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Reason for the Hope Within Review

12/04/2011

Reason for the Hope Within appears to have two main goals. The first is to show that the seemingly contradictory aspects of Christianity can be reasonably maintained by believers. The second is to provide a positive reasons that may aid in persuading nonbelievers.

The second goal is barely addressed in this book. In fact, in many of the chapters, the authors seem to admit that there is no reasonable argument that could convince a fair-minded nonbeliever. Caleb Miller says that “It would . . . be a serious mistake to insist that the Christian faith is defensible by arguments that would convince any intelligent person” (p. 161). J.A. Cover admits that “My own view is that no amount of historical scholarship can establish the inspiration and authority of scripture” (p. 370n15).

With regards to the first goal, the main problem is that with enough mental gymnastics, nearly any belief system can be forced into apparent cohesion. Even if the authors succeed in proving the coherence of their views, (which is debatable, especially in the chapters on the problem of evil, divine providence and human freedom, and the incarnation and the trinity) this is just the first step, not the last step, in providing a “reason for the hope within.”

Despite these flaws, Reason for the Hope Within is very readable, and it certainly appears like the authors are trying to be fair minded. The authors often provide honest critiques of bad apologetics arguments, doing half the work for the skeptics reading the book. It is not difficult to go one extra step and see the flaws in the arguments that are taken as successful. Although intended to provide support for Christian theism, for many, this book is a frank admission by thoughtful Christian philosophers of the ultimate weakness of apologetics.

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