Saturday, 1 September 2012

Book Review: More Than A Carpenter



Genre: Religion & Spirituality   
Author: Josh McDowell   
Rating: 3 out f 5 Stars  


Many years ago no I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Earl Radmacher give a series of talks titled Right Thinking in which he predicted the rise of anti-intellectualism in the western world. I believe the current state of our culture has shown Radmacher's predictions to be correct although I suspect he might be surprised to see the direction it actually came from.

A friend and I were talking this morning over coffee. In our discussion I used the analogy that when my dog was sick I took her to a veterinarian and not to an automotive mechanic. Now, the man who fixes my car may or may not be quite knowledgeable in the care and treatment of dogs but when Kitten was ill I wanted the best possible treatment for her and that best treatment is afforded by an expert. In this case the expert is a veterinarian. It is also safe to assume that when my car is running rough it is better to take it to an automotive mechanic than my veterinarian no matter how often Dr. Marshall has fixed his own car. All this should be a matter of common sense but we appear to live in an age where common sense has given way to an all too common insanity.

The same friend was telling me about a letters to the editor column in a Vancouver newspaper where a discussion was taking place about global warming., One of the contributor's to this conversation was a professor at the University of British Columbia who taught political science. My friends comment was that all science was not equal and the opinions of a political scientist did not have the same validity of an earth scientist. That is a point that should be obvious to anyone with an I.Q. higher than a turnip but it would seem we have a large population of turnips these days as the obvious and common sense is often overlooked, missed, or deliberately obfuscated.

Josh McDowell has spent his life and career working for Campus Crusade for Christ and became famous for the publication of three books, More Than A Carpenter and particularly, Evidence That Demands A Verdict and More Evidence That Demands A Verdict. All three books are apologies for Christianity.

A search of the Internet will yield several scurrilous attacks on McDowell and one of them masquerades as an academic rebuttal to one of his books. In it someone with a Ph.D. undertakes to respond to each chapter of Evidence That Demands A Verdict. They list their academic credentials in the heading of each response. 

The problem is that this is all an intellectual fraud. Having a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, for example, does not give one the credentials to respond to people whose areas of expertise are in manuscript science. A Ph.D. in chemistry does not give one the authority or knowledge to challenge evidence of archeology. Sadly, this is what this web site does. Even more sadly is that so very, very many people these days lack the discernment to even realize this. Thus, in our age, all too often the opinions of the chemist and the manuscript expert are given the same weight when discussing a papyri of The Iliad.

If someone wishes to derail the scholarship of Josh McDowell and the work he presents, it is going to take more than the ravings of someone in a completely un-allied field.

More Than A Carpenter is a "lightweight" book. There is no heavy theology presented here. There is nothing difficult to understand. But let us be clear, easy to understand does not equal simplistic and the simplistic attacks on McDowell I see on the Internet should be a shame to the intelligence of those doing the attack. McDowell is correct. The issue is very clear. There are no middle ground. Jesus Christ was either the God he claimed to be, he was a lunatic, or he was a liar. There are not other choices with the evidence we have at hand. We cannot say that Christ was a good moral teacher and then deny he is God. The two positions are in conflict. The real sadness is that education has slipped to the point where people are unable to see this.

I should not have to repeat this again but after the other day I wish to make it clear again. I am an atheist. I do not believe in the existence of God. Having said that, however, I, like everyone, must make a decision about Jesus Christ. Is he Lord. lunatic, or liar. It is a decision that one must be able to defend intellectually as McDowell makes clear.

I could wish this book was longer than its slim 128 pages. McDowell writes well. He is a force to be dealt with. How will you deal with it?

(Originally posted to Multiply January 3, 2009)

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