Saturday, May 24, 2008
Can a book that calls itself 5 Minute Apologist (NavPress) live up to its claims?
In it author Rick Cornish offers a readable overview of several apologetics topics. The book is divided into 10 parts: Thinking, the Bible, Worldviews, God, Jesus, the Resurrection, Science, Miracles, Historic Religions, and New Religions. It also includes a helpful topical index and a list of recommended books.
Each short chapter addresses common apologetics issues. The section on the Bible, for instance, includes chapter titles such as "How Did the Bible Originate?" and "Can I Trust the New Testament?" while the section on science addresses topics such as "Has Science Made Christianity Irrelevant?" and "Is There a Philosophy Behind Science?" Sections on religions cover a variety of beliefs including Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism, Christian Science, Scientology, and more.
Longtime Christian apologists may scoff at Cornish's short chapters and sweeping overviews, but such an attitude misses the point of 5 Minute Apologist, which is to provide an appealing introduction to apologetics "in small chunks" (p. 17). Serious apologists often are perplexed by the fact that other Christians are not as interested in the topic as they should be. When it comes to defending the faith, though, people need to walk before they can run. In this regard 5 Minute Apologist may be just the book to spur interest in apologetics and, in the process, edify believers who lack a background in defending the faith but are intimidated by weightier resources.
This helpful book, though, is not without some shortcomings. First, its very nature limits the depth of discussion given to any topic. Second, there is some redundancy, which most likely is a result of the overlapping nature of some apologetics issues. Third, the section on "Historic Religions" offers more of a description of the various religions than a defense of Christianity in comparison. Fourth, although the scope of what Cornish intends is unclear, in a chapter on postmodernism, some may take issue with his advice to use "postmodern methods" when sharing the faith (113). Finally, one chapter lists the five pillars of Islam incorrectly, though they are listed correctly later in the chapter (253).
In the foreword, William Dembski describes the book as "a useful primer in Christian apologetics" (13). At first glance, 5 Minute Apologist is indeed just that--a friendly guide suitable for high-school or college students or individuals who are becoming acquainted for the first time with the issues involved in contending for the faith. It also is useful for seasoned apologists, however, who are wanting a quick refresher.
Note: A version of this review appeared in Christian Research Journal.