Mere Apologetics : How to Help Seekers and Skeptics Find Faith, Paperback

Mere Apologetics : How to Help Seekers and Skeptics Find Faith Paperback

3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 208 pages, black & white illustrations
  • Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Christian theology
  • ISBN: 9780801014161



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Alister E. McGrath. Mere Apologetics: How to Help Seekers & Skeptics Find Faith. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2012. 197 pp. $16.99.Alister McGrath is professor of theology, ministry, and education at King’s College in London. He is also president of the Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics. McGrath is a prolific author. Among his numerous writings is C.S. Lewis - A Life, Christianity’s Dangerous Idea, and his award-winning The Passionate Intellect.Dr. McGrath clarifies his purpose in writing when he states, “This book does not reflect the approach of any school of apologetics, but aims to equip its users to think apologetically, drawing on the best apologists to help explore the issues” (35).A major emphasis in this particular volume is adapting your message to fit your audience. As our author points out, “People do not exist in cultural vacuums” (25). Therefore, the thoughtful apologist must first know his audience before his apologetic approach is decided upon. Strategic variety can be illustrated in the way Peter preached to Jews in Acts 2 and how Paul preached to Greeks in Acts 17. Christians must avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to proclaiming the gospel and instead tailor the good news to be ‘receptor-oriented.’ Young apologists can wrongly assume seekers and skeptics are one homogeneous group. And, therefore, fail to scratch where their particular audiences itch. Professor McGrath’s writing style is simple without being simplistic. For example, he introduces his readers to Charles Peirce’s method of abduction, or inference to the best explanation, without becoming technical. McGrath then builds his cumulative case for the Christian faith. He does a superb job in briefly explaining and illustrating the Argument from Desire, the Moral Argument, and examples of Fine-Tuning etc. The following chapter exposes young apologists to Francis Schaeffer’s concept of ‘points of tension’ and the idea of ‘taking the roof off.’ In a text of only 175 pages, the reader will become conversant in the arguments and concepts of Christian apologetics. When discussing the intuition of hope McGrath ponders, “Maybe God has planted the idea of eternity in our hearts as a clue to the true meaning of the universe” (120). He then goes on to admit, “This is not really a logical argument…it is about interpretation of the human situation” (120). While some works on apologetics focus solely on the rational, Mere Apologetics repeatedly emphasizes how many postmoderns will more readily appreciate a focus on human feelings and longings. A strength of this volume is the emphasis that is placed on demonstrating the Christian faith as a livable worldview. Thus, the apologist must be capable of showing how their faith makes sense of all aspects of life, not merely the cognitive.One weakness of the book is how McGrath repeatedly points out his volume does not follow any one approach to the apologetic task. Instead it is a collectivist writing. However, the nuances between a classical and evidentialist approach are never discussed even in summary form. Yet, for an introduction to apologetics it would be helpful to point out the different approaches between Alvin Plantinga and Francis Schaeffer even if ever so briefly. The book does a disservice to its novice readers by alluding to different apologetic schools without giving them a hint of what those approaches represent.Mere Apologetics is the written form of Dr. McGrath’s lecture material after six years of teaching an introductory course on apologetics at the Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics. The book is neither an advanced nor a specialized text. For introductory purposes it would be a fine textbook for colleges or seminaries. Likewise, Mere Apologetics would be a great discussion starter for the studious small group.Andrew RameySenior Minister

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