Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Pastor Matt is picking the best books of the year…

Here’s one from a recent blog post that I just bought for my good friend Dina, and she is really liking it.


Dr. Qureshi’s book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity (Zondervan 2014) is a compelling and necessary read for every committed Christian.  Nabeel, a medical doctor with masters degrees in religion and apologetics, has penned an apologetic, spiritual autobiography that is as much an intellectual challenge as an emotional roller coaster, which is a rare feat.

Querishi was raised in a loving, muslim family with a father that served faithfully in the U.S. Navy.  His family sacrificed to send him to fine universities and challenged him to think critically.  He befriended a committed Christian who had a series of graceful evangelistic discussions over many years.  His friend eventually introduced him to scholars Mike Licona and Gary Habermas who helped plant intellectual seeds that would eventually sprout into a faith that is shaking pillars around the world.

Look at this endorsement:

My story, however, is nothing compared to the one presented in “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.” Dr. Qureshi’s life is so well told that I found myself sneaking pages at every opportunity whether it be standing in line at the grocery store or waiting on that mysterious person who inexplicably spends ten minutes pounding buttons at the ATM (are they trying to take out a second mortgage on their house?).  I have even bought copies to give away to friends, which is something I have only done with Grek Koukl’s Tactics, Lee Strobel’s Case for a Creator and Det. J. Warner Wallace’s Cold-Case Christianity.

Dr. Qureshi, who now works for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, has written the book that is easily the best of the year so far. It is also a fine example of the power of combining story (a potent tool with postmoderns) with strong arguments.  I highly recommend it.  Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy ASAP.

By the way, the woman I am currently mentoring in apologetics loves Nabeel’s book and she even went to see him lecture. I was able to find her a DVD of Nabeel lecturing at Georgia Tech – you can get it here. I was also able to find the same lecture at Georgia Tech, apparently, on YouTube.

I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews of Nabeel’s book from people who have read it. It’s especially good for people who like biographies.

Filed under: Mentoring, , ,

A friend of mine is learning apologetics, here’s what she is using to learn

The woman I am mentoring the most energetically in apologetics sent me this list of resources below. I was so impressed by how disciplined she is that I wanted to post it.

This is what she does every day:

  • William Lane Craig’s Defenders podcasts (1 or 2 a day)
  • Bible in a year (a few chapters as per the schedule)
  • Read/listen through 6 chapters of the Bible, 20 times
  • Is God Just a Human Invention? by Morrow and McDowell (a few chapters per day)
  • True U DVDs (all 3 volumes) by Focus on the Family (one episode per day)
  • Knowing God by J. I. Packer (one chapter per day)
  • Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer (one chapter per day)
  • Signature in the Cell by Stephen C. Meyer (one chapter per day)

In addition to that, she is on chapter 3 of Scott Klusendorf’s “The Case for Life”. We are also working our way through “Money, Greed and God” by Jay W. Richards, we are on chapter 4 there.

She has books, podcasts, and DVD lectures in there. I also got her some debates on DVD to see what the other side can say. I got her the Lennox-Dawkins debate from the Oxford Museum of Natural History and the Craig-Hitchens debate at Biola University.

When we started out, I was trying to go over the chapters with her to get her started, but now she is busy learning these things on her own. I didn’t even know about most of this stuff that is on her list.

So here are some points I want to make about this.

  1. I think it’s good for Christians to study hard subjects and get good jobs so they have money to spend on books, lectures and DVDs. Not only can you loan out books and show DVDs to groups, but you when you get the resources for yourself, you can learn from them and share what you learn with anyone who is interested. They’ll be more interested in hearing it from you than reading a whole book anyway.
  2. I also think it’s good for Christians to be like this woman. She is interested in apologetics because she had a co-worker who asked her a lot of questions. She decided to answer his questions rather than to attack him personally for his unbelief, or punt to faith not needing reasons or evidence. So she started to look for answers on her own, and then I came along to guide her search, provide materials and practice with her.
  3. She is shy and not used to speaking up or disagreeing with others. So we are spending time discussing these materials and also debating issues. When we discuss a chapter, I highlight the three parts that are the most useful and relevant for debates, and try to show her the structure of the argument. She learns better when we discuss the material and when we practice debating it. I ask her – what would you say if I said this to you? And she answers. Role-play is good for learning apologetics.

