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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book That's Been Misunderstood
Greg Boyd's "Letters from a Skeptic" is a masterful depiction of Christ crucified, what that means for fallen humanity, and how Christianity makes spriritual, practical, and philosophical sense even after posing difficult questions to it.

What some reviewers of this book have had a hard time with is Boyd's view of open theism. Critics have harshly...
Published on May 1 2004 by Josh Crain

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Father and Son Mismatch: A Dialogue on Faith
In about four days after receiving this book as a Christmas present, after quickly finding I liked it and having difficulty putting it down, I promptly had it read. Desirous of quickly giving the gift-giver my impressions of the book and being curious about what others thought of it, I went to Amazon.com, since one usually can find editorial and customer reviews for any...
Published on Jan. 5 2002 by Stanley J. Rice


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Father and Son Mismatch: A Dialogue on Faith, Jan. 5 2002
By 
Stanley J. Rice (Turner, Maine USA) - See all my reviews
In about four days after receiving this book as a Christmas present, after quickly finding I liked it and having difficulty putting it down, I promptly had it read. Desirous of quickly giving the gift-giver my impressions of the book and being curious about what others thought of it, I went to Amazon.com, since one usually can find editorial and customer reviews for any book it sells. And I wasn't disappointed: I was able to find plenty of reviews: frankly, all quite laudatory -- but, strangely, none written by skeptics! A fact from which might lead me to infer that skeptics apparently don't do much reading in the area of Christian apologetics. So, to remedy what I regarded as an imbalance -- a one-sided presentation -- I decided to tackle the job myself.
A few general comments first. I found the book to be a well written and argued defense of Christianity -- for someone predisposed to such belief and/or seeking confirmation for such. But it is not so strongly argued that it is likely to convince a well-read skeptic, or bring someone back to the fold who has thoroughly examined, and been persuaded of, the evidence for nonbelief.
The book consists of a series of letters between a son (Dr. Boyd), who is a well-credentialed (multi-degreed, culminating in a P.H.D from Princeton Theological Seminary) Christian apologist (minister and college professor), and his father -- a skeptic, from his mature years, but born and raised a Catholic.
The avowed purpose for the letter exchange -- dialogues carried on over a three-year period -- is for the son to get his agnostic father to become a believing, born-again Christian. Which is what eventually occurs. However, I felt that the father lacked the background to counter his son's arguments. He was simply overwhelmed and outgunned. What struck me right off, though, is that it didn't seem to be a fair matchup. The father, although supposedly well educated and highly intelligent (but oddly, no mention is made of his educational background), spent 35 years in sales management at Uniroyal Tire Company. So I seriously doubt that he had either the time or the inclination to pursue serious religious studies. And his remarks evidence that: he makes no mention of philosophical or scholarly writing of any kind dealing with the subject of religion. A familiarity with such writings, I believe, may have equipped him to rebut some of his son's arguments, e.g., his son's claim for the historicity of the Gospel accounts, a viewpoint the father doesn't challenge and seems to accept too readily! A more equal matchup would have been between two people who were both equally qualified to argue their respective positions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book That's Been Misunderstood, May 1 2004
By 
Josh Crain (Carlisle, Pennsylvania) - See all my reviews
Greg Boyd's "Letters from a Skeptic" is a masterful depiction of Christ crucified, what that means for fallen humanity, and how Christianity makes spriritual, practical, and philosophical sense even after posing difficult questions to it.

What some reviewers of this book have had a hard time with is Boyd's view of open theism. Critics have harshly judged Boyd for the way he presents God's knowledge in this book. However, I submit to you that Boyd is not attempting to lay out a rock solid case for a learned scholar to pick up, read and pick apart. He is laying down some of the basics of the faith for his father. If you want to pick apart open theism, try reading Boyd's outstanding "God of the Possible" (and good luck picking it apart, because he has an astounding amount of biblical and philosophical evidence to support his views)or his thoughtful essay in "Divine Foreknowledge: 4 Views."

