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Fifteen Helpful New Books on Apologetics

Jul 13, 2009

Apologetics is concerned with demonstrating the reasonableness of Christianity’s truth claims, and answering objections to them. With over 230 articles on the topic, this website is obviously quite heavily involved with Christian apologetics. And there is a lot of helpful material out there to help us in this task. An increasing array of new worthwhile volumes are coming forth which can be of real assistance to the believer, and may even be worth reading by non-believers.

Here I provide brief assessments of ten new books dealing with apologetics, philosophy of religion, the new atheism, and related concerns. After that, I look at five books which have just appeared (or are about to) which I have just ordered. Knowing the authors of these books gives me full confidence that these five volumes will be very important indeed. So happy reading – and thinking.

Ten new apologetics titles (All these volumes are, or can be made, available in Australia at Koorong Books)

Copan, Paul, Loving Wisdom. Chalice Press, 2007.
This is an introductory text on the philosophy of religion, obviously penned from a Christian perspective. All the usual important topics are carefully addressed: the nature and attributes of God; arguments for God’s existence; the problems of evil and hell; science and miracles; religious pluralism; the uniqueness of Jesus; and so on. Copan is a rising star in Christian philosophy, and this is a very good volume indeed.

Copan, Paul, When God Goes to Starbucks. Baker, 2008.
Copan has written a number of important intermediate-level works on apologetics (and some advanced ones as well), and this volume offers more helpful and practical material. He looks at a number of mistaken ideas concerning worldviews, truth, reality, morality, miracles, contentious ethical issues, hotly debated biblical topics, and so on. Brief but meaty chapters cover many of these heated discussions found in contemporary society.

Cowan, Steven and James Spiegel, The Love of Wisdom. B&H Academic, 2009.
Those who are interested in a general introduction to philosophy, but from a Christian perspective, will find this book very useful indeed. While some other earlier books along these lines have appeared, this may be one of the better ones. It is neither too light-weight nor overly heavyweight. All the basic discussions found in an introductory philosophy text book are covered here, with various positions presented along with weakness and strengths of each. A very valuable volume.

Dembski, William and Jonathan Wells, How to Be an Intellectually Fulfilled Atheist (or not). ISI Books, 2008.
This is really a book about Intelligent Design and the question of the origin of life. In brief, informative chapters the authors cover the many reasons why naturalistic evolution simply cannot properly explain life’s origins, and how there are many quite substantial reasons for accepting an intelligent origin of life. There is plenty of solid science here, along with good philosophical reasoning, but all expressed in an easy-to-understand manner. Even though just 130 pages, it is a quite helpful book.

Geisler, Norman and Patrick Zukeran, The Apologetics of Jesus. Baker, 2009.
People may not consider Jesus to be an apologist, but in this brief (200-page) volume, the authors demonstrate how Jesus in fact used a number of apologetic methods and strategies in his teachings and practices. They show how this took place in his parables, discourses, prophecies, use of reason and his use of miracles.

Hasker, William, The Triumph of God over Evil. IVP, 2008.
The problem of evil and suffering presents Christians with a difficult challenge. Although just 225 pages, Hasker responds to a number of recent philosophical and theological discussions concerning theodicy, and weighs up the various options. Thus discussions about middle knowledge, divine omniscience, best possible worlds, and other considerations are included as well as examinations of the biblical data. Hasker himself advocates an open-theism point of view in addressing this issue.

Leithart, Peter, Solomon among the Postmoderns. BrazosPress, 2008.
A number of earlier Christian responses to postmodernism have been quite helpful. But this new volume presents a new slant to the discussion, with Solomon and his wisdom held up as a sparring partner to the concepts of postmodernism. He examines a number of issues, and demonstrates that while there might be some helpful insights associated with the movement, it too must stand under the critical eye of the biblical worldview. A well-written and helpful work of interaction and assessment.

Lennox, John, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? Lion, 2009.
This book actually first came out in 2007, but this new expanded edition has just appeared. The main addition seems to be a new concluding chapter on David Hume. This is an excellent book written by an Oxford Professor of Mathematics. He takes on all the heavyweight challengers, including Dawkins and Dennett, as he offers detailed discussions on science, evolution, naturalism, information theory, scientism, and related topics. A first-class work.

Moreland, J.P., The God Question. Harvest House, 2009.
In this popular level book Christian apologist J.P. Moreland combines rigorous thinking with practical reflection and personal direction. He looks at the big question of the existence of God; presents the attractiveness of the person of Jesus; offers some helpful reflections on living the moral life; and includes some personal testimony about his own journey. A helpful look at 21st century discipleship.

