Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World's Largest Religion

Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World's Largest Religion

Although many people suggest that Christianity is declining, research indicates that it continues to be the world's most popular worldview. But even so, the Christian faith includes many controversial beliefs that non-Christians find hard to accept. This book explores 12 issues that might cause someone to dismiss orthodox Christianity--issues such as the existence of suffe...

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Title:Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World's Largest Religion
Author:Rebecca McLaughlin
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Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World's Largest Religion Reviews

  • Dan Curnutt

    Rebecca McLaughlin gives us a good look at 12 hard questions that people are asking about Christianity. As with any good apologetics book the author wrestles with questions that are not just obscure, but with questions that are being asked everyday by normal people who are just curious about the claims of religion.

    What happens when people ask their questions? Most of the time Christians have a tendency to get protective, or nervous, or frightened that their faith does not really answer the quest

    Rebecca McLaughlin gives us a good look at 12 hard questions that people are asking about Christianity. As with any good apologetics book the author wrestles with questions that are not just obscure, but with questions that are being asked everyday by normal people who are just curious about the claims of religion.

    What happens when people ask their questions? Most of the time Christians have a tendency to get protective, or nervous, or frightened that their faith does not really answer the questions that are being asked. So when you are asked, “Doesn’t Christianity Crush Diversity?” You become defensive. You want to protect what you believe, so you make excuses or talk around the issue or try to dismiss the claim. What you really need to do is go deep and answer the question lovingly and gently with educated information that gives a clear, concise, logical answer that will help the question asker to be able to then wrestle more with their question and come up with a better grasp of what Christians truly believe and can defend.

    When you are asked, “Doesn’t Christianity denigrate women?” You can give a loving response about how Christianity truly honors women, truly builds them up and places them on an equal level with every other human being. How Christianity shows that women are loved, cared for, and given empowerment to walk in todays culture with their heads held high and have confidence that they matter to God.

    How do you respond when you are asked, “Why does a loving God allow so much suffering?” You can come back with an educated, thoughtful response of how in humility and strength a person is able to bear up under suffering and express a true “HOPE” in the love of God who walks alongside of us in our suffering, because in His Son, Jesus Christ, He has experienced human suffering and understands the pain and hurt and also the triumph that we can experience when faced with suffering. A Loving God allows us to grow and mature and learn how to deal with the pains of this world.

    All that to say that Rebecca gives us 12 well thought out and articulated responses to the major questions that people will ask each day about our faith in Christ.

    This is an apologetic book that will help each of us to be confident in how to help others learn more of the truth of Scripture

  • Andrea

    I loved this book! It's definitely a difficult read, and I didn't have anything to compare it to --because I haven't read anything similar--but the author is winsome, articulate and so incredibly knowledgeable about Scripture and how it applies to the controversial issues facing our culture today. As a Christian, I know that a Biblical worldview weighs in so differently from the general conversation in the media and academia, but it's challenging to bring scriptural truths to bear on topics of r

    I loved this book! It's definitely a difficult read, and I didn't have anything to compare it to --because I haven't read anything similar--but the author is winsome, articulate and so incredibly knowledgeable about Scripture and how it applies to the controversial issues facing our culture today. As a Christian, I know that a Biblical worldview weighs in so differently from the general conversation in the media and academia, but it's challenging to bring scriptural truths to bear on topics of race and diversity, gender, and suffering. McLaughlin is humble, persuasive and right--she speaks the truth! It's so refreshing and helpful. I wish I could think and speak like her. I guess I'll need to read this one again several times so that I can have hope and speak hope into this mixed up world of ours.

  • Matt

    I know it’s only May, but I’m declaring it now: This is the 2019 Christian book of the year.

  • Slawrenson

    In many ways a remarkable book that is not only a force for logical, intellectual and biblical reasoning but also contains powerful personal testimony and commentary. Highly recommended

  • Michele Morin

    Rebecca McLaughlin’s Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion lays down a foundation of sinewy truth that pushes back against the temptation of simplistic answers or the tendency toward complacent dismissal of thoughtful skepticism.