Letters from a skeptic truly does go beyond pat answers to difficult questions raised by unbelievers. Greg answers these in love; a wonderful example of how we should all answer. Whether or not many want to admit it, Boyd's view of God's foreknowledge and his trinitarian theodicy (see "Satan and the Problem of Evil" by Boyd) goes much farther in answering some difficult theological questions than does Calvinism.
This book could be life changing for anyone who took the time to read it. Do not let other discourage you!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Apologetics Literature, April 2 2004
This review is from: Letters from a Skeptic (Paperback)
A few years ago, I belonged to a Friday Night Bible study not far from where I used to live. We had a Christmas gift exchange and wrote ona piece of paper our name & what we wanted. I wrote "A Christian book." Oddly enough, this is what I got in return.
These days apologetic literature is all over the place. With the Muslim world vastly growing, books on apologetics are vastly popular. I enjoyed this book because it was an easy read & was very down to Earth. Sometimes apologetic books can be a bit too theological and will be too deep for the average reader. Even though Gregory Boyd works at a Christian college, he made this book understandable.
This book started out of letters from Greg's dad, who had lots of faith related questions. His dad, Edward Boyd, was a skeptic/agnostic. His questions were thorough & gut wrentchingly honest. His Son Greg answers his questions honestly and evry straightforward. In about 3 years time & over 30 letters between father & son, Edward Boyd finally got saved & became a Christian. It's neat to read all of the letters back & forth & watch the drama unfold.
Now, some of the other reviewers had some trouble with this book. Even though it's not specifically stated, I think it's because of their own theological and/or denominatonal background. It's as though they were saying, "I wouldn't go there defending Jesus." "My church wouldn't say that." "What aboyt this issue or that?" As a pastor myself, I can tell you that this is the reason more people in America don't get saved. We're centered too much on our own theological camps & on our differences. What so many negative reviewers didn't say was that Gregory Boyd did explain the tenants of salvation correctly. And in the end, his dad did get saved because of it.
Question: can you get past the denominational wars & just simply tell someone about Jesus? If you can, this book will be an asset to you as it was(and still is) to me. If you can't, you'[ll have lots of trouble with this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful Dialogue / Interesting Apologetics, March 26 2004
By 
Joseph Valentine Dworak (Minneapolis, MN) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Greg Boyd and his now deceased father co-author this interesting work on defending the Christian faith. This book tackles many of the important issues facing someone struggling with whether to believe in God, believe in Christ, and many other things. Mixed in with these issues is Greg's theological stance that God can change his mind. Greg's view, or an 'open view' of God, is widely debated and much criticized. Some from the Calvinist point of view will call him a herectic, cultist, and other productive terms that really help facilitate healthy dialogue.
This book is bigger than open view vs. calvinist theology - God is bigger than MUCH BIGGER - than this debate. Take this book for what it is - a dialogue between someone who does not believe in God and someone who passionately believes in God - and go from there. Most non-believers would have zero idea what the difference was between a calvinist and an open view theologian anyway, and quite frankly, an unbelieving world could care less.
While I don't necessarily see eye to eye with Greg and some parts of his theology, this is a great evangelistic tool. All I know is that my wisest thought is dumber than God's dumbest thought, so I will just add my humble opinion to these reviews. This is a good book, regardless of your theological stance. God can use anything to change hearts and save souls, and he has used this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is great for all the skeptics out there, Jan. 26 2004
By A Customer
I highly recommend this book to those who are skeptical about Christianity, the existance of God and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This book is really for all the atheists and agnostics and even those who grew up as Christians but deep in their hearts don't really "believe". This is not a book for theologians or those who want to debate theology.
I read this book when I was trying to learn something about Christianity because I was going to marry a Christian and he wanted to be married in a church. I came from an agnostic background and even thought that some of the Bible stories, like David and Goliath, were Greek myths! I am also a biological scientist with a doctorate degree. My background is important as it shows that when I read this book I was a skeptic with little knowledge of Christianity (except what I gleaned from popular culture) and a critically thinking scientist.
I was very skeptical and even uncomfortable with Christianity and the Christian concepts of God and Christ. I had asked all the questions that this book addresses over the years of many different people without satisfactory answers. When I read Dr. Boyd's book the answers were more than satisfactory and from an agnostic point of view cleared up many misconceptions that I had had. In fact, this book started me down a path that ended a mere 8 weeks later in me accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I owe my eternal soul to this book! I have given this book to several of my agnostic friends and relatives. It has made them look at Christianity in a new light and hopefully will help lead them to Christ as well.
I don't see this book as a theological treste but as a tool to reach skeptics, most which are not believers. Quite frankly, the subtleties of the open view theory never even occured to me as I read this book. All I know is that the Holy Spirit moved dramatically through this book to change my life and I believe this was Dr. Boyd's intent when he wrote it. Let's save the theological debates for the theologians and let this book's light shine to all the non-believers and skeptics out there.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Well Meaning, but Seriously Flawed., June 10 2000
By 
