Apologetic books, an evergreen genre of titles that offer arguments and justifications for Christian beliefs, do not usually top bestseller lists. Nevertheless, as a new generation of readers looks for ways to explain, stay with, or enter the faith, several Christian publishers are supplying numerous new books from now through the fall.
“Apologetics is changing; the questions people ask these days are different from a generation ago,” said Ethan McCarthy, assistant editor, IVP Books at InterVarsity Press. “Apologetics has an important role in society, but to remain viable, it needs to grapple more honestly with post-modernism and the questions people ask today.”
IVP is releasing two books in the category: Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Disruptive World by Alan Noble (July) and Faith in the Shadows: Finding Christ in the Midst of Doubt by Austin Fischer (Sept.). For Fischer, a pastor based in Texas, today’s apologetics genre provides a way for readers to cope with doubt—something he says the church struggles to do. “I want to show there has always been a place for doubt within the Christian faith,” he said.
Apologists from the Apostle Paul and Tertullian to bestselling authors such as C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, Timothy Keller, and Lee Strobel use their writing to provide reasons to be a Christian while defending the faith. Some books are geared more toward existing believers rather than outsiders of the faith. For example, Zondervan is publishing Strobel’s new book, The Case for Christ: Daily Moment of Truth (Sept.), written with Mark Mittelberg. The devotional encourages Christians to grow a stronger faith and is based on Strobel’s 1998 bestseller, The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus (Zondervan).
“I think it’s the golden era of Christian apologetics,” said Strobel, professor of Christian thought at Houston Baptist Seminary. “There are debates going on, engagement on social media, [and] apologetics in different genres [such as the film version of The Case for Christ]. I think evangelism in the 21st century is spelled apologetics.”
Zondervan is also publishing Apologetics at the Cross: An Introduction for Christian Witness by Mark Allen and Joshua Chatraw (May), Cultural Apologetics: Renewing the Christian Voice, Conscience, and Imagination in a Disenchanted World by Paul M. Gould (Nov.), and Saving Truth: Finding Meaning Clarity in a Post-Truth World (May) by Abdu Murray.
“Murray has seen Christianity from the outside and the inside,” said Zondervan senior acquisitions editor Madison Trammel, referring to Murray’s conversion from Islam to Christianity. “He’s specially equipped to articulate what sets Christianity apart from other world views.”
Offering a new voice in a genre largely dominated by men, Bonnie Kristian answers hard questions such as “are men and women equal in the church and home?” in A Flexible Faith: Rethinking What It Means to Follow Jesus Today (FaithWords, May).
Keren Baltzer, senior editor at FaithWords, described Kristian as “an apologist arguing for staying in the church.” A Flexible Faith explores different variations of Christianity, such as Messianic Judaism and Liberation Theology, and Baltzer said, “There are a lot of things on the spectrum of faith that we shouldn’t be leaving [the church] over.”
Catholic voices are also being heard in the field. In October, Ave Maria Press is publishing What Do You Want to Know? A Pastor’s Response to the Most Challenging Questions about the Catholic Faith by Cardinal Donald Wuerl. According to Jon Sweeney, consulting editor-at-large for Ave Maria, 25 million Catholics are asking for clear answers to basic questions, such as whether one religion is better than another. “We hope Cardinal Wuerl’s book helps illuminate aspects of the faith that are of great importance to people,” he said.
Additional apologetics books being published this year include The Landscape of Faith: An Explorer’s Guide to the Christian Creeds by Alister McGrath (SPCK), and two books from Baker Academic: Finding Ourselves after Darwin: Conversations on the Image of God, Original Sin, and the Problem of Evil, edited by Stanley P. Rosenberg (July), and Theodicy of Love: Cosmic Conflict and the Problem of Evil by John C. Peckham (Nov.).
“Among other things, the discipline of apologetics asks whether Christian faith is warranted in light of arguments to the contrary,” said David Nelson, Ph.D., acquisitions editor at Baker Academic and Brazos Press and the editor of Theodicy of Love.
According to Nelson, Peckham’s book offers a new perspective of one of the oldest challenges in apologetics—God’s relationship to evil. “How can and do Christians justify belief in a loving, omnipotent God in world that at least appears to be governed by evil,” Nelson asked. “Peckham’s approach won’t convince everyone. But it extends the evergreen conversation, [and] we hope that the book will challenge readers to rethink an old problem.”