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Culture Books

Four books offering Christian encouragement


Four books offering Christian encouragement

Apologetics at the Cross: An Introduction for Christian Witness

Joshua D. Chatraw & Mark D. Allen

The Apostle Peter instructed Christians to defend the faith with gentleness, respect, a clear conscience, and good behavior. Therefore, Chatraw and Allen reject “intellectual knockout punches for Jesus.” Believers shouldn’t stick to any one method, they say, because the Bible and church history record many good ones. They also emphasize corporate witness: Unbelievers can’t deny a church community demonstrating gospel reconciliation. Thus, most of the book focuses on the apologist’s attitude, not on scripted FAQs: It’s a comprehensive overview of apologetics history, current debates, and a Biblical way forward.

Why People Stop Believing

Paul Chamberlain

Chamberlain is concerned about ex-Christians—people who walked away for various reasons: evil’s existence, textual variants in the Bible, and the “irrationality” of miracles. Why People Stop Believing provides concise, layperson-level responses to the challenges that former believers mount against the faith they once held dear. These critics know, and are prepared to demolish, Christians’ typical talking points. But Chamberlain, a veteran of in-person debates with former Christians, provides solid evidence that respectfully but meticulously refutes the alleged problems with the faith. This book supplies counterarguments to unbelief for readers who are confronted with a doubter or have doubts themselves.

The Wholeness Imperative: How Christ Unifies Our Desires, Identity and Impact in the World

Scott Redd

Scott Redd’s love for Christ shines through in The Wholeness Imperative. His book encourages Christians to strive for “whole” living through Christ. Each chapter lies somewhere on the spectrum between sermon and blog post. Redd, an Old Testament professor who majored in English in college, presents a Biblical text, then expounds and applies it with such literary artistry that readers will be caught up in the freshness of his sentences. But, mostly, Redd strikes me as a preacher who enjoys encouraging others with truths about his beloved Jesus.

Strength for the Weary

Derek W.H. Thomas

Strength for the Weary strengthens weary readers by leading them through the second half of Isaiah. “Isaiah’s prescription for [the] withering sickness of unbelief is a dose of God’s magnificent majesty, power, and glory,” writes Thomas. He also presents readers with copious quotes from Scripture and some carefully chosen words of exposition. God is the only ruler. God bears His people’s burdens. God’s Servant will take away sin. And God calls us His bride and promises us new heavens and a new earth. The 127-page volume supplies encouragement much larger than its size.


Doing Philosophy (Oxford, 2018) by Timothy Williamson is a slim book with a conversational tone (think Malcolm Gladwell) about a heady subject. Williamson wants to return philosophy to its place among the natural sciences. He contends that instead of seeking ultimate truth, philosophers balance multiple commonsense beliefs (hypotheses) through dialogue, thought experiments, and logic until over time they arrive at commonsense knowledge (theses). Williamson’s unabashedly secular worldview—he calls Descartes’ proof of God “dodgy”—pervades all the real-life examples, making it hard to enjoy what could otherwise be an intriguing book. —Victoria Johnson

In The Gospel in Dorothy L. Sayers: Selections From Her Novels, Plays, Letters, and Essays (Plough Publishing House, 2018), Carole Vanderhoof highlights Sayers’ thinking on themes like pride, belief, and envy. Each chapter starts with a long passage from one of the detective novels. Vanderhoof then chooses excerpts from essays or letters in which Sayers addresses the theme more directly. With bracing wit, Sayers continues to entertain and challenge. —Susan Olasky