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I need some input - very much Christian content.


StaceyinLA
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If you knew someone who was struggling with their beliefs (basically raised in a Christian home, but now more agnostic and just struggling for truth), and you wanted to recommend a good read that could provide evidence of Christianity and some good, layman's explanations of why to believe, what book would you recommend (other than the Bible).

 

Just a good "evidence" of Christianity type thing, but not so deep it is confusing or super in-depth; just a start if that makes sense.

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I had a friend in the same situation...raised in a solid Christian home, father was a pastor....when he got married he really started struggling with what he believed.  Two books that he read during that time that really helped were:

 

I Don't Have enough Faith to be an Athiest.  (my favorite)  https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Have-Enough-Faith-Atheist/dp/1581345615

 

and 

 

Letters from a Skeptic  https://www.amazon.com/Letters-Skeptic-Wrestles-Questions-Christianity/dp/1434799808

 

I've read both.  Very solid and also very well written.  Maybe better for adults???

 

 

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This is very timely for me as I have some young adults who I believe are perhaps questioning their beliefs and what is really true. They were brought up in a Christian home but I think their beliefs are changing and perhaps being persuaded by professors in college as well as some friends. I also think they question sometimes why bad things are happening to good people and why God allows it.

 

Not to hijack your thread but I'm also looking for a book that isn't preachy but talks about how what is taught in the Bible still holds true even though society is changing. actually think I will start a spin off thread but thank you for bringing this up.

Edited by Mom in Suburbia
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Mere Christianity. Without a doubt the best resource. It doesn't try to disprove science or anything that could prove more problematic. Instead, it discusses things like, why do we feel we should do the right thing, yet fail to do so? Also, totally non denominational. I reread it every few years. 

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I had totally forgotten about the Lee Strobel books. I think I actually owned those at one point. The "I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Athiest" looks great, and I ordered it (along with a few of the Strobel books). Mere Christianity popped up and I will definitely go back and pick it up as well.

 

This is for a young adult, and this young adult is my son. We have had some good, long discussions, but it's tough for me because I have just always had faith and never really felt the need to explain why. This is going to be good for me to really reinforce the "whys," and good for him as well. He IS searching, so I just want him to have some good stuff to read. I mean the Bible is great, but it's a tough read if you're already doubting things. I want him to see some evidence first then work through the Bible.

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If you knew someone who was struggling with their beliefs (basically raised in a Christian home, but now more agnostic and just struggling for truth), and you wanted to recommend a good read that could provide evidence of Christianity and some good, layman's explanations of why to believe, what book would you recommend (other than the Bible).

 

Just a good "evidence" of Christianity type thing, but not so deep it is confusing or super in-depth; just a start if that makes sense.

 

I'm not a fan of Strobel either. I would recommend anything by John Warwick Montgomery -- History and Christianity might be the place to start. I believe there are quite a few videos of his lectures, etc. available online as well.

 

This is very timely for me as I have some young adults who I believe are perhaps questioning their beliefs and what is really true. They were brought up in a Christian home but I think their beliefs are changing and perhaps being persuaded by professors in college as well as some friends. I also think they question sometimes why bad things are happening to good people and why God allows it.

 

Not to hijack your thread but I'm also looking for a book that isn't preachy but talks about how what is taught in the Bible still holds true even though society is changing. actually think I will start a spin off thread but thank you for bringing this up.

 

Didn't see your spinoff, but another one by Montgomery -- The Law Above the Law -- might be helpful for you.

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Are they distressed by their lack of belief?  Are they interested in reading or discussing it?  Because the answers change my answer. 

 

If they are bothered by their lack of belief or want to study some apologetics, Mere Christianity is my book of choice.  If they are not interested, I feel like it drives people away to focus on it in any way.

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Well it's my son and he has been reading the Bible, but I just think he needs something more "readable" that gives the evidence. He's not distressed; he's seeking. He wants more proof. He says he can't just believe without more evidence. I just think reading the Bible is a tough way to get your evidence, especially if deep down you're questioning it all anyway.

