Jun 252013
 

This review is of the second edition of True For You But Not For Me: Overcoming Objections to Christian Faith in which several adjustments had been made including the addition of roughly half a dozen chapters, the addition of the further reading section of each chapter and the move of the study guide to the authors website.

tfybnfm CoverIt’s safe to say that those of us interested in apologetics have heard many of the same retorts thrown against Christianity.  Statements like “Christians are intolerant of other viewpoints” or “You can’t legislate morality” are frequently lodged against the believer in conversations about faith and all too often the believer is left without much to say.  Regardless of the accuser’s intentions, many see these as conversation stoppers and the average person may not be equipped to handle them appropriately.  But what if these remarks could be used as opportunities to further the discussion instead of stifle it?  In True For You But Not For Me: Overcoming Objections to Christian Faith, that is just the starting point that Paul Copan uses in order to help guide the conversation in a much more meaningful direction.

In his book, Paul Copan addresses 29 of these common statements by organizing them into 5 main categories.  These categories progress from the concept of relativism, which is kicked off with the chapter entitled “That’s True For You, But Not For Me” to the final section which deals with the question of the unevangelized.  Each of these parts contain an introduction to the main category which will include some discussion of any terms that may need to be defined, followed by the chapters themselves.  Since the chapters are typically just a few pages in length, each addressing a particular statement, the reader will be able to get through one in a matter of a few minutes.  This allows the book to be handled in rather small chunks so even if your current reading plate is full, True For You But Not For Me won’t take up a lot of extra room.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits to having this book on the shelf is in its ability to function as a reference tool.  It’s certainly not necessary to read this book cover to cover, although that shouldn’t be discouraged; but simply being familiar with its content and organization will allow the book to be used as needed.  Many of the comebacks and retorts discussed are seen regularly in conversation and even if you are used to handling them, Paul Copan will likely offer some new perspectives to how they should be viewed and responded to.  In fact, having a good grounding in some of these responses will likely help the reader to recognize how many of these suppositions pervade society through various avenues.  And since each chapter is concluded with a summary of chapter highlights and a list of further reading material, True For You But Not For Me can serve as a gateway into deeper study as the reader sees fit.

The Books Structure

As I mentioned, the book is organized by means of 5 major parts.  In Part One: Absolutely Relative, Paul Copan introduces the concept of relativism along with the reality of truth.  He establishes the fact that relativism is ultimately self-defeating and shows that many of the retorts that are encountered in this section are as well.  Chapters in this section include “Who Are You to Judge Others?”, “It’s All a Matter of Perspective.” and “That’s Just Your Opinion.”

Part Two: The Absolutism of Moral Relativism deals with the various issues of moral relativism.  Here, the author not only demonstrates that moral relativism is logically flawed but that the consequences of moral relativism actually demean humanity by treating ourselves as “victims, not responsible moral agents” (p. 68).  Chapters in this section include “Why Believe in Any Moral Values When They’re So Wildly Different?”, “You Can’t Legislate Morality.” and “We Can Be Good Without God.”

While Western culture may think that religious pluralism is somehow all inclusive, in Part Three: The Exclusivism of Religious Pluralism, Paul Copan shows how it is actually resistant to any “one religious faith alone bringing salvation or liberation” (p. 111).  It is in this sense that religious pluralism practices the very thing it claims to deny.  Chapters in this section include “All Religions Are Basically The Same.”, “All Roads Lead to the Top of the Mountain.” and “If You’d Grown Up in Thailand, You’d Be a Buddhist.”

A very common accusation these days is that Jesus is simply a myth or legend.  Part Four: The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ: Myth or Reality? deals with various claims made in this regard.  Chapters in this section include “You Can’t Trust the Gospels-They’re Unreliable.”, “Jesus Is Just Like Any Other Great Religious Leader.” and “People Claim JFK and Elvis Are Alive, Too!”

