My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book starts with the proposition that current day apologetics is not working because it is missing a spiritual/pastoral element. In other words, the goal is to win the argument and not convert the sinner. Ultimately this approach fails because the focus on attack just makes the target defensive (and at best unengaged). Anecdotally I find a lot of support for this idea and I was very curious as to how this book would tackle the problem. It does so by looking at two primary works of St Augustine: Confessions and City of God. Rather than a detailed interpretation of what Augustine actually said in each of these, the authors are more concerned with how he does it … the method he uses and how that method can be adapted to our current day circumstance.
The basic idea is something of a trojan horse approach. First acknowledge that some truths are possible in other traditions and by exploring their belief together without simply attacking. Then you may highlight the parts of their belief that don’t work for you (in other words, ask questions about the parts that don’t makes sense for you and explore the answers together). This is referred to in Chapter 5 Step 1. After that, you may introduction your own [christian] beliefs and illustrate how they offer a more complete answer for you and invite them to try it out. This is Chapter 5 step 2.
Over all I didn’t find anything particularly earth shattering or hard to accept (there were a few places that I had trouble understanding); I can say that it put words and structure (with supporting citations) to much of what I already felt to be true, so I can say that this is an excellent addition to a conversation that should be happening amongst christian apologists and evangelists.
Part 1: Going Back for the Future
1. A Prodigal Son Returns Home … as an Apologist
2. An Augustinian Assessment of Contemporary Apologetics
Part 2: An Augustinian Visions for Today
3. A Renewed Posture
4. An Ecclesial Pilgrimage of Hope
5. A Therapeutic Approach
Step 1: Exploratory Surgery — an Immanent Critique
Step 2: Holistic Therapy — Subversive Fulfillment through a Better Story
Conclusion: The Return of the Bishop
I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
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