By Simon Edwards
Lately, I have been spending a vast amount of time on the subject of apologetics. If you don’t know what apologetics is, don’t feel bad. It’s one of those almost insider words that theology nerds throw around. However, it is a terribly important subject. It comes from the Greek word, Apologia, which simply means to make a case for or give a defense. Apologetics is looking at how one can make a case for the validity of Christianity. In a sense, that is what The Provocative Christian site is all about.
As part of my studies in apologetics, I had the privilege recently of attending a conference at The Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics on the campus of Merton College at Oxford University. Simon Edwards, the author of The Sanity of Belief, was one of the presenters. He was as engaging in person as he is in print.
This is an easily accessible read on a topic of vital importance that often gets dealt with by way of a load of philosophical language that leaves people cold and unconvinced. This book is winsome, insightful, compelling, and uplifting. As a result, I decided that a little blurb about the book would be a good idea so more people would pick it up and read it.
The title fits the content. Edwards makes a case for a Christian faith that makes sense, that doesn’t require you to check your brain at the door. He does so by first looking at six topics under the heading, Things That Matter. These are issues that are important to most people; life’s meaning, your value, goodness, truth, love, and suffering. But it is not just about making the case that Christianity makes sense. He also makes the powerfully strong case that Christianity makes a difference, provides answers, and is extremely relevant. Consider this quote from chapter 2 on value;
If you have ever been told that you are a failure or told yourself that you are, it is not true. It’s a lie. Because failure is an event, it is not a person. To equate failing with being a failure is to make the mistake of conflating what you do with who you are. But they are not the same thing. 1
The whole question of self-worth, finding your value in life, is one that plagues people in our current culture.
Edwards shows what the Bible has to say about how valuable you are, not because of what you do but because God has made you with dignity, in His image, and no matter what successes or failures you have in life, they do not change the fact of how valuable you are to God. He contrasts that with current ways we unsuccessfully try to make ourselves feel valuable. The first six chapters are loaded with points like this that will make you reconsider how you are approaching life and give you tools for doing so with greater confidence and answers that make sense.
The second half of the book, under the heading Weighing Up the Evidence, does just that. First, Edwards deals with what a thinking faith looks like and then weighs the evidence from the world around us, the evidence within ourselves, and the evidence from history. Of particular importance is the question of truth and how we can know it. That chapter alone is worth the price of the book and the discussions it should lead to, especially in a world in which the whole idea of truth is up for grabs.
Edwards packs all of this into just over 200 pages that move quickly. You never get bogged down and in fact, if you are like me, will find yourself excited by what you are reading and want more.
This is a fantastic book if you are exploring faith, wondering what to believe or if you are already a Christian but sense the need for a more intellectually robust faith.
The book is available in paperback and on Kindle. You can go there by clicking on the image below.
1 Edwards, Simon. The Sanity of Belief (p. 41). SPCK. Kindle Edition.