Preparing Students to Defend Their Faith

What will happen when your teenager sits down for his or her first class at college and a professor comes out to immediately challenge and confront Christian beliefs?

Unfortunately, many young people are ill equipped to defend their faith.

Truth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confusing World, a new book by Andreas Kostenberger, Darrell Bock and Josh Chatraw and published by B&H, looks to prepare students for the intellectual scrutiny their faith will face once they leave home.

Using the writings and lectures of famed Christian critic and University of North Carolina religion professor Bart Ehrman as a starting point, Truth Matters deals with common objections to Christianity that college students often face.

Perhaps surprisingly, the book opens by examining what makes the arguments raised by Ehrman and others so appealing. The authors conclude the opening chapter by asserting that no one can completely prove (or disprove) the Bible, but “there are reasonable answers to be had that consistently correspond to the beliefs of the Christian faith.”

The authors explain their purpose for writing Truth Matters was to provide answers to scholarly topics from a solidly Christian viewpoint.

So what questions does the book address? Chapters two through seven tackle one broad topic each.

  • If God is there and He cares, why is there suffering in this world?
  • Why were the specific books included in the Bible?
  • Are there contradictions in the Bible?
  • How can we trust the Bible if we only have copies, instead of the originals?
  • How do we know we are practicing the right version of Christianity?
  • Did Jesus really rise from the dead?

The authors manage to respond to each challenge in a winsome and accessible manner, while still being faithful to Scripture and scholarship.

Less than 200 pages, Truth Matters can provide parents and student ministers with a handy guide for the questions facing their teenagers. Students themselves could easily toss the book in their backpack as a quick resource to help think through challenges to Christianity.

But more than simply offering an intellectual justification for following Christ, the book encourages readers to be “His disciple as well as His defender.”

Check out Truth Matters, released today on WORDsearch, here.

Aaron Earls is a writer for corporate communications at LifeWay. Originally posted on LifeWay’s LifeLines blog.

How do you help students cope with their questions of faith?

Staff Pick – Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes

MisreadingScriptPlease note: The views & opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of LifeWay Christian Resources.

“Did I tell you what I read today in Misreading Scripture?”

While reading this book, I think I asked my friends, co-workers and family this question constantly, wanting to share with them every little thing I read. I couldn’t stop talking about it. I was blown away by the insights and evidence the authors provided to explain the cultural differences between when the Bible was written and now.

Even without consciously knowing it, we all bring our own biases and assumptions with us when we read the Bible. As a 25-year-old female who was raised in America, I am going to interpret verses through the lens of our individualistic society, placing my rules and understanding of language and time into God’s Word. The worst part? I wouldn’t have even known I was doing it until I read E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien’s book, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes.

The more I read this book, the more I realized what I didn’t understand about the Bible, and what I thought I knew might not even be right! According to the authors, we have cultural blinders that keep us from seeing what the original intent of the biblical author was, given the many differences between Western and Eastern cultures. We can learn from knowing how the Eastern authors understood the world, God and everyday life in order to properly receive what they were trying to communicate.

One of the parts that struck me was when the authors talked about virtues and vices. According to the authors, as Westerners, we supplement the biblical lists with virtues and vices from our own culture. An example they use is self-sufficiently, which is more likely a vice in the Bible because we should be relying on God and putting our faith in Him, not our own plans. We also focus more on avoiding sins and vices instead of focusing on putting on the virtues of the Bible.

Another example that was convicting was that when Paul tells women to dress modestly, Westerners usually will jump to thinking this means to make sure to not wear revealing clothes. But, the authors say, Paul was probably actually talking about dressing modestly in a financial sense, to make sure you weren’t showing off your wealth by what you were wearing. Wow.

Being aware of our cultural blinders can help us understand what the Scriptures meant to the original audiences, but that doesn’t mean the process of change is an easy one. By working hard to re-think assumptions, being teachable, and reading the Bible with others and an open heart we can see the Bible in new and even unexpected ways. Bringing their own personal experience, especially Richards’ Indonesian missionary work, and their easy-to-read style, this book is a great read for anyone who wants to learn more about the historical context of the Bible and how it affects us today.

