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Why Christian Faith Still Makes Sense: A Response to Contemporary Challenges (Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology)

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In recent years the Christian faith has been challenged by skeptics, including the New Atheists, who claim that belief in God is simply not reasonable. Here prominent Christian philosopher C. Stephen Evans offers a fresh, contemporary, and nuanced response. He makes the case for belief in a personal God through an exploration of natural "signs," which open our minds to the In recent years the Christian faith has been challenged by skeptics, including the New Atheists, who claim that belief in God is simply not reasonable. Here prominent Christian philosopher C. Stephen Evans offers a fresh, contemporary, and nuanced response. He makes the case for belief in a personal God through an exploration of natural "signs," which open our minds to theistic possibilities and foster belief in the Christian revelation. Evans then discusses why God's self-revelation is both authoritative and authentic. This sophisticated yet accessible book provides a clear account of the evidence for Christian faith, concluding that it still makes sense to believe.


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In recent years the Christian faith has been challenged by skeptics, including the New Atheists, who claim that belief in God is simply not reasonable. Here prominent Christian philosopher C. Stephen Evans offers a fresh, contemporary, and nuanced response. He makes the case for belief in a personal God through an exploration of natural "signs," which open our minds to the In recent years the Christian faith has been challenged by skeptics, including the New Atheists, who claim that belief in God is simply not reasonable. Here prominent Christian philosopher C. Stephen Evans offers a fresh, contemporary, and nuanced response. He makes the case for belief in a personal God through an exploration of natural "signs," which open our minds to theistic possibilities and foster belief in the Christian revelation. Evans then discusses why God's self-revelation is both authoritative and authentic. This sophisticated yet accessible book provides a clear account of the evidence for Christian faith, concluding that it still makes sense to believe.

30 review for Why Christian Faith Still Makes Sense: A Response to Contemporary Challenges (Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dan Curnutt

    I appreciated this book by C. Stephen Evans, a Professor from Baylor University. As a Philosopher I at first was apprehensive to read his book. I have not appreciated the work of Philosophers in the past and have often found their work hard to digest and understand, they tend to be a bit lofty and wordy. But C. Stephen Evans does a great job of writing in words that every layman will understand and be able to digest. He makes very good logical conclusions based on the evidence that he has studied I appreciated this book by C. Stephen Evans, a Professor from Baylor University. As a Philosopher I at first was apprehensive to read his book. I have not appreciated the work of Philosophers in the past and have often found their work hard to digest and understand, they tend to be a bit lofty and wordy. But C. Stephen Evans does a great job of writing in words that every layman will understand and be able to digest. He makes very good logical conclusions based on the evidence that he has studied and gathered together for his work. His main task in writing this book is to talk about “The New Atheism,” as it is being developed in our culture today. Here are the main tenants of his book in his own words; “I take it that the major complaint (though not the only one) of the New Atheists about religion is that faith is intellectually baseless. In this book I try to give a clear case that belief in Christian faith still makes sense and thus answer that criticism.” He further states, “So the book answers a major charge of the New Atheists make not by responding to their specific complaints but by showing how a thoughtful Christian might ‘give a reason for the hope’ that faith embodies.” I believe that he develops his topic well, he addresses many things that we as Christians are facing in our world today and helps develop answers that we can use in talking with friends who doubt Christianity. I took a long time to work through the book, not because it was difficult, but because I was outlining each chapter and framing my own conclusions and arguments (arguments in the good sense) that I could use with those who are living in this modern world of the New Atheism. I recommend this book to Pastors and lay people alike. I believe that it will become a major book to help us work through how to talk and build relationships with those who are out in the culture today stating that Christianity is archaic and thus dying. This book makes me almost want to go back to school and study Philosophy, but alas I am a bit to old for that, but not to old to learn something new from a great writer such as C. Stephen Evans.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

