Speaking of Faith
When I was a student ministries pastor in Northern California, a parent in our church gave me a book called, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. According to the authors, most teens aren’t well-equipped to talk about their faith or spiritual things in general. This was something I saw almost every week, both at church and on the public school campuses in our community.
Clearly, the church as a whole hasn’t done a great job helping students out in this area. As someone who continues to work with college students today, I totally get how Christian teens (and many of their parents) often feel unprepared for the intellectual challenges they hear on campus—especially at the college level.
That’s why I’m so excited about a new book called Truth Matters by Andreas Köstenberger, Darrell Bock, and Josh Chatraw. In this post, I’ll tell you what’s cool about this little green book, what I think the most important parts are and how you can score a signed copy for free!
But first, here’s why I’m stoked about Truth Matters. It’s a very accessible apologetics book that’s tailored for high school students preparing to head off to college. Although there are other good apologetics books for teens, this one is special because it helps orient teens to the most common critiques of God and the Bible–especially the kinds of challenges popularized by scholars like Bart Ehrman.
Top Three Issues
I recently sat down with Darrell Bock and talked about some of the top intellectual challenges Christian students face in college. I asked him what he personally sees as the top three issues covered in Truth Matters, given the amount of time he spends speaking at student events around the nation. He pointed me to these three:
Let’s Make a Bible – Who Picked These Books and Where’d They Come From?
This chapter looks at the Gnostic writings and alleged forgery in the Bible. It demonstrates how the New Testament canon “had already been forming on its own–and had actually been closed to newcomers–for generations,” (47) way before the church meetings that happened in the AD 300s.
Contradictions, Contradictions – Why Does My Bible Have All These Mistakes?
This chapter helps you respond to the challenge that the Bible contradicts itself, focusing on the distinction between diversity and disagreement. “Any historical account is by nature selective” (75) and you’ll see why difference and historical developments don’t necessarily equal a slam-dunk Bible contradiction. There’s a unity in diversity going on here.
And the Winner Is… – Who Decided What Christianity Was Made Of?
Did one group of Christians just declare themselves right and everyone else heretics back in the day? This chapter helps you see what your church has in common with the early church, cut through the conspiracy and get the rest of the story. “Christian doctrines and beliefs…trace all the way back to what people saw and heard and experienced in the physical presence of Jesus” (156).
I agree. These chapters alone are worth getting the book. They can help you show that intellectual challenges don’t undercut the trustworthiness of the core story. Truth Matters can also help you draw listeners into a spiritual conversation based on where they are at. In fact, many of the issues in this book are the exact ones that often come up in college courses on philosophy or religion.
Who will love this?
Students, parents, pastors, and youth leaders. But it’s really for everybody. In another interview on Truth Matters, Darrell Bock says:
“It’s really written for anybody, and in my view it’s really the rest of the story. It’s often what you don’t hear the culture saying about Christianity that the culture should be aware of.”
But it’s especially good for students in college because:
“They’re going to hear a lot of things about Christianity when they’re on the college campuses. If they’ve grown up in the church, especially the conservative church, most of what they hear will be news to them. And in some cases, it could be unsettling news. So, knowing what they’re hearing isn’t the only angle on what they’re hearing is very, very important.”
This book is a rising star in the apologetics titles on Amazon. And for good reason. I loved reading Truth Matters. I actually tried taking notes on one section and ended up almost retyping the page because there was so much good stuff.
I suggest getting a copy for teens you know are heading off to college. Youth pastors, consider getting these for all your high school juniors and seniors as grad gifts!
Full Disclosure: I was given a personal copy of this book by Darrell Bock, who I work for at my part-time job as a Cultural Engagement Fellow in the Hendricks Center for Christian Leadership and Cultural Engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. I was not asked to write a review. My opinions are my own. In fact, the whole giveaway thing was my idea to help get the word out about Truth Matters. The following promotion is not associated with the Hendricks Center, Dallas Theological Seminary or B&H Publishing. See official rules for details.
Enter the Giveaway
OK. So here’s the part about how you can score a free, signed copy of Truth Matters: Darrell Bock is sponsoring a Truth Matters giveaway right here on my blog. Yup, he donated a book and he’ll even sign it for the winner. To enter, just use the widget below. Earn as many entries as you like. Don’t forget you can tweet this giveaway every day! a Rafflecopter giveaway