Thursday, December 24, 2015

A GUIDE TO YOUR FIRST APOLGETICS BOOK: Concise Reviews of the Best Books

An accessible and concise review of the 17 best apologetics books to get started with....in the order I recommend them for a first book of apologetics.

Never read a book on apologetics? Not sure what to read first? This little guide is meant to help you find a good fit--or help someone else. :)

NOTES FOR USING THIS GUIDE:
1. Titles take you to Amazon
2. Borrow ebooks and audiobooks for FREE! using Overdrive, service used by many libraries (link provided when available below each title). A couple are also availble as FREE! downloads.
3. Most are available in audio (noted below each title). But you may still want a print or ebook version ready to refer to--a combination that I have personally found helpful.
4. My judgments about difficulty: Popular Level vs. Nerd Level (followed by my guess at appropriate age-level) are given immediately below each title.
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COMPELLING
PERSPECTIVE OF A COLD-CASE DETECTIVE

Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace (288 pages).
*Popular Level: High school & up
*Available in paperback, Kindle, Audible & Audio CD. Also at OverDrive in ebook & audiobook
*Also, available: Alive!, a 22-page booklet on just the case for the resurrection of Jesus.

Wallace is a famous L.A. cold-case detective. Using the skills he developed investigating homicide cases, he presents the evidence for Christianity that led him from atheism to faithin Christ. Well written, fast-moving, and intriguing. Among my very favorite apologetics books. My #1 recommendation for anyone getting started in apologetics. You can find Detective Wallace's website here.

INVESTIGATIVE
EX-ATHEIST JOURNALIST INTERVIEWS EXPERTS
The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel (304 pages). 
*Popular Level: High school & up
*Available in hardcover, paperback, Kindle, Audible & Audio CD. Also at OverDrive in ebook & audiobook

One of the most popular apologetics books ever written. Strobel was an award-winning legal journalist for the Chicago Tribune and made his way from atheism to Christianity after investigating the evidence for Jesus. This book consists of a series of interviews between Strobel and top experts on the issues he investigates. An easy and enjoyable read. Strobel's website is here.

PERSONAL
BIOGRAPHY OF A CONVERTED MUSLIM
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi (328 pages). 
*Popular Level: High school & up
*Available in paperback, Kindle, Audible & Audio CD. Also at OverDrive in ebook & audiobook.

This is an autobiographical account. If you enjoy biographies or true stories or are interested in Islam, this may be the book for you. It is an easy and enjoyable read. This book received the 2015 Christian Book Award for "Best Non-Fiction" and "Best New Author." I highly recommend it. You can find out more about Qureshi here.

PROFOUND
HOW CHRIST HAS CHANGED THE WORLD
How Jesus Passes the Outsider Test by David Marshall (210 page). 
*Popular Level: High school & up
*Available in paperback and Kindle only. 

An enjoyable read. Marshall has an incredible breadth of knowledge and writes with wit and mastery of metaphors. If social issues or world cultures are of interest to you, you should read this....or if you just like great writing. This book presents a unique and compelling argument for the truth of Christianity. Among my very favorite books. My Amazon review of this book. Dr. Marshall's blog is here.

WITTY
LIGHT-HEARTED HUMOR BY A BEST-SELLING AUTHOR
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God But Were Afraid to Ask: The Jesus Edition by Eric Metaxas (228 pages).
*Popular Level: High school & up (probably even middle school students would enjoy this)
*Available in Audible audio, Kindle, paperback and hardcover. Also at OverDrive in ebook and audio.

This book is a light-hearted dialogue between Q & A, as in Question and Answer. "Every
thing You Always Wanted to Know About God (but were afraid to ask),came out in 2005, and was praised by Ann B. Davis, Alice on The Brady Bunch (“I am absolutely smitten with this book!”), Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (“The difficulty is not to gush.”), and Dick Cavett (“Metaxas deserves a prize.”)."

"Eric Metaxas is the New York Times #1 bestselling author of Bonhoeffer, Miracles,Seven Women, Seven Men, Amazing Grace, and If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty.....In a decidedly eclectic career, Eric Metaxas has written for VeggieTales, Chuck Colson, and the New York Times, three things not ordinarily found in the same sentence. He is a best-selling author whose biographies, children’s books, and works of popular apologetics have been translated into more than 20 languages." Above descriptions in quotes from Eric Metaxas' website.

SCIENTIFIC
APPROACH OF A SEASONED SCIENTIST
Who Made God? by Edgar Andrews (304 pages). 
*Popular Level: High school & up
*Available in hardcover, paperback and Kindle. Also at OverDrive in ebook

Dr. Andrews, a seasoned chemist who has debated Richard Dawkins, uses the scientific method as a way to approach the evidence for Christianity. Andrews' British humor and easy-to-follow logic make this book a pleasure. If you have a passion for science, this book would be an excellent place for you to start your journey in apologetics. You can find Dr. Andrew's website here.

