John G. Stackhouse, Jr., New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 5.5×8.25″ hardbound, 280 pages.
This book was quoted from twice during Roger Keller’s 2003 FAIR Conference presentation. It is a practical guide to sharing one’s faith in a skeptical world and has application to Latter-day Saint dialogue with others, including Christians of different denominations.
Is it still possible, in an age of religious and cultural pluralism, to engage in Christian apologetics? How can one urge one’s faith on others when such a gesture is typically regarded with suspicion, if not outright resentment?
In Humble Apologetics John G. Stackhouse brings his wide experience as a historian, philosopher, journalist, and theologian to these important questions and offers surprising–and reassuring–answers. Stackhouse begins by acknowledging the real impediments to Christian testimony in North America today and to other faiths in modern societies around the world. He shows how pluralism, postmodernism, skepticism about our ability to know the truth, and a host of other factors create a cultural milieu resistant to the Christian message. And he shows how the arrogance or dogmatism of apologists themselves can alienate rather than attract potential converts. Indeed, Stackhouse argues that the crucial experience of conversion cannot be compelled; all the apologist can do is lead another to the point where an actual encounter with Jesus can take place. “Our objective,” Stackhouse writes, “is to offer whatever assistance we can to our neighbors toward their full maturity: toward full health in themselves and in their relationships, and especially toward God.” In the last part of the book, he shows how an attitude of humility, instead of merely trying to win religious arguments, will help believers offer their neighbors the gift of Christ’s love.
Drawing on the author’s personal experience and written with an engaging directness and humility, Humble Apologetics provides sound guidance on how to share Christian faith in a postmodern world. “It [my book] will indeed trouble both those who see apologetics as outmoded in favour of just being nice in so-called interreligious dialogue, and those who still want apologetics to be a religious contest of all-or-nothing, ‘kill or be killed.'” — John G. Stackhouse, Jr.