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5 Stars Out Of 5
July 11, 2013
Defending the Faith is a challenge from Mary Jo Sharp for you and me personally -- "You are the Christian warriors who are missing-in-action on the battlefield of ideology" (pg. 16)
...but also specifically for the women' ministries in the church, the body of Christ -- "In this book, I am prosing a new approach to women's ministries that addresses the basic need of women to know the truth about God and thus to trust Him: the study of apologetics specifically for women so that they can learn the truth about God, believe in Him and live our their faith through their actions." (pg. 41) Because "we will only live out genuine faith when we truly believe in God. We will only truly believe in God when we know Him. We will only know Him as we intellectually engage at a deeper level the issues of His existence." (pg. 43 - However, I changed and emphasized some of the pronouns to make this quote more personal.)
There is so much that is encouraging, inspiring, and informative in the chapters of this little book.
1) Reasons for knowing why you believe in God
2) How your beliefs affect your life
3) How your beliefs affect others
4) What you can do right now
5) What you can do in women's ministries
6) The importance of a woman's testimony
Also there is a resources section at the end with suggested apologetics material from books to web sites. I partially like how under "Learning a Defense of the Christian Faith" she has the books divided in beginning, intermediate and advance. With that, we all can start where we are in our apologetics reading and grow from there, instead of picking up one random book that may intimidate us to quit!
Sharp starts with what I believe to be a much needed reminder: "It was important for me to understand that God does not mind our questions. The stubborn, hardened heart that is unwilling to consider God is the one rebuked in Scripture--not the heart that questions." (pg. 14) She ends with "Ultimately, my reasoning for apologetics study is...because I desire to give God whatever glory I am able to with this life of mine." (pg. 132) Now you need to get the book to read all the in-between!
Reading Defending the Faith was an "accident": meaning I actually didn't read the full title when I picked up, so I started reading it thinking it was an apologetics book. I felt like the ladies on page 62: I already see I need for apologetics and wanted more!! However, I'm glad I "accidentally" got this book - with a heart toward Christ and apologetics and perhaps God has a purpose for me now having this information also! :)
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.
There are times when I am not quite sure why I decide to read a particular book whether it is fiction or nonfiction. One of the reasons I wanted to at least look into this book though was because it has to do with apologetics, which I love to read, as well as the challenge it brings in my walk with the Lord. I know, too, that there is always room to learn more, to be better equipped and therefore ready to answer inquiries. When I saw the book, I can say that there was concern that a very liberal approach was possibly being advocated for women by women again. Nothing saddens me more when women either intentionally or not fall prey to thinking we have "rights" to everything without remembering that we are crucified with Christ. Our lives aren't about "rights", but about serving the Lord as we are ambassadors for the very One who came to serve not to be served. Sometimes we fall prey due to lack of devotion to the Word of God, studying it, reading it and doing it again the next day.
There are some ways my past is similar to the author's and other ways it is very different; perhaps other readers will find this true for themselves as well. The author states that, "the goal of this book, in which I am, essentially, arguing that Christian women need to be able to defend their faith with intellectual rigor and honesty." (pg 11) The challenge is not new, but a wakeup call to the church to remember a command in the Gospel of Mark 12:30 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." I agree with the author that women need to be able to defend their faith, not in a mean or argumentative way, but seasoned with grace. In other words, we learn how to defend our faith in order to help others see Jesus, know Jesus and seek Jesus.
Mary Jo Sharp has written a very concise and thought-provoking book that should be read with the mind as well as the heart. It will challenge, encourage and definitely cause readers to evaluate their walk with the Lord as well as their preparedness to answer inquirers. Don't misjudge the length of the book, thinking that it won't take long to read through. It will take some time if readers are marking and commenting in the book. I appreciate the author's thoughts and her challenges!
Mary Jo argues that "Christian women need to be able to defend their faith with intellectual rigor and honesty." (11) Therefore, women's ministries needs to include apologetics.
In this book she looks at:
reasons for knowing why you believe in God
how your beliefs affect your life
how your beliefs affect others
how to start everyday discussions on beliefs
what you can do in women's ministries
the importance of a woman's testimony.