LOGICAL

CLEAR THINKING OF A PHILOSOPHER & TOP APOLOGIST
On Guard by William Lane Craig (288 pages). 
*Popular Level: High school & up (I have yet to read this one and am gauging this on comments from others.)
*Available in paperback and Kindle. Also at OverDrive in ebook

Craig is among the greatest living apologists and has taken his decades of experience and written this cumulative argument for Christianity for a popular audience. I have not read this book, but it comes highly recommended from many apologists that I know. And Craig's years of experience have given him the ability to communicate issues clearly and logically. If you appreciate philosophy or analytical thinking, this may be the book for you. Dr. Craig's website is here.

DOWN-TO-EARTH
A PASTORAL APPROACH
The Reason for God by Tim Keller (332 pages). 
*Popular Level: High school & up
*Available in hardcover, paperback, Kindle, Audible & Audio CD. Also at OverDrive in ebook & audiobook.

Keller is the pastor and founder of a large church in New York City. He wrote this New York Times bestseller to answer the questions that people ask. He communicates clearly and with understanding of the things that concern people. A very enjoyable, encouraging and easy read with moments of pure brilliance. Dr. Keller's website is here.

FOUR GO-TO CLASSICS
THE MOST WIDELY DISTRIBUTED APOLOGETICS BOOK
More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell (192 pages). 
*Popular Level: High school & up (probably accessible by middle school students, also)
*Available in hardcover, paperback, Kindle, & Audible. Also at OverDrive in ebook & audiobook.

Probably no apologetics book has reached more people around the world than this book that was originally published in 1977. This straightforward and relatively brief book was very influential in my life as a teen. Josh (who has several decades of experience as a popular apologist) recently updated this book with the help of his son Sean (who is also a seasoned apologist in his own right). Josh's website is here and Sean's website is here.

THE MOST INFLUENTIAL CHRISTIAN BOOK OF THE 20TH CENTURY
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (266 pages). 
*Popular Level (verging on Nerd level): Older high school students & up
*Available in hardcover, paperback, Kindle, & Audible. Also at OverDrive in ebook & audiobook. Or you can download it for FREE! in ebook or audiobook.

This book is perhaps the most important and influential Christian book written in the 20th Century. Lewis' skill as a writer and thinker is well known. The first section of this book focuses on what is known as the moral argument; so if issues of justice and morality are of great importance to you, you may find this book is a good place for you to start. Lewis also focuses on other apologetics arguments that are a matter of common experience. This book is a must read. Mere Christianity was chosen as one of the top 25 Christian books of all time by Christian History Magazine, which devoted an article to it that serves as a very nice introductionYou can find a brief biography of Lewis (and much more) here.

ANOTHER VERY INFLUENTIAL BOOK
Know Why You Believe by Paul Little (231 pages). 
*Popular Level: High school & up
*Available in paperback, Kindle, Audible & Audio CD. Also at OverDrive in ebook and audiobook.

This book has had a huge influence. It easy to read and easy to follow. My church used this book for Sunday School classes back in the 1970s; and if my memory serves me correctly, this may have been the first apologetics book that I read. It has been revised and updated since then and is still a favorite for many. You can find a brief biography and bibliography for Little here.

LIVELY, COLORFUL & PROVOCATIVE
Orthodoxy by G.K Chesterton (114 pages). 
**Popular Level (probably verging on Nerd Level): Older high school & up
*Available in hardcover, paperback, Kindle, & Audible. Also at OverDrive in ebook & audiobook. Or you can download it for FREE! in PDF ebook or Kindle or audiobook.

Lively, colorful and provocative, Chesterton was among the greatest of writers of the early 20th Century. Chesterton was a huge influence on C.S. Lewis. This book is a true classic.  This is the shortest of the books on the list and Chesterton's wit makes this an easy read. You can find a brief biography of Chesterton here.

LONGER READS....DEEPER STUDY
BEST WORLDVIEW & CULTURAL ANALYSIS
Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey (480 pages). 
*Popular Level (verging on Nerd Level): Older high school & up
*Available in hardcover, paperback, Kindle, Audible, & Audio CD. Also at OverDrive in ebook & audiobook

Written for a popular audience, Pearcey writes clearly and skillfully and uses helpful illustrations--which makes this longer read move along relatively quickly and enjoyably. I would place this in the top ten apologetics books I've read and probably the best for worldview and cultural analysis. My Amazon review of this book. Pearcey's websites are here and here.

A POWERFUL CUMULATIVE ARGUMENT
I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist by Norm Geisler and Frank Turek (452 pages). 
*Popular Level (verging on Nerd Level): Older high school & up
*Available in hardcover, paperback, Kindle, Audible, & Audio CD. Also at OverDrive in ebook & audiobook

Written for a popular audience. While I disagree with their probabilistic approach to the evidence for Christianity (which I hope to write on in the near future) and they misunderstand the issue of natural selection (which is inadequate but not for the reasons they give), this book is generally solid with many moments of pure brilliance. Overall it is a powerful cumulative argument for Christianity and I highly recommend it. Dr. Geisler's website is here and Dr. Turek's website is here.

A COLLEGE-LEVEL COURSE FROM A SEASONED APOLOGIST
Christian Apologetics by Douglas Groothuis (752 pages). 
*Nerd Level: Older high school & up
*Available in hardcover and Kindle only.

