If you have no answers for skeptics, or worse, you haven’t developed the skill to formulate arguments, this book is for you.
Charles Foster, drawing on experience as a barrister, does more than just “assert” the resurrection of Jesus.
Instead, in his recent book, The Jesus Inquest, he grapples hand to hand or maybe I should say head to head with skeptics, not dismissing their contentions – assuming they are ridiculous – but engaging each one at close range, giving rational arguments to counter their ideas.
And he deals with several ideas that aggravate Christians, enraging some:
- Jesus was crucified but survived and lived out His life in India.
- Jesus died but was only temporarily laid in Joseph’s tomb, being moved to a municipal graveyard for the condemned soon thereafter, hence He couldn’t be found in the tomb.
- Jesus body was consumed by jackals at the municipal body dump and therefore could not be found.
- The first Sunday morning visitor, Mary Magdalene, didn’t find Jesus because she and those with her went to the wrong tomb.
- Jesus survived the cross and was eventually buried in his family tomb in the Jerusalem area along with His wife Mary Magdalene, heirs and other family members, e.g., His brother James.
- The appearances of Jesus were nothing more than hallucinations.
The question, of course, is not do Christians seriously believe these ideas but can they answer them. Many apologists, even those of a high profile, do little in response other than dismissively bluster their way through, producing very little in the way of argument. That is fine for the average Christian but for distant onlookers and serious skeptics more is required.
And, the fact is, if there is any truth to the resurrection, Christians have nothing to fear. Facts are our friends and arguments are our allies. Additionally, since Christians are commanded to be ready to give answers to those who ask about The Faith there is no excuse for avoiding these issues.
Fortunately, Charles Foster is neither afraid nor lazy and his ability to think coupled with his academic background are used very effectively to answer skeptics. In the process he models the proper approach for all the faithful.
Although he speaks to issues like:
- The consistency of oral tradition.
- The historical relationship between the writing of the Gospels and the emergence of Gnosticism – the Gospels preceded it they didn’t answer it.
- The accuracy of the Gospels in spite of being written 20 years after the events they record.
- And why apparent discrepancies endorse the Gospels rather than cast doubt.
…This is not an answer book! Rather than spoon feed us answers to hard questions he helps us see:
- That any person willing to put in the effort can read and think through the basic facts of the Gospels and mine a few answers for themselves.
- We need not fear academic skepticism. Individual academics are credible only to a point and though most are fair, none have all the information on any topic, they are sometimes driven with the wrong motives and can occasionally be dishonest with the facts.
- The evidence that academia is healthy is the open discussions that occurs between opposing opinions, like a court room. The best answer to an academic who has become emotionally attached to a wrong idea is another academic.
- Skeptics, academic or otherwise, are not always wrong. In responding to them we mustn’t come across as disagreeable for the sake of disagreeing.
The book is structured like a debate. Each chapter focuses on some point of contention and gives responses from both sides for that particular topic. It is very fair in presentation. Both debaters arguments are organized under the same headings – and there are many headings – making it very easy to find the relevant ideas and compare the pro and con presentations for each.
The book has an index, bibliography and a notes section. It also includes four appendices:
- The Cause of Death
- The Turin Shroud
- The “Jesus Family Tomb” Statistics
- The Gospel of Peter
This book does more than deal with firey darts. It encourages you to put on some armor.
Every thinking Christian needs exposure to this book. You can get it inexpensively here
The Jesus Inquest was provided free of charge by BookSneeze in return for which I have written the preceding book review. No additional remuneration was given and no controls were imposed on my opinions. All the views expressed are entirely my own.
Heaven Is For Real is a bio of Colton Burpo’s “near death experience” (NDE) but without all the “weird” and “sketchy” images that usually accompany such stories.
It doesn’t focus on “long tunnels with lights at the end” or the sensation of watching medical personnel feverishly operate from a hovering out-of-body perspective. The details aren’t blurred and unanswered questions don’t abound. It is a matter of fact story shared from the perspective of an almost four-year-old child who had no preconceived ideas beforehand and explains everything casually. To him it wasn’t strange. To read more go here.