Sire, James and Carl Peraino, Deepest Differences: A Christian-Atheist Dialogue. IVP, 2009.
This volume is a collection of numerous emails sent back and forth between a committed and intelligent Christian (Sire) and a dead-set atheist academic (Peraino). Most of the usual topics are covered: the existence of God, morality; science and evolution; the meaning of persons; truth and reason; and so on. By the end of the book neither side seems to have budged, but the reader is presented with a helpful and informative dialogue between two thinkers with strongly opposing worldviews.

Five Forthcoming titles

Copan, Paul, Contending with Christianity’s Critics: Answering New Atheists and Other Objectors. B&H Academic, 2009.
In this 300-page book are 18 essays written by leading biblical scholars and Christian apologists, examining the various claims of the new atheists and related themes. Chapters on naturalism, evolution, Dawkins, morality, the resurrection, hell, and other topics are included.

Craig, William Lane and J. P. Moreland, eds., The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.
Some of the best writers on the topic of natural theology and Christian apologetics are featured in this 700-page work. A dozen articles examine and defend the various arguments for God’s existence, such as the ontological, teleological, cosmological, and moral. Also, arguments from reason, consciousness, evil, religious experience and miracles are examined. The latest thinking on these key arguments are here most capably presented. (Warning: expensive!)

Dembski, William, The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World. B&H Academic, 2009.
Bill Dembski is a leading figure in the Intelligent Design movement, but he is also a keen Christian apologist. Here he tackles one of the really tough issues: theodicy. How can we defend the concept of God in the face of so much suffering and evil? With hearty recommendations from Montgomery, Geisler, Moreland and McDowell, this looks to be a very valuable contribution to the discussion.

Dembski, William, ed., Tough-Minded Christianity: Legacy of John Warwick Montgomery. B&H Academic, 2009.
John Warwick Montgomery has been one of the premier Christian apologists of the last fifty years. Here a group of experts pay tribute to the man and his work with a number of essays on a wide range of theological and apologetics topics. Around fifty essays written by leading theologians, apologists and philosophers are included in this 800-page work.

Moreland, J. P., The Recalcitrant Imago Dei: Human Persons and the Failure of Naturalism. SCM Press, 2009.
Naturalism is the belief that nature is all there is. All atheists and most evolutionists subscribe to this belief. Yet to do so has devastating consequences for our understanding of personhood and what it is to be human. Here a noted Christian philosopher offers a thorough rebuttal of naturalism.

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16 Responses to Fifteen Helpful New Books on Apologetics

  • Thanks Bill, these look worth having for reading and sitting on the bookshelf for reference.
    Keith Jarrett

  • Has anyone read the Douglas Wilson books ‘The Deluded Atheist’ a response to Dawkins, and ‘God IS’ – a response to the Hitchens book ?

    I have read Wilson’s book ‘Letter from a Christian Citizen’ which is a great read but have noticed these 2 above books but haven’t seen much about them on the net – no reviews at Amazon yet…..

    Jeremy Woods

  • Thanks Jeremy

    I have two books by two different Wilsons: Letter from a Christian Citizen by Douglas Wilson (American Vision, 2007), which is a reply to Sam Harris; and Deluded by Dawkins by Andrew Wilson (Kingsway, 2007). Both are quite good, although brief (around 100 pages each). I do not yet have the other two by Douglas Wilson.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Just how many people have been converted to Christianity by these books? Same question applies to the Koukl you reviewed. Seen any eager testimonials? I am not suggesting of course that conversion is simply an intellectual affair. However, such books might crystallise conversion by satisfactorily answering intellectual doubts that might otherwise obstruct the course of events.

    I have read Christian apologists. Some of the argumentation is nicely crafted, and they come up with useful information such as the contribution of Christianity to the rise of empirical science. On the down side, the arguments can be the standard choreography that has entertained but not convinced atheist philosophers. What you need are Christian philosophers of the first rank to brush away the cobwebs. I came across such a book recently, a demolition of Hume on miracles. Christian critiques of Materialism can also be impressive. Interestingly, even some atheists are not happy with that philosophy.

    You claim all atheists subscribe to Naturalism. I’ve known atheists who wouldn’t know what the word means.

    John Snowden

  • Yeah, it seems these other 2 books by Douglas Wilson are not as known as his ”Letter from a Christian citizen”.
    Jeremy Woods

  • I would also suggest Ed Feser’s The Last Temptation because it is such an insightful trace of the philosophical origins of the thinking that has produced modern secularism and the likes of intolerant athiests like Dawkins.

