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A Little Primer on Humble Apologetics
Inter-varsity Press / 2006 / Paperback
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Always be prepared to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:15-16)
We've all felt the tension. An opportunity to speak for Christ comes up, and either we jump in with both barrels blasting or we cower in the corner and say nothing. Is there a better way? Can we learn to speak boldly, yet humbly, about our faith in Christ?
Veteran apologist Jim Sire offers salient counsel derived from over fifty years of experience in a vast array of settings. Through a variety of snapshots, both successful and unsuccessful, he helps us understand the nature, value and limits of apologetics, and suggests how to tailor our comments to respect our audience whether large or small, formal or informal. He then outlines five key arguments for the Christian faith and offers responses to five common objections. Finally, for those especially drawn to apologetics, he offers counsel on how to discern a call to apologetic ministry.
James W. Sire (Ph.D., University of Missouri), formerly a senior editor at InterVarsity Press, is an active speaker and writer. He has taught English, philosophy, theology and short courses at many universities and seminaries. He continues to be a frequent guest lecturer in the United States and Europe.
A Little Primer of Humble Apologetics is just that: a beginners instruction book on the subject of Christian apologetics; a subject many of us find frightening. As the author, James Sire, points out, we Christians are all called to some extent to be arguers or contenders for our faith, to be prepared at all times to be able to give a reason for the hope that we have found in Jesus Christ. (I Peter 3: 15-16) This primer tells how to defend the faith intelligently, with integrity and humility.
Sire contends, in six short but tightly-packed chapters, that Christians can and should learn apologetic arguments through reading the Gospels and through the example and instruction of the early apostles Peter, Stephen, and Paul. Chapter one looks at what nine key Scripture passages say about presenting the gospel, and arrives at a guiding definition for those who hope to defend their faith.
Each of the chapters is preceded by a short recounting of a situation when the author practiced apologetics. Chapters two and three discuss the values and the limits of apologetic argument. In the third chapter, Sire makes the startling statement that the first and most important value of apologetics is to establish Christians in their faith.
Chapter four examines the audiences a Christian may address when using apologetics. Chapter five delineates five positive arguments for Christianity and five objections to the Christian faith commonly encountered. This chapter suggests many books for further study which flesh out these arguments. In chapter six, Sire discusses how a person can discern Gods call on his life to become an apologist. I find the book healthy instructionespecially the authors advice as to how to prepare for such a calling spiritually, vocationally, and intellectually.
More arguments are lost by arrogance than are ever lost by poor reasoning. This quote explains the humble part of the title. I recommend this book to people who want to understand exactly what apologetics are and how to serve God through apologetics. I also believe it could be used well by parents, to strengthen the faith of their young teenagers and prepare them to confidently defend that faith through knowledge well mixed with the important ingredient of humility. Elece Hollis, Christian Book Previews.com
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