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Yeah, reading the Bible is a pretty crappy way to get evidence.  Sorry.  It relies on very circular reasoning. 

 

I would encourage him to read Mere Christianity.  But our church had a really interesting series of sermons on "coffee shop evangelism" many years ago, in which the first step was simply a positive association with Christianity.  Knowing someone who self-identified as a Christian who you liked moved you far closer to faith than any number of arguments.  But if he's your son, he's probably past that already and might be ready for a more intellectual approach. 

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Yes. We have some really dear friends who he has always been close to that are very strong Christians. I think the issue is over the last few years he's not been around them as much due to work, school, etc., and he is working with a lot of young adults who have more agnostic views. It's putting him in a position where he has questioned and really wants to seek answers for himself. I'm good with that. Of course I hope he winds up on the Christianity side, but I can't make that decision for him. I would like to offer him some Christian materials that are more readable. He has input from the other side as well.

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This is for a young adult. We have had some good, long discussions, but it's tough for me because I have just always had faith and never really felt the need to explain why.

Surprised by Joy was my book. I was an agnostic bordering on atheist (very hostile to faith traditions) when I was "surprised by joy" while out for a walk one day. The ability to have faith is an internal journey and not one to be forced or imposed on anyone.

 

With my children (though younger) who struggle with faith, the best analogies I can offer is one of parenthood: God loves you even if you don't think you love God.

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What does he mean when he says "more evidence"?  I find often when people say that, part of the problem is tht they actually don't really know what it is they are looking for, or what's missing from their inner scaffolding.

 

Mere Christianity is a good book, but it doesn't always resonate for people, which makes me hesitant to recommend it.  Lewis was speaking to an audience which took for granted some different things than a lot of people asking questions about religion do today.

 

There are a few books that were a big influence on me when I became a CHristian - probably The Republic and Augustine's Confessions were big ones, and a few other patristic sources.  But I had some teachers to help me understand what they were getting at.

 

Another book I found useful was The Illumined Heart, by Frederica Matthews-Green.  It might especially appeal to someone who has more of an evangelical background and finding that doesn't really speak to them any more.

 

I find that with some young CHristians a big issue is that they really don't have a good sense of church history so there are big holes. 

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I agree that Mere Christianity wouldn't be my first choice.  There are plenty of books to recommend, but it really depends on the reason for their struggle with/lack of belief.  I tend to agree with something by Keller--Making Sense of God is his new one, but he wrote one on pain and suffering which can be many people's main "beef" with the idea of God's existence.

 

Are they struggling with the reliability of the Bible or the resurrection or a particular doctrine?  Start there.  I like Cold-Case Christianity (reliability of the gospels) and God's Crime Scene (evidence for divinely created universe) by J. Warner Wallace.

 

Disputing atheist arguments:  Stealing From God by Turek or I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Geisler.

 

If they are more relational, maybe a coming to faith memoir would be good.  Rosaria Butterfield's The Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert is just so good.

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Seconding Mere Christianity.

 

Not apologetics books, but also:

The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer

Putting Amazing Back into Grace by Michael Horton

I love Lewis and Tozer, but these recommendations can be kind of heady. A shorter, simpler classic is Josh McDowell's More Than a Carpenter.

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I love Lewis and Tozer, but these recommendations can be kind of heady. A shorter, simpler classic is Josh McDowell's More Than a Carpenter.

 

Mere Christianity was a series of radio broadcasts at first.....I don't find it difficult reading at all. yes, it is very philosophical, but I figured that's where her son was at if he was doubting. 

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I tried watching one of his movies/videos and couldn't get through it. It seemed like he was trying to prove things in a very circular fashion and didn't seem very credible to me...and I'm a believer. But others swear by it.

I felt the same way when I read the Case for Christ. It was like he spent so much effort trying to sound credible that I was bored by he time he got around to making his point.

