Reasons We Believe, by Nathan Busenitz (Crossway: 2008; 224 pages)I kind of hate Nate Busenitz. (You know... in a Christian way.)
He's, like, twelve years old (if that), and has already published an apologetics tool that (A) is really worthwhile; (B) will deservedly get much use; and (C) is recommended by John Frame.
But I'll try to set my personal issues aside and introduce you to Nate's opus, because I think you'll find it both informative and useful. It is an fine book, and I recommend it highly.
What Nate does here is something fresh and very needed. He takes the lofty theories of presuppositional apologetics, and shows us how to make use of Christian evidences. Specifically, Busenitz focuses on the Bible's own way of arguing for the truth of revelation, and then he points to real-world demonstrations of those truths.
I've long lamented a lack of such materials, which Nate has now supplied. Historically, presupp's have been wonderful in presenting negative cases, and not-so-much in presenting the positive. For instance, Douglas Wilson absolutely devastated Christopher Hitchens in a series run by CT. The negative case was nothing short of withering.
But as a positive case? Wilson actually says "I noted from your book that you are a baptized Christian [as a baby], so I want to conclude by calling and inviting you back to the terms of that baptism" — "terms" to which Hitchens had never himself agreed, and in which he was an unwilling participant. Wilson also passingly alludes to ankles, sneezes, and baptizing babies as evidence. I don't think Hitchens was left "without excuse"; I know he wasn't persuaded.
And so it has been. Presupp's do awesome destructive work, but not so much along the lines of positive evidence. That is left to the various stripes of evidentialists, who however allow for mythical "brute facts" and objectivity, and build a probabilistic case that does not always challenge the unbeliever's autonomy, nor leave him "without excuse."
That's where Nate steps in with Reasons We Believe. He actually does evidence, within a presuppositionalistic framework.
What I tried to do briefly and inadequately here (in supplying that lack), Nate does much better and at greater length. He takes "50 lines of evidence that confirm the Christian faith" (the book's subtitle), and traces them out. With documentation — in footnotes! What is unique about the fifty lines of evidence is that they are taken to reflect the Bible's own way of presenting the truth of God, its own line of argument, rather than one derived from some alien philosophy and hostile premise.
Then, from that Biblical starting-point, Busenitz shows how these truths evidence themselves in facts, logic, history. He does not try to adopt a fictitious "brute-fact" premise and try to argue from nowhere to the Bible; he begins with the Bible and shows how reality reflects its truth-claims.
Nate divides the book into six sections: an argument that Christian faith is reasonable and not blind; why we believe in God; why we believe in the Bible (subdivided into two parts), and why we believe in Jesus (also subdivided into two parts). Each of the last five sections is in turn subdivided into a series of concise lines of argument. Ten lines of argument explain why we believe in God; a total of twenty show why we believe in the Bible; another twenty demonstrate the rationale for faith in Jesus Christ.
Nate's style is concise, very readable, and at times conversational. The chapters tend to be brief and handily condensed. For instance, Reason Three for belief in God (order and design point to a Designer) is seven pages long; Reason 5 for belief in the NT Gospels (early Christians would have demanded an accurate record) is but three pages long.
Each argument is buttressed with substantial documentation. I was constantly struck by the wide variety of writers Nate used, ranging very broadly from the lightly popular to the deeply academic, and taking in practitioners of the various apologetics schools. He cites arguments from and/or quotes Carl F. H. Henry, Norm Geisler, John Frame, Gary Habermas, Josh McDowell, John Stott, Roger Nicole, F. F. Bruce, John Ankerberg, Henry Morris, Paul Little, Ron Nash, C. S. Lewis, Harry Rimmer (apologist from a past generation; I actually worked for his son in the 70s), William Shedd, Robert Saucy, Dan Wallace, and literally a host of others.
This brings me to one suggestion I would urge for future editions — for this is a book that deserves long life and eventual revision and extension: Busenitz uses too many secondary sources. "Cited from" occurs in footnote after footnote (i.e. pp. 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, etc.).
Here's why I think this matters: this is a book that deserves to be used by many, and in many settings. I easily see high school and college students using it as a text. At present, students would be forced to use some of the citations with this formula: "Abraham Lincoln, as cited in ___, as cited in Busenitz...." I say with genuine respect, an author should do that footwork for his readers so that they don't have to. Use primary sources.
Pastors and friends and evangelists and bloggers and family members and writers of letters to the editor and most of the world won't care about that, however. And they're the ones who (in addition to students) should have this book. It deserves wide circulation and use. I talked our men's fellowship into making it our next study book.
I hope I've talked you into doing the same.
Well done, Nate.