“Confronting Christianity – 12 Hard Questions for the world’s Largest Religion”
Rebecca McLaughlin Crossway 2019
When Peter wrote to believers in Asia Minor who were suffering for their faith, the apostle encouragedthem to be “prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3 v 15). Rebecca McLaughlin has written “Confronting Christianity” to equip 21st century Christian believers in a sceptical and, at times, antagonistic society to do precisely this. Avoiding merely abstract or theoretical issues, each of the twelve chapters tackle a question that iscommonly asked in order to oppose or disprove the Christian faith. Examples include: “Aren’t we better off without religion?”, “ Doesn’t religion cause violence?”, “How can you take the Bible literally?”, “Isn’t Christianity homophobic?”, “How can a loving God send people to Hell?”, “Doesn’t Christianity denigrate women?”.
Each chapter is concise and written in a style that is clear and easy to follow despite the complexity of the subject matter. The author deals with the issues in a refreshingly open and honest way as the book is the product of debates with individuals on both sides of the argument rather than a dry academic study. She freely admits that “If I give smug, simplistic answers, I have failed”, but throughout, she wishes to show the readers that “Christianity represents our tightest grasp on truth and our best hope for the world” (p14). The views expressed are alsosupported with thorough research and the footnotes alone are probably worth the price of the book! However, there is also much wise biblical application, often correcting popular misconceptions before giving a thoughtful Christian response.
For example, the question “Doesn’t religion cause violence?” is based on an assumption not supported by history. For example, in the recent past, it has been ideologies that stand outside traditional religion such as Nazism and Communism, which have beenguilty of mass genocide. At the heart of Christianity stands the cross, on which “the most powerful man who ever lived submitted to the most brutal death ever died to save the powerless” (p93). In the chapter “Hasn’t science disproved Christianity?”,the reader learns that not only are many leading scientists Christian believers but “belief in a rational creator God provides the first and best foundation for the scientific enterprise” (p110). Also, in response to the view that Christianity is simply a white, Western religion, we are reminded that “Christianity has been a multicultural,multiracial, multi-ethnic movement since its inception” (p45).
For committed Christians this book is a valuable resource, enabling them to deepen their understanding of the issues discussed. For those who are not, but who are genuinely seeking answers to such questions, it is also a challenging and thought– provoking book.