Why Should I Believe Christianity?

Good question! I offer my answer, over eight chapters and a couple of hundred pages, in the second volume of the recently launched Christian Focus series, The Big Ten: Critical Questions Answered. The new book — ingeniously titled Why Should I Believe Christianity? — is basically an introductory exposition and defense of the biblical Christian worldview, but with some distinctive features (on which, see below). In this post, I’ll summarize the content of the book for anyone who might be interested to read it or give it to a non-Christian friend.

Why Should I Believe Christianity?Chapter 1 (“Why Believe?”) considers the general question, Why should I believe anything at all? Simply put: we should believe something if it’s true, and we generally determine whether something is true by way of reasons (which can take different forms). We should aim to have beliefs that are objectively true, rather than beliefs that are (say) comfortable, desirable, or fashionable. The chapter also briefly addresses the epistemological cul-de-sacs of relativism and skepticism.

Chapter 2 (“The Big Picture”) seeks to explain why Christianity should be evaluated as an entire worldview: as a comprehensive, integrated, self-contained, self-defining perspective on everything that exists and matters to us. I explain what a worldview is, why worldviews matter, why only one worldview can be true, and how we can apply four ‘tests’ for evaluating worldviews in order to identify that one true worldview.

Chapter 3 (“Christianity as a Worldview”) sets out a summary of the Christian worldview along familiar lines: God, creation, mankind, fall, revelation, salvation, and consummation (“the final chapter”). One of my aims here is to explain the biblical worldview in ‘ordinary’ language (as far as that’s possible!) and in a way that communicates the internal coherence of that worldview.

Chapter 4 (“God is There”) makes a case for the central tenet of the Christian worldview — the existence of the personal creator God of the Bible — based on six features of our everyday lives that we all take for granted: existence, values, morality, reason, mind, and science. I also suggest that while God’s existence can be demonstrated through reasoned arguments, such arguments aren’t necessary in order to know that God exists, because his existence is plainly evident from his creation (Romans 1:19-20).

Chapter 5 (“God is Not Silent”) contends that if a personal creator God exists then he would speak to us, and that God has in fact spoken to us through the prophetic scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. (You’ll have to get the book to find out how I make that argument!) Along the way I explain why, when it comes to divinely inspired scriptures, we should favor the Christian view over the alternative views of Judaism and Islam. I close out the chapter with an appeal to the ‘expert’ testimony of Jesus.

Chapter 6 (“God With Us”) focuses on the true identity of Jesus. Here I make a fairly traditional case for the deity of Christ, appealing primarily to his own testimony and that of his disciples, but also drawing on other confirming evidences. One feature of the argument is that it connects the incarnation with the other tenets of a Christian worldview, highlighting again its inner coherence. The chapter finishes by addressing a common objection, namely, that a divine incarnation is logically impossible and therefore can be dismissed regardless of the supposed evidence.

Chapter 7 (“Defying Death”) explains why Christians believe in the resurrection of Christ and how that essential article of the Christian faith fits into the broader biblical worldview. After dealing with some common objections to miracles, I argue that it’s reasonable to believe in the resurrection and unreasonable to accept any of the various naturalistic alternatives.

Chapter 8 (“What Now?”) ties together the various threads of argument in the preceding chapters and leaves the unbeliever with a challenge: If not Christianity, then what? There must be some worldview that corresponds to reality and makes sense of our experiences of the world. If it isn’t the Christian worldview, which worldview is it? There’s certainly a fence between Christianity and its competitors, but it isn’t one you can sit on.

Needless to say, this isn’t the first book to offer an apologetic for Christianity, but there aren’t many such books which do so from a Reformed presuppositionalist perspective. Here are some of the distinctive features of the book:

  • It’s addressed directly to skeptics and other unbelievers in a conversational style, for the most part steering clear of Christian jargon and technical philosophical terminology. (The book assumes almost no biblical literacy on the part of readers.)
  • It takes an explicitly worldview-oriented approach: it treats Christianity as an integrated, holistic worldview which needs to be defended as an integrated, holistic worldview.
  • It highlights the inner coherence of the Christian worldview insofar as its central teachings imply and explain one another.
  • It makes use of common-grace insights without appealing to “religiously neutral” criteria or premises.
  • It uses evidences without suggesting that debates over worldviews can be settled merely by “examining the evidence”.
  • It acknowledges the clarity of natural revelation and makes a direct appeal to the sensus divinitatis.
  • In keeping with the Reformed tradition (see, e.g., WCF chapter 1) it seeks to honor the self-attesting nature of Scripture, always treating the Bible as divinely inspired, and affirms the internal witness of the Holy Spirit. Nowhere is the unbeliever invited to treat the Bible “as basically historically reliable” or “like any other ancient document”.
  • It doesn’t separate the historical fact of the resurrection from the theological significance of the resurrection (as evidentialist apologetics tends to do).
  • It acknowledges the noetic effects of sin and the fact that no one can come to believe the gospel apart from a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.

Why Should I Believe Christianity? is available from the following sellers:

Endorsements

In a post-Christian age, the need for faithful, theologically rich apologetic resources has never been more important. Indeed, it could be argued that the task of apologetics has never been more pressing or more urgent. This is a critical time of cultural and intellectual transition. The Christian ministry, taken as a whole, must be understood as an apologetic calling. This is why books like Why Should I Believe Christianity? deserve careful reading by pastors and laypeople alike. In this book, believers will find a compelling defense of the Christian worldview and the resources necessary to stand firm in a faithless age. — R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Louisville, Kentucky

James Anderson is one of the best writers in contemporary Reformed theology and apologetics. He has a wonderful gift for anticipating the questions in readers’ minds and finding striking, appropriate illustrations. As in his previous book, he presents the Christian faith as a distinctive worldview. Within that worldview, there is no competition between presuppositions and evidences, epistemology and history. These cohere seamlessly, as God intended them to. This is one of the best sources available for presenting the rationale of the Christian faith to an unbelieving reader. — John M. Frame, Professor of Systematic Theology & Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida

James Anderson writes with the mind of a scholar but the clarity and tone of a letter to a dear friend. His brief and engaging book covers a wide array of topics, from discussions on worldviews and evidence to philosophical arguments to inferences from the biblical record–all in the simplest terms possible. It can be read or given to anyone interested in an overview of the case for Christianity. — Brian Morley, Professor of Philosophy and Apologetics, The Master’s College, Santa Clarita, California

If strong and persuasive arguments are going to be given against unbelief, at least two things have to be true of those arguments. First, they have to address the intellectual inconsistency of unbelief, in its myriad forms. Second, they have to be able to dive below the surface of objections to Christianity in order to crack the foundations of unbelieving thought. James Anderson does a masterful job of applying both of these, and thus of getting to the rebellious root of views that seek to oppose Christianity. This book will be a necessary tool for anyone interested in addressing arguments against Christian truth. — K. Scott Oliphint, Professor of Apologetics and Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

In a world filled with skepticism, relativism, and secular dogmatism, it is easy to doubt what we believe. Is Christianity really true? In this fantastic book, James Anderson offers one of the clearest and most compelling explanations for the truth of Christianity that I have ever read. You will be reassured and strengthened by this book. Read it multiple times. Then give it to a friend. — Michael J. Kruger, President and Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina

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