Untenable Tuesday: How to Talk to a Skeptic

Posted 26 November, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Untenable Tuesday: How to Talk to a SkepticHow to Talk to a Skeptic by Donald J. Johnson
Published by Baker Books on October 15th 2013
Genres: Apologetics, Christian Ministry, Christian Theology, General, Religion
Pages: 272

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Talking about faith with friends and family members can be a daunting prospect. What do you say if they have questions you can't answer or if they're outright hostile toward God? Actually, you don't have to have all the right answers, just the right questions--and a willingness to listen. As trust and understanding grow, the door to fruitful dialogue will open.How to Talk to a Skeptic shows you how to:· Ask probing questions and avoid being on the defensive in spiritual conversations.· Tell God's story of the world in a winsome and easily understood way.· Gently respond to the most common misunderstandings skeptics have about God.Here's a natural, relational approach to evangelism and a proven way to reach out to an unbelieving world.

Whew! Long title! First I want to start with full disclosure and then on to the review. I almost didn’t publish my review on my blog (though it is on my Goodreads page) because it’s wildly negative. Normally I don’t worry about posting negative reviews because I like to call things like I see them. The difference here is that this book was written by an evangelical Christian for evangelical Christians. 

This is not me. 

Those who know me know that I am an atheist. The dreaded skeptic. In the end I’ve decided to go ahead and publish my review on my blog because I trust that my readers, all twelve of you, would prefer my honesty on a topic that I feel passionately about, even if you don’t agree with me. I respect my religious brothers and sisters insofar as they respect me. I think that religion has the power to do a lot of good in the world, it’s just not for me. So, here’s how the skeptic felt about this book and the techniques described. Much love and happy reading! 

As ‘the skeptic’ I’m not sure if that makes me the target audience or not (probably not). I was hoping to peek behind the curtain and find some new and lucid argument for proof of the existence of god, but alas. No. Johnson trots out the same tired apologetics. In fact, he quotes so extensively from other apologists that this book has the feel of a hastily thrown together term paper where the student is desperately trying to get his word count in by using long quotations. (Lest you think that I’m persecuting Christians, see my review on Papal Bull. I’m persecuting bad writing.) 

But if you’re an evangelical looking to talk to a skeptic (of who’s belief system is caused almost primarily by sexual immorality, according to Johnson) I’m going to tell you right now, as a skeptic, that this is a terrible approach to take. 

Johnson takes the point of view from a over-privileged white American and dismisses all other cultures, lifestyles, and scientific advances since Galileo. All of this is done under the breezy brush of cherry-picked Bible verses while claiming culture and context that is anything but. 

Also, step one is not to establish a Christian worldview. Step one must be to establish that there is actually a god, Christian or otherwise — without that any other argument is invalid, not to mention circular. 

One piece of advice Johnson offers is sound, however, aspire to be Christ-like. Live your life with charity, humility, and forgiveness and you’ll do so much more for society than you ever could using this book or other apologetics to ‘spread the gospel.’ 


April @ The Steadfast Reader


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