“If our cultural blind spots keep us from reading the Bible correctly, then they can also keep us from applying the Bible correctly. If we want to follow Jesus faithfully and help others do the same, we need to do all we can to allow the Scriptures to speak to us on their own terms.”

Have you read anything that has inspired you lately? Share with us!

Check out Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes on sale for $6.95 for the next week here.

-Katie Cornett

Staff Pick – God Behaving Badly

GodBehavingBadlySometimes when I am reading the Old Testament, I have to stop and say, “Uh…what?” God can come off, well, angry, sexist and racist. It sometimes even seems worse compared to how loving and kind Jesus was in the New Testament, causing people to separate God into the mean, scary Old Testament God verses the nice New Testament Jesus. How do we reconcile these seemingly different portrayals of God?

That’s where David Lamb and God Behaving Badly come in. He wants us to discuss and study the hard questions that most of us ignore because we don’t understand. Each chapter is dedicated to a question about God’s character, like “Is God Angry or Loving?” and “Is God Legalistic or Gracious?” Using biblical references that we are uncomfortable with, he explains the historical circumstances to show how what God does is for good, even though it seems harsh to us.

It is important for us to study problematic texts so we will know how to answer people who question us. While Lamb knows he doesn’t have all the answers, what he does know is that God is good, no matter what He is doing. If you look closely at the Old Testament, you can see that He is characterized as loving, affirming, hospitable, and is the same throughout the whole Bible.

I would recommend this to anyone who wants to learn more about God and who He is in the Old and New Testaments.

Have you read anything that has inspired you lately? Share with us!

Check out God Behaving Badly for 50 percent off (for the next few days only!) here.

-Katie Cornett

Staff Pick – All the Men of the Bible

TheAllMenEach week the blog will feature a favorite book of a staff member that’s available on WORDsearch.

In fifth grade my parents purchased a multi-volume encyclopedia, as many parents did in the pre-Internet era, to help out with my homework.  My homework would suffer because as I flipped through the pages searching for the topic of a report my teacher had assigned, I would inevitably be sidetracked by more interesting articles I encountered on the way. This is a habit I have never been able to kick.

Working here at WORDsearch, I am surrounded by books that elicit the same reaction. While checking for errors in the OCR process, I will inevitably be tempted to stop and read an interesting passage, and I have to tear myself away to focus on the task at hand. One of the books that tested my self-control happened to be one of my favorites, Herbert Lockyer’s All the Men of the Bible.

As the title suggests, this book lists all the men appearing in the Bible, and it is a very extensive list. The reason why Lockyer wrote this book to include all the men, even the ones mentioned only once, was because, as he states in the first chapter, “…the Bible is the inspired Word of God, even these uninteresting lists of names were written for our learning, and if properly studied they [will] yield remarkable results.”

All the Men of the Bible is like a cross between a dictionary and an encyclopedia. Each entry starts conventionally enough with a pronunciation guide and the meaning of the man’s name, such as Amos, which means “burden bearer” or “one with a burden.” The names are sometimes shared among more than one man, such as the five individuals named Asaph.  But Lockyer wrote this book to be more than a dictionary with concise definitions, and he used his education and extensive experience as a pastor to bring together all the fragments of information scattered throughout the Bible in order to create a complete portrayal for each man.

Browsing through the entries, the reader’s eye may be caught by the story of Mnason, an old disciple who gave Paul and his followers lodging. Mnason is given only the briefest of mentions in the Bible, but Lockyer became a storyteller, and wove together information drawn from the Bible and his knowledge of biblical history, and was able to create a compelling image of the man. Now we are able to see him as a living person, someone who contributed materially to the spread of the Gospel.

Where this book really shines is when there is more information to work with. Under Asahel, of which there are four different men who share this name, the fourth is described as the youngest son of David’s sister, and whose story is given the interesting subtitle of The Man Who Died in His Boots. We learn of his family background, that he was known for his “fleetness of foot,” was a courageous officer in David’s army, and that his ambition contributed to his death.

