Book Review: The Reason Why Faith Makes Sense
I don’t know… I have a difficult time writing reviews for some books and this is one of them. I recognize the heart behind the desire to write this kind of book, but because the desire and intent is honorable doesn’t make the book great or even good. Certainly my statement is biased upon my own likes, dislikes, and sensibilities; every review and opinion is to some degree, so I want to be careful here with my summary of The Reason Why Faith Makes Sense.
This is a rewritten and updated version of The Reason Why by Robert Laidlaw (a book written around a hundred years ago). It was originally written as an apologetic piece and an evangelism tool because Laidlaw was convinced that “faith in God made sense.” Mark Mittelberg, the author of this updated version, was also impacted by the “sensibility” of The Reason Why and decided to undertake the task of updating and expanding upon Laidlaw’s original efforts.
The book is easy to read and accessible to almost any level of reader. The chapters address timelessly historical faith questions like, Is there a God? Can the Bible be Trusted? Who Was Jesus and What Was His Purpose? and several other questions that are asked in a systematic order and arrangement. Personally, that’s about the extent of the positives for me.
The book didn’t seem much like a discussion to me. The information was laid out more like a report from a fact-finding mission and very rhetorical with its presentation. Many of the arguments for the questions asked provide little if any counterclaims to the evidence presented. Living in the information age, this is a problem, especially for the person who might be given this book who has no Christian perspective or foundation to begin with. Many of the arguments, while couched in common language using common illustrations, still begin with some presupposition that both sides assume God is real… one side just looking for proof before “signing up.” What if the person reading the book denies God and refuses to entertain the evidence of the Bible? If this is the case, and I’ve experienced this in conversations with people who have an atheistic bent, almost half or more of the presentation is neutered.
In the end, I think we often fall short when we try to “reason our way to faith.” While the two, reason and faith, might complement on the rare occasion, I think they most often stand in separate corners. The Bible says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” which makes it even more plausible to believe that we cannot reason our way to God. The age of reason and enlightenment wants to convince the mind that faith in God makes sense, but so much of God doesn’t make sense to the mind of man. This dualistic approach to faith only serves to further complicate reconciliation between man and God…we simply cannot think our way to salvation.
Perhaps my interpretation of this little book is an overreaction in the opposite direction and if that is the case, I apologize. I would recommend the book to people on the basis they make up their own mind. If the work in The Reason Why serves as a gateway to God through Jesus Christ, then I celebrate. I think there are less apologetic driven approaches to sharing the Gospel and I believe those methods are more effective in developing true disciples with faith that perseveres.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers to read and post a review on my site. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”