    I rated this low mainly because it was disappointing and lacking in rigor, though on the latter point this was probably because the book is aimed at a popular audience. Disappointingly, Evans relies heavily on "Reformed epistemology" (RE) and Alvin Plantinga's defense of RE to justify belief in God as properly basic. My personal view is that RE seems like a convenient dodge. It doesn't try to answer the question, "Why is Christianity true?" What it is instead is more like a clever epistemologica I rated this low mainly because it was disappointing and lacking in rigor, though on the latter point this was probably because the book is aimed at a popular audience. Disappointingly, Evans relies heavily on "Reformed epistemology" (RE) and Alvin Plantinga's defense of RE to justify belief in God as properly basic. My personal view is that RE seems like a convenient dodge. It doesn't try to answer the question, "Why is Christianity true?" What it is instead is more like a clever epistemological trick to avoid answering the question. One criticism of RE is that it presents no positive evidence for why Christianity is true but instead focuses on "negative apologetics"—defending the reasonableness of Christianity from outside attacks. RE basically amounts to "If the Christian faith were true, it would be reasonable to believe it. Here I will defend its reasonableness and for believing in it without arguments." Perhaps RE is a successful framework for defending a prior belief in God in general and Christianity in particular. As for me, I'm sticking with good ole' evidentialism in this discussion. I also thought Evans' discussion of the problem of evil was inadequate. He doesn't distinguish between natural and moral evil, for one. According to Evans, presumably God may refrain from preventing some evils in the same way parents refrain from preventing their kids from sometimes getting hurt. But what of parents who allow their children to be starved, tortured, or raped? Evans seems to present a straw man problem of evil. His characterization of the atheist's position is, "If God is all-good and all-powerful, God would eliminate every instance of evil." He doesn't quote anyone who actually says this. A more effective formulation of the problem (to me, at least) is, "If God is all-good and all-powerful, why does God allow apparently senseless and gratuitous suffering?" Evans' retreat into the "Parents don't prevent some evils and hardships happening to their children" analogy won't work here, since parents (hopefully!) would prevent their children from getting tortured or raped if it were in their power to do so.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Eliana

    We seem to have no problem saying that we believe something. The trouble comes when we're asked the simple question, why. C. Stephen Evans' book is deceptively short. In 140 pages, he provides a comprehensive exploration of the many responses Christians can give to those who question their faith. This accessible introduction to a deeper and theological philosophy is a great resource for those seeking to defend their faith in an intellectual setting. It is also perfect for dispelling the personal We seem to have no problem saying that we believe something. The trouble comes when we're asked the simple question, why. C. Stephen Evans' book is deceptively short. In 140 pages, he provides a comprehensive exploration of the many responses Christians can give to those who question their faith. This accessible introduction to a deeper and theological philosophy is a great resource for those seeking to defend their faith in an intellectual setting. It is also perfect for dispelling the personal doubts that the devil sneaks into the Christian's mind on a scarily frequent basis. Evans addresses several challenges to the Christian faith and presents a clear argument for Christians to back up their belief in the gospel. He doesn't merely brush the surface, either, going as in-depth as to discuss the existence of God and the paradox of the incarnation. He compares religion and science, revealing how they are not separate entities, but a beautiful two-way revelation. He devotes several pages to the differences between Christianity and other religions. He explains the views of historical and modern philosophers, and provides many resources for further research if it so strikes the reader's fancy to do so. I greatly appreciate Evans' balanced perspective of free will and God's sovereignty. He does not shy away from man's sinful nature and tendency to push God away, nor does he undermine the life-changing power of God's love centered around the cross. This middle ground was a breath of fresh air in the midst of a sadly divisive and polarizing issue within the Church. That being said, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone seeking to defend their faith, or simply understand their beliefs more deeply on a personal level. Evans has done a fantastic job writing to both these ends, and I think many would find this resource quite helpful, eye-opening, and convicting.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Philip Taylor