Mary Jo writes from her own experience. She grew up agnostic and became a Christian at age twenty. About nine years later, she faced doubts about her belief. Convinced God would provide the answers she needed, she began to study apologetics.
Mary Jo says it is time for women to get serious with apologetics. Mothers are influential to their children and in this era, children need to see their mother with strong and well defended faith.
She shares the importance of learning how to think, of knowing how beliefs are formed and maintained, of doing deep thinking and tough theology, and of realizing how others (such as our children) perceive out faith.
This book is different than I was expecting from the title. This is not a book on apologetic techniques. You will not learn techniques for defending your faith although she does include many resources to do so. She does give suggested conversational questions to stimulate discussions with others.
Mary Jo's emphasis in this book is arguing that your church's women's ministry needs to include studies on apologetics. If you are a women's ministry leader, you need to read this book. If you are not a ministry leader, Mary Jo gives suggestions at the end of the book as to what you can do to encourage the incorporation of apologetic studies in your church.
You will be convinced that it is important for women to study apologetics. She writes, "Women will only live out genuine faith when they truly believe in God. They will only truly believe in God when they know Him. They will only know Him as they intellectually engage at a deeper level the issues of His existence." (43)
If you want your women's group to be more than a shallow get together, I challenge you to read this book. It is time women got serious with knowing what they believe and knowing how to defend it. This book will get you going at incorporating deep and theological discussions into your women's ministry.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
How would you answer the following questions about your faith:
Why do you believe in God?
What are your reasons for thinking God is real and that the Bible is a reliable text inspired by God?
"In his first letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul says that if it is not absolutely true that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, then our faith in God is useless and we are giving false testimony (1 Corinthians 15:14-15). This is why we must be brutally honest with ourselves about what we believe and why: so that we can grow in our own faith in God and move toward maturity in Christ.
You, as a person who professes God as the giver of all truth, should be asking yourself these questions before anyone else asks them of you. It is a matter of being responsible with your beliefs. However, let me be careful to say that you can have doubts and believe in God. Just because people have doubts about their faith doesn't mean they have to abandon ship. Doubts are not confirmation that a ship is sinking, but if you question the sturdiness of your vessel, would it not be wiser to examine its soundness before you simply leap into the sea? Even if you still do not have 100 percent confidence that the ship will stay afloat, you also do not have 100 percent confidence that it won't! Do you really need 100 percent confidence that the ship is secure to stay aboard? Would 10 percent, 20 percent, or 40 percent doubt in one's ship be reason enough to jump overboard? No, of course not! You only abandon ship once you are certain the ship is sinking, and as the gales and tempests of this life come, I contend that the more you study, the more you will find that no other ship but the mighty ark of our Christian faith will bear us safely through every challenge and storm. And if we have this confidence in our own faith, the more persuasive we will be as we thoughtfully interact with the ideas and questions of people from other belief systems."
In the book, Defending the Faith by author Mary Jo Sharp, she takes a look at what is often times lacking within the church, a need for women to be taught how to defend their faith in a way that works for women. It is an honest look into what we need, as women, to help us not only be prepared to answer the questions above with honesty and confidence but how to grow and remain strong in our faith. If left to our own devices, we will simply limb along taking scripted responses from others as a simple way of providing the answers we hope are true to ourselves.
This is a wonderful book that I would see could dramatically impact the ministry opportunities in the church, home and community because of the compassionate needs women have to help others in need. If we continue to work together to really provide a hard line study into growing our faith, studying what God's Word has to stay about things, we can not only answer questions asked of us but also coach those we interact with every day in those same areas. We are instructed as a church to provide that type of teaching within our body and community and I think Mary Jo does an exceptional job at not only showing us why it's necessary but also how to go about beginning the process. She definitely has inspired a fire in this reader's soul to provide my own answers to these questions above and many more.
I received Defending the Faith by Mary Jo Sharp compliments of Kregel Publications for my honest review. I have not received any monetary compensation for a favorable review. This is a must needed subject for the churches, more so now than ever before and I would encourage church leaders and women in the ministry to pick up a copy to encourage this type of growth within the women of the church through small group and personal Bible Studies. I can only imagine how powerful this would be for any woman to have the upmost confidence in being able to defend her own faith in Jesus Christ to anyone who asks. I rate this one a 4.5 out of 5 stars.