Whenever possible, Lockyer shows how the story of each man illustrates the teachings of the Bible, and he points out how to use them as the basis of study group discussions or sermons. This, along with careful citations of his information sources, makes the book a valuable resource and an excellent addition to anyone’s library.

David Henderson is an OCR technician at WORDsearch. He is happily married and enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the great outdoors, the great indoors and anywhere in between.

Download All the Men of the Bible, a new release, for $11.95 here.

Have you read a book that has inspired you lately? Let us know!

Staff Pick – The Glory of Preaching

bob3_staffpickEach week the blog will feature a favorite book of a staff member that’s available on WORDsearch.

Do you know how much time pastors put into preparing their messages? Many people do not realize the amount of work it takes. I’ve heard people (non-pastors) talk about the easy “1-2 hour workweeks” that pastors have. As a pastor’s son and pastor-in-training, I’ve come to understand that this is not the case.

The one-hour message you hear from the pulpit is the result of 13 hours of study (in my experience), on average. Reading the original Greek and Hebrew texts, examining the context and comparing parallel passages are all things that go into this study time, with the goal of coming to a full and clear understanding of the text. After this time of study, the final step of the process is to communicate this understanding to other people. We call this teaching or preaching.

Homiletics is the art of preaching. It is the study of organizing biblical truth in an orderly manner so that it can be easily understood.

The Glory of Preaching gives great practical advice on order and structure, and it does so in a way that does not discount the spiritual aspect of preaching. God the Holy Spirit is the one who is at work in teaching us, and He chooses to do so through pastors. This participation of the pastor in the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit is truly “glorious”.

I really enjoyed this contrast from chapter 3: “Expository preaching is not about getting a message out of the text; it is about inviting people into the text so that the text can do what only the text can do.”

This book is a valuable tool, and I intend to re-read it soon, because I know the benefit it will be for me in my own teaching. If you are looking for a book that will help you communicate more effectively the Truth that you are studying, I highly recommend this book.

I consider it a blessing to work with these kind of books, and to serve those who preach and teach to change lives.
Bob Bolender III is an e-book developer at WORDsearch who is studying to be a pastor under the training ministry at Austin Bible Church, where his father is the pastor. He is also a graduate of Word of God Bible College in Kiev, Ukraine, where he studied a lot of Greek, Hebrew, Russian and a little bit of Ukrainian.

Download The Glory of Preaching, a new release, for $19.95 here.

Have you read a book that has inspired you lately? Let us know!

Staff Pick – Biblical Counseling Keys

BibCounsLibSEach week the blog will feature a favorite book of a staff member that’s available on WORDsearch.

Do you ever wonder…

Who is God?

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:10)

Who am I, and what is my true identity?

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13)

 Why am I lonely?

Question: “How can I feel lonely when I have Christ in my heart?”

Answer: It is not sinful to experience the pain of loneliness. In fact, it’s perfectly normal. We are made to have significant relationships with God and with others. When there is great loss or a great change in our lives, we experience great pain and stress. Even Jesus hurt when His friend Lazarus died. Tears are not wrong; they are God-given for healing.

What is true integrity?

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10)

Why does a good God allow evil and suffering?

“Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10)

What does a real friend look like?

“Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself…. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.” (1 Samuel 18:1, 3)

What are the causes of fear?

“In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:11)

June Hunt has a remarkable way of taking common struggles. She uses Scripture, outlines, bullet points, charts and illustrations to clearly explaining how to deal with them. She has real-life answers in titles such as God: Who Is He?, Mentoring, Self-Worth, Integrity, Pride & Humility, Communication and so many others.

I have personally turned to them in times when I didn’t know where to start and have always been encouraged, motivated and enlightened. This resource is truly a gold mine of information and a must-have for anyone living in the world today!

Erica has worked at WORDsearch for over nine years, and is currently an e-book developer. She loves God, spending time with her family and the Texas Longhorns.

Download The Biblical Counseling Library, usually $149.95, for $89.95 here.

Have you read a book that has inspired you lately? Let us know!