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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the www.comereason.org Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.
Wednesday, November 02, 2016
It has become more and more obvious that Christians need to be able to answer questions about their beliefs. Students face challenges to the faith everywhere. Apologetics ministries like Come Reason have been busy training students and congregations on just how to answer objections to Christianity in a smart yet understandable way, leading to an explosion of apologetics content for the believer. It's one reason why Lee Strobel characterized today as a "golden era of apologetics."
Not only are apologetics materials increasing, so is their level of sophistication. This means most are targeted for adult or young adult audiences. But it isn't only the adults that need to defend their faith! I've received many requests from parents looking to find quality apologetics materials for their younger children. That's why I'm excited at the release of J. Warner Wallace's new book Cold Case Christianity for Kids: Investigate Jesus with a Real Detective.
In Wallace's first book, Cold Case Christianity, he drew upon his many years as a detective to demonstrate why believing in the resurrection is the most reasonable position one can take when looking at the evidence. The combination of personal anecdotes on past crime scenes with a clear argument for the truth of the resurrection made that book a best seller. This version has the basics of that book rewritten in a form young people can better understand. This includes simplifying the arguments a bit and creating a "mystery" the main characters in the book work on solving. I would place the reading level at 7th or 8th grade level, though with a bit of help, younger audiences would enjoy it, too.
There are many things to like about the book. The writing is clear and simple. The addition of characters and the puzzle of the skateboard offer continuity from chapter to chapter. There are more illustrations, definitions, and assignments so the book can be used as a homeschool text or in a family study. Further, Wallace has additional materials, including worksheets and videos for each chapter at the book's accompanying web site.
As for criticisms, the first is the material moves fast—really fast. If one were to give this to a seventh grader and asked him or her to simply read it, the student would be faced with terms such as "naturalism", "inference," and "abductive reasoning." Each term is defined in a side bar, but the student must understand the concepts behind the terms well for the arguments to be effective. I'm sure some of this was to keep the book short for modern attention spans while still offering the same solid reasoning that gives the adult's version its power. I think it's laudable to not dumb down the arguments, but a few of them may be difficult for kids to grasp without some help. It may be a quibble since I don't believe talking down to kids is the right way to go. Just know up front that your child may have some questions for you as she reads it!
In all, we need more works like this. There are very few resources Christian parents can draw upon to help build their children's faith and show the reasons for why we believe what we believe. Cold Case Christianity for Kids is an important addition to the Christian parents' arsenal. Clear, well-written, and smart, with a detective story to boot, it does an excellent job presenting Christianity as an intelligent belief.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Every homicide case begins as a simple death investigation. When a dead body is discovered, detectives must investigate the evidence to determine the most reasonable explanation. Did the body die naturally? Did he suffer some kind of accident? Did he commit suicide? Was he murdered? These are the four possible explanations at any death scene. Homicide detectives are concerned with only the last one.Wallace then notes that while the first three explanations require no other actor, evidence for murder means that the victim's death cannot be explained by only what investigators find "inside the room." Another actor must be involved.
Using this analogy, Wallace has once again written a highly engaging yet informative apologetics book demonstrating the reasonableness of God's existence. Like his previous Cold Case Christianity (reviewed here), each chapter opens with an anecdote of a homicide investigation and sets the stage for the concepts of the chapter. This format makes what could be somewhat difficult concepts, such as the attributes of consciousness and how they differ from materialism, much easier to digest. The liberal use of illustration (drawn by Wallace himself) and sidebars also coalesce the important information for easy digestion.
In building the case for God's existence, God's Crime Scene tackles many of the standard arguments including the fine-tuning of the universe, the origin of life, the reality of moral values and duties, the emergence of consciousness, and even the problem of evil. Each chapter offers seven or eight separate arguments or "lines of evidence" that point to that chapter's topic and each ends with the question of whether the evidence indicates there was someone "outside the room."
The nice thing here is Wallace approaches the existence of God as a cumulative case instead of assuming God first. This is not only a more reasonable way to approach the question of God's existence, but it has the added advantage of forcing the atheist to explain all of the facts as an integrated whole instead of piece by piece.
While most of the objections that one would hear from skeptics don't appear in the chapter itself, there is a "secondary investigations" section at the end of the book that voices the most common objections to each evidentiary point and briefly answers them. This allows the reader to have at least an idea that the objection is known, an answer exists, and gives him a direction where he can continue his own research in that direction.
The book is a great primer on arguments for the existence of God. Wallace's writing style is easy and the book could be understood in a high school or junior high Sunday school class. Instead of miring his arguments down in too much detail, Wallace relies on his "expert witnesses" to do that heavy lifting for him and simply explains their conclusions. For specifics, one much dig further into the bibliography that he has compiled chapter by chapter.
God's Crime Scene is a wonderful addition to any Christian's library. It should be read by all believers to understand the basic arguments for God's existence and why belief in God is inherently reasonable. It is persuasive for seekers and non-believers open minded enough to weigh the evidence on their own merits. It is a convicting case.
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