General Apologetics

The apostle Peter says, “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15 ESV).

Here is a brief discussion of “what is apologetics?

Listed below are various books that I recommend for further study in apologetics. Enjoy!

Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis is an intellectual in the best sense of the word – that is, he firmly believes in the use of reason and logic. Mere Christianity is an apologetic argument for Christianity that is grounded solidly in human reason. He doesn’t try to “sell” Christianity by telling readers what they’ll get from it; rather, he explains very clearly and very convincingly why Christianity is true. One thing worth emphasizing is that Lewis really does focus on “mere” Christianity: not a particular denomination or approach, but the key ideas that form the essentials of the Christian faith. It’s one more thing that makes the book very accessible, and ideal for discussing with friends.

 

The Risen Jesus and Future Hope – Gary Habermas

A very accessible apologetic for the historicity of the Resurrection. He introduces many important arguments that, while they’re not developed in detail here, can be followed up in other books and articles. It’s helpful to have the key points laid out here, including Habermas’ “minimal facts” approach, so that readers can get the big picture without getting lost in counter-arguments over minor details.

 

Does God Exist? – J.P. Moreland, Kai Nielsen, and others

This is a very interesting book: it’s the transcript of a debate between JP Moreland (a Christian) and Kai Nielsen (an atheist). Each is renowned in his particular area of philosophy, and the debate is completely on the level, not tilted in one way or another. One of the interesting things about this book is that it’s framed as a debate between theism and atheism, so Christianity doesn’t specifically enter into it. The introductory section that frames the key points of the debate is particularly worthwhile.

The Resurrection of the Son of God – NT Wright

Next to CS Lewis, NT Wright has been the author with the most positive impact on my spiritual growth. This weighty scholarly volume goes into exhaustive (some would say exhausting) detail and depth on the question of Jesus’ resurrection. What did it mean to first-century Jews? What really happened on the first Easter? Wright is a formidable scholar and he pulls out all the stops in this work (part of a larger series on Christian Origins). Rather than jumping to conclusions that might fly away in the first stiff wind, Wright builds a solid foundation for his argument and ends up making the case conclusively. The Resurrection was an event in history.

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense – NT Wright

NT Wright is an excellent writer, who can explain his ideas clearly to a range of audiences. So if you’re not in the mood for a heavily footnoted 700-page tome, check out Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. It parallels CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity in some ways (deliberately – after all, they’re making the same points), but with updated explanations and examples. Wright also goes into areas that Lewis doesn’t (and vice versa) so the two books are both worth adding to your bookshelf.

The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters is essential reading – it’s extremely insightful and funny as well. The Screwtape Letters are the correspondence between a senior devil, Screwtape, and his protege, Wormwood, on the subject of how to best tempt Wormwood’s “patient” and deliver him up to Hell. It’s reverse psychology at its best, showing up with diabolical clarity just how we fool ourselves on a day to day basis, and how the smallest things may carry much more weight in our character than we’d like to imagine. Just try reading this book without the uncomfortable realization that Lewis has a very keen eye for human nature…

The Great Divorce – C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis’ story is the best explanation and apologetic for the reality, and the nature, of Hell that I have ever read. Another must-read.