Saturday, November 2, 2013

How to Talk to a Skeptic by Donald J. Johnson

Atheism has become fashionable. It is part of a large cultural shift toward religious skepticism in general, Johnson notes. How do Christians respond to the challenges from skeptics, the tough questions and the difficult arguments?

Johnson has made lots of mistakes over the years and has learned from them that the key to a fruitful conversation is to frame the discussion properly and then direct it along a particular path.

The first step is to establish the topic as a comparison of worldviews rather than a particular objection to Christianity. A relationship is built by finding out what the skeptic's worldview is and his understanding of the Christian worldview.

Johnson then addresses many of the objections to Christianity, giving information and strategy on each. Topics include caricatures of God and Christians, misunderstanding of salvation, the existence of hell and the nature of heaven, and the Bible.

He looks at worldviews, comparing and evaluating them, in the third part of his book. He provides several guidelines for the discussion, such as explanatory power, logical consistency, livability, and more. He provides examples of how these criteria are applied, explaining the steps so we can understand the process. He also notes the importance of establishing the data upon which both Christian and skeptic will agree as evidence upon which judgment will be made.

This is a good book for new or relatively new Christians. Seasoned believers may not find much new information other than Johnson's method, his “worldview hypothesis” evangelism. If you are new to the concept of apologetics, this is a good introduction to what looks like an effective method of defending the Christian faith.

Food for thought: Johnson has a very interesting discussion on salvation, including this quote. “I am convinced that a major reason there are not more saints in the world is that most people think they can get into heaven without being one.” (88) Christian behavior matters, Johnson argues.

Donald J. Johnson is the president of Don Johnson Evangelistic Ministries. He has served in vocational ministry since 1993, including inner city missionary work and young adult pastor. He has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University, and an MA in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. He and his wife have four children and live in southern California. Find out more about Don and his ministry at http://donjohnsonministries.org/.

Bethany House Publishers, 272 pages. Read an excerpt and find out more about the book at the publisher's product page.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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