Andreas Kostenberger, Darrell Bock, and Josh Chatraw. Truth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confusing World. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic,2014. 208 pp. $12.99.
Many, many years ago, just months after I became a Christian, I took a Christian Origins and New Testament course at my undergraduate institution, Case Western Reserve University. I was ecstatic that my secular university was offering a course related to my newfound faith; little did I know that what awaited me was going to attack everything I was just starting to believe in. As I reflected on this years later, I was profoundly grateful to the Lord for preserving my faith, for veterans in the faith had abandoned biblical Christianity as a result of this course. The Lord is truly amazing, for not only did He preserve my faith through that course, but He also used it to stir within me a great appetite and hunger for academic study of the Bible and theology.
Anyway, one of the texts we used in that course was a book by Bart Ehrman – New Testament professor, New York Times bestselling author, and one of the most influential voices attacking the Christian faith and the veracity of its foundational truth claims. Just how influential is Bart Ehrman? Well, at the inaugural Cross Conference this past December I got to see just how staggering his influence among Christian college students is. I attended a “Deck” session on apologetics issues with the legendary Darrell Bock, who started the session with a little survey. The result: all of the students who had taken a course related to the New Testament or Christian origins at a secular university used a book by Ehrman in the course.
Prior to that session it had been announced that the first 300 to arrive would receive a free advanced copy of a forthcoming book by Darrell Bock, Andreas Kostenberger, and Josh Chatraw called Truth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confusing World. Kostenberger is one of my favorite New Testament scholars and Darrell Bock ranks pretty high on my list as well, so I sprinted to that session and got myself the free book.
Loosely arranged around the ideas Ehrman is popularizing, Truth Matters was written to call high school students and young college students beyond Sunday School platitudes and to equip students, parents, and ministry leaders to think about and respond intelligently and biblically to the most common objections to Christianity.
What do you do when the Bible goes from being the answer to being the question? How can you discuss its contents when its contents are being questioned as made up or having nothing to do with what really happened? How can you begin to develop a confident faith in such a confusing world?
Oh, and one other reason: because the Barth Ehrmans of this world are waiting for you. Whether you attend college or not, his philosophy is popular in our culture, and it will undermine your faith as a Christian if you are not prepared.
This book addresses:
- theodicy (the problem of evil and suffering)
- the canonization and transmission of the Bible (Why these books and not others? How can we be confident of our Bibles when we don’t have the original autographs?)
- evidences for the resurrection of Christ
- how we can know that the Christian faith as we know it traces back to Christ and his apostles, against the idea that there were many competing forms of Christianity but ours was the one that “won”, while all other forms were squelched.
The book ends with a very pastoral epilogue that exhorts the reader to read the Bible and warns of the danger of reducing belief to intellectual acceptance.
I read this book because it was written by two superstar New Testament scholars that I really like. But the honest truth is that before reading this book, I was not sure if it is a necessary addition to the overcrowded genre of apologetics. I’m happy to report in the affirmative. This book is rather unique in its niche. First, it’s specifically geared toward youth and young college students. Everything this book addresses is presented in the context of the experience of a college student, whether in class with an Erhman-esque professor, in dorm room chats with a skeptical friend, etc. It is extremely relevant and relatable for a college-bound youth or student in college, written in an engaging, conversational tone.
Secondly, this book is loosely structured around ideas made popular by Ehrman and cites a lot of his work. This is a good move because of how influential Ehrman and his ideas are, especially in the secular university context. However, even if you have never heard of him, chances are you’ve encountered his ideas through the media, non-Christian friends, etc. In their own right Kostenberger and Bock have the scholarly weight to contend with Ehrman’s assertions; but they also cite world-class scholars who have done significant work related to early Christianity, such as Richard Bauckham.
I think Truth Matters should be given to every graduating high school senior. It would also make a great book for a youth group series, since it’s a small book with a mere seven chapters that includes discussion questions at the end of every chapter.
Official Book Trailer