Confronting Christianity

Confronting Christianity: 12 hard questions for the world’s largest religion
Rebecca McLaughlin
Crossway, 2019

I wouldn’t have noticed this book were it not for a glowing recommendation from one of my favourite Bible scholars, Peter J Williams. The subtitle of the book explains what it’s about, and the hard questions include topics such as diversity, science, women, homophobia, suffering and hell.

The introduction is brilliant, with many ‘myth-busting statistics’ (as Williams calls them) showing the failure of the ‘secularization hypothesis’. It’s a real shot in the arm, and a great antidote to doom and gloom to read projections that have Christianity growing and atheism declining. The first chapter – ‘Aren’t we better off without religion?’ cites a Harvard School of Public Health professor saying that religion may be a miracle drug (given its physical and mental health benefits), and that the rise of secularisation in the States is a public-health crisis.

Other highlights include the stat that ‘the most likely people to be Christians are women of colour’, her section on how being against homosexuality isn’t equivalent to racism, and her myth-busting sections on the Crusades and Galileo (the latter was ‘a Christian who argued vociferously that heliocentrism did not undermine the bible – attempting to make theological arguments got him in trouble with the pope’).

It’s not a perfect book – in the chapter on science she comes out in support of millions of years and the big bang. While supporting male headship, her dismissal of traditional gender roles probably goes too far. She also seems to uncritically accept all who claim the label Christian, whether Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King, with recent revelations about the latter making the references to him right throughout the book seem particularly unwise. Overall, I was left with the feeling that she conceded too much to the culture.

I would still give the book a solid 4 out of 5 stars, recommend it as a challenge to non-Christians and an encouragement & apologetic resource for believers. I look forward to drawing on it when addressing these topics in preaching.

Thanks to Crossway for a complimentary copy of this book through their Beyond the Page review programme.

Great start to a book

“Many Christians perceive that we live in what the prophet Zechariah called “the day of small things” (Zech 4:10). In reality, we also live in a day of great things since Christ has come and poured out his Spirit on his church. Christians today experience far greater advantages than the Jews who lived before Christ’s birth.”

Ryan McGraw, How do preaching and corporate prayer work together? (Grand Rapids, 2014)

(The booklet is adapted from this sermon and part of it features as the Reformation 21 article: ‘Everyone Plays a Part in Preaching’)