Monday, November 29, 2010

A Different Way to Read a Book

I've referred to William Lane Craig's website a time or two before now. It's full of great stuff. It's possible that there is too much great stuff there, actually. I've still not looked at all of it because, when I think of going there, I usually decide that I don't have enough time to peruse it all.

The podcasts are a different story, however. Averaging about 20 minutes a piece, Craig and the host of the podcast, Kevin Harris, talk about a specific issue in theology, philosophy or apologetics, giving listeners a good general overview, often mentioning some key resources that contain more info for further investigation. Listen online, download or subscribe to the Reasonable Faith podcasts; they're super.

One of great things that Craig does from time to time is to review a recently released book of his and give a detailed overview of its contents. I find this extremely helpful in deciding whether or not I want to buy the book. 20 minutes is not a sufficient amount of time to discuss everything but it is certainly sufficient for determining whether the book is unique enough to add to my library. If the book is extremely lengthy or wide-ranging, Craig will sometimes do 2 podcasts on one book, giving even greater depth and detail.

Now to the point. In the fall of 2007, Craig did a 9-part review of the 3rd edition of his apologetic standard, Reasonable Faith (which came out in 2008). Yes, that's right, a 9-part review. Oddly, the podcast discussion sometimes veers from the contents of the book and addresses other apologetic topics. For example, part 7 of the podcast is about the historical reliability of the NT, while that chapter was dropped altogether from the 3rd edition of the book. Similarly, part 9 of the podcast is all about the New Atheism (a topic not addressed in the 3rd edition of the book) while the resurrection of Jesus (the subject of chapter 8 of the book) is not discussed in the podcasts at all. Oddities notwithstanding, when you are done listening to these 9 podcasts, which takes about 3.5 hours, you will have basically consumed the contents of Reasonable Faith, the book. You may not get as many details as you would have from actually reading the book, but you wouldn't remember all of the details if you had anyway. So, especially for those short on time, I recommend this new approach to "reading" Craig's book. And, in a world where "postmodernism" — both the term and the sociological ethos — is ubiquitous, I especially recommend giving your attention to part 6. Craig emphasizes the inconsistencies and absurdities of postmodernism, as well as the fact that philosophy, the hard sciences and historical studies are all more or less rejecting postmodernism in the academy. This will take time to trickle down to the masses. In the meantime, instead of directing all of our intellectual and ministerial resources toward accommodating and compromising the truth for the sake of reaching a supposedly postmodern culture, we should be taking a firm and convincing yet engaging and relevant stand for the truth.

Below are links to each individual podcast with the corresponding chapter title from the book, or else a description of the contents of the podcast when there is no correspondence with the book.

Part 1 — Chapter 1 — How Do I Know Christianity Is True? (Faith & Reason)

Part 2 — Chapter 2 — The Absurdity of Life without God

Part 3 — Chapter 3 — The Existence of God (1) (Cosmological Arguments: Contingency & Kalam)

Part 4 — Chapter 4 — The Existence of God (2) (Design, Moral & Ontological Arguments)

Part 5 — Chapter 6 — The Problem of Miracles

Part 6 — Chapter 5 — The Problem of Historical Knowledge (Skepticism, Relativism & Postmodernism)

Part 7 — The Historical Reliability of the NT

Part 8 — Chapter 7 — The Self-Understanding of Jesus

Part 9 — The New Atheism

Happy "reading."