I have read many books on Christian apologetics but nothing quite like this book. Not only is much of the content different from that of other books on the subject but so is the approach.
By definition, Christian apologetics deals with defending the faith and, in the process, marshaling evidence in support of Christianity's truth claims. "Stealing From God" does that, of course, but it does something else, too. It transitions from defense to offense and turns the tables on the atheist community, exposing the brittle foundation on which many of its beliefs (or non-beliefs) are based.
Why would a Christian want to challenge the position of atheists, you ask? Why would one want to attack their arguments? After all, they are just passive unbelievers who mind their own business.
In many cases, perhaps most, that is quite true, though Christians have an obligation to spread the good news and offer the reasons for their beliefs to everyone they can, provided they do it with gentleness and respect.
But there's another factor at play here, as well. In recent years, there has been a group of atheist activists who have been doing their best to undermine Christianity, presenting it as dangerous and harmful to society and, in many cases, disingenuously and sloppily conflating it with certain other religions and then condemning them all.
Please don't misunderstand; my primary enthusiasm for this book isn't based on the fact that someone has finally put atheists in their place and forced them to defend their views. It isn't about one-upmanship to me or to Turek. This isn't a game of gotcha, even with aggressive atheists, whom Christians are under a duty to care for as fellow human beings. The book is very respectful.
I'm excited about this book because I believe that it fills a bit of a hole in the field of Christian apologetics. You see, I have long believed that many skeptics, not just full-blown atheists, shortchange themselves by ending their philosophical inquiry about Christianity when they encounter troubling questions about the Bible or wrestle with disconcerting issues such as the prevalence of evil and suffering in our world.
In this largely secular, naturalist, materialist age, many find the Bible's reported miracles as anti-scientific fairy tales and certain tough passages in the Old Testament as just too uncomfortable to square with Christians' claim that they worship an all-loving God.
I truly understand some of these questions because I once wrestled with some of them myself. I had trouble, for a long time, accepting biblical Christianity, but I never doubted the existence of God or the obvious occurrence of miracles, which our existence and the existence of the universe out of nothing render very difficult not to believe.
But I believe that far too many doubters don't dig much deeper once they discover perceived problems with Christian beliefs and use those difficulties -- no offense intended -- as an excuse not to believe.
Why wouldn't they want to believe? Well, some people are comfortable in their lifestyles and believe that Christianity would force them to take inventory and account of themselves. Others may not realize what's at stake in resolving the question -- and don't let themselves ponder it much further. Others, such as college freshmen, shaken from their belief systems by wiseguy atheist professors, are ridiculed into abandoning their beliefs and haven't the depth of knowledge needed to reinforce those beliefs. I don't pretend to know all the reasons.
But I do know, based on my own experience in talking to some atheists and watching others debate Christians, that many atheists haven't grappled with inherent problems with their own beliefs. Inexplicably -- to me, at least -- they seem to think that because there are certain troubling questions with Christianity and the present age quasi-deifies naturalism and science, they can go philosophically AWOL and everything will be fine.
The reality, however, isn't so simple. The existence of hard sayings in the Bible doesn't mean that atheism makes sense. If many of these atheists would apply their considerable mental agility to examining the reasonableness of atheism, they might find that it is much more difficult not to believe than it is to believe in a theistic God.
"Stealing From God" saves us much trouble in this inquiry because it lays out, with relentless logic, just how illogical non-belief in God is and, fascinatingly, how atheists actually steal ideas from Christianity to support their own worldview, never drilling deep enough into their own collection of beliefs to realize the egregious contradictions that coexist within them.
"Stealing From God" forces atheists -- and other skeptics -- out of their comfort zone and into the uncomfortable venue of examining their own conflicting ideas and their flawed presuppositions. Perhaps when they realize the extent to which their beliefs and so-called non-beliefs are resting on little more than shifting sands, they will take a second look at Christianity, whose difficulties will no longer seem nearly so daunting and for which there are satisfactory, glorious, life-giving and life-changing answers.
I hope, in a subsequent column, to share some compelling examples of Frank Turek's dismantling of atheism. In the meantime, I strongly urge you to buy and read this incredible book.