Finally in Part Five: “No Other Name”: The Question of the Unevangelized Paul Copan deals with the exclusivity of Christianity and the various views on salvation for those who have never heard the Gospel.  This final segment of the book only deals with two comments specifically; they are “It Doesn’t Matter What You Believe-as Long as You’re Sincere.” and “If Jesus Is the Only Way to God, What About Those Who Have Never Heard of Him?”  The latter is actually dealt with over the course of four chapters that discuss three different responses – the agnostic view, the inclusivist / wider-hope view and finally the accessibilist / middle-knowledge view.

Options For Individual Or Small Group Study

A nice advantage to this book is a study guide that is available on Paul Copan’s website.  This study guide, which can be used individually or for small groups, contains roughly a handful of questions for each chapter of the book.  My wife and I led a small group through this book over the course of about a year (with various breaks throughout) and found the questions available in the study guide to be much more thoroughly thought out than most study guides we come across.  The questions force you to interact with the content and since the chapters themselves are relatively short it is very easy for the group to collectively go back and read through particular items that are being addressed.  This allows the information to be readily available and fresh in the minds of the participants.

The book will allow itself to be molded a bit for your particular small group.  We found that some chapters dealt with some heavier items that many people are going to be unfamiliar with.  In those instances the group leaders may wish to skip them entirely or deal with them over the course of a few meetings.  Since there are times that Paul Copan takes the familiarity with certain topics for granted, group leaders may find they need to be ready to introduce and further explain what is being discussed.

Conclusion

It’s not uncommon for people who find themselves on the receiving end of the comments addressed in this book to desire some sort of script to use.  But as anyone familiar with apologetics will tell you, a script is going to be worthless when you think you need it most.  One way a Christian can be prepared to give their defense is by learning how to think properly about these common objections.  By doing so you won’t need to memorize a bunch of facts but rather will be able to detect the underlying suppositions of these objections and handle them in a manner that can steer the discussion in a positive direction.  That being said, True For You But Not For Me may be just the right balance because it will offer responses to very specific and common objections in a way that will teach you how to think about and engage the content of the objection at hand.

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© 2011-2017 David Christopher. This post along with all content on this site (except citations) is the property of davidchristopher.net and is made available for individual and personal use. Please give appropriate citation along with a link to the URL and the date it was obtained.

Jun 012012
 

Petrus Romanus, or Peter the Roman is the final pope in an 800 year old prophecy which legend holds was written by St. Malachy in the 12th century.  The prophecy itself riddles out a line of popes and with the last, the destruction of the city on seven hills.  While many scholars have dismissed the prophecy entirely, many, even within catholicism, have noted some striking coincidences regarding the prophecies for each pope leading up to the current, Benedict XVI.  Incredibly, the prophecy of the popes has largely been ignored within evangelical Christianity, perhaps because we have a tendency not to allow much credence to anything outside of Scripture in regards to prophecy.  But Tom Horn and Cris Putnam have offered a ton of information in Petrus Romanus: The Final Pope Is Here and suggested a watch and see approach.  Either way you look at it, the final pope according to the prophecy is up next and with Pope Benedict XVI looking at possible retirement and failing health at the age of 85, along with the scandals coming out of the Vatican right now, it appears Petrus Romanus could assume the role at just about any moment.  What may be most interesting about that is the current year, 2012; and with all the clamor surrounding 2012, it certainly gives us something else to pay attention to.

Cris Putnam has been an acquaintance of mine for several years, meeting on the Berean Online Fellowship prior to those discussion forums being merged into the Koinonia Institute forums.  His Logos Apologia site exists “to show that logic, science, history and faith are complementary, not contradictory“.  It was some of Cris’s earlier apologetics videos that really helped to foster my own interest in the field and discipline of defending the faith.  That being said, its really exciting to see his ministry extended and given the opportunity for further impact.

