Thursday, January 10, 2013

Book Notes: If God, Then What? by Andrew Wilson

"If God, Then What?" is a book quite unlike any I have ever read, it is remarkable and really rather good. For a start it has received rave reviews from across the spectrum from Ruth Gledhill in The Times to a few die-hard conservative evangelicals like Wayne Grudem! 

I have read several books which have argued for the reasonableness of Christian belief, proposing an intellectually coherent view of life and faith, countering objections and the like. Some focus on science (like John Lennox' works), other helpfully expose the weaknesses of rival ways of viewing the world (like Tim Keller), other like McDowell present wide-ranging introductory stuff in a straightforwardly didactic style. 

Andrew Wilson takes a completely different approach. He begins by charting his personal path from an unthinking fundamentalism into a questioning and probing faith. While he used to be a "them versus us" confrontationalist who hid from other people with contrary views, he now loves questions, challenges, thinking and people who help him to do all this. Unusually however, the more he has read, and thought and questioned, the more he has become convinced that Christianity presents a credible and coherent view of the world.

The most unusual thing about this book is its style. It is not designed for academic publication, it is not a physics thesis on origins for example. It is witty, quirky, odd and deliberately conversational in style -indeed the book's subtitle is "wondering aloud about truth, origins and redemption", in a few places it is really rather funny. However that is not to say that this is apologetics dumbed-down, in fact far from it, for Wilson has done his homework and is grappling helpfully with some very big and important concepts and delving into the main points raised by writers as diverse as Dawkins, Hume, CS Lewis and Alvin Plantinga! 

In a disarmingly friendly style he invites his readers to imagine with him the possibility, the probability in fact of the existence of God. he ranges across the sciences, philosophy, literature and human experience and from this unfolds the reasonableness of the Christian understanding of the world. 

This is an ideal book for anyone who genuinely wants to know what Christians think, why we think it and how on earth we can justify our beliefs in such odd-sounding things as the resurrection of Christ from the dead. It is not a hard-nosed lecture, but a gently written invitation to begin to think and maybe begin to imagine the world in a completely different way. It really is a page-turner, which I couldn't put down. I hope it is very widely read - especially by people for whom Christian faith is a strange, unknown or baffling concept.

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