Building the Christian library: Basic Apologetics (The Case Against Christ)

Christian apologetics means defence. What are we to defend, you may ask? Christianity, of course—a Christianity that considers Christ and his work as the centre of its message.

The fully revised edition of John Young’s paperback The Case Against Christ is appropriately named. It immediately brings into focus the point where any debate or investigation into Christianity should begin and end: Christ himself. The book was first seen in Sydney during the 1978 Billy Graham Crusade. It was promoted as an excellent introduction and guide for people enquiring about the Christian faith, as well as for teachers who were searching for answers to important questions of faith at a level that could be readily understood. This 1986 revised edition is a further development and improvement on this excellent little book.

Often books on apologetics are dull and far too ‘high brow’—while perhaps strong on content, they never keep you awake long enough to appreciate the argument. This book is the opposite. It is a remarkable achievement of combining a lively, entertaining style with genuine scholarship and a robust personal faith. This has the effect of injecting life into this most critical area of ‘Defending the Faith’. Young’s style alone proclaims loudly that Christianity is worth investigating and that Christians can provide a defence for the atheist, agnostic or the enquirer.

Archbishop Blanch in the foreword says:

I wish the book had been in my hands when I was a parish priest, because it answers questions my parishioners were asking—or would like to have asked. I wish it had been in my hands when I was a theological college principal, because the author handles important questions at a level those questions deserve. It would have been a good handbook for ordinands about to embark on their first curacy. For that matter, I would have been glad to have had it when I was Archbishop of York; I could have saved myself a lot of long letters to irate critics of the church and puzzled enquirers in search of faith.

The contents of the book deal with the traditional apologetic questions that people still wrestle with and Young’s arrangement of topics is particularly refreshing. He opens with a debate on the Church (“Those Hypocritical Christians” is his subheading). He then moves with increasing momentum to Science and Religion, the reliability of the Bible, the existence of evil, Christ and his work, and the existence of God. In a simple and at time humourous manner he clears away the confusion surrounding these most perplexing questions. An example of this is his chapter on “Suffering and Evil”— this is one of the best outlines on this subject I have seen.

The Case Against Christ is the product of a lively intelligence, honest scholarship and a personal commitment to Christ. The reader will learn a lot from this book. Overall it makes out a good case for Christ.

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