I picked up this book at Books A Million. It’s a pretty nice production with thick, magazine like glossy pages. Additionally, it is well illustrated with nice images. The dimensions of the book are a bit odd, but that’s not a big deal. I was interested in seeing a good case laid out for Christianity. Does the Holman Quick Guide to Christian Apologetics fit the bill? Stay tuned.
I will do a few articles on some of these topics later, so for now I’ll brush over a lot of these points.
The book starts out by attempting to make the case that God is necessary to explain existence. Spoiler alert. It fails. I believe in God. However, neither science, logic, nor morality dictate his existence as the book suggests. They make this assertion through the liberal use of logical fallacies. I’ll point one out here.
A being that is necessary for the existence of all things is called God.
This is a flawed assumption. It assumes first that the cause of existence is a being. String theory would argue otherwise. Moreover, it presumes a single universe, which is completely unproven. We could just as easily be an alien kids B- science project. Additionally, the Boltzmann Brain is an equally flawed but equally likely possibility.
Contradictions in the Guide to Christian Apologetics
In chapter 6, they argue for the reliability of the New Testament. To make this case, they argue for the legitimacy of the authorship of the Gospels. For the uninitiated, the Gospels were written anonymously and authorship was asserted later. They offer this quote from Papias.
Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not indeed in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ.
The quote in and of itself is fine. However, in chapter 7 they will argue for divine inspiration of the Bible. They define this as the books being “breathed out” by God. This would contradict the notion that Mark was relying on his own memory.
False assertions in the Quick Guide.
Also, for Jesus to claim the power to forgive sins is an indirect but powerful claim of deity.
In 2 Samuel 12:13 Nathan pronounces that David’s sin is forgiven. Nobody is claiming that the prophet Nathan is God.
The purpose of the miracle is to authenticate Jesus’ claim as “the Son of Man,” a messianic title, and his claim of deity.
This is sleight of hand followed by a bald face lie. Jesus never claimed to be God. If he had, they would simply quote him and move on. Moreover, while son of man is arguably a messianic title, this claim is tainted by their Christian world view.
“Messiah” simply means “anointed one”. So watch this. The prophet Ezekiel is repeatedly called son of man by God himself. Since he was a prophet, he is indeed a messiah, or anointed one. So while the title may be messianic, it’s not unique to “the messiah”.
Moreover, the trickery continues. Notice “Son of Man” is capitalized in the quote. This is to imply deity. However, there are no capital letters in Greek. Hence, this is an English modification to imply divinity where the original text does not.
Specious prophetic claims in the Holman Quick Guide to Christian Apologetics
In chapter 10 they attempt to dazzle with math. They use a formula to conclude that messianic prophecies had a 1 in 100 quadrillion chance of being right. Basically, they take all people who ever lived. Divide that number in half, since it has to be a man. Further reduce that to sons of Abraham, then to sons of Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Jesse, and David respectively. Since the messiah has to be the seed of David this makes sense. Or does it?
There’s just one problem. Jesus isn’t technically from the house of David. Since the tribe of a Jew is determined by the father, and they argue that Joseph is not the father, Jesus is not from David’s seed.
Now at this point you might argue that Joseph adopted Jesus into the house of David. However, even if I grant that their formula still falls apart. Why? Since Jesus didn’t have to be David’s seed by birth, Joseph could’ve adopted any kid on the planet. Thus, the odds of an accurate prophecy go up considerably.
The Holman Quick Guide to Christian Apologetics is a fail.
These are just a few of the problems. To me it is more likely that this book would talk a Christian out of Christianity than it is that it would talk an atheist into it. It requires that the reader know virtually nothing about science, philosophy, or the Bible to sell it’s points.
This book is good for one of three things.
- If you’re a Christian looking for an excuse to leave the faith, you’ll probably find it here.
- Christians who have skeptical friends who aren’t versed in the sciences or the Bible might find a way to manipulate friends into the faith in this book.
- Atheists will find plenty of flaws with which to beat their Christian friends over the head.
None of these things are good things. If you’re a Christian looking to defend your faith, find a systematic theology book catered to your denomination. Since it’s systematic, it will lack the contradictions of this piecemeal approach. I don’t recommend this book to anyone, anywhere, for any reason.