Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Book Review: The Jesus Inquest by Charles Foster

There is a rumor going around that I'm going to be getting a Nook for my birthday, and to say I'm excited is an understatement.  So when I was poking around at Booksneeze, and saw that I could get The Jesus Inquest by Charles Foster in a format I could read on the Nook, I had to see how that would work.  I do have the Barnes & Noble eReader software installed on my Mac, and I'm thrilled to say it worked smoothly.

The most frustrating part, sometimes, of reviewing books is waiting for them to show up.  Now, apparently, at least sometimes, that will no longer be an issue.  But on to the review...

A description of the book, from the publisher:
An unbiased examination and compelling courtroom presentation revealing the undeniable facts of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Intelligent, fair, and remarkably compelling, The Jesus Inquest argues the case both for and against the resurrection of Christ. Point-by-point, Foster, in turn as both barrister X and Y, leaves no theological stone or dissenter's rock unturned as he digs for answers and the truth. In the end he is more convinced that Jesus is real, that He did rise again, and that He lives to offer forgiveness and hope to all who come to Him.
Each chapter is set up in basically the same way.  Relevant scripture for the chapter's topic is quoted.  Common ground between Barrister X and Barrister Y is established, if there is any.  Barrister X makes his case against Christianity.  Barrister Y makes his case for Christianity. Next chapter.

This was both a challenging book to read, and a fairly easy book to read.  The author does a very good job of presenting X's side of things, though I'm sure many atheist/agnostic/skeptics would disagree about that.  Some of the arguments made me very uncomfortable.  Barrister Y does a good job as well, rebutting X's points, making points of his own, but totally willing to concede that X makes a good case sometimes.

I've read a few similar types of books before, and one thing I really did appreciate about Foster's book is that he doesn't go making it look like the "X" position is totally without merit.  Many of the arguments X uses are ones I have heard, and X does a pretty convincing job of presenting them.  Most of those are countered very effectively by Y.  (I like those best!)

Sometimes, though, X makes some great points and Y really doesn't have a lot to say, besides something like: "X makes a good case here.  I agree.  This is messy.  If I were the one writing the gospels, I'd have been really tempted to leave this out as it sure would have been less confusing that way."

But I think that is what I really ended up liking the most about this book.  Foster does not just use arguments that Christians can easily knock down.  He includes arguments against Christianity that are complex and thought through.  Many of which can, upon reflection, be disputed.  But some really come down to -- if these people (the Gospel writers and later scribes copying the writings) were making things up, don't you think they would have cleaned some of these discrepancies up a bit?

I do recommend this book.  I plan to read it through again, as I know I'll get more out of it on a second read-through.


Disclaimer:  As Booksneeze Blogger, I did receive this book for free from Thomas Nelson.  No other compensation was received.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

2 comments:

tweedpipe said...

Debra,
Thanks so much for a very thoughtful review of the book, and all best wishes.
Charles Foster

Kara said...

Too funny! I just requested this book from Booksneeze earlier today, then saw your post. Sounds like a very interesting read. I like that you say he brings up some of the tough objections and doesn't deny that there's some merit to them. I'm looking forward to it!