 

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I think the struggle is just being able to accept that the Bible is truth, and not just stuff people made up (so the Cold Case Christianity looks good to me for that, and I ordered it). I think there is also a struggle with creation and acceptance of it as design versus just an occurrence.

 

Overall I don't think he denies that there is or could be a God, so I just like the idea of some basic "evidence" for all of the above. If he can accept that the Bible is legitimate (and I really like that the guy who wrote the Cold Case book was an athiest), then he can read the Bible to solidify other beliefs. It he's trying to read the Bible while not actually believing it is 100% truth, he's definitely not getting anything out of it.

 

I guess the idea is just for him to have proof that what he's believing in is real. Of course there is still faith involved, but he wants more of an explanation than I can give. I never really questioned it. It has always made sense to me. I have never doubted a creator, nor the existence, death and resurrection of Christ on my behalf. I may not really know why, but to me that hasn't been a huge issue. It is to him, so I want to give him the evidence.

 

I am really excited about reading some, or all, of these myself, and my daughters are wanting to read them too, just to solidify their beliefs and give them the evidence to back up what they believe if the need arises.

 

Starting off 2017 armed for battle! ;-p

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I felt the same way when I read the Case for Christ. It was like he spent so much effort trying to sound credible that I was bored by he time he got around to making his point.

 

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I think I'll read his books myself first, and decide if I'll pass them on to my son. I like the idea that he came from atheism, so I hope they'll be worth a read.

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CS Lewis also came from atheism.

I didn't realize that! Well I did order Mere Christianity as well. I know my daughter wants to read it, so I just figured I'd see what she thought before I passed it to my son. I'm just not sure I'll get to read all the ones I ordered before I pass them on to him; some I'll have to read later.

 

I did notice there is a study guide that goes with Mere Christianity. I wonder if that has any merit.

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I don't recommend that approach.  Sorry, I know lots of Christians who will tell you to do to read this book or that book or make this argument or that argument, but I don't believe it will give you the result you want. 

My husband was in that situation.  He has far more theology and Christian philosophy under his belt than most pastors with doctorates.  So much so the pastors who talked to him said there may be a few professors in the country with more advanced knowledge than he has that might be able to keep up with him on theology and every implication over every doctrine held and taught by churches.  None of that can transform the soul. Also, Hebrews chapter 6 is an unfortunate reality most pastors avoid preaching on because it's really thorny no matter where you come down on the issue of losing your salvation.

Unless a person has been spiritually regenerated by the Holy Spirit, the learning is in vain and profits nothing for salvation.  A person has to be saved (transformed by the Holy Spirit) for the learning to do anything spiritually for them.  You cannot argue, emote, raise, or lead someone to real faith without it.  You can't lead someone to Christ unless the Holy Spirit is actively drawing them. The Holy Spirit doesn't actively draw everyone.

I suggest intercessory prayer on the person's behalf and answering honestly any questions they have about your faith.  Encouraging them to read the Bible for themselves is the best approach if they're interested-start with the gospels.  When God in human flesh shows up in person and starts teaching the people, you prioritize that first. Not everyone is going to respond to it. I'm sorry.

If a person doesn't have a first hand, real, interactive experience with God themselves, there really isn't much a 3rd party can do to prove that's a real thing.  Having it vicariously by reading about someone else's experience is only a testimony by the person who had the experience, it's not a relationship by the reader.  It's all the difference in the world between knowing a lot about George Washington and personally knowing George Washington.  When the Holy Spirit is actively drawing someone, then it's worthwhile.

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I appreciate that, and I do understand where you're coming from. The thing is, he is actively seeking, and he specifically says he NEEDS the evidence. I don't know that he is going to open up his heart to the truth without having something he feels is tangible.

 

I have prayed, believe me. I pray every day, and every time I think about it during the day. I want the Lord to open his heart. I just think he is more likely to be open to it if he sees more evidence pointing to it all as Truth.

 

Certainly he won't come to full faith by just reading factual data, but I'd rather him read books that will open him to the truth than continuing to fill his mind with alternatives.

