P.R.O.O.F. of Life

Has God Spoken by Hank Hanegraaff

imageThe Bible Answer Man brings us yet another good addition to our apologetics library to sit aside The Apocalypse Code. Battling against the torrent  of semi-gnostic “secret” exposes published by authors such as Bart Ehrman purporting to reveal the falsehoods behind the Scriptures, Hanegraaff offers a flood of his own, laying out the various proofs that undergird the truth of the Bible that we read today.

Structured to provide the reader with an easily accessible tool for developing their apologetic chops, the book is organized logically around the succession of topics that support the truth of the Bible. This is important reading for any Christian who takes Peter’s command seriously to “give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”. Questions about the accuracy of the texts of the Bible, the places and objects of the Bible and progressive revelation of the Bible are organized into the three initial chapters concerning the provenance of the manuscript, archeology and the linkage of prophecy.

As he does on his radio program, Hank makes these intimidating  topics understandable to Christians not steeped in biblical research. Fact after fact ( with nearly seventy pages of references and bibliography to verify ) pour forth from his pen to counter the challenges presented to factual basis for the Bible. He counters popular theories such as the error-ridden transcriptions (by verifying the numerically superior autographs against which the modern Bible is tested) and holds the archeological findings that affirm the people and places of the Bible against the non-existent findings that contradictory holy books point to.

While Hanegraaff has contributed an immediately useful volume, there are a couple of areas that might be improved. His love for his “hankronyms” went a touch overboard here, seeming to artificially organize the information in order to match the spelling. Mnemonic devices are excellent for memorization but they usually work best in limited use. Organizing the entire book around the acronyms (and sub-acronyms) gave the reading a somewhat challenging flow. Organizing the materials similar to the format that he uses on his radio program might make it easier for readers to locate the facts that they want but don’t know in which direction to turn.

Minor issues aside, I found this to be an excellent book. Hanegraaff has a unique gift set that makes his books great additions to the Christian’s library as they battle against the onslaught of anti-Christian sentiment that pervades our culture today. It is not enough to answer “in faith” when asked why you receive the Scriptures as true when the facts are so quickly accessible to you.

I’m grateful to Thomas Nelson who provided this book for review.

Grace and peace to you.

Beyond Opinion by Ravi Zacharias

imageZacharias guides this apologetics compendium in a different direction from other, more cerebrally oriented works. Beyond Opinion approaches the defense of Christianity from a personal angle, saying that our lives, and the witness they present, are the strongest  apologetic argument that we can make in favor of the truth of Christianity. In this goal, Zacharias and his co-authors succeed wonderfully.

In any multi-author work, an inconsistency from chapter to chapter is the norm but not so in this volume. An expert editing touch makes the work flow across all of its 338 pages. Zacharias organizes the apologetic approaches by grouping different situations and challenges that the Christian faces. First, he touches on challenges that are voiced by different social and religious groups and the the answers that the reality of Christianity offers in response. The logical answers are provided, but the emphasis is on backing up the words with action.

The section devoted to making the apologetic answers personal by internalizing them is a challenge to read and apply. The theological and philosophical discussions are excellent but the addition of a few steps of down-to-earth application instruction would have gone far in making these chapters more approachable. Zacharias’ closing chapter on the work of the Church in strengthening the apologetic minds of her members is the strongest in the book. Moved to the front of the volume, it would serve better as a primer before jumping into the details of the following chapters.

Though it is wide ranging in its coverage, the book whets the appetite to explore the individual areas in greater detail. One would not be prepared to defend the faith against the challenges of Islam, for example, by consuming the chapter on the topic. You will, however, gain just enough knowledge to guide your study further in order to present the exclusivity of Christ in the best possible light. Your apologetics library benefits from the inclusion of this fine book, providing as it does the touch points needed to drive your study in many different directions.

I’m thankful to Thomas Nelson for providing this review copy.