My former apologetics professor, Ted Cabal who edited the Apologetics Study Bible, stated that we leave in the “golden age of apologetics.” I believe that is so with many great books coming out this past year and more to come in 2017. Leave a comment on what great apologetic books you are looking forward to in the comments below. Here is a short list of five books I believe are worth reading this year for apologetics.
Blomberg, a New Testament professor at Denver Seminary, wrote the influential The Historical Reliability of the Gospels back in 1987 and updated it in 2007. This one expands his work to include the entire New Testament coming in at 816 pages. Starting with the formation of the New Testament, he goes on to cover contradictions in the synoptic gospels, corroboration of the synoptics, formation and evidence for the gospel of John, and then precedes to Acts and Paul’s writing. He then discusses canonicity and and transmission, and the problem of miracles in historical texts. Thomas R. Schreiner associate dean of the School of Theology and James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary praises the book as such:
“I cannot think of a better person to write a book on the reliability of the New Testament than Craig Blomberg. We do not have the reflections of a novice here but of a seasoned and veteran scholar, one whose work has stood the test of time. All the virtues of Blomberg’s scholarship are on display here: he is well versed in secondary sources, he is unfailingly fair to those who hold different views, and his own judgments reflect careful assessment of the evidence. Blomberg demonstrates that trust in the reliability of the New Testament is reasonable; one doesn’t have to put one’s head in the sand to find in the New Testament writings words that are true and accurate.”
A recently produced book by Cambridge University Press was just released this month by Luke Barnes, who is a postdoctoral researcher at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy who completed a PhD at the University of Cambridge, and Geraint F. Lewis, a Professor of Astrophysics at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy and head of the Gravitational Astrophysics Group, titled A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos that continues this long discussion about fine-tuning. The foreword by Brian Schmidt of the Australian National University, Canberra, and Nobel Laureate in Physics describes the book:
My colleagues, Geraint and Luke, in A Fortunate Universe, take you on a tour of the Cosmos in all of its glory, and all of its mystery. You will see that humanity appears to be part of a remarkable set of circumstances involving a special time around a special planet, which orbits a special star, all within a specially constructed Universe. It is these set of conditions that have allowed humans to ponder our place in space and time. I have no idea why we are here, but I do know the Universe is beautiful. A Fortunate Universe captures the mysterious beauty of the Cosmos in a way that all can share.
Licona’s last work was back in 2010 with his magisterial study on the resurrection with The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. In this work Licona does a carefully reading of Plutarch’s Lives in order to analyze how ancient biography was written in order to compare it to the biography of Jesus in the gospels. Here are several reviews of the book from some significant scholars:
“Anyone who has looked at a synopsis of the Gospels will have wondered why the accounts of the same events in different Gospels vary. Michael Licona breaks new ground by arguing that the writers used the same compositional devices as the biographer Plutarch employed when he reworked the same material in more than one of his biographies. This is an illuminating fresh approach to understanding how the Gospel writers used their sources.”-Richard Bauckham, Professor Emeritus of New Testament Studies, University of St. Andrews
“How worried should we be by the differences between the Gospels? Do they discredit the whole story? In an exemplary crossover of classical and New Testament studies, Michael Licona shows that the answer is ‘not very worried at all’: when we compare the techniques used in Greco-Roman literature, the striking feature is the Gospels’ consistency rather than their differences. Troubled believers will find this book as important as classicists and New Testament scholars.”-Christopher Pelling, Regius Professor of Greek, Christ Church, Oxford
Stephen T. Davis, the Russell K. Pitzer Professor of Philosophy has been teaching at Claremont McKenna College since 1976. I really enjoyed his work on the resurrection in Risen Indeed: Making Sense of the Resurrection. He has written and edited a host of books in philosophy, theology, and apologetics: God, Reason, and Theistic Proofs, Logic and the Nature of God, a series of interdisciplinary symposiums on the Resurrection, Trinity, Incarnation, and Redemption, and his newly reprinted Christian Philosophical Theology. In Rational Faith provides an accessible discussion starting with truth, God’s existence, and moves on to cover the bible, resurrection, evolution, and the problem of evil.
C. Stephan Evans of Baylor University states, “In this book, Stephen Davis offers a clear and cogent case for the reasonableness of Christian faith. In a relatively short book, Davis manages to treat just about every issue that an honest person concerned about Christian faith might want to ask, ranging from reasons to believe in God and Jesus as God’s Son to problems connected to science, religious diversity and uniqueness, and evil. Davis is fair to the critics of Christianity and careful not to claim more than his arguments warrant. This is a book that will be helpful to both believers and unbelievers. The tone is personal and down-to-earth; the reader comes away with a sense of having had an enjoyable, stimulating, and possibly life-changing conversation.” Michael J. Murray,senior visiting scholar, Franklin & Marshall College says that “with characteristic clarity, rigor, and accessibility, Stephen Davis presents a compelling defense of the Christian faith. While taking a fresh look at traditional arguments, Rational Faith also addresses cutting-edge topics in apologetics such as the implications of evolutionary and psychological accounts of the origin of religious belief. This is a valuable resource for Christian believers and skeptics alike.”
5. Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical by Timothy Keller (Viking, Sept 2016)
Finally, Timothy Keller, noted pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, who wrote several years back the bestseller The Reason for God, states that his previous book, while helpful for many, doesn’t begin far back enough. It is described as an invitation to ” skeptics to consider that Christianity is more relevant now than ever. As human beings, we cannot live without meaning, satisfaction, freedom, identity, justice, and hope. Christianity provides us with unsurpassed resources to meet these needs. Written for both the ardent believer and the skeptic, Making Sense of God shines a light on the profound value and importance of Christianity in our lives.” Topics include identity and self, justice, morality, evidence and the nature of faith, the relevance of religion, and hope. Keller has the ability to make apologetics applicable and personal has he attempts to answer existential questions such as “Why should anyone believe in Christianity?” and “What role can faith and religion play in our modern lives?”
Honorable mentions include:
Taking Pascal’s Wager: Faith, Evidence, and the Abundant Life by Michael Rota
How to be an Atheist: Why Many Skeptics Aren’t Skeptical Enough by Mitch Stokes
No God but Allah: Allah or Jesus? A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam and Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi
God Among Sages: Why Jesus Is Not Just Another Religious Teacher by Kenneth Samples
Jesus Among Secular Gods: The Countercultural Claims of Christ by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale
What would you add to this list? Comment below.