There are a lot of strange websites out there.
I can remember many times researching a card. After clicking on a promising link, I would soon discover that the article and website were a bit…off.
It might not be heretical (although some were). Maybe it was just imbalanced.
But either way, I didn’t want to get my Apologetics research from there.
In those circumstances, it was always good to know that a solid book wouldn’t disappoint. World Wide Web got you down? Go grab a trusty book and get your research from that instead.
Of course, there are about a bazillion other reasons to use books while writing Apologetics cards. In fact, every single Apologist knows that good books are something they should use.
Key word being “should.”
See, oftentimes you don’t know where to start. What books will be most helpful? Which can you trust? Which will be profitable?
Recently a contact of mine who is a fantastic Apologist sent me an email. She asked if I had any book recommendations for an Apologetics camp she’ll be hosting this summer.
I said “of course!” and began to write. In the end, it became a near-complete guide to the essential books for Apologetics.
I think it’ll be helpful for you too. So here, with some editing, revising, and expanding, is the list of 18 books your need to write amazing Apologetics cards.
- The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer
- The Attributes of God by A.W. Pink
- I have personally read Tozer’s book multiple times and profited greatly. Tozer is both intellectually helpful and devotionally worshipful. I’ve talked with people who find him hard to read, but I actually don’t. (Though I have a high reading level.) At any rate, his chapters are brief, so any reader could probably finish one in 10 minutes.
- I have not read Pink’s book, though I think I listened to the audiobook once. It was good, but I appreciated Tozer more.
- If you’re a Christian hip-hop fan, just listen to Shai Linne’s album The Attributes of God. 🙂 But seriously, it’s a great album.
- Since Category 1 majors on attributes and minors on proofs of God’s existence, I wouldn’t spend too much time on proofs (cosmological, teleological, etc.).
- Why Believe the Bible? by John MacArthur (especially part 1 on inspiration & inerrancy)
- The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
- God-Breathed: The Undeniable Power and Reliability of Scripture by Josh McDowell (especially section 2 on reliability)
- Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung
- Why Trust the Bible? by Greg Gilbert
- I’ve read The Case for Christ and found it very interesting. It’s a very readable book, with Strobel interviewing various experts. He’s sort of the devil’s advocate throughout, which makes for an engaging read.
- I have skimmed MacArthur’s book, but not read it through. MacArthur is always precise and thoroughly biblical, so this would be a good ground-level introduction.
- I haven’t read that McDowell book, but I ran across it on Amazon. Looks like a good recent resource.
- Have not read DeYoung’s book, but my church’s Men’s Ministry just went through it with good reviews. This would be more of a general resource, from which to draw quotes and mindsets for particular topics.
- I always find Greg Gilbert to be a clear, simple, and compelling author. I’ve read his What is the Gospel?, and have Why Trust the Bible? on my bookshelf to be read soon. His books are super short (near 100 pages), so it’d be a good introduction.
- This section is rather more difficult. The doctrine of man, otherwise known as “theological anthropology,” has been less written about than other doctrines. However, after trawling the World Wide Web, I was able to find some books for you.
- The Human Being: A Theological Anthropology by Hans Schwartz
- Theological Anthropology: A Guide for the Perplexed by Marc Cortez
- The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction by Sinclair Ferguson
- I have read none of these books personally. Schwartz covers a lot of ground, while Cortez goes more in-depth on a few issues.
- Sinclair Ferguson’s book is included because Category 3 contains several questions on various elements of the ordo saludis—the order of salvation. For instance, regeneration, repentance, and sanctification fall into this category. Ferguson is a readable introduction to the order of salvation.
- Honestly, you would probably be better off reading articles from GotQuestions.org and consulting a work of systematic theology. With the possible exception of Ferguson, consider these resources mainly if you’re wanting to go deeper.
- What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert
- The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler
- Like I said above, Gilbert is a great author. He uses the God-Man-Christ-Response framework in this book. This would be good for grounding students in the basic gospel message.
- Chandler’s book is a bit more in-depth. He goes through “The Gospel in the Air” (redemptive history, Creation-Fall-Redemption-
Consummation) and “The Gospel on the Ground” (God-Man-Christ-Response). I listened to this on audiobook and enjoyed it very much.
- The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
- Why is Jesus? by Greg Gilbert
- More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell
- I overviewed Strobel above, so I won’t say more here.
- Again, Gilbert is good. This covers more theological categories than historical-reliability ones.
- McDowell covers the historical reliability bases. I think I read this my first year in Apologetics.
- The Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin
- I actually haven’t read any books specifically about world religions. (Well, except for the study guide I read for the World Religions CLEP test. But that doesn’t really count.) Mainly I used online articles. But if you wanted to get a book, this would be the one. It’s the definitive work.
- I really believe every Apologist needs to have a copy of Systematic Theology. But maybe not for an introductory Apol camp. If ST is too intimidating, R.C. Sproul has written one aimed explicitly at laypeople: Everyone’s a Theologian. I’ve listened to part of it on audiobook, and I’d recommend it. Some good systematic theology is useful simply because it covers just about every topic.
- The Case for Christianity Answer Book (here) by Lee Strobel. I just ran across this on Amazon, and I think I would recommend it to any new Apologetics students. As I scanned the table of contents, I kept seeing questions that are in the official topic lists.
- By far, the online resource I used the most was www.GotQuestions.org. They have about a bazillion articles on just about everything you could want to know. I’ve always found them to be very biblically faithful.
- One other place is www.ChristianAudio.com. They give away a free audiobook every month if you sign up for their email list, and it’s often really good. That’s where I got The Explicit Gospel, Everyone’s a Theologian, The Attributes of God, and more. Plus many people find listening easier than reading.
Here’s the pressed-for-time application. If you read just 3 books (or sections of books), I would recommend The Knowledge of the Holy, The Case for Christ, and What is the Gospel?, in that order. Then I would supplement with articles from www.GotQuestions.org for other categories.
Tolle lege. Take up and read!