Book Plunge: Christ-Centered Apologetics

What do I think of Joel Furches’s book published by Crosslink Publishers? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Awhile back Joel Furches sent me this book, which recently I finally got around to reading. Normally, the only direct apologetics books I read today are those that are sent to me and I mainly try to keep in mind how an audience unfamiliar with apologetics would take it. Generally, if you’re well-read, you won’t find much new in many classical apologetics books. That’s not a bad thing necessarily. Everyone needs a start somewhere.

So what are the positives of Furches’s book?

I certainly appreciate that Christ must remain the center of our apologetics. Furches rightly points out that too often we can get bogged down on secondary issues such as Inerrancy or the age of the Earth. The main point that needs to be proven is that Jesus is who He said He was and that He rose from the dead.

I do appreciate that Furches has a chapter in here on how to do apologetics. I do not agree with all that he said, and more of that is coming up later, but knowing how to do apologetics is just as important as having the content of apologetics.

Furches is also right on how this must be done in our churches today. Christianity is in a state of lethargy here in America with most people not knowing what they believe beyond “faith.” The new atheists can make easy pickings of such people, not because the new atheists are so strong, they’re not, but because the ones they are going against are so weak.

I also agree that too often our worldviews have been like a house of cards. Each doctrine of Christianity has been given as much importance as every other one and so if one falls, then everything falls. To point to earlier examples, I know of Christians that if they found out the Bible had an error in it, they would abandon their faith immediately. I also know several who thought Christianity was disproven when they were convinced the Earth is old.

Now what are my concerns?

First, while Furches does often cite Biblical scholars, many times, he does not, and these times can be concerning. I really don’t like seeing John MacArthur used as if he was a Bible scholar when there are real New Testament scholars to go to for the matters that MacArthur is consulted on. Also, while I do respect people like J. Warner Wallace greatly, it can too often look like an apologist quoting another apologist. I would prefer to go back to the scholarly sources. Wallace certainly cites them in his work, so why not instead of citing Wallace, go back to the people that Wallace cites?

Second, I thought some arguments could have used some improvement. I am thankful for a look at each of the Gospels to show they are by eyewitnesses or trace back to eyewitnesses, but would this not have been a good time to mention Richard Bauckham’s groundbreaking work on the topic? Since the most defense was applied to Mark, would it not be helpful to show that Mark is an inclusio account that directly links itself to Peter?

Third, some arguments were just suspicious to me. Consider for instance the claim that there was some of Mark found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. I do not know a specialist on the Dead Sea Scrolls today who takes this opinion. Putting an argument that could be highly spurious in a work could lead people to question the rest of one’s research.

Fourth, I found the section on prophecy troubling. To begin with, there was nothing about how to interpret prophecy in the OT that I saw. What is a Christian to do when met with passages like Hosea 11:1 being cited in Matthew 2? Without an informed hermeneutic on the NT’s usage of the OT and how prophecy was understood in Second Temple Judaism, you could quickly be devastated by others who are sadly just as ignorant of such realities. I also was surprised there was no mention of Daniel 2 or Daniel 9 which I consider excellent prophecies with the timing of Jesus.

Finally, with how to do apologetics, I would disagree in some areas. There are times I am answering a question and I am NOT trying to get the person to come to Jesus. The person is hostile, but it is a public place. My goal is to shut them down since they are a threat to others coming to the cross. I think in such times being more tough in one’s approach can be helpful and in fact I see this in the Bible regularly.

In conclusion, it’s kind of a mixed bag. If you don’t have any apologetics training, this could be a good start. I would hope in future editions the author would take my concerns into consideration as areas for improvement.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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