Kenneth Richard Samples is a senior research scholar with Reasons To Believe, the premier science-faith integration ministry. An adjunct instructor of apologetics at Biola University, Samples is the author of Without a Doubt, A World of Difference, and 7 Truths That Changed the World. He lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.
God among Sages: Why Jesus Is Not Just Another Religious Leaderby Kenneth Richard Samples
In God among Sages, apologist Ken Samples offers readers a biblical and historical portrait of Jesus, grounded in the claims Jesus makes about himself. Then Samples compares and contrasts Jesus with Buddha, Krishna, Confucius,/i>
Was Jesus just a spiritual leader, like Buddha, Krishna, Confucius, and Muhammad? Or is he something more--something else entirely?
In God among Sages, apologist Ken Samples offers readers a biblical and historical portrait of Jesus, grounded in the claims Jesus makes about himself. Then Samples compares and contrasts Jesus with Buddha, Krishna, Confucius, and Muhammad using eight relevant categories of evaluation. He also helps readers understand the competing philosophies of religious pluralism, inclusivism, and exclusivism. The result is a clearer understanding of what sets Jesus apart as not simply a teacher to follow but God himself, worthy of our full allegiance and worship.
Christians who struggle to answer claims that Jesus was just a good teacher, as well as those haven't quite made up their minds about Jesus's claims to divinity, will value this accessible introduction to comparative religions.
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Drawing upon years of experience in Christian apologetics, first with the Christian Research Institute and in recent years with Reasons To Believe, Ken Samples has written an outstanding work on the nature and uniqueness of Christ. The book functions not only as a primer for Christians who want to broaden and deepen their understanding of who and what Jesus was (and is), but it also provides a thoughtful and instructive comparison and contrast between Christ and other renowned spiritual and philosophical sages including Krishna, Gautama Buddha, Confucius and Muhammad. Part 1 is essentially a study of Christology -- the character, nature, and mission of the historical Jesus of Nazareth, including much valuable information on why we can trust the New Testament accounts of his life and message. Part 2, which comprises most of the book, offers insightful portraits of the four aforementioned sages, with valuable historical (or in many cases, mythological) information on their lives and teachings that any reader will find beneficial. While scrupulously fair and careful not to unduly disparage any of these renowned savants, the author manages to draw a sharp contrast between each of them and the incarnate Son of God who proclaimed himself to be “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (ref. John 14:6). The author’s focused and succinct style makes "God Among the Sages" substantive, digestible, and enjoyable to read. Highly recommended!
This was my first scholarly read about world religions as I’m not used to reading books that are overly objective like this one. Consequently, I thought I wouldn’t finish the book as I got kind of overwhelmed by the amount of information being presented. The book discusses details about the world’s major religions alongside their leaders in a comprehensive manner. It also includes tables which are helpful when recalling the major points previously presented. Readers are given tips on how to share Jesus with others using the very information discussed in this book, which makes for a useful reference. The book is impartial in that it presents not only the weaknesses but also the strengths of the leaders of the religions other than Christianity. I recommend this book to people who are eager to gain clear-cut facts about how Jesus compares to other religious leaders. I also recommend this to those who are pursuing apologetics. Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.
God Among Sages is almost difficult to characterize but generally falls into the realm of apologetics, I suppose. In his book, Kenneth Richard Samples tackles a significant number of Christian topics ranging from the historicity of the Gospels, analysis of Jesus' miracles, a compellation of Jesus' deity claims, and explanation of the hypostatic union and kenosis, a review of the parables, and much, much more. All of this would be more than enough to fill volumes, but this is just Part 1 of this book. In Part 2, Samples tackles the teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Islam. In presenting the teachings of these other religions, he also provides comparisons with Christianity. In his analysis of these religions, he includes what he calls "Strengths" of that particular religion, areas of "Common Ground," and areas of conflict. Samples concludes his book in Part 3 with a discussion on Pluralism and the Biblical Perspective on world religions. God Among Sages is a 230-page book. The content of God Among Sages is sound. It's biblically-based (at least the Christian part, more on that later). My issue with the book is that it seems that Samples tried to produce something for everyone all under one cover, and in doing so, did not really do much justice to any ONE issue. As an example, Sample provides 1 1/2 pages on the Hypostatic Union and the concept of Kenosis. Entire BOOKS are written about this subject, necessarily so because it is both a complex and highly disputed topic among biblical scholars, of which Samples is not. Samples writes approx. 50 pages on Christology, Bibliology, and First Century History combined. I get it - this book is to be a comparison of God and the "gods" of other religions. But to try to lay the foundation for the Christian God and then teach AND compare Him to four other major world religions, in my opinion, just should not be done in 230 pages. I walked away with such a surface understanding of these world religions that I learned just enough to be dangerous and MAYBE to be able to have a 30-second conversation with a believer of one of these religions before I would run out of material. The content was simply too ambitious for the length restrictions(?) of this book. Additionally, I need to note that I saw nothing to indicate that Samples is any type of expert in any one of these other world religions, which causes some concern. The book is endorsed by an apologist I admire however even he indicates that the book would best serve as a basis on which to mold a religions course, and I agree. I think this type and quantity of material would be better presented in a textbook that was intended to be devoured slowly over the course of a semester. I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers Program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.