This is a lengthy textbook on apologetics. But if you are willing to make the effort, Groothuis has used his decades of experience as an apologist to write a masterpiece that will ground you soundly. Plus, you can find guidance in reading it at Apologetics315. Dr. Groothuis' website is here.

A FORMAL PHILOSOPHICAL APPROACH
Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig (418 pages). 
*Nerd Level: Advanced older high school & up. Must be willing and able to tackle technical philosophical jargon.
*Available in paperback and Kindle only. Also at OverDrive in ebook only.

If you are interested in a more philosophical and analytical approach to apologetics, this is the book for you. Craig is among the world's greatest living apologists: a top expert on the cosmological argument and also the evidence for the resurrection, he is additionally very knowledgeable about many other areas of apologetics, plus his philosophical training and years of debating have trained him to think clearly and logically. Dr. Craig's website is here.


RELATED PAGES ON MY BLOG
*GETTING STARTED IN APOLOGETICS: Resources for the Beginner
*BUILDING A BIBLE & APOLOGETICS REFERENCE LIBRARY: A Guide
*AVALANCHE OF AUDIO FOR APOLOGETICS & BIBLE STUDY
*FREE ONLINE CLASSES FOR STUDYING THE BIBLE & APOLOGETICS
*1000's of *FREE!* BOOKS, AUDIOBOOKS & JOURNALS for Apologetics & Bible Study, etc.
*MASTER LIST OF APOLOGETICS RESOURCES: A guide to finding just about everything you will ever need when doing apologetics (or at least that is the goal I am working towards)


STILL LOOKING?....
If you want to consider someone else's perspective on where to start, check out these recommendations from my friend Carson Weitnauer.....OR this excellent reading plan at Apologetics315....OR if you love to read and are determined to master apologetics, you will want to check out my friend Timothy McGrew's "A Course of Readings in Apologetics".





13 comments:

  1. Another resource I would suggest is "Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions," by Gregory Koukl, coupled with "True for You, But Not for Me: Overcoming Objections to Christian Faith," by Paul Copan. Those two together make for an excellent read for the new apologist:

    http://www.amazon.com/Tactics-Game-Discussing-Christian-Convictions/dp/0310282926/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1450977586&sr=1-1&keywords=tactics

    http://www.amazon.com/True-You-But-Not-Overcoming/dp/0764206508/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1450976103&sr=1-1&keywords=true+for+you+but+not+for+me

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  2. Thanks for your input! Tactics is definitely a must-read for any apologist and I also would recommend it as among the first books one reads.

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  3. Norman Geisler, Christian Apologetics, Second Edition. ISBN 978-0-8010-4854-8 A work in three parts: Part One surveys various tests for truth in order to lay the groundwork for testing the truth of various worldviews. Part Two applies the test for truth to the various worldviews and concludes that theism is the only adequate worldview. Part Three works within the context of a theistic worldview to verify the unique claims of historical Christianity as to the deity of Christ and the authority of the Bible. (from the Preface of this book)

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  4. Good choices. Excellent books. However, I would include Ravi Zacherias, "Can man live without God" for those who love philosophy.

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    1. Thank you for your input! Another great suggestion.

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  5. Excellent list Brad. I'll be speaking to 10-12th grade apologetics students of Curby's and will likely share your page and list. Thanks!
    Eddy del Rio

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    1. Thanks, Eddy! I hope it encourages them to find a book that they will enjoy reading and that will strengthen their faith in Christ....or lead them to faith (as the case may be).

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  6. Here's another for your list:
    "The Wedge of Truth" by Phillip E. Johnson. I understand that it helped launch a greater interest in Intelligent Design and indirectly led to Michael Behe's book, "Darwin's Black Box" a few years later.

    In "The Wedge of Truth" Johnson takes on the presumption of naturalism, or scientific materialism, that is at the root of the conflict with Darwinism/atheism. This presumption has never been proven. In fact it is doubtful that it ever will be. It is simply presumed to be true. Carl Sagan famously said, “The cosmos is all that is, all that ever was, and all that ever will be”. But he never proved that. No one has. It is Sagans' faith statement. Sometimes you can get an honest atheist to admit that they hold to a naturalistic presumption of origins by faith, but not very often.

    The story goes, as I understand it, that after Michael Behe, a biologist, read Johnson's book he decided to take Socrates' advice and "follow the evidence" he was finding in biology. This led him to the concept of "irreducible complexity", to "inteligent design", and to his own book, "Darwin's Black Box" (the black box being the inner workings of the cell that were hidden and unknown to Darwin, and much more complex than he could have imagined).

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    1. Thanks! That seems like a great addition to the list. Certainly this seems like it would be a great first apologetics book for anyone that is bound by naturalistic assumptions. I also noticed on Amazon that it received some awards in the year that it was published. Just one more book to add to the very long list of books that I must read! :)

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  8. What do you think of
    https://www.amazon.com/Fools-Talk-Recovering-Christian-Persuasion/dp/0830836993

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    1. Sam, I have not read it. But Os Guiness is great and I have heard good things about the book.

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