    The truth is that Christianity will stand up to scrutiny, but Christians must also stand up and become informed adherents to our faith as we strive to love God fully–heart, soul, and mind. McLaughlin unpacks twelve questions, incuba

    Rebecca McLaughlin’s Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion lays down a foundation of sinewy truth that pushes back against the temptation of simplistic answers or the tendency toward complacent dismissal of thoughtful skepticism.

    The truth is that Christianity will stand up to scrutiny, but Christians must also stand up and become informed adherents to our faith as we strive to love God fully–heart, soul, and mind. McLaughlin unpacks twelve questions, incubated in our post-Christian culture, to pound against the pavement of our well-loved orthodoxy:

    1. Aren’t we better off without religion?

    An honest glance into history’s rear view mirror can hardly miss the positive impact of Christianity upon human flourishing. Biblical principles dovetail with findings of modern psychology and if you scratch the surface of many ethical ideals, there’s a Christian principle waiting to be found.

    2. Doesn’t Christianity crush diversity?

    Actually, Christianity is the most “diverse, multiethnic, and multicultural movement in all of history.” (Loc 837)

    3. How can you say there’s only one true faith?

    We’ve confused respect for other people’s beliefs with respect for other people. McLaughlin asserts that challenging another person’s beliefs is actually a sign of of respect, and it is logically impossible for two diametrically opposed belief systems to be equally true. “Claiming that monotheism fits with an all-religions-are-one approach is like claiming someone can be in two places at one time: it’s possible, but only if you kill the person first and dismember the body!” (Loc 1069)

    4. Doesn’t religion hinder morality?

    If Christianity had to stand or fall based on the performance of Christ’s followers, it was doomed before it ever began! However, “to be a Christian is to acknowledge your utter moral failure and to throw yourself on the mercy of the only truly good man who ever lived.” (Loc 1369)

    5. Doesn’t religion cause violence?

    This question fails to take into consideration the breadth of religiously motivated violence beyond Christianity and the devastation that has been caused by non-religious (and anti-religious) ideologies bent on cementing their hold and wiping out their detractors.

    6. How can you take the Bible literally?

    It is more important to approach the Bible literately than literally, meaning that, just as with any other written text, it is necessary to read with genre in mind. I would not apply Shakespeare in the same way that I apply a recipe book, and I should not read Psalms or a parable in the way I read the Gospels or the stories of the patriarchs in Genesis.

    7. Hasn’t science disproved Christianity?

    Since Christians developed the scientific method and have been well-represented in scientific discovery throughout history, this misunderstanding is rooted in a deficient view of the purpose of science. “Christians and atheists are vulnerable to the same mistake: the idea that science will either prove or disprove theism. A more fruitful approach is to look at the world around us and ask ourselves, does this seem coherent with the possibility of God?” (Loc 2533)

    8. Doesn’t Christianity denigrate women?

    Criticism of the role of women in Christianity is often based in a poor reading of Paul’s epistles that equate his words with “traditional” gender roles and impose male “headship” in ways God did not intend. Having said that, biblical marriage is a metaphor soaked in mutual sacrifice and death to selfishness, and the role of Christian women in the New Testament church sets the bar high for us today to follow in the sandaled footsteps of our first-century sisters in Christ.

    9. Isn’t Christianity homophobic?

    Throwing baby and bath water out the window in one fell swoop, evangelicals have elevated marriage at the expense of what McLaughlin refers to as “one-body unity.” Since “we who are many are one body,” (I Corinthians 10:16-17) friendship is “not the consolation prize for those who fail to gain romantic love.” (Loc 3217) However, the Bible is also clear that Jesus preached a morality that was (and still is) offensive to heterosexuals and homosexuals alike.

    10. Doesn’t the Bible condone slavery?

    When the Bible describes a scene from history, it is often merely descriptive without being prescriptive. Having said that, slave terminology is used in the New Testament as a thing to be desired. Paul routinely rejects any higher title than “bond servant,” and when he refers to Onesimus, an actual slave who became a Christ follower, he calls him “a brother, beloved in the Lord.” It is a mistake to let the racism of white church leaders of the past define Christianity going forward.

