God Among Sages: Why Jesus Is Not Just Another Religious Leader
God Among Sages: Why Jesus Is Not Just Another Religious Leader  -     By: Kenneth Richard Samples
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God Among Sages: Why Jesus Is Not Just Another Religious Leader

Baker Books / 2017 / Paperback

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Product Description

If Jesus was just a "good teacher," why is he superior to world religious founders such as Buddha, Krishna, Confucius, or Muhammad? In this biblically and historically grounded apologetic, Samples contrasts Christ with the spiritual leaders of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam, and explains critical differences between competing philosophies of religious pluralism, inclusivism, and exclusivism. 288 pages, softcover from Baker.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 288
Vendor: Baker Books
Publication Date: 2017
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 0801016908
ISBN-13: 9780801016905

Publisher's Description

Was Jesus just a spiritual leader, like Buddha, Krishna, Confucius, and Muhammad? Or is he something more--something else entirely?

In God among Sages, apologist Ken Samples offers readers a biblical and historical portrait of Jesus, grounded in the claims Jesus makes about himself. Then Samples compares and contrasts Jesus with Buddha, Krishna, Confucius, and Muhammad using eight relevant categories of evaluation. He also helps readers understand the competing philosophies of religious pluralism, inclusivism, and exclusivism. The result is a clearer understanding of what sets Jesus apart as not simply a teacher to follow but God himself, worthy of our full allegiance and worship.

Christians who struggle to answer claims that Jesus was just a good teacher, as well as those haven't quite made up their minds about Jesus's claims to divinity, will value this accessible introduction to comparative religions.

Author Bio

Kenneth Richard Samples is a senior research scholar with Reasons To Believe, the premier science-faith integration ministry. An adjunct instructor of apologetics at Biola University, Samples is the author of Without a Doubt, A World of Difference, and 7 Truths That Changed the World. He lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.

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  1. JK Turner
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Good Overivew
    August 16, 2017
    JK Turner
    Quality: 5
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 3
    My Rating If you are looking for something

    Level Easy read, moderate length (a little repetitive)

    Summary

    Samples has put a book together that looks at Christ and historic Christianity, and compares Him to the leaders or representatives of four other major religions. The book is broken into three parts a historicity of Christ, both as a man and God; a short intro to representatives of four other religions and how they compare to Christ; a few thoughts on plurality in the world and the Biblical view of other religions.

    The first part of the book is broken into four sections, but overall it is a basic apologetic for the Christ of traditional Christianity. Samples goes through Christ claims of divinity, the reliability of the Bible, and then a few points on the fact that Christ, the man, a person in history, actually existed.

    The second part of the book is really the meat and what youd expect based on the title. It is also broken into four parts and Samples hits on Krishna as representative of Hinduism, Gautama (the Buddhas birth name) for (obviously) Buddhism, Confucius, and finally Muhammad for Islam. In each section he outlines the life of the person, the basics of their teachings/beliefs, and then how they compare to Christ.

    The final part of the book is broken into three sections, plurality in our world, Biblical view of other religions, and finally a concluding summary of Christs claims verses the other four.

    My Thoughts

    I wasnt really sure how to rate this book. I liked a good bit of it, but found other parts annoying. I guess it will depend on the perspective from which you come to this book. It is a little too apologetics 101 for me, especially the first part of the book. I understand, that almost by definition, if you are trying to substantiate the claims of Christianity, you have to use apologetics, but what bothers me is really more of the tone. There is a just an attitude and style of argument from those in the philosophical (especially Ontological) and presuppositional apologetic framework seem to have. It just rubs me the wrong way. If you like it, or are new to apologetcs, the you will probably really enjoy the first section of the book. All that being said, he does a good job summarizing arguments for the reliability of the Bible and Christs claims of divinity that all Christians should know pretty well.

    The section about the other leaders was a well written introduction. Some of it was new to me and others a good reminder from my high school world religions class. As Christianity declines and more people arrive from different parts of the world, it is becoming more and more important to know the basis of other beliefs. This book could be a good start (Sample pack? sorry) into the study of world religions. He cites other works at the end of each chapter if you want to go deeper. The only part I really didnt like about the section of the book is that he repeats his arguments (stated in the first part of the book) about Christ again and again in each chapter. Maybe it is a pet peeve of mine, I just dislike redundancy and repetitiveness.

