Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Convicted: A Book Review

When I first read Helene's post last week about apologetics315, I was a little disturbed.  She asked how useful the field of apologetics is in our day to day Christian walk, and the answer she came up  with is "not much."  I was disturbed because I love apologetics.  I love that our God is a God of logic, and that we can come to know him through thought as well as experience.  

However, after much consideration I have to agree that we are never going to spread the gospel to all corners of the world through logic.  Jesus never intended that.  So for me, a long-time Christian secure in her beliefs, apologetics might not be that useful as anything other than entertainment (yeah, I'm a nerd too).  But Helene said something else worth mentioning.  "In addition I feel passionately that young people need their questions about God and the universe answered directly, logically and with appropriate evidence."  

What about the high school and college students who are being bombarded daily with naturalistic, materialistic, even atheistic messages?  Even homeschooled kids will not be able to escape it entirely.  The further their education goes, the more likely they are to hit a "crisis of faith."  We need to equip them with the answers they need about the inspiration of the Bible, the historicity of Jesus, the truth of the resurrection, and the uniqueness of mankind in all creation.  That is why I've decided to give the high school seniors at my church a copy of Brad Harrub's book Convicted: A Scientist Examines the Evidence for Christianity.

A scientist by education, Dr. Harrub is well aware of the forces aimed at our children in college and beyond.  Several of the chapters begin with anecdotes about Christian young people who begin to question their faith due to what they learn in school.  Man is simply the result of millions of years of evolution, and as such is no more unique than a chimpanzee.  The flood of Noah is merely a myth.  Archeology does not support the stories in the Bible.  Dr. Harrub's view is that God created science, so God's inspired word and true science will go "hand in glove." He spends just under half the book giving evidence for the Creation, a young earth, as well as refuting such scientific claims as human missing links.  

Even though it is all "evidence based," not all of the book deals with scientific matters.  He spends a good portion of the book on more standard apologetic questions. How can we know God exists?  Why is there suffering in the world?  Did Jesus really exist?  How can we know the Bible is inspired?  Although most of his arguments are not original (I'm sure most of them can be found at the website Helene reviewed last week), they are organized very well.  Any young person in possession of this book would be able to answer questions posed by worldly friends or teachers without difficulty.  

While I will gladly give this book to young people in my church, there are a few caveats.  Dr. Harrub believes strongly that a Christian cannot believe in evolution.  He says things such as "[M]any individuals have bought into the lie that one can be a Christian and embrace evolution." and "You are either a Christian or an evolutionist, but you cannot be both."  While I may agree with his conclusions about the fallacies inherent in evolutionary theory, I am not willing to take the role of God in saying a misguided person who believes the theory cannot be Christian.  

Dr. Harrub's disdain for the evolutionary theory is strong, and very evident in his writings.  Sarcastic phrases like "beloved theory" abound, and he questions the integrity of people who teach it (Admittedly, sometimes their integrity SHOULD be questioned, but that is beside the point).  Therefore, I would not hand this book to an athiest, agnostic, or evolutionist.  The tone alone would be enough to turn them away from taking an honest look at Dr. Harrub's well thought out arguments.  I would use the book to strengthen my own beliefs in preparation to answer questions people have for me, but I would probably do so in a more gentle way.

Despite his sometimes condescending tone, Dr. Harrub has a lot of good, well referenced information to help our young people escape the morass of humanism they see every day with their faith still intact.  He met his stated goal: "Having listened as teary eyed parents share the story of their own children abandoning a belief in God, I realized that I needed to fight back in the language that modern day students understand: evidence."  For my part, I'd like to help him fight back. 
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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