Humble Apologetics: Defending the Faith Today

Humble Apologetics: Defending the Faith Today

by John Gordon Stackhouse
     
 

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Is it still possible, in an age of religious and cultural pluralism, to engage in Christian apologetics? How can one urge one's faith on others when such a gesture is typically regarded with suspicion, if not outright resentment?
In Humble Apologetics John G. Stackhouse brings his wide experience as a historian, philosopher, journalist, and theologian to these

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Overview

Is it still possible, in an age of religious and cultural pluralism, to engage in Christian apologetics? How can one urge one's faith on others when such a gesture is typically regarded with suspicion, if not outright resentment?
In Humble Apologetics John G. Stackhouse brings his wide experience as a historian, philosopher, journalist, and theologian to these important questions and offers surprising—and reassuring—answers. Stackhouse begins by acknowledging the real impediments to Christian testimony in North America today and to other faiths in modern societies around the world. He shows how pluralism, postmodernism, skepticism about our ability to know the truth, and a host of other factors create a cultural milieu resistant to the Christian message. And he shows how the arrogance or dogmatism of apologists themselves can alienate rather than attract potential converts. Indeed, Stackhouse argues that the crucial experience of conversion cannot be compelled; all the apologist can do is lead another to the point where an actual encounter with Jesus can take place. "Our objective," Stackhouse writes, "is to offer whatever assistance we can to our neighbors toward their full maturity: toward full health in themselves and in their relationships, and especially toward God." In the last part of the book, he shows how an attitude of humility, instead of merely trying to win religious arguments, will help believers offer their neighbors the gift of Christ's love.
Drawing on the author's personal experience and written with an engaging directness and humility, Humble Apologetics provides sound guidance on how to share Christian faith in a postmodern world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Humble, but clear and cogent too, John Stackhouse's vision of apologetics combines deep thinking with immense practical relevance."—Os Guinness, author of The Dust of Death

"Stackhouse mounts as cogent and eloquent a case for apologetics as I have ever read. It's cogent because of what he understands apologetics to be: not browbeating the other into intellectual submission but sincerely and lovingly commending Christianity to the other for his or her shalom. If that's apologetics, I'm all for it."—Nicholas Wolterstorff, Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology, Yale Divinity School

"A lucid and thoughtful case that this humble approach, will be the only effective one for sharing one's faith with others...this book will have broad appeal."—Library Journal

Publishers Weekly
Classic Christian apologetics involved a defense (apologia) of the faith, often in the face of questions generated by non-Christians. Generally, the practice of apologetics has gone out of fashion in an era of ecumenical dialogue and religious pluralism, leaving mostly fundamentalists to engage in the hard-nosed form of apologetics that is more a condemnation of other religions than a defense of Christianity. Stackhouse, who teaches theology and culture at Regent College in Vancouver, rather shakily attempts to restore the dignity of apologetics in the contemporary world. He examines several of the challenges that today's apologists face, including the relativism of postmodernism and pluralism as well as the self-centered nature of consumerism. He argues that apologetics involves more than a defense of the faith; its goal is conversion, though this should be achieved by competently defending the Christian faith, not unduly condemning other religions. Finally, Stackhouse offers helpful guidelines for apologetic conversations, such as "teach first, preach second," "clarify the most important questions," "focus on Jesus" and "read the Bible." Stackhouse's examination of postmodernism and pluralism depends too heavily on second-hand evangelical sources for definitions of these phenomena, and sets up a false picture of the challenges facing Christian apologetics. At the same time, his emphasis on conversion misses the point of apologetics, and it is perhaps more proper to say that Stackhouse has here offered a humble theory of proselytizing rather than a humble apologetics. Unfortunately, Stackhouse's simplistic guidelines will not go very far toward reviving apologetics from disuse. (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Stackhouse (theology and culture, Regent Coll., Vancouver; Can God Be Trusted?) provides an overview of the difficulties of engaging in Christian apologetics in the postmodern, "post-Christian," pluralistic 21st century. His goal is to instruct Christians on how best to present their faith to others. He argues, for instance, that contemporary apologists do not have the luxury of the homogeneous, largely receptive audience available to C.S. Lewis when he wrote his classic Mere Christianity. Though a conservative evangelical, Stackhouse states that all he can do is to affirm that Christianity presents the best belief system of all the religious faiths with which he is familiar and to explain why this is true for him personally. He encourages apologists to tailor their message to their specific audience and to listen and empathize as much as to talk. He makes a lucid and thoughtful case that this humble approach, will be the only effective one for sharing one's faith with others in these times. Though literal evangelicals will bristle at the author's compromising approach, this book will have broad appeal and is recommended for public and undergraduate libraries.-Richard S. Watts, San Bernardino Cty. Lib., CA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195138078
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
11/14/2002
Pages:
280
Product dimensions:
8.56(w) x 5.72(h) x 0.94(d)
Lexile:
1300L (what's this?)

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What People are saying about this

Nicholas Wolsterstorff
Stackhouse mounts as cogent and eloquent a case for apologetics as I have ever read. It's cogent beacuse of what he understands apologetics to be: not browbeating the other into intellectual submission but sincerely and lovingly commending Christianity to the other for his or her shalom. If that's apologetics, I'm all for it.
— Yale University
Craig Barnes
Stackhouse has done the most extraordinary thing: he has made apologetics winsome. You will find that this book convinces you not only by the clarity of its arguments but by the gentle humility of its author. When I started this book I assumed I would hate it. When I got done with it I discovered it had renewed my love for our faith.
— National Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC
Robert Griffith
John Stackhouse's Humble Apologetics is a witty, lucid, and extremely intelligent analysis of what Christian apologetics is and how it should be practiced at the beginning of the third millennium. Stackhouse is an acute observer of and commentator upon contemporary North American intellectual culture in general, and beacuse of this what he says about the situation of Christians in a broadly (and deeply) post-Christian culture illuminates the deep pluralism with which all religious people now live.
— University of Illinois
Os Guinness
Humble, but clear and cogent too, John Stackhouse's vision of apologetics combines deep thinking with immense practical relevance.
— Trinity Forum

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