Having just finished the book a few days ago I can say it is extremely well written and well thought out.  It is indeed a page turner that is informative on many levels.  While Tom Horn has written several books (perhaps my favorite being Apollyon Rising 2012; referenced several times in Petrus Romanus) and has a knack for throwing more information at you in a few sentences than you could have thought possible, Cris Putnam is clearly another gifted writer with the ability to explain biblical relevancy in a way that is sharp and easy to understand.  Combined, they are able to approach a topic like this from numerous angles while keeping it entertaining and easy to digest.

Petrus Romanus is broken out into 4 sections as Section One: Prophecy at our Doorstep, Section Two: Essential History of the Papacy, Section Three: Doctrines, Dogmas, Supernaturalism, and the End Times, and Section Four: The Final Conclave.  Coming out at 486 pages along with another 40 pages for 722 footnotes alone, this isn’t going to be just an evening read.

In Section One: Prophecy at our Doorstep we are introduced to the prophecy of the popes and the alleged author, St. Malachy.  Once that is underway we come to the time period of today, the year 2012, and the work of a Jesuit named Rene Thibaut who had concluded that the final pope according to the prophecy would arrive on the scene this year.  That wouldn’t mean much if Thibaut was someone who wrote in the last 10 years or so, but he isn’t.  Instead, the work being referenced comes from his book The Mysterious Prophecy of the Popes published in 1951.  Certainly very few were concerned about the year 2012 back in 1951 and Thibaut derives this year not just on a whim, but from several angles in the text itself, along with the average reign of the popes from 1572.  His calculations have remained true even over the last 60 years.  After a brief discussion about the false prophet and antichrist, we come to Malachi Martin, a high ranking Catholic Theologian who claimed there was a force at work behind the scenes to use the Vatican to bring about the antichrist system.  Martin is no doubt controversial but in his book Windswept House he claims that through an enthronement ceremony in 1963, the devil’s seed was indeed spawned through a ritual victim, not unlike that which we see in the movie Rosemary’s Baby.

In Section Two: Essential History of the Papacy the reader is given a tour through the history of the Catholic church and the claims of the papacy.  This is required reading for anyone who is unfamiliar with the Petrine succession claimed by the popes.  Through sound biblical exegesis the notion that the papacy is divinely instituted by Christ in Matthew 16:18-19 and John 21:15-17 is completely demolished.  The Donation of Constantine, the pope as antichrist and various approaches to biblical prophecy are all discussed here at length.  Section two will make great reference material for just about anyone who needs to get at information pertaining to these topics.

In Section Three: Doctrines, Dogmas, Supernaturalism, and the End Times one of the greatest discussions of the sacraments I’ve read takes place with an emphasis on contrasting biblical doctrine and Catholic tradition.  The things claimed by catholicism’s own apologists are just jaw-dropping.  My wife and I actually read through some of this material twice.  The eucharist, mariolatry, various interpretations of Revelation 12 and Jerusalem are all discussed here at length.

Finally in Section Four: The Final Conclave the puzzles are put together.  From the messianic fervor, the possible destiny of America to the evangelicals that unknowingly support such things, the world seems to be ready for someone to come on the scene that can offer peace and stability.  2012 gives us an election of the next American president and almost certainly the next and final pope according to the prophecy.  Whatever happens, it’ll be incredibly interesting to watch.

In conclusion, Petrus Romanus: The Final Pope Is Here is a thoroughly informative book with a lot of detail about the Roman Catholic Church that I was simply unaware of or, at least, unrefined in my understanding of.  If the prophecy of the popes is genuine and is to be fulfilled then the time is now to get equipped for what could take place.  But even if Petrus Romanus tuns out to be nothing more than the next pope in succession, there is still no better time to equip yourself and help others proclaim what the Spirit has been saying since the first century in Revelation 18:4:

“Come out of her, my people,
lest you take part in her sins,
lest you share in her plagues…”

 

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© 2011-2017 David Christopher. This post along with all content on this site (except citations) is the property of davidchristopher.net and is made available for individual and personal use. Please give appropriate citation along with a link to the URL and the date it was obtained.