Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

2 Sep 2012

Meet the Skeptic

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This is a guest post by my friend David Doran, Jr., who is the Director of Outreach at Inter-City Baptist Church and a student at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary.

If you were anywhere within 1,000 miles of another human being this summer—let alone a TV—you heard about the mega-blockbuster movie, The Avengers. Superhero movies have captured hearts and minds and dollars (!) by the boatloads over the past several years. I mean, who wouldn’t want to go around killing bad guys and saving the world from alien invasions? I suspect that many Christians, however, have found themselves wishing they had the superpower of one Avenger who was absent from the smash hit—Ant Man. No, Ant Man doesn’t exactly capture the imagination like Thor or wow a crowd like the Hulk, but many of us would like to have his particular skill set. Which of us, e.g., hasn’t stood by the water cooler at work and heard a skeptical accusation about our faith and not wanted, like the amazing Ant Man, to shrink to microscopic size and slink away? That sort of talent would come in handy, wouldn’t it? Someone pins you down with a zinger about Science and the Bible or about morality and—ZAP!—you could just do your thing and hightail it out of there. Christians, however, are called to respond more like the Hulk—we’re called not to duck away but to boldly give an answer for the hope that is within us. This is why I picked up Bill Foster’s new book Meet the Skeptic a few weeks back. I want to better equip myself for just those sorts of situations.

Foster writes in order to help believers dig to the “root” of the skeptic’s assumptions—rather than simply chop down the “weeds” of the his objections. Foster, however, doesn’t demand too much of the average reader as some authors in this genre and with this approach tend to—with a maze of theory and philosophy. Foster, rather, writes to help the normal believer—me and you—resist the skepticism that is so prevalent in our everyday world. Perhaps the most helpful section in this book is the introduction. In it, the author gives some really practical suggestions for dealing with skepticism. For example, he provides an overview of each Skeptic (e.g., Scientific Skeptic in a Nutshell), urges Christians both to listen for what he calls “RED-FLAG Words” like “fairness” or “afterlife,” and to avoid using Christian code-words like “inspired” or “born again.” Beyond all this, I also found the book’s layout useful. Foster recognizes that not all skeptics are created equal. Thus, he organizes the book as a field guide for answering what he considers the four basic kinds of skepticism: Spiritual, Moral, Scientific and Biblical. He provides sample objections from each skeptic and advice for digging up the root of the skepticism. You’ll have to read the book to appreciate the distinctives of each kind.

On the whole, however, Foster’s book was a bit of a disappointment. It didn’t provide everything I was looking for. It stopped too soon. The author never gets around to giving advice on how to confront the skeptic—the unbeliever—with the truth of the Gospel. I wish he’d written a companion volume, showing how to skillfully confront the skeptic with God’s Word. This is, after all, the only real “superpower” available to Christians, isn’t it? We’ve got to share God’s Word with the (silenced) skeptic and allow God’s Spirit to do his supernatural work. So, be warned. Read Foster for what he does well—show Christians how to answer common objections to their worldview—and don’t be surprised if you’re still Bruce Banner when you put the book down.