Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…

Always Ready

If you were a soldier in hostile territory, and you were confronted by an unarmed man who wanted to kill you, what would you do? Would you lay down your weapon to make it easier for him to attack? Or would you ward him off with the weapon that you have been issued and trained to use? Clearly, you would do the latter. Why then are most Christians, in the course preparing for the apologetic defense of the faith, taught to do the former? “You must come to common ground with your opponent,” they are told, “and so it would be a mistake to quote the Bible authoritatively or treat God’s Word as infallible in the course of a discussion with a nonbeliever. Lay down your sword, so that your unarmed opponent has a better chance of beating you in the realm of autonomous reason.”

Greg Bahnsen’s book Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith offers a good corrective to this mindset. Rather than teaching Christians how to toss aside their sword, Bahnsen’s intention is to train Christians to use the weapon God has given to defend the faith against attackers. More specifically, Bahnsen teaches a presuppositional approach to apologetics whose purpose is to leave unbelievers with the full sense that they are unarmed and have no defense before the infallible Word of God. Unbelievers, Bahnsen says, occupy a self-defeating worldview that cannot answer even the most basic questions about life without borrowing from theistic belief. It is the job of the Christian apologist to reveal this deficiency and to show that Christianity is the only worldview that makes sense of the world around us.

This is a very powerful book. Bahnsen steers a path between rationalism and a sort of blind fideism by showing that belief in God’s Word is the foundation for, not the rejection of, reason and rational thought. In so doing, he exposes the modernist paradigm into which many Christians have fallen. Bahnsen writes in a way that should be accessible to most readers without watering down his ideas. While it may be difficult at first for readers unused to the basic terminology of philosophy, there is a lot of repetition in the first chapters that should give plenty of time to catch on. Unfortunately, this repetition is the only thing about this book that I found a bit tiresome. The first four sections of the book (107 pages) lay the basic groundwork for his thinking. It is in the fifth section (pages 108-235) that the rubber hits the road and things get really exciting.

In conclusion, many apologetic books teach hand-to-hand combat skills for Christians who have laid aside their sword in the name of common ground. Bahnsen teaches basic sword fighting techniques, using God’s Word effectively to counter unbelieving worldviews. This is a book that all Christians should read, especially Christians who want to be always ready when their faith is challenged to defend the truth of God’s Word.

5/5 stars