While most people spent their Memorial Day weekend at cookouts and family events, I spent mine celebrating my birthday and reading. Currently, I’m tackling a beast of a book by Stephen C. Meyer called, “Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design.” It’s a fascinating read so far.
A book like Meyer’s might be a bit too much to tackle for a new Christian or apologist. However, a great book for both the new (and experienced) Christian apologist is Alister E. McGrath’s Mere Apologetics: How to Help Seekers & Skeptics Find Faith.
McGrath is a Professor of theology, ministry, and education and head of the Center for Theology, Religion, and Culture at King’s College in London. His Mere Apologetics: How to Help Seekers & Skeptics Find Faith is a relatively recent book, having only been published in 2012. It’s not an imposing read at 185 pages and is pretty easy to sift through considering McGrath’s scientific background.
The purpose for writing Mere Apologetics is to introduce readers to the defense of the Christian faith and does a great job of detailing some of the more well-known apologetic arguments, like the fine-tuning of the universe and objective morality.
McGrath goes further than simply outlining important apologetic arguments, he also develops a solid, theological foundation for all Christians to become apologists in their own right. He also specifically addresses the human desire to become argumentative:
“Apologetics is to be seen not as a defensive and hostile reaction against the world, but as a welcome opportunity to exhibit, celebrate, and display the treasure chest of the Christian faith.”
There are many Evidential Apologists that I like (J. Warner Wallace and Professor John Lennox for example) but I have to say I really admire how Alister McGrath presents his material. As a man with a scientific background, he makes sure that he doesn’t overstate his case. For example, when discussing the fine-tuning of the universe he states,
“The observation of fine-tuning is consonant with Christian belief in a creator God. It proves nothing; after all, this might just have been an extremely improbable accident. Nevertheless, it resonates strongly with the Christian way of thinking, fitting easily and naturally into the map of reality that emerges from the Christian faith. The capacity of Christianity to map these phenomena is not conclusive proof of anything. It is, however, highly suggestive.”
Another interesting point McGrath makes is that adherence to the more aggressive form of New Atheism is waning. On this issue he quotes Richard Shweder, “The popularity of the current counterattack on religion cloaks a renewed and intense anxiety within secular society that it is not the story of religion but rather the story of the Enlightenment that may be more illusory than real.”
In addition to walking through a few of the more well-known arguments for Christianity, he also spends a few chapters giving pointers on how a Christian can develop their own method of engaging the world for Christ.
Overall, this is a very good book. While I was already familiar with many of the points McGrath makes, I found his approach to be very refreshing. As a former atheist, he comes off as respectful and almost compassionate toward the atheistic worldview, which was really nice. So if you’re a Christian and you’re new to apologetics, or if you are already familiar with apologetics, this is a good book to pick up!