Monday, February 27, 2017

Discussing Apologetics, Eric Metaxas Style

Guess what!?! I'm on another Eric Metaxas Book Launch Team!


My book arrived a couple of weeks ago...


...and I dug into it the next day! I finished reading it recently so now I'm ready to tell you all about it!


I've studied apologetics quite a bit over the years, mostly through Bible Study and teachers at church. That has given me a strong foundation. However when I try to read books on apologetics, they get a bit heavy in details and citations, which is excellent, but heavy nonetheless and therefore, overwhelming.

Eric Metaxas' book, Everything You Wanted to Know About God (but were afraid to ask) was a pleasantly light read (especially in my busy life right now). In fact, that was Metaxas' goal which he writes about in the Introduction. This book was leisurely enough for me to read in the hospital (while somewhat anxiously awaiting a test for my son) and even at home (while I'm exhausted after a very long day.)

Since most of the book is a review for  me, my favorite part is actually the Introduction where Metaxas focuses on the manner in which we should communicate our faith.

He (God) cares about how we talk about right and wrong. He cares about how we communicate. Do we communicate with joy and hope and love, or do we communicate in a way that gets the answers "correct" but makes people with whom we are communicating want to head for the hills? (Metaxas, 2)

Metaxas goes on to explain that he wrote this book for two groups of people: for seekers and for people who have the answers but don't know how to articulate them. (I'm definitely in the latter group.)

"So it is my deepest desire that this book will help kindle faith in people who have none and bolster faith of those who do. But I hope it helps us all have the conversation itself." (Metaxas, 2)

Metaxas goes on to detail an important point that I don't often hear discussed, but one that should relieve a lot of pressure for us all.

I've often said we aren't responsible for having answers to every question about God or the Bible posed to us, but we are responsible for how we answer, even if we don't have a full answer. If we behave as though having the answer is the most important thing, we give credence to the false idea that once you become a believer, you know everything. And we certainly do not. (Metaxas, 2-3)
If you're a person of strong faith, it's vital that you let nonbelievers know that you do not know everything (because you don't, and being honest is a big part of having faith in the God of the Bible). It's important to let them know that you may have nearly as many questions as they do and that having questions is nothing to be ashamed of! That's the truth. The God we believe in welcomes questions about His existence and about His nature can never trouble Him. And neither should they trouble us." (Metaxas, 3)
When I don't know an answer about God, I trust in who I already know who God is. Metaxas lays out who God is very well in his book, so I'm going to move on to how I share. I tell people that God is infinite and I am finite. How can I possibly expect to know everything about God and His Creation? Impossible.

An interesting feature of Metaxas' book is that it is conversational, literally! Although each chapter begins and ends with a story (Metaxas is an incredible story teller!) everything in between is a conversation between a seeker and Metaxas. In fact, Metaxas discussed this in the Introduction (remember the quotes I shared above?). Metaxas wanted this book to be a discussion. After all, don't we talk to others about our faith? Why not read the information presented as a discussion as if it were really happening? I found that interesting and helpful at the same time. It gave me a role model to consider.

Furthermore, this is not the first time I've seen this format of conversation. It reminds me of a homeschool curriculum I once used that tried to use the same style of  conversation for its apologetics. Sadly it was so poorly done and left us feeling so helpless that I discontinued use of the curriculum. However Metaxas made it work! Because so much of the information was review for me, I have to confess that one thing that drove me to the end was to find out how Metaxas handled the end of the conversation (because that was the death knell of the previous curriculum). I'm glad to report that the ending of Metaxas' book flowed perfectly logically. I'm very happy with it. And because of it I have a light bulb moment about how to transition out of friendly discussions with seekers. 😊

Furthermore I'm inspired to go back and read some of those difficult apologetic books, many of which Metaxas lists at the back of the book!

I admit that I didn't quite agree with everything Metaxas wrote. He wrote about Old Earth ideas. I am a Young Earth believer. It seems like Metaxas' key reason for discounting Young Earth theory is because in the 17th Century Bishop Usher proposed a chronology that specifically dates the beginning of time to October 23, 4004BC. I don't know about the month and date, but the year is a rough estimate that I've been familiar with under scientific evidence shared by the likes of Ken Ham at Answers in Genesis and Dr. Henry Morris of Institute Creation Research. Even he says that we can't specifically date but the scientific evidence they present is super deep: Ponder the formulas, 14 natural phenomenon, juxtaposition to the Big Bang Theory, locations where we can see the evidence for Young Earth Theory, and I'll just link the rest of the hits here because they just keep on coming! 😊

Since Metaxas' book is written in the style of a discussion, I'd love to add to the discussion by inviting Metaxas to look into Young Earth Theory. After taking a geology class in college, I learned about the Creationist Young Earth theory at church. I shared some of what I've learned over the years here and here. In short, Answers in Genesis with Ken Ham and Institute Creation Research with Dr. Henry Morris are some of my favorites (and linked in the above paragraph). Actually I think it's more miraculous to believe that God created a Young Earth, as opposed to an Old Earth. However the evidence is what becomes the baseline for the verdict. Ham and Morris can describe the evidence so  much better than I can, so the previous links are highly recommended! 😊

Oh, and Metaxas even uses humor! I think that is a good thing. God must surely have a great sense of humor after seeing some of the fun animals He created. 

The book ends well, with a book list for deeper perusing! Many are familiar and some are new. I've read some of CS Lewis, always deep and good for rereading! I'm familiar with Josh McDowell from Campus Crusade for Christ days in college. I've heard of Stott and Chesterton. Got to read them all! The rest are completely new to me. Well, except for Chuck Colson! I've read some of his books but I've not yet read the ones listed.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (but were afraid to ask) by Eric Metaxas is being reissued now! There is also a bogo sale going on at the publisher!