Tuesday, December 10, 2013

How to Talk to a Skeptic - a book review

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!


Julie Fukuda said...

I wonder what help, if any, that book would be. Most of the skeptics I know are missionary kids who grew up with too much religion. Even though they are living what I would consider a very Christian life, they claim to not believe in anything.

Max Weismann said...


We are a not-for-profit educational organization founded by Mortimer Adler and we have recently made an exciting discovery—three years after writing the wonderfully expanded third edition of How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren made a series of thirteen 14-minute videos—lively discussing the art of reading. The videos were produced by Encyclopaedia Britannica. For reasons unknown, sometime after their original publication, these videos were lost.

Three hours with Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren, lively discussing the art of reading, on one DVD. A must for all readers, libraries and classroom teaching the art of reading.

I cannot exaggerate how instructive these programs are—we are so sure that you will agree, if you are not completely satisfied, we will refund your donation.

Please go here to see a clip and learn more:


ISBN: 978-1-61535-311-8

Thank you,

Max Weismann, Co-founder with Dr. Adler