    Damien Spillane

  • I’ve just read the (revised) God’s Undertaker; indeed, first class. A pity, though, that Lennox had (presumably had to have) a specifically-Christian publisher for this, when the militant atheists get mainstream publishers. I imagine they black-balled it (refused to have it), being part of the awful materialist MSM we suffer. Lennox did not analyse (you can’t write about everything in your book) exactly why the militant atheists will never take notice of the mountains of hard evidence against their materialism, and the MSM certainly won’t (the recent BBC Darwin-fest was predictably, sickeningly, one-sided).
    John Thomas

  • Thanks John Snowden

    Apologetics is admittedly just one part of the equation here. The New Testament makes it clear that the work of the Holy Spirit in conversion is vital. And of course people become Christians for all sorts of reason, and in all manner of ways. Some non-believers have honest questions which deserve honest answers. Some do not have the need for an intellectual rationale for belief prior to conversion.

    And another purpose of apologetics is to demonstrate to believers that their faith is reasonable and built on solid intellectual foundations. So it has a place for both believers and nonbelievers.

    There of course are a number of first rank Christian philosophers. One thinks of Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff , Richard Swinburne, to name but a few, along with earlier heavyweights such as Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm, and so on.

    One book of interest is God and the Philosophers, edited by Thomas Morris (OUP, 1994). It features short personal testimonies of top philosophers with a strong Christian faith, including Eleonore Stump, Arthur Holmes, Marilyn McCord Adams, Peter van Inwagen, Jerry Walls and others.

    Tell me which books you have highly regarded, eg., the Hume critique and materialism critiques. I can perhaps guess which ones you are referring to, but go ahead and mention them.

    BTW, usually when I do a book review, or a top ten list of books, hardly anyone comments on it. So this is a pleasant surprise.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Damien

    I take it you mean The Last Superstition by Feser (St. Augustine’s Press, 2008). Yes it really is a solid and very well-argued volume, with real substance packed throughout its 300 pages. His approach is to nullify atheism and materialism by utilising the “classical metaphysical picture of the world, which derives from Plato, was greatly modified first by Aristotle and later by Augustine, and was at last perfected by Aquinas and his followers”. For what it is worth, along the way he shows his complete disdain for the Intelligent Design movement.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill

    whoops got the title wrong: Yes I meant the The Last Superstition.

    I understand he is very critical of the ID movement because they accept a wrong metaphysical picture of the universe – one based on the old mechanistic picture of Descarte.

    I think he is basically right though I would quibble with his Thomism – prefer more of an emergentist picture of the universe along with William Hasker (though don’t accept his open theism).

    Damien Spillane

  • Thanks Damien

    Yes it is often difficult to find someone whom one fully agrees with. As would be expected, complete agreement is often hard to come by. Most authors I like may have a few areas I quibble with. But hey, I even sometimes quibble with myself!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I was thinking of Earman’s “Hume’s Abject Failure” and Rea’s “World Without Design”. The latter is a difficult read and has too many ifs and buts to be decisive. There’s also Reppert on the philosophy of mind. Can’t remember the other authors or find the books at present.

    On the other side of the fence there is “Contemporary Materialism: A Reader” edited by Moser and Trout. The contributors are the usual suspects, like David Armstrong, Daniel Dennett, J.J.C Smart, Paul Churchland.

    John Snowden

  • Damien: “likes of intolerant athiests like Dawkins”.

    I have noticed a trend amongst atheists and Secular Humanists not to be entirely enamoured with Dawkins even if he is a hero to many. I can’t stand him myself yet an atheist who met him told me he was a lovely person. Best criticism of his views that I have seen is David Stove’s. Dawkins seems to me to have a paranoid personality of which his fantasy of memes running the show is a symptomatic effusion.

    John Snowden

  • Thanks John

    Yes, unfortunately one can be a “lovely person” and still have horrendous ideas which results in very unlovely outcomes. As I mentioned in a recent review of a book on Darwin, he too seemed to be a lovely person, but his ideas have resulted in a lot of mischief, to say the least.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill,

    There is another book recently published in the USA which has received good reviews. It is “A Case for the Existence of God” by Dean L. Overman. I have his preface if you would like it, but he is easily found on Google.

    Geoffrey Bullock

  • Thanks Geoffrey

    Yes it is a very good book indeed. In its 200 pages he covers a wide range of issues, many from a philosophical angle, but he also utilises such fields as physics, information theory and religious experience. He sums up his book by noting that the existence of God explains a number of important things, such as the existence of the universe, the beginning of the universe, the mathematical nature of the universe, the existence of information, the existence of free will, morality and consciousness, and so on. Atheism, however, “lacks an adequate, coherent explanation for any of these things”.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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