In the coming months at New Life we are looking forward to stepping into a series called Questions for God. In the series, we hope to openly and honestly engage the most difficult questions people have about Christianity. For some those questions keep them on the outside looking in. For others, it causes them to wrestle with their faith.
We hope that Questions for God invites everyone into the conversation no matter where you are spiritually. It is our aim to address these questions with respect and honesty. And it is our hope that some might lean in to engage their questions in a safe environment. It is hope as well that it might serve as an opportunity for Christians to open the doors for conversations with friends and family members.
As we prepare for this series, I would commend the following books. Maybe one of these piques your interest. I would encourage you to pick it up and start reading it in the next few weeks.
Two Books That Engage the Broader Questions
Confronting Christianity by Rebecca McLaughlin
Deep thinkers have pointed questions for Christianity. “Aren’t we better off without religion?” “How can you say there’s only one true faith?” “Doesn’t religion cause violence?” “Hasn’t science disproved Christianity?” “Isn’t Christianity homophobic?” “How could a loving God send people to hell?”
In Confronting Christianity, Rebecca McLaughlin takes those questions seriously. As a former skeptic, McLaughlin brings both empathy and clear reasoning. She does three things particularly well:
1) She states the argument against Christianity thoughtfully and persuasively. And she doesn’t hesitate to own the credibility of aspects of each of these arguments.
2) She utilizes sociological and psychological data extensively throughout the book. She is excellent in providing an unbiased perspective on the sociological and psychological impact of Christianity. Is the life of a Christian demonstrably better or worse than the unbeliever?
3) She doesn’t remain in the seat of responder to questions, but offers meaningful questions in return to the skeptic. It isn’t merely the Christian who has to answer difficult questions. Everyone has difficult questions to grapple with.
The Reason for God by Tim Keller
Tim Keller is an exemplar of how to interact with a critic of Christianity both intelligently and pastorally. In the first half of The Reason for God, Keller engages seven questions the skeptic has about Christianity. He humanizes the questions and pulls from his deep well of pastoral interactions. He is kind and understanding to the questioner while providing thoughtful biblical responses.
In the second half of the book, Keller walks through a defense of what coherent Christian belief entails. He considers the clues the sovereign has placed in this world, the problem of sin, and the story of the cross.
What I love about Keller is that anyone reading Keller will feel as though he takes her seriously and cares about her concerns. And then Keller builds an argument for why the skeptic ought to take the Christian narrative of the world seriously.
Topical Books (each is under 100 pages in length)[i]
Where was God when that happened? By Christopher Ash
Christopher Ash faces this question of suffering head on, without flinching at any of the difficulties. First he looks at six different ways people have answered this question both as Christians and from other religions and atheism and secularism. He then reveals the Bible's answer - the revelation of God's character and purposes throughout history.
This warm, pastorally hearted and accessible book will help those struggling with this question to see the grand vision of the Bible s answer - and the tragedy of adopting any other viewpoint.
Can I really trust the Bible? By Barry Cooper
The Bible makes big claims for itself. But do those claims stand up? Aren't the stories just legends? Hasn't the information been corrupted over time? Isn't the Bible full of mistakes? And isn't it culturally outdated?
In this absorbing little book, Barry Cooper explores these questions - and many others - with warmth, wit, and integrity.
Is God anti-gay? By Sam Allberry
Christians, the church, and the Bible seem to be out of step with modern attitudes towards homosexuality. And there is growing hostility toward those who hold a different view. Is the God of the Bible homophobic? Allberry takes on this difficult question with grace and thoughtfulness.
Why did Jesus have to die? By Marcus Nodder
The cross of Christ is at the very heart of Christian faith and life. Why is the cross the only way to be made right with God? This short, readable book explains clearly and simply what the Bible, and Jesus himself, says about the cross, and how Christians should understand it today.
Is hell for real? By Erik Raymond
The word Hell conjures up all kinds of nightmares in people's minds. But also presents a difficulty for many Christians. How can a God who the Bible says literally "is love" condemn anyone to an eternity of torment? Will punishment be eternal? Is Hell for real?
In this short, accessible book, pastor and author Erik Raymond reviews this important subject for everyone with pastoral warmth and biblical clarity.
Why bother with the church? By Sam Allberry
The church is widely viewed in the world at large as being outdated, boring, irrelevant and filled with backbiting hypocrites.
How different that picture is to how the Bible talks about the new family that Jesus has gathered. It is a precious bride, a sparkling jewel, a lifeboat for forgiven sinners that is precious and holy; nurturing and warm; filled with truth, friendship and all embracing, forgiving love.
Sam Allberry understands the collision between these two views, and how, even as Christian believers, we can lose sight of how truly wonderful church is and should be, and what a privilege it is to be part of, and to serve. In this brief accessible but thorough guide to church, Sam outlines what church is and why we need it.
[i] Unlike the first two reviews, which are mine, these descriptions are modified from the descriptions on Amazon.