Every month, Bethany House sends out an email to book addicts like me. This email contains a list of titles that are available to read and review. I love books and I love free books even more.
I chose How to Talk to a Skeptic because of its subtitle: An Easy-to-Follow Guide for Natural Conversations and Effective Apologetics.
Last year, a gentleman emailed me after coming across my blog and seeing that I'm a Christian. His intent was to convince Christians one by one that God doesn't exist. We chatted via email for about a year, discussing topics like the reliability of the Bible, the character of God, the age of the earth, whether miracles really occur, etc. It didn't take me long to realize that even though I knew way more about the Bible than my correspondent, he was better able to form coherent thoughts and arguments. I felt like a failure because I couldn't explain why I believe God exists, why I trust the Bible, and why I believe God is love.
How to Talk to a Skeptic is supposed to aid in those types of discussions. I hoped, when accepting it for review, that I would be able to learn a lot about how to talk to unbelievers and how to express my beliefs.
Well, it's definitely not a book to be read lightly if the reader is not already familiar with apologetics (and this reader is not). Johnson starts off with some remarkable advice: listen! Instead of jumping in to defend your faith or your beliefs, start asking questions. Find out what the other person believes and why. "Specifically, you want to find out first what is his own worldview, and second, what he understands to be the Christian worldview" (46). By doing so, you will not waste time trying to convince someone of something he or she already believes. Also, and more importantly, it lets the other person know that you actually care about him or her as a person and are interested in what he or she believes.
Unfortunately, I cannot compare this book to others on apologetics. It's not a topic I am familiar with; this is my first introduction to apologetics. I do believe that How to Talk to a Skeptic is great fodder for prayer, thought, and discussion. It definitely left me with issues to ponder. This would be a great book to study alongside Adler's How to Read a Book.
Many thanks to Bethany House for providing this book in exchange for my honest opinion. All thoughts are my own!