This review appeared in the Jul-Sep 2004 vol. 161 no. 3 issue of Biblotheca Sacra, DTS’s quarterly academic journal.Subscribe Today
Humble Apologetics: Defending the Faith TodayOxford University Press, USA, Oxford July 20, 2006
For those who have soured on the triumphal rhetoric or defensive posture of much modern evangelical apologetics, Humble Apologetics brings hope for a presentation of committed faith that authentically engages others as fellow travelers in the human experience. Stackhouse has managed to capture the best of the seemingly oxymoronic terms in his title with his gentle but deeply rooted approach.
Stackhouse, professor of theology and culture at Regent College, begins with a thorough orientation to basic ideas related to postmodernity and pluralism. This treatment is written with a skill that obviously comes from deep familiarity with those ideas, and the complexity is presented in intelligent but lucid ways. In fact this relatively brief overview of postmodernity may well be one of the best in print and is recommended to anyone who wants to get a clearer perspective on today’s cultural situation.
The aim of the book is to help Christians assume a humble posture when encountering those who may not believe, while presenting the claims of Christ. In doing this Stackhouse goes after certain embedded soteriological notions that prevent many evangelicals from being able to maintain such a winsome posture. One of the most important is developing a theology of conversion that gets past the need to know “who is saved” by maintaining a willingness to let God alone make such determinations. In answering a series of questions the author’s perspective is clear (pp. 84–85): “ ‘Is he saved?’ I don’t know and I cannot know until ‘the roll is called up yonder.’ . . . ‘What can I do to convert him?’ Nothing. God’s Spirit alone can truly convert. . . . ‘Does he need to hear the gospel?’ Of course he does. We all do. . . . ‘How shall I treat him? How shall I treat her?’ And the answer is just as simple: with love.”
Stackhouse also discusses principles of Christian communication consistent with the message of Christ and sensitive to the genuine concerns and needs of people in a postmodern environment. Humble Apologetics is excellent for anyone who wishes to take both the gospel and the world seriously, and it can be useful in classes on evangelism and apologetics, culture, or soteriology. One can hope that this book will have a wide audience, but even more so, that the vision of Christian witness presented in its pages will be lived out by a growing army of humble followers of the crucified Lord.
—Kent D. Berghuis