    The last section of the book was probably my favorite. Sometimes, Im not sure Id necessarily call them moments of doubt, I do wonder, what if all paths lead to God? That does change my view that this is the path Christ chose for me, but what if one day we get to heaven and we find out that everyone is there and they all came through different ways? Maybe that would be kind of neat. Samples summary of the issues with plurality point out that this isnt really possible. For one thing, not all paths even have a god. Many dont have an afterlife, but reincarnation. Also, what about people who are on no path, so to speak? Even as you try to be kind and loving and accepting (to some extent) of all other beliefs, it is good to remember that plurality (in the sense of all beliefs being equally valid) is unworkable.

    I think many people could learn something from this book. However, it may not be for everyone. It isnt quite on the level of everyone should read it, but if you are looking for a good intro to either divinity of Christ, reliability of the Bible, any of the four religions covered, or Christianity in a pluralistic world, then you should put this book on your list.

    I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    More reviews at MondayMorningTheologian.com
  2. Joshua Valdez
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Part Christology, Part Historical Theology, Part Apologetics
    July 3, 2017
    Joshua Valdez
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    "Who is Jesus Christ?" That is the most important question that anyone can ask. How we answer that question will literally determine our destiny. Kenneth Samples has written God Among Sages to be "a primer for Christians who want to deepen their understanding of Christ's identity, especially in light of the competing spiritual sages" (xviii).

    God Among Sages consists of ten chapters and a conclusion. It is divided into three main sections.

    Part 1: The Historic Christian Portrait of Jesus Christ

    1. Jesus's Stunning Self-Understanding

    2. The Matchless Life of Jesus

    3. A Historic Christology

    4. Answering Challenges to Jesus's Historic Identity

    Part 2: Four Major Leaders of World Religions and Jesus

    5. The Prince (Krishna) and the Lord

    6. The Buddha (Gautama) and the Christ

    7. The Teacher (Confucius) and the Savior

    8. The Prophet (Muhammed) and the Son of God

    Part 3: Christianity and the World's Religions

    9. Truth, Tolerance, and the Plurality of Religious Claims

    10. Biblical Perspective on the World's Religions

    Conclusion

    God Among Sages begins with a basic Christology. Samples opens the Bible and demonstrates that Jesus considered himself God. Further his moral uprightness, authoritative teaching, and miraculous abilities vindicated Jesus self understanding. Samples does an excellent job surveying the church's historic understanding of Jesus and provides answers for skeptics. This first part of the book is comprised of systematic theology, historical theology, and apologetics.

    Part 2 is the comparison and contrast of Jesus and Christianity with four religious leaders and religions. Four religions are examined in this second section: Bhaki Hinduism, Buddihism, Confucianism and Islam. The same format is used in each chapter. First, Samples compares the religious founder with Christ on eight points: history, nature, character, mission, role, state, life, future. Next, Samples compares the religion with Christianity on six worldview points: cosmos, ultimate reality, history, human beings, human predicament, solution. The last category of comparison is the religion and Christianity on five points: problem, need, solution, goal, assurance. Samples closes each chapter with suggestions for evangelistic encounters with the discussed religion.

    Part 3 is comprised of two chapters and a conclusion. These chapters deal with Christianity's relationship with competing religions. The discussion of pluralism, inclusivism and Christian exclusivism serves as a natural close to this helpful volume.

    Ken Samples has authored an excellent, one volume resource contrasting Jesus Christ with competing religious founders and ideologies. I would recommend this book to any Christian needing to bolster his understanding of Christ. Additionally, this resource makes for a great volume to pass along to skeptics of Christ and Christian exclusivism. With a comparison/contrast model, readers get to see the similarities and real differences between major religions and Christianity. What becomes very clear in this study is that Jesus is vastly superior to human sages. Unlike these mere human founders, Jesus was morally perfect and his life is grounded in the reality of history. Additionally, with this comparison Christianity shines as light in darkness, truth in a world of error. With a Christianity that is growing increasingly ignorant of the exclusivity of Christ's teachings, Kenneth Samples' God Among Sages is a most welcome book and worthy of recommendation.

    I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.
  3. standingupforJC
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Comprehensive but a worthwhile read
    May 19, 2017
    standingupforJC
    Quality: 4
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This was my first scholarly read about world religions as I'm not used to reading books that are overly objective like this one. Consequently, I thought I wouldn't finish the book as I got kind of overwhelmed by the amount of information being presented.

    The book discusses details about the world's major religions alongside their leaders in a comprehensive manner. It also includes tables which are helpful when recalling the major points previously presented. Readers are given tips on how to share Jesus with others using the very information discussed in this book, which makes for a useful reference.

