May 03, 2010

Paul Copan, "True for You but Not for Me"

True for You, But Not for Me: Overcoming Objections to Christian Faith
Thanks to Bethany House for the review copy. In this second edition of "True For You But Not For Me," philosopher Paul Copan lays out a very clear and readable exposition of the philosophical foundations for Christian belief. The book is oriented around responses to common objections, with each chapter focusing on a particular slogan or objection, such as "It's all a matter of perspective," or "Christianity is arrogant and imperialistic." The chapters are divided up into five parts, which move in progression from the general concept of truth (looking at relativism and moral relativism in parts one and two), to the basic truth of a God-centered worldview (religions relativism, part three), to the centrality of Christ (parts four and five). This organization mirrors Copan's overarching method for apologetics, what he calls "Truth-God-Jesus," asserting that an understanding of the existence and importance of truth will provide the foundation for a genuine belief in God, which will in turn provide the necessary framework for recognition of Jesus Christ as the only way to be saved.

A few notes about the content, which I won't otherwise attempt to summarize here because of the breadth of the treatment. First, he emphasizes over and over (to good effect) the exclusivity of supposed "relativist" philosophies, whether in regard to truth, morality, or religion. He also engages John Hick in extended dialogue in part three regarding religious pluralism. Also worthy of note is that part five consists of an extended discussion of the fate of the unevangelized, with a number of live evangelical options presented and considered (he seems to lean toward a middle-knowledge view, which he ends with).

Copan argues very clearly, and lays out complex issues in a helpful and accessible way. Each chapter is concluded with a bullet-point summary of the important arguments made in the chapter, making the book a ready reference. Copan also demonstrates broad familiarity with the biblical text and up-to-date knowledge of a good range of contemporary biblical studies (with well-placed references to, for example, Richard Bauckham, N. T. Wright, Douglas Moo, Ben Witherington, etc.).

In all, I would say Copan's book achieves its aims admirably. It will serve Christians well who want to better understand their faith and who want to know how to respond to or how to maintain their faith in the face of many common and often vexing objections.