    Just teetering on the edge of being too short. However, it is very stimulating in working towards why Christianity is reasonable.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    Summary: Against the contemporary challenges by the New Atheists, this book explores why the Christian faith makes sense, even though the existence of God may not be proven, through the consideration of both "natural signs" and the self-revelation of God. In both university "bull sessions" and formal debates, I've been a part of or witnessed many discussions about the existence of God. Atheists have often argued that such a contention is anti-rational (as do the New Atheists of the present day) w Summary: Against the contemporary challenges by the New Atheists, this book explores why the Christian faith makes sense, even though the existence of God may not be proven, through the consideration of both "natural signs" and the self-revelation of God. In both university "bull sessions" and formal debates, I've been a part of or witnessed many discussions about the existence of God. Atheists have often argued that such a contention is anti-rational (as do the New Atheists of the present day) while Christians and other theists seek to make arguments and cite evidence that proves, or at least makes reasonable, the existence of God. Most of the time, I've left these with at least a vague sense of dissatisfaction--Christians gave good reasons, atheists posed good reservations or counter-reasons. And rarely has this gone beyond discussion of some abstraction titled "God" to particular belief in God, whether Yahweh, or the Allah of Islam, or the Triune God of Christian faith--or something else. In this book, C. Stephen Evans addresses the critique of the New Atheists and finds it wanting and proposes a way of framing an argument for Christian faith, that while not logical proof, makes reasonable sense and is not a leap into irrationality. He begins with the role of natural theology, not as a way to prove God or arrive at a Christian theology of God, but as a defense of "anti-naturalism". He then proceeds to discuss what he calls "natural signs" or aspects of our existence in the natural world that point to God. These include the experience of cosmic wonder, purposive order, the sense of being morally accountable, the sense of human dignity and worth, and the longing for transcendent joy. He establishes as a criteria for natural signs that they be both widely accessible and easily resistible. In other words, most human beings experience these and yet this does not compel belief and one may make logical arguments against the signs. Yet they still have an appeal and are worthy of consideration because they track with what we know both of the external world and of our own internal consciousness. Evans, coming from a Reformed perspective, then argues that belief in God, which he considers "properly basic" can ultimately arise only from God's self-revelation, in the case of Christians through the Bible and the internal witness of the Spirit. He explores how we might recognize the self-revelation of God and makes the case for how this might be both authoritative and authentic. One important defense he makes is that revelation will not conform to what might be grasped by reason alone. I've often thought that one of the most compelling things about Christian faith is the "who would of thunk it" principle--that humans just would not have made up the story this way. He then explores the criteria of miracles, the criteria of paradox, and the criteria of existential power of God's self-revelation. What this affirms is that belief goes far beyond intellectual evidence to personal reasons and knowledge that convert the heart and that an argument for faith must include both cogent intellectual reasons and clear delineation of the contours of belief, but also a personal narrative of the "reasons of the heart" that persuade one to believe. Theists and atheists alike who are "evidentialists" will probably take issue with this account. But what is particularly intriguing is how Evans weaves natural theology, and some of the arguments of the evidentialists (rather than dismissing them) into a presuppositionalist account of how one may make sense of Christian faith. With the limited space he has he gives good counter arguments to objections that may be raised. And he gives a helpful account of how it is the case that two individuals, considering the same "evidence" may reach very different conclusions. This is a helpful work for persons, Christian or atheist, who want to read concise, but carefully reasoned account of how belief in God may be considered properly basic and how reliance upon God's self-revelation may be intellectually defensible. Others, like Alvin Plantinga have written at greater length on these matters but this is a tightly written 144 page account that may serve as a good introduction. ____________________________________ Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher as an ebook via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  6. 5 out of 5

    Johnny

    When Christian philosophers cite evidence for God, they usually cite: 1) the wonder of existence, 2) a natural perception that the universe is purposive, and 3) a moral sense of accountability. As C. Stephen Evans notes: “…even people who are atheists may have some awareness of God, who is constantly addressing them through conscience—though of course they do not recognize what they are hearing as really the voice of God, and to be sure, they hear God’s voice as filtered and shaped by culture.” When Christian philosophers cite evidence for God, they usually cite: 1) the wonder of existence, 2) a natural perception that the universe is purposive, and 3) a moral sense of accountability. As C. Stephen Evans notes: “…even people who are atheists may have some awareness of God, who is constantly addressing them through conscience—though of course they do not recognize what they are hearing as really the voice of God, and to be sure, they hear God’s voice as filtered and shaped by culture.” (p. 119) So, why aren’t these signs of God’s reality (which Evans calls Pascalian characteristics) able to function as definitive evidence? In Why Christian Faith Still Makes Sense, Evans explains: “To really know God we must hear from God and have a relationship with God. However, these natural signs should at least unsettle the dogmatic naturalist who is sure that there is nothing beyond the natural world.” (p. 120) “Even when they are functioning as they should, the theistic natural signs do not give us the kind of knowledge of God that makes it possible to have a personal relationship with God. Their function should be to open our hearts and minds to the mystery that lies behind the natural order; we should long to know more about the ‘unknown god’ Paul speaks about in Acts 17.” (p. 76) Perhaps, the biggest problem for dogmatic naturalists (the New Atheists) is the Christian belief in supernatural events. So, it is not surprising that Evans adopts testimony from a modern physician working in a third world country who witnessed an impossible healing. This physician notes, “…the a priori modernist assumption that genuine miracles are impossible is a historically and culturally conditioned premise.” (p. 101) It is good to keep this in mind when believers are accused of being closed minded. The New Atheists are truly closed-minded and as culturally conditioned as they accuse believers of being. Or as medieval scholar St. Thomas Aquinas argued, a revelation from God that consisted solely of truths that could be learned apart from revelation would not only undermine the Revelation-Authority Principle but also give us a misleading picture of God (p. 87). In other words, Evans asks, “Why should I expect God’s actions to be limited to what I can understand?” (p. 114). Another example cited by Evans is the fact that the Bible is relatively unique among sacred texts as claiming to be revelation from God. The Buddhist Pali Canon, the Hindu Vedas, and the texts of Confucianism and Taoism make no such claim (p. 122). It is primarily the Qur’an and the Holy Bible which claim such provenance. But unlike the Bible’s claim that revelation is authenticated by miracles, Muhammad did not claim to perform miracles (p. 123). Why Christian Faith Still Makes Sense goes on to talk about the reliability of testimonial evidence within the biblical text and the rationale for including paradoxical material in the text (p. 129). Evans even cites the marvelous allegory of the king who wanted to marry a peasant woman as told by Soren Kierkegaard (pp. 130-132). So, Evans concludes with the evidence of human love as reflective of divine love. This is a delightful book to read. Philosophically, it doesn’t rely upon an extensive background and logically, it flows easily from point-to-point. It is easy to see this book as being useful for an apologetics or Christian Philosophy class, maybe even in a small group for local churches.