Phillip J. Rodgers (West Central GA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I do not doubt Dr. Boyd's sincerity, and I rejoice in the conversion of his father, but his book is critically flawed. On page 30 he makes the remarkable statement: "But to assume He [God] knows ahead of time how every person is going to freely act assumes that each person's free activity is already there to know - even before he freely does it! But it's not. If we have been given freedom, we create the reality of our decisions by making them. And until we make them, they don't exist. Thus, in my view at least, there simply isn't anything to know until we make it there to know. So God can't foreknow the good or bad decisions of the people He creates until He creates these people and they, in turn, create their decisions." This is specious and unBiblical at best. It shows such a flawed and unScriptural view of God as to take ones breath away. You end up with a being of great power, but something far less than God. A creature that, like you and me, is surprised at what each new day will bring. Dr. Boyd elevates freedom to such inviolate primacy that it is the operative principle of the created order. This may help Dr. Boyd to score philosophical points, but it is most emphatically not the God of the Bible. A vast list of Scripture can be cited to refute this notion, but, for sake of brevity, I will cite only 2: Psalm 139, and Jeremiah 1:4,5. Many other verses could be cited. If you want a superb defense of the Faith for a doubting friend I would recommend C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" rather than Dr. Boyd's book. If you are interested in apologetics yourself I recommend J.P. Moreland's excellent (and encyclopedic) "Scaling the Secular City". If you are interested in a concise discussion of God's knowledge then I refer you to volume one of Francis Turretin's "Institutes of Elenctic Theology"; third topic (The One & Triune God),12th question (The Knowledge of God).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't count on this book, June 15 2001
By A Customer
Warning--it's very tempting to look for THE book to give to your skeptic friend or loved one. DON'T.
As a born-again Christian, I can say that this is not the book for many reasons, some of which are explored in the negative reviews. This book compromises theology with an Al Gore-style "say anything to win" mentality. When Greg encounters difficult questions, he simply changes the bible or interprets it inaccurately.
It's interesting--Greg likes to use the "it's winning many converts" line to convince you that it's a Godly book. This conclusion is a fallacy...if the conversions are based on faulty theology, are they true conversions?
Having gone to Greg's church several times, engaged in several conversations with him, I can tell you that he is way off base in many key areas. Do not place your trust in this book or his theology to reach the unreached. I would much more highly recommend "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Candid, March 20 2010
By 
William I. Service (London, ON, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Letters From A Skeptic: A Son Wrestles with His Father's Questions about Christianity (Paperback)
I read this book quickly as I wanted to pass it on to a friend who is wrestling with the kinds of questions dealt with in these letters. I found it to be very moving, to one who is already a believer. I was struck by the process by which a very skeptical father moved gradually from unbelief to out-and-out faith in Jesus Christ. The fact that father and son enjoyed a warm relationship to begin with helped greatly. The son was very patient and loving in his replies to his father's probing questions. I do not agree with every answer given, since I am more of a Calvinist while the author seems more Arminian. However, I found the vast majority of his answers spot on! I highly recommend this book to anyone dealing with a akeptical friend or faamily member, as well as to the non-believer who is genuinely seeking.
Letters from a Skeptic: A Son Wrestles with His Father's Questions about Christianity
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT!!!!!!, June 4 2004
By A Customer
I am reading this book at this moment, and I love this book. I use to wonder with all these questions about God and his existence. This book opened a new world for me.God's world. I learned that he loves us with all our heart. This book is so inspiring. I would tell everyone to read this book. Seriously, this book is the best book I ever read in my life. I would like to tell everyone to hurry up and get this book. This book is worth the money you use.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very well written overview of Christianity...., Sept. 29 2003
This is a re-written review, since in general the review I had written earlier seems to have not been helpful to much of anyone...
The first thing that I should say is that this book is clearly not for everyone, because of some of Greg's unique views that he has placed into the book. For those who are not able to seperate out different aspects of any given teacher's teaching, or who actually are convinced that there are teachers/authors, etc., who never get anything wrong (see other reviews) and therefore think that since Greg says some things that are not mainstream he must be all wrong, do not buy this book: you won't like it.
However, if you are interested in apologetics as a dialouge, and understand that even the brightest apologist doesn't know everything, give this book a whirl and see what you think. Greg and his father engage in a very lengthy dialouge throughout the book about Christianity; in the end, Greg's dad does become a Christian because of the dialouge. The book is not written to be scholarly; Greg makes this clear right in the beginning of the book: it's designed to be a genuine conversation, and indeed it is.
A further comment is in store about some of Greg's controversial viewpoints: if you see theology as a given 'set' of information designed to be passed from generation to generation, a position which might be labeled as "fundamentalist" in some circles, do NOT buy this book. For those of us who believe that God is using each generation of the Body of Christ to further our understanding of his Word, even if that means paradigm shifts and other such things, then DO buy this book. Greg is an excellent Christian minister who God has used to reach some very unreachable people, and it's often through the fact that he's willing to be a real person: not like many of the people who have negatively reviewed this book from their own respective 'ivory towers' of theology. The book shows how God (yes, the God of the bible, even though most people who attack Greg for his presuppositions don't realize the depth of their own presuppositions) really is in dynamic relationship with his creation: us. Praise God for Greg, and for this book, even though no one will agree with every word of it. Having talked with Greg personally, I can clearly sense the Spirit of God working through his life.
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