John Stackhouse book is lucid, winsome, and profoundly Christian - I commend it to all those who take Scripture seriously, are theologically orthodox, and desire to be a humble, earnest, and reflective witness for Christ in a world marked by relativism and religious skepticism on one hand, and defensive and insular biblicism on the other.
With reference to the previous reviewers, this book is good enough that I must defend it against those who seem to have missed the point.
To begin, Stackhouse in no way "bows to contemporary intellectual trends." He is thoroughly orthodox but merely recognizes the fact of ethical and religious pluralism (look around), and never encourages Christians to affirm the truth of other faiths. Instead, he clearly and humorously helps one understand the current epistemological situation... then encourages the Christian community to witness by example and through humble and earnest dialogue. Instead of flagrantly and arrogantly condemning other faiths, he encourages the Christian to thoughtfully and respectfully commend the Christian faith, arguing if necessary, but always in a spirit of respect and love. This seems to me the most effective, and most Christlike, approach - lovingly bringing in the Kingdom of God one relationship at a time.
With regards to religious exclusivism, it seems to me that theologically he would fall into this camp (contrary to the comments of "a reader") - however, Stackhouse rightly affirms the obvious: since we are not God, we are not privy to certaintly about the eternal status of others; therefore our only recourse is to earnestly and lovingly (and, if needed, argumentatively) commend the faith to those we meet, always respecting the other's freedom and intellectual integrity - recognizing that everyone always has reasons for what they believe... regardless of how coherent (or incoherent) they are. No doubt Paul in Athens (Acts 17) is a perfect example, even appropriating ways in which the Epicurean and Stoic philosophies pointed to Christian truth (by quoting their texts...find any commentary).
Regarding what "First Theology" writes about "humanistic and secular philosophies", I'm not certain exactly what his issue is. Stackhouse recognizes that obvious: that when we live in a religiously pluralist society, a reflective person can't but recognize that others hold other mutually exclusive positions, making certainty a bit more tenuous. However, amidst this new situation, Stackhouse rightly maintains Christianity's uniqueness - perhaps not as winsomely agressive as, say, G.K. Chesterton... but that is not his purpose. His approach merely suggests that returning to an age of heretic-burning isn't merited. (I might add that Stackhouse may agree with N.T. Wright that biblical literalists may reflect "humanist and secular philosophies" (more specifically Western materialism, a.k.a. postivism) more than other Christian traditions - thus allowing "First Theology" to know certainly and completely "what the Bible teaches"... treating scripture (particularly the N.T.) as a store-house of mere propositional and literal truth, which reflects a way of thinking about Scripture resulting from the Enlightenment (post-18th century) and narrowed during the Biblical inerrancy debates of the last 130 years... (Cf. The New Testament and the People of God, Ch. 2).)
Previous reviewers, and others immersed in a Christian sub-culture no doubt realize there are contentious issues of debate, but Stackhouse (I think rightly) outlines an appropriate (and may I reiterate, thoroughly orthodox) approach, recognizing that in commending the faith to one's neighbor, one must start from common ground. With the most important insight being that the example of Christlike love is the most cogent and convicting of arguments.
After reading this, if you want to burn me at the stake, then you won't enjoy "Humble Apologetics"... if this resonates with you - then Stackhouse is a wise and humble guide for Apologists everywhere. Remember, though, his book isn't a compendium of arguments, but an insightful and wise APPROACH to our faith's defense.