Book Review: Why Believe: Christian Apologetics for a Skeptical Age (Hobbs College Library), by Tawa J. Anderson.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Think Apologetics. Tabernacle of David considers this resource trustworthy and Biblically sound.


Over the last several years, there has been an abundance of apologetic resources that have been released. Tawa J Anderson’s book Why Believe: Christian Apologetics for a Skeptical Age is written on an introductory level and anyone that has been exposed to apologetics will be familiar with the arguments that are presented in this book.

The book is laid out in the following fashion:

Chapter 1 discusses why we should all care deeply about the “big questions of life” and should be particularly motivated to discover whether Christianity provides true answers. Chapter 2 (“Why Apologeticize?”) outlines the nature of apologetics, provides the biblical mandate for giving reasons for Christian faith, and considers the desperate need for a reasoning and reasonable faith in contemporary Western society. In Chapter 3 (“Why Truth?”),  Anderson argues that truth exists and provide tools for testing various truth claims.

There are answers to the big questions of life, even if they may be difficult to find and even more difficult to agree upon! Then, in part 2 (“Why God?”), Anderson argues that there are strong reasons to believe that God exists. Everyday people, even Christians, frequently assert that belief in God is at best based on personal experience; at worst it flies in the face of overwhelming that human understandings of morality demonstrate the necessity of God. In Chapter 6 (“Humanity”), Anderson suggests that several universal aspects of the human experience (religious experience, transcendent desire, appreciation of beauty, consciousness and free will, and rationality) point strongly toward a divine creator. Given the existence of objective truth, and the strong reasons to believe that there is a God, we can then move on to ask whether there is good reason to believe that Christianity specifically is true—for that, we need primarily to examine the question of Jesus of Nazareth.

In part 3 (“Why Jesus?”), Anderson argues that there is good evidence supporting the Christian belief that Jesus of Nazareth was a divine being—a unique God-man—who died to provide humanity a means to return to right relationship with God and rose from the  dead both to demonstrate his identity as the divine Son of God and to confer the gift of eternal life to those who trust in and follow him.

 Chapter 7 (“The Story”) examines the nature of the New Testament Gospels. Most of what we know or think about Jesus is based on these four books; thus, it is essential to see that we have good reason to trust these accounts. Chapter 8 (“The Man”) shows that Jesus of Nazareth was a unique figure who believed himself to be divine and confirmed his identity through both words and deeds. Chapter 9 (“The Fulcrum”) outlines the crucial events of Easter Sunday. Here Anderson outlines the historical evidence (biblical and nonbiblical) that supports the central miracle claim of Christianity: Jesus’s resurrection from the dead. He argues that the traditional belief that God raised Jesus from the dead is the only satisfactory explanation for the data; it is more reasonable to embrace the risen Jesus than to reject him.

Finally, in part 4 (“What About?”),  Anderson  responds briefly to some of the most frequently stated objections to Christian faith. Even if one grants the relative strength of the arguments He makes in the first nine chapters, many will insist that there are compelling objections and counterarguments. Chapter 10 (“Cross-Examined”) looks at five reasons often given for not believing that Christianity is true: (1) the problem of evil and suffering, (2) the hypocrisy of many Christians (3) injustices perpetrated by the church, (4) the conflict between contemporary science and Christian faith, and (5) the exclusive (narrow) nature of Christian salvation.  He argues that although these objections may involve important insights, they ultimately do not provide a reason to reject Christianity.

In the conclusion (“Why Believe?”), He briefly retraces his steps and suggest that there are good reasons for our hearts to desire Christianity to be true and for our heads to believe Christianity to be true.

Anderson says at the start of the book that he envisions six different people who might be reading his book: the hardened skeptic, a former believer, a questioning seeker, a disinterested secularist, a struggling follower, and the tentative apologist. Anderson is a clear writer, and the book is well organized and comprehensive in nature. Anderson lays out the arguments in a syllogistic manner. I think the chapter on the textual reliability of the New Testament was one of the strongest chapters in the book.  Each chapter is followed by further recommended reading. While I don’t think this book broke any new apologetic ground, if you are looking for a text to utilize to teach an apologetics class in a local church or elsewhere, it is a fine contribution to the apologist’s arsenal.  

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