I think the title of this book alone would be enough to catch the eye of many people. The last decade has seen the massive popularity of Dan Brown’s various “Da Vinci Code” novels which in turn generated an outbreak of works from Christian scholars and authors aiming to refute the claims made in Brown’s novels. This book is not exactly a response to those novels, but it is easy to see how their popularity played a role in the writing and publishing of this book. On top of that, the popularity of New Atheist authors like Richard Dawkins makes a book like this even more important today.
This book stands apart from other books that aim to prove the historicity of Jesus and the Gospel accounts of his life. Charles Foster is a lawyer by trade and is thus skilled in the art of persuasive argument. In The Jesus Inquest he endeavors to tell both sides of the debate from as objective a standpoint as possible. The entirety of the book is written in an argument and counterargument format. He always presents the arguments against the historicity of Jesus and the Gospel accounts first. Let me tell you, if it weren’t for his counter arguments you might think you were reading a book by Hitchens, Dennett, or Dawkins. His arguments against Christianity are well researched and effectively convey the tone of someone who really does not believe in the Gospel accounts. This might be disconcerting at first, but if you endure the barrage of arguments against Christianity and get to the counterarguments you will be rewarded.
With each of the counterarguments Foster goes point by point through the arguments against the Gospels. He pounds home his counterarguments by revealing the logical fallacies, historical inaccuracies, leaps of logic, and sometimes just outright ignorance of many of the arguments against the historicity of Jesus and the Gospel accounts. Now, he is also not afraid to point out where some of the arguments that Christians have made historically have been very weak. Some might find this offensive, but I think it is very useful to help Christians carefully examine the way they argue for the historical accuracy of the Scriptures.
This is a book that, while not an especially exciting read, is an exceedingly useful read. As western culture becomes more and more hostile to the exclusive claims of Christianity it becomes ever more important that Christians be well grounded in what they believe and be able to argue persuasively for those beliefs. This book provides a great starting point both for learning the arguments against the historical Jesus and Gospel accounts and also in how to counter them in an intelligent and convincing manner that maintains both a high view of Jesus and a high view of the Bible.
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