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I don't recommend that approach. Sorry, I know lots of Christians who will tell you to do to read this book or that book or make this argument or that argument, but I don't believe it will give you the result you want.

 

My husband was in that situation. He has far more theology and Christian philosophy under his belt than most pastors with doctorates. So much so the pastors who talked to him said there may be a few professors in the country with more advanced knowledge than he has that might be able to keep up with him on theology and every implication over every doctrine held and taught by churches. None of that can transform the soul. Also, Hebrews chapter 6 is an unfortunate reality most pastors avoid preaching on because it's really thorny no matter where you come down on the issue of losing your salvation.

 

Unless a person has been spiritually regenerated by the Holy Spirit, the learning is in vain and profits nothing for salvation. A person has to be saved (transformed by the Holy Spirit) for the learning to do anything spiritually for them. You cannot argue, emote, raise, or lead someone to real faith without it. You can't lead someone to Christ unless the Holy Spirit is actively drawing them. The Holy Spirit doesn't actively draw everyone.

 

I suggest intercessory prayer on the person's behalf and answering honestly any questions they have about your faith. Encouraging them to read the Bible for themselves is the best approach if they're interested-start with the gospels. When God in human flesh shows up in person and starts teaching the people, you prioritize that first. Not everyone is going to respond to it. I'm sorry.

 

If a person doesn't have a first hand, real, interactive experience with God themselves, there really isn't much a 3rd party can do to prove that's a real thing. Having it vicariously by reading about someone else's experience is only a testimony by the person who had the experience, it's not a relationship by the reader. It's all the difference in the world between knowing a lot about George Washington and personally knowing George Washington. When the Holy Spirit is actively drawing someone, then it's worthwhile.

 

I do want to know, and this may be for another thread because I don't really want to derail this one totally, what denomination you are coming from with this? Because the Bible I read says if you "Believe on Jesus Christ, you shall be saved." Basically, what I'm seeing in this post is that you can want that and ask for that, but not be "chosen." That's not really in line with what I believe about salvation.

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Coming at this from a different faith tradition (Judaism), so take this for what it's worth.

 

 

:grouphug: It is so hard, when older kids embark on a faith journey that diverges from that of their parents.  Like so many other folks on this board (including a number discussed on 2 current threads), I did so myself, and I expect one of my own older kids is also doing so.  It is very common, though that doesn't much mitigate the dismay.

 

 

I was struck by the bolded bits of your comment:

 

I think the struggle is just being able to accept that the Bible is truth, and not just stuff people made up (so the Cold Case Christianity looks good to me for that, and I ordered it). I think there is also a struggle with creation and acceptance of it as design versus just an occurrence.

Overall I don't think he denies that there is or could be a God, so I just like the idea of some basic "evidence" for all of the above. If he can accept that the Bible is legitimate (and I really like that the guy who wrote the Cold Case book was an athiest), then he can read the Bible to solidify other beliefs. It he's trying to read the Bible while not actually believing it is 100% truth, he's definitely not getting anything out of it.

.......

 

 

There are many people in many different places of the faith spectrum who engage deeply and often with sacred texts, and derive real insight and guidance from the texts, and whose daily life and interior experience is very much frames by those texts... who do not necessarily hold to  the "100% truth" benchmark you seem to be suggesting is the only way to "get anything out of it."

 

It's not a great topic for sound bytes between strangers on the interwebs, lol, but for me personally it reduces down to thinking of "truth" in different terms -- there is real truth in the emotional and psychological insights of the founding stories in Genesis, there is truth in the ethical imperatives laid out in Prophets, there is truth in the sometimes-soaring, sometimes-searing encounters in Psalms, there is truth in the baffled anguish of Job -- that are essential to how I understand the world and my own little place within it.

 

I get a very great deal out of the Bible, is I guess what I'm trying to say, though I do not understand it to be a science textbook -- that is a different type of truth.

