Book Summary: Christ-Centered Apologetics
This book puts the "Christ" back in "Christianity" by arguing that if Jesus was real, then no matter what other arguments people might bring against Christianity, then it still stands as a true belief. The book then goes on to prove that Jesus was real.
Christ-Centered Apologetics is a recently published book from Crosslink Publishers. It is a book centered around the defense of the Christian faith by use of historical scholarship. Despite this, the book remains grounded and accessible to the average reader; and serves as a useful resource for Church Study groups, or reference for someone who needs to quickly look up facts about proof that the Jesus of the Bible was real.
The title of the book uses the word “Apologetics.” This is a term which is seeing more common use in the vocabulary of the average Christian, and it means using facts, philosophy, science, history, and scholarship to back up and defend Christian claims.
The book begins by asserting that there are three types of Christian Apologetics. The book labels the first type “Internal Apologetics.” These are Apologetics directed at educating Christians on the reasons for their faith. This involves answering nagging doubts, deeply disturbing questions, or helping believers to become savvy enough not to be stumped by difficult questions they encounter from non-believers. Internal Apologetics ranges widely from answering scientific question that object to certain facts in the Bible, to addressing philosophical and emotional problems that Christians encounter.
The second kind of Apologetics listed in the book is called “Lateral Apologetics.” These are teachings aimed at refuting false or bad doctrine, and typically involve educating Christians on what the Bible actually says, and understanding the theology that under-girds Christian beliefs.
Finally, the book speaks of “External Apologetics,” that is, Apologetics aimed at showing unbelievers how Christianity is reasonable.
When “External Apologetics” are practiced on campuses, in debate halls, online, and on the street level, they tend to be increasingly philosophical. Common arguments might include the origin of the universe, the origin of life, the way in which the universe seems to operate in such a perfectly constructed manner that allowed for the existence and flourishing of life in the first place, and the existence of morality.
This book makes the claim that External Apologetics should be more focused than this. It claims that External Apologetics should look mainly – if not solely – at evidence for the Jesus of the Bible. The book argues this way:
If a Christian is talking to a non-Christian about their beliefs, the purpose of the conversation should ultimately be to share the Gospel of repentance and forgiveness. This is what Christians are called to do. If the conversation is only to show up the opponent, to flaunt one’s intellect, or to become defensive, then it is a waste of time. Christianity, if true, compels the hearer to make a decision, and this decision must be made within the context of the Gospel – that Gospel being that all people stand imperfect and condemned before a holy God, and that their only hope is to repent and trust in the work and person of Jesus Christ.
Even if certain Christian ideas are destroyed under the light of criticism, if Jesus was truly who he claimed to be, and did the things the Bible says he did, then Christianity is still true. On the other hand, if every historical claim the Bible makes is upheld by evidence, but Jesus was a fraud, Christianity is false. Christianity stands or falls on the person of Christ.
Jesus was the most tangible, physical, historical, and falsifiable evidence for the existence of God. Moreover, if, say, the Cosmological argument is upheld, this still doesn’t prove the existence of the Christian God. However, if Jesus rose from the dead, not only is the existence of God proven, but he is definitely the Christian God.
Having made this argument, the book then focuses on a holistic and circumspect defense of the Biblical Jesus which include the following evidences:
- The early dating of the Gospels – making the claim that the Gospels in the Bible were written within decades rather than centuries of Christ’s death.
- The eyewitness nature of the Gospels – making the claim that the Gospels bear all the hallmarks of eyewitness accounts, and the ring of historical truth.
- The accuracy of the transmission of the Gospels – in which the book examines how accurate the Bible we currently have is to the original texts written thousands of years ago.
- The minimal facts approach – this is an approach which collects the very minimum facts that skeptical, non-believing historic scholars take to be true of Jesus, and uses these facts to argue that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead.
- Archaeological, historical, and scholarly arguments for the existence and work of Christ using sources external to the Bible. This is an important argument because it shows that one does not necessarily need to trust the Bible in order to prove that Jesus was a real, historical figure who was said to have died and risen again.
- Fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in the person of Jesus. In this section, the book makes the argument that if it can be shown that the Jesus of the New Testament was referred to in Old Testament prophecies, then he was indeed a miraculous figure by the sheer witness of the texts.
- The way in which the Old Testament supports the Christian doctrine of the atonement – evidence that the Gospel was not something the Christian Church just invented.
After making these arguments, the final chapters are devoted to presenting tactics for interacting with a cynical and skeptical culture when discussing Christian beliefs.
All-in-all Christ-Centered Apologetics makes a valuable addition to the library of the scholar and layman alike.
About the Author
Joel Furches is author and artist who has studied, researched, and written in the areas of Christian philosophy, scholarship, and theology for 5 years for such diverse places as The Examiner, Bible Translation Magazine, and Christian Apologetics Alliance.
In addition to authoring Christ-Centered Apologetics, Joel is also Co-Author of Basics of Biblical Criticism.