    11. How could a loving God allow so much suffering?

    This may be the most difficult question McLaughlin tackles in her book because it’s one that we all encounter sooner or later, and it’s easy to fall into error in our efforts to “excuse” God for the problem of evil on a fallen planet. She bases her examination of suffering in the death of Lazarus and the crisis of faith this caused for Mary and Martha. Jesus self-identification as “the resurrection and the life” is a statement to the grieving sisters that “your greatest need is not to have your brother back again. It’s to have me.” Suffering sifts our desires, and the instinct that rises first is to push back. It is in this pushing back that relationship begins to take root.

    12. How could a loving God send people to hell?

    Neither heaven nor hell, in biblical terms, are geographic localities. While heaven is “shorthand for the full blessing of relationship with God,” hell is separation and rejection. The scandalous grace of God is all that stands between hell and every human rebel on the planet.

    Perhaps you are one who bumps into a cocktail of these twelve questions on the daily. Or, maybe you (like me!) are happy for the insight they give, but are rarely pressed into a defensive stance. Thinking about what we believe helps to solidify our faith, strengthening the bones of belief as we resist the subtle slippage toward lazy theology. God is greatly glorified by a probing faith that puts truth on the table for a rigorous discussion that confronts doubt and comes away even stronger.

    Many thanks to Crossway for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

  • Alex Etheridge

    Unbelievably good. Intellectually sharp, historically rooted, scientifically grounded, theologically sound, and persuasively argued. McLaughlin discusses 12 very hard challenges and critiques of Christianity with refreshing ease and amazing scope and research.

  • Mark Jr.

    What first attracted me to Rebecca McLaughlin’s

    was the title. I actually assumed it was a non-Christian book. Second was the author: I read a piece of hers on TGC that I liked. Third, to be honest, was that Crossway was willing to give me a free copy in exchange for an honest review, no strings attached.

    So here I go: McLaughlin is easy to read, has done some good homework, has a compelling personal story, and writes

    What first attracted me to Rebecca McLaughlin’s

    was the title. I actually assumed it was a non-Christian book. Second was the author: I read a piece of hers on TGC that I liked. Third, to be honest, was that Crossway was willing to give me a free copy in exchange for an honest review, no strings attached.

    So here I go: McLaughlin is easy to read, has done some good homework, has a compelling personal story, and writes with a British accent so clearly she is smart okay you can’t deny it. Like Tim Keller in his

    , McLaughlin is delivering the fruit of her years involved in frontline Christian apologetics. In Keller’s case, that was with young, upwardly mobile New York urbanites. In McLaughlin’s, it was through her work with the Veritas Forum. She has an evangelical upbringing and a Cambridge education, a PhD in literature. Her twelve chapters—one per objection to the faith—are generally solid, evidentialisticky but sophisticated but lay-friendly treatments that have certainly been honed by actual use in the real world. As a presuppositionalist (who doesn’t like to ride the label, and who believes in the value of evidence because Paul does in 1 Corinthians 15), I observe that my own tribe’s arguments don’t always get that kind of honing… I don’t seem often to run into people who can really understand what I’m saying when I go presupp on them; it’s all too philosophically demanding. I’m in the process of wondering if the viewpoint is mainly a help for me (which isn’t a bad thing). So I appreciate McLaughlin’s approach.

    That approach makes for a lot of individual points of insight, and of telling argument.

    Here are a few.

    I found this helpful and eloquent:

    This, too:

    She found a helpful and beautiful and simple way of saying something I’ve tried very hard to say many times myself in writing. I greatly admired this:

    This is totally unfair, because what can a writer do, and I’m not doing my job as a reviewer if I can’t put my finger on something—but there is a

    that Keller has that McLaughlin lacks. His work felt new; hers felt not-as-new but with flashes of new (indeed, some illustrations are quite recent). McLaughlin wrote this book in four months while pregnant and doing other things, and though on the one hand she did a remarkable job given those circumstances (circumstances I hope never to face in my writing), and though she had a deep well to draw from in her Veritas work, I do think a little more literary polishing would have helped. Maybe, however, I’m reflecting the point in my own life at which I read each book. When I read Keller, his arguments were fresh. As I read McLaughlin, I’m a decade further down the path of my own apologetic thinking and experience.