 

And while that kind of attachment to the sacred texts of your faith, and the stories and moral imperatives and traditions of your faith, might be very different from how you attach to your faith... there are many, many Christians who find deep and enduring meaning in the Bible and with Christianity who do... 

 

... and your son (who's ultimately going to have to find his own way, with his own signposts and walking stick, to his own destination -- it is, after all, his walk, not yours) might feel more comfortable sharing his thoughts and questions and in-progress-responses with you if you're able to be open to other ways of experiencing sacred texts than how you yourself experience them.

 

"Seriously, but not literally," and all that.

 

 

:grouphug: My own son is also plumbing his attachment to our tradition.  It is very painful, and I do not know how it will come out.  I do believe that my being receptive to whatever he's trying to process, and keeping the communication pipes open however dismayed I am by what comes out of his mouth, is paramount.  YMMV.

 

 

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Thank you. I appreciate your input. I very much agree that keeping communication open is key. I'm only mentioning the things he has said; that he feels the need to see more evidence. I think having some more "tangible" proof is very important to him.

 

Certainly I am not discouraging him from reading the Bible, and I have prayed for God to open his heart while he's doing so, but I don't think it will hurt to have some additional information to work with.

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Josh McDowell came to my mind as well for something more approachable. He actually has a book tackling those issues for jr high and high schoolers entitled, "Don't Leave Your Brains At The Door" that I read in 8th grade. More Than A Carpenter is good too.

 

 

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This is very timely for me as I have some young adults who I believe are perhaps questioning their beliefs and what is really true. They were brought up in a Christian home but I think their beliefs are changing and perhaps being persuaded by professors in college...

I'd like to address this idea of professors "persuading" or "inculcating" students into other beliefs because I see this bandied about rather often. This just doesn't happen. Professors would lose their positions if they did this. What professors do is teach students how to think. Sometimes learning to think will cause students to question their beliefs, but it is certainly not the case that professors are telling them what to think - quite the opposite. Students are learning to think for themselves.

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"I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist" has a tone that many find very condescending and is a turn off. I would be careful of that one, especially with a young person. 

 

Sometimes fiction is better than apologetics in addressing questions that, one must acknowledge, are not easy to answer. Fiction rarely gives pat answers.  In addition to Mere Christianity, the fiction of CS Lewis might be very helpful: Narnia series, The Great Divorce, Screwtape Letters, & Perelandra all answer important questions.  Any of the good Catholic writers will incorporate the great questions in their writing: Flannery O'Connor, Graham Greene, Walker Percy. I particularly liked Percy's "Lost in the Cosmos; the Last Self-Help Book" when I was struggling with those questions.  

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Mere Christianity was a series of radio broadcasts at first.....I don't find it difficult reading at all. yes, it is very philosophical, but I figured that's where her son was at if he was doubting.

I am familiar with the history and content of Mere Christianity. I think the McDowell book is more to the point.

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Just an fyi, I read one of the Lee Strobel books for a bet (someone bet me I couldn't read it and not convert) and it was hysterically funny and awful. For anyone with even a modicum of knowledge about theology, his books are ridiculously stupid and most tweens could refute his points. I think his conversion story is a load of crap.

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Just an fyi, I read one of the Lee Strobel books for a bet (someone bet me I couldn't read it and not convert) and it was hysterically funny and awful. For anyone with even a modicum of knowledge about theology, his books are ridiculously stupid and most tweens could refute his points. I think his conversion story is a load of crap.

 

I felt basically the same, and I'm a Christian. 

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Also good is R.C. Sproul's Reason to Believe.

He is a fan of classical apologetics, but the intro is his testimony and shows a presuppositional conversion. ;)

 

I do think that Homeschool Mom in AZ has a good point, that people cannot be argued or reasoned into Christian faith. God changes the heart and only He can do so. But He does use means and though theology books are not on a level with the Word, (preached, sung, prayed, read) the Sacraments and the fellowship of the Body of Christ, He can certainly use them too.

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