  7. 4 out of 5

    James Korsmo

    In this lucid and learned exposition, noted philosopher C. Stephen Evans makes a very clear case for Christian faith. Evans is careful to be appropriately restrained, particularly in that he doesn't expect too much from "evidences" for God's existence (he sees the role of natural theology and "proofs" for God's existence as seeking to prove "anti-naturalism"; that is, they undermine the case that the natural world is all there is rather than making a strong and clear case for the existence of a In this lucid and learned exposition, noted philosopher C. Stephen Evans makes a very clear case for Christian faith. Evans is careful to be appropriately restrained, particularly in that he doesn't expect too much from "evidences" for God's existence (he sees the role of natural theology and "proofs" for God's existence as seeking to prove "anti-naturalism"; that is, they undermine the case that the natural world is all there is rather than making a strong and clear case for the existence of a particular deity). But this is far from the only thing to say about belief in God. He takes this very helpful and clear foundation and builds upon it a readable and robust case for the sensibility of Christian faith. There were two particular elements that I found to be of most benefit. The first are the "Pascalian constraints" on evidence for God's existence: given what we know of God, it would make sense that evidence for God would be widely available to all (that is, it wouldn't primarily consist in dense technical argument only available to a few or in hidden knowledge only disclosed to a chosen remnant but in experiences or signs broadly available to most people) and easily resistible (it wouldn't consist in irrefutable proof or overwhelming evidence of God's existence but in evidence that could be ignored or rejected by those who choose to do so). Much worth pondering there. I also greatly appreciated his extended discussion (drawing heavily on Kierkegaard) of "paradoxicality" as one of the expected characteristics of authentic divine revelation: given that God is a being infinitely superior to human beings, it would make sense that genuine revelation from God would possess aspects that aren't simply self-evident to human beings but instead would contain truths that strike us as paradoxical, straining expectation and going beyond something humans would come up with on their own (this doesn't mean they would simply be absurd, though). Evans's defense of Christian faith is a very helpful place to start for those who want to investigate rational foundations for the Christian faith. He condenses great learning into simple prose that is at once inviting and inspiring. Highly recommended.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Succinct, to the point, well articulated, rational/logical...in short I highly recommend this to all Christians interested in bolstering their ability to speak about why they believe in the Bible and the trinity. I'd recommend the first half of the book to anyone who believes in a deity. Is it the best book on the subject I ever read? I'm not sure. However, for its length it's a solid piece of writing and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this work. Disclaimer: I received a free preview copy of this b Succinct, to the point, well articulated, rational/logical...in short I highly recommend this to all Christians interested in bolstering their ability to speak about why they believe in the Bible and the trinity. I'd recommend the first half of the book to anyone who believes in a deity. Is it the best book on the subject I ever read? I'm not sure. However, for its length it's a solid piece of writing and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this work. Disclaimer: I received a free preview copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Радостин Марчев

    Нелоша книга, както всичко от поредицата Acadia Studies. Голямата й сила е нейната четливост и ясно обяснение на всичко, което се казва. За краткия обем авторът е свършил съвсем прилична работа. Въпреки това не съм сигурен, че е напълно убедителен - макар че проблемът може съвсем лесно да е в моята собствена недокрай изчистена епситемлогия.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Judith Follo

    Love how the author went about explaining their ideas. The facts they laid out went beautifully with what they were conveying. This would be a book i would loan to any of my christian friends for i think they may enjoy it. Nice to see someone write something so uplifting.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Kvasnovsky

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chris Heppding

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anna

  15. 5 out of 5

    Justin

  16. 4 out of 5

    Steve Briggs

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brad

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sparrow

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah

  20. 5 out of 5

    Matt Manry

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  22. 4 out of 5

    Darius Filiș

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kyungmin Ro

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael Bowman

  25. 4 out of 5

    Grace Shook

  26. 4 out of 5

    Frida Li

  27. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andy Sytsma

  29. 5 out of 5

    reading_glasses

  30. 4 out of 5

    Russ White

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