    The book is impartial in that it presents not only the weaknesses but also the strengths of the leaders of the religions other than Christianity.

    I recommend this book to people who are eager to gain clear-cut facts about how Jesus compares to other religious leaders. I also recommend this to those who are pursuing apologetics.

    Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.
  4. Terry
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    Too Little of Too Much
    April 4, 2017
    Terry
    Quality: 4
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 2
    God Among Sages is almost difficult to characterize but generally falls into the realm of apologetics, I suppose. In his book, Kenneth Richard Samples tackles a significant number of Christian topics ranging from the historicity of the Gospels, analysis of Jesus' miracles, a compellation of Jesus' deity claims, and explanation of the hypostatic union and kenosis, a review of the parables, and much, much more. All of this would be more than enough to fill volumes, but this is just Part 1 of this book.

    In Part 2, Samples tackles the teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Islam. In presenting the teachings of these other religions, he also provides comparisons with Christianity. In his analysis of these religions, he includes what he calls "Strengths" of that particular religion, areas of "Common Ground," and areas of conflict. Samples concludes his book in Part 3 with a discussion on Pluralism and the Biblical Perspective on world religions.

    God Among Sages is a 230-page book.

    The content of God Among Sages is sound. It's biblically-based (at least the Christian part, more on that later). My issue with the book is that it seems that Samples tried to produce something for everyone all under one cover, and in doing so, did not really do much justice to any ONE issue. As an example, Sample provides 1 1/2 pages on the Hypostatic Union and the concept of Kenosis. Entire BOOKS are written about this subject, necessarily so because it is both a complex and highly disputed topic among biblical scholars, of which Samples is not. Samples writes approx. 50 pages on Christology, Bibliology, and First Century History combined. I get it - this book is to be a comparison of God and the "gods" of other religions. But to try to lay the foundation for the Christian God and then teach AND compare Him to four other major world religions, in my opinion, just should not be done in 230 pages. I walked away with such a surface understanding of these world religions that I learned just enough to be dangerous and MAYBE to be able to have a 30-second conversation with a believer of one of these religions before I would run out of material.

    The content was simply too ambitious for the length restrictions(?) of this book. Additionally, I need to note that I saw nothing to indicate that Samples is any type of expert in any one of these other world religions, which causes some concern. The book is endorsed by an apologist I admire however even he indicates that the book would best serve as a basis on which to mold a religions course, and I agree. I think this type and quantity of material would be better presented in a textbook that was intended to be devoured slowly over the course of a semester.

    I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers Program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.
  5. Deuce Skunks
    Springfield, MO
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: Female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Thorough Comparative Examination Of The Roots Of Christianity And Other Major Religions
    February 28, 2017
    Deuce Skunks
    Springfield, MO
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: Female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    God Among Sages: Why Jesus Is Not Just Another Religious Leader is a very thorough comparativeexamination of Jesus versus the leaders offour otherworld religions (Bhakti Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Islam), laid out in an easy-to-follow format by Kenneth Richard Samples.

    The first part of this bookis a conclusive study on Jesus Christ's unity with God, the historical accuracy of Scriptures and other related teachings, and secular historical evidence of the existence and authority of Jesus Christ.

    Part two compares Jesus with Krishna, Buddha, Confucius, and Muhammad(each in his own distinct chapter) through thestudy of each leader, his religion, and how it lines up with Christ and Christianity. Here, Samples covers the historical narrative of each leader's life, his values and beliefs, and the role that played on forming the religion he is associated with. Then, he discusses that leader's religion through it's history, beliefs, and teachings. Finally, each chapter in this part is concluded with "Suggestions for Evangelistic Encounters" with each of these religions.Most statements about each leader and his religion are done in a compare/contrast format to showhow they alignwith Christ and Christianity.

    The last part of God Among Sages reveals how Christians should treat and respond to followers of other religions, in light of current affairs and Biblical teachings.

    Samples provides ample evidence to back up all of his conclusions, along with providing a fair and adequateview of the major alternatives of Christianity. I think this book would be a good read for Christians seeking to know more about other religions, as well as those aspiring to go into missions worklooking toplead Christianity tofollowers of any of the covered religions. I also appreciate that each chapter has discussion questions that are perfect for personal review or for group study. 5/5 stars.

    *Disclaimer: I received a free print copy of this book from Baker Books for the purpose of this honest review. All opinions are my own.*
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