Wednesday, March 28, 2012
The ten books on the reading plan below are selected specifically for the beginner in apologetics. They are on the list because of their accessibility and their quality of content. The order is provided as a progressive reading plan for those just getting started. Working through this list should give the novice a good foundation before moving on to more advanced titles.
1. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
All of Lee Strobel's books are required reading for two reasons. First, they are good introductions to the subject and provide a good overview of the material from some of the best scholars in their fields. Second, the writing style is very accessible, taking you alongside a journalist in his investigation of the evidence for Christianity. In this particular title, Strobel focuses on the life and identity of Jesus.
2. The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel
This book is just as readable as The Case for Christ, but this one delves into the evidence for the Creator. Another thing that makes this good reading for the beginner is this: whatever areas you find particularly interesting can be pursued further by reading the sources interviewed in the book.
3. The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel
In The Case for Faith, Strobel moves from making a positive case for Christ and a Creator to defending Christianity from some common criticisms and objections. This one deals with the hard faith questions such as the problem of pain and suffering and issues of doubt. Again, all three of the Lee Strobel books are a great starting point for the beginner.
**Interlude: Watch the The Lee Strobel Film Collection
At this point, now you can take a break from your reading and actually watch a series of three DVDs that are about an hour each. These excellent documentaries follow the same content as the books, along with interviews with experts and specialists. This is a great refresher for what you have read and also makes for a great small group resource and a DVD to lend to a friend.
4. Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics by Doug Powell
Now it's time for something different. This odd-shaped and colorful book (with more graphics than words) will introduce you to the wide landscape of apologetics by outlining, diagramming, and illustrating all of the key arguments for the existence of God, the reliability of the Bible, the beliefs of other world views, and common objections. This is very helpful in providing visual categories for the content you are taking in. If certain things you have read up till this point have been overly academic, then this book will give you a sort of pictorial overview. This is also useful as a "primer" on the key topics and helpful to establish a bird's eye view. Illustrations of the ideas are also great for sharing with others what you have learned.
5. Love Your God With All Your Mind by J.P. Moreland
Ok, so you have taken in some of the key content and ideas that Strobel presents in the "Case for" series. But what does intellectual engagement look like? What does it look like to "love God with all your mind"? In this book you'll be challenged to live a vibrant life of intellectual engagement with your faith. This is a classic book that every apologist should read, and that's why it finds itself firmly in the foundational books recommended here.
6. Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions by Greg Koukl
Information without application results in stagnation when it comes to apologetics. That's why it's time for a good dose of Tactics, which will train you not only to use apologetic content in everyday life, but it will also train you to be a better, more critical thinker. This is another "must read" book, and mastering its contents early in your apologetic studies will put feet to your faith.
7. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Mike Licona & Gary Habermas
The resurrection of Jesus is central to Christianity. This book equips you to understand and defend the resurrection from an historical perspective. Not only does the book have useful diagrams, summaries, and an accessible style, but it also comes with a CD-ROM with interactive software for teaching you the material. This is an essential book for the apologist.
8. Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow
Now it's time to look at some of the most common objections that have come against Christianity since the rise of the new atheism. There's no better book at dealing with these in a concise yet dense way, while providing additional reading suggestions and introducing some of the key apologists that deal with these questions. If you really want to master this material, consider taking part in the Read Along project for this book.
9. I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist by Geisler & Turek
Geisler and Turek have authored a great apologetics book that also takes a step-by-step approach to showing that Christianity is true—and it's filled with lots of information. This gives the growing beginner a ton of good content, while strengthening the framework of a cumulative case for Christianity. This book will help to grow your overall general apologetic knowledge as well.
10. On Guard by William Lane Craig
Finally, it's time to dig deeper into some of the more philosophically rigorous arguments with William Lane Craig. On Guard is, in essence, a shorter, more concise and accessible distillation of his weightier apologetics book Reasonable Faith. On Guard has illustrations, argument maps, and sidebars which aim to make the material easier to grasp and engage with. This book will introduce the newer apologist to Craig's time-tested arguments for the existence of God and the resurrection of Jesus. While it is still not light reading, this will serve the reader well before moving on to more advanced material. Highly recommended.
So what's next? If you've worked through this list, well done! You might want to dig a little deeper by going through the great apologetics textbook by Douglas Groothuis: Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith. You can study this book in depth with the Read Along program here. After that, then delve into the topics that have interested you most in your reading. Do this by reading books by the experts that Lee Strobel interviewed or the apologists that have been referenced in Is God Just a Human Invention.
As stated before, there are a lot of apologetics books out there. However, if you begin with these, you will have a pretty good foundational understanding of the landscape. From here you can (and should) do deeper study in areas of interest. While this is no definitive list (I'm sure those commenting will have their own suggestions), it should be a great place to get started.