    Where McLaughlin shines in a way Keller may not—and, hey, they’re on the same team, and I want both to win in their evangelism—is in her sex and her sexual story. I resist identity politics, and yet it seems to me that the author’s being a woman is a genuinely valuable thing, if only because it may win her excellent work a hearing. And her sexual story, involving unconsummated lifelong same-sex attraction and a happy marriage to a man, checks off another box in the intersectional game many educated people are playing now. McLaughlin doesn’t play that game, but still, perhaps her story will be God’s means of getting her some non-Christian readers. I pray it will.

    A few times she stated biblical truth about gender or creation/evolution in what I would call an ever-so-slightly-waffly way. There is truth here, for example, but I’ll offer a critique after the quote:

    She does have a point, but I prefer Alastair Roberts’ approach (

    ), one in which culture is not dross but a God-created good—one, surely, that has been touched by the fall like the rest of creation, but one that we can never fully dust off anyway,

    .

    But each time I felt a little wary of where she was going, she followed up with bracing, well-written avowals of culturally offensive Christian truths. Like this:

    This is another argument I’ve tried to use multiple times: the sexual revolution is the biggest con the patriarchy has ever played. What was touted as liberation for all has ended up benefitting the people who held the most power in the first place.

    My most significant critique of McLaughlin is a presuppositionalist one: I would have liked to see more Bible, even and especially in a book that she hopes non-Christians might read. But it isn’t missing; there’s a beautiful section on the resurrection of Lazarus, for example. In my experience, people who disagree just don’t listen. By quoting more Bible, I’m making it so they just don’t listen to God rather than just don’t listen to me.

    McLaughlin handles the standard apologetic questions about the exclusivity of Christianity and its moral track record; the historicity of the Bible; the relationship of science and faith; feminism and homosexuality; slavery; and hell and the problem of evil and suffering. And perhaps my favorite chapter was that last one, the one about suffering. McLaughlin showed a theologically careful understanding of the story of Scripture, and she gave this great illustration (albeit by throwing her child under the literary bus; but it was worth it, and her little one will grow):

    You do get to know Rebecca through her book, and I liked that. She isn’t a brain on a stick, reciting arguments seriatim. But she

    surely smart, and I will look for more of her work in the future.

  • Rick Shafer

    Really enjoyed this book. Not a 'clobber' apologetics book and deals with contemporary and longstanding questions. I think it does a better job of poking holes in secular arguments than telling readers what to believe. I actually prefer this approach. The same sex chapter was personal, which made it more interesting and helpful. I thought the final two chapters stopped short of being really convincing. It's hard to deal with suffering and hell without delving deeply into systematic Theology -- s

    Really enjoyed this book. Not a 'clobber' apologetics book and deals with contemporary and longstanding questions. I think it does a better job of poking holes in secular arguments than telling readers what to believe. I actually prefer this approach. The same sex chapter was personal, which made it more interesting and helpful. I thought the final two chapters stopped short of being really convincing. It's hard to deal with suffering and hell without delving deeply into systematic Theology -- something I think she was intentionally avoiding. I definitely recommend this book to facilitate conversations and to help people think about what they believe and why.

  • Derek

    Good. I hope it becomes more commonplace for Christians to write for the everyday skeptic. Early chapters were strong. Chapters on gender and sexuality made me go looking for another book to read with a co-worker. Likely going with Deyoung's book on homosexuality. Still a decent read.

  • Robin Langford

    As I read this I thought of several people I want to share it with. It’s a simple book, in a good way. It’s clear, easy to read and understand. Rebecca McLaughlin writes compellingly and thoughtfully. I’m glad I read it.

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