Since the first century, the church has been involved in one way or another in the ministry of apologetics. Within the last few decades, as atheists have seemed to ramp up their religious efforts to discredit and eradicate the belief in God and Christianity more specifically, Christians have ramped up their apologetical focus with matching intensity.
Among the many contemporary apologists Paul Copan, current president of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, and William Lane Craig, perhaps the most well-known and active Christian apologists debater, have teamed up to edit a series of books that seek to address many of the contemporary issues within Christian apologetics. Passionate Conviction: Contemporary Discourses on Christian Apologetics and Contending With Christianity's Critics: Answering New Atheists and Other Objectors were the precursors to the third book in the series Come Let Us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics. All three books are edited by Copan and Craig and each with different contributors.
As the subtitle indicates the book is a collection of essays (sixteen in all) which focus on the areas of apologetics and culture, God, the historical Jesus and New Testament reliability, Ancient Israel and ANE religions and Christianity and other religions such as Islam. Since there is no one theme that is developed throughout the book this review will provide some general thoughts on the book overall with some comments on specific chapters.
First, while the ministry of apologetics throughout Christian history has been dominated by men, this book features two women contributors and one chapter by Toni Allen dedicated to understanding how to train women in apologetics. While many of the contributors many not believe in women pastors I venture to say that most if not all are welcoming to women teachers and theologians within theological institutions and religious studies programs at various Christian and secular schools. Personally I think this is fine and good. The chapter by Allen is unique and one that would serve pastors and women ministry leaders well in learning how to better train women theologically.
Second, in the third part on the historical Jesus and the reliability of the New Testament, the reader can see the far reaching and deeply entrenched effects the vast work of Bart Ehrman has had on these studies. Almost every contributor in this section interacts with him. The various contributors do a great job pointing out the smoke and mirrors in front of the hollow claims and arguments Ehrman makes. Also in the third section is a well written chapter by Mark W. Foreman in which he breaks apart the claims of the popular Zeitgeist documentary written and produced in 2007 by Peter Joseph. The essential claim of Joseph is that Christianity as a religion is nothing more than a copycat from other religions. Foreman breaks down the main claims of the film and demonstrates why most scholars have abandoned the copycat apologetic against Christianity.
Finally, as is clear, this book is an apologetics book, but a point of significance that can often be missed in books like this is the far reaching nature of apologetics that a book like this demonstrates. What I mean is, while many people have a more simple view of apologetics as the defense and proclamation of Christianity, this book, and others like it, show the reader that apologetics encompasses a defense of all of Scripture. Apologetics is more than just a defense for creation out of nothing or the historical reliability of the death and resurrection accounts in the NT. In its most broadest sense, apologetics is a defense of the entire canon of Scripture and all things contained therein. This is a sobering thought as we realize how much content we as Christians are responsible for defending. None of us can know it all but we must be willing to learn more and stretch ourselves for the sake of the lost.
Come Let Us Reason Together is a great collection of recent essays on various apologetic issues. There are no pat answers here. There is great respect for the Scriptures and for the God who inspired them. I don't expect this book to have too broad a reading but for those who venture to dig in it will prove rewarding.