background see all kinds of logical holes in most apologetics books I do not think it is really going to move a large segment of people to faith. My pastor has said several times, that people rarely have theological issues with God, they have emotional issues with God that they may hide behind theological issues. But when you push, usually the theological questions fall away and the emotional issues come back. So I have been hoping someone would write No Argument for God.
Wilkinson starts by asserting that Christianity is nonsense. By that he means that is really is beyond our ability to understand completely through our senses and therefore literally “nonsense” (above the senses). Much of the first half of the book is biographical to help the reader understand the limitations of reason and different ways to talk about Christianity. My favorite part of this section is a discussion about what science and logic can determine. Wilkinson says science and logic are good at understanding the “What” questions. If we ask “Why” questions, “Why is that flower there?”, science is limited in its ability to respond. Science can talk about how it evolved to have those colors or how it fits into the biosphere around it but science and logic cannot really give an answer to Why that does not become circular.
So once establishing some of the limits of science and reason, Wilkinson starts talking about what we can say about faith. Unsurprisingly, he suggests that focusing on our story, while admitting the nonsense of faith, disarms much of the antagonism and gives a place for actual conversation, instead of debate.
I think the place where most people get tripped up in transitioning from a propositional faith, to a relational faith is a proper understanding of scripture. The bible is God’s word, but not actually God. So we read the bible, not for truths to know about God, but for understanding of how God has worked in history. Learning about someone can get us only so far before we need to interact with them. So scripture will only affects us and becomes a part of us, if we put it into practice. The key is not only to read, but to put into practice what we are reading.
The final section is about a positive ways to talk about reason and faith. Wilkinson is not suggesting we should intentionally adopt irrational faith, but that we learn places where logic helps us understand. One suggestion is that we look at the concept of the divine as not human. So if faith is from God, then God will have thoughts that are not what we would chose as human. He suggests that the idea of Karma is rational; we get in response to what we have done. But the concept of grace is likely to be divine precisely because humans would not create it.
This is a good introduction to moving away from rationality. It is not expressly about evangelism, but it does have some discussion about evangelism. I would suggest it to people that are either interested in apologetics or on the other end, like me, believe are very much not interested in apologetics.
This book was provided by the publisher for purposes of review.