So those are my three points.

I would just urge you all to be on the lookout for people who are smart and want to learn more about how to give an answer to anyone who asks them for a reason for their hope. If you are looking for a mentor, then pray that God will send you a mentor. If you want to be a mentor, pray that God will send you someone to mentor.

Filed under: Mentoring, ,

An apologetics reading plan for beginners

Would you like to have as much fun defending your faith as the Wintery Knight does?

Here is a post from Apologetics 315 that lists 10 basic apologetics books for brand new Christian apologists – and they are in a sensible order, too.

Here are my favorite 4:

2. The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel

This book is just as readable as The Case for Christ, but this one delves into the evidence for the Creator. Another thing that makes this good reading for the beginner is this: whatever areas you find particularly interesting can be pursued further by reading the sources interviewed in the book.

6. Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions by Greg Koukl

Information without application results in stagnation when it comes to apologetics. That’s why it’s time for a good dose of Tactics, which will train you not only to use apologetic content in everyday life, but it will also train you to be a better, more critical thinker. This is another “must read” book, and mastering its contents early in your apologetic studies will put feet to your faith.

7. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Mike Licona & Gary Habermas

The resurrection of Jesus is central to Christianity. This book equips you to understand and defend the resurrection from an historical perspective. Not only does the book have useful diagrams, summaries, and an accessible style, but it also comes with a CD-ROM with interactive software for teaching you the material. This is an essential book for the apologist.

8. Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow

Now it’s time to look at some of the most common objections that have come against Christianity since the rise of the new atheism. There’s no better book at dealing with these in a concise yet dense way, while providing additional reading suggestions and introducing some of the key apologists that deal with these questions. If you really want to master this material, consider taking part in the Read Along project for this book.

I’ve read 8 of them, and I have given 6 of them to my Dad (he’s just an ordinary Dad) and he really liked all 6. These are meant for all ages.

I have been giving away books like this to friends, and even to potential Mrs. Wintery Knights, for many years. And what I’ve found in that time is that Christians have a very different experience in their relationships with God when they are prepared to defend his existence and character in public. Instead of treating Christianity as a private set of beliefs which are mainly for feeling happy and getting along with family at holidays, they instead treat Christianity as true, and they have very interesting discussions with their friends about many topics related to Christianity. Instead of being frightened to speak up, they become bold and confident – that’s what happens when Christians study and prepare.

Jesus doesn’t want his followers to feel intimidated by non-Christians and non-Christian culture. He doesn’t want us hiding what we believe. When we take the time to read books like this, it becomes possible for us to get into conversations that turn our relationships with God through Christ into a public activity. Instead of just taking, taking, taking from God, now we are in a position to give back. If you ask any experienced apologist, they will tell you what it feels like to work through questions with a non-Christian. It is a way of feeling closer to God, and a way of being faithful in our two-way friendship with him. You do not want to miss out on that experience – it is an important part of being a Christian.

Click here for the full list and Brian’s mini-reviews.

Filed under: Mentoring, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is it “brilliant” to accumulate $185,000 of debt studying the humanities?

From the Des Moines Register, an article by Ms. Rehha Basu.


Sixteen years ago, Patricia (P.J.) Johnston of Des Moines made the front page of this paper for collecting her diploma from Drake University at just 19. “Johnston was reading books on French existentialism while others her age were still buying comic books,” wrote reporter Tom Alex of the young woman who majored in religion and philosophy, dabbled in music and astronomy and found time to take part in online discussions on the Bible.

“I think I’m probably meant to be an academic,” Johnston was quoted as saying. And she has been, getting a master’s in one institution, going to seminary at another, doing field research in India in her area of interest — Indian Catholicism — and currently working toward a Ph.D in religious studies at the University of Iowa.

President Barack Obama came through Johnston’s university on Wednesday, where he said there is no greater predictor of success than a good education. “This country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of everybody who’s willing to work for it,” Obama said. “That’s part of what made us special. … That’s a commitment that we need to reaffirm today.”

He talked about the untenable debt that’s limiting options for today’s college-goers — $25,000 on average — because tuition and fees have more than doubled since they were born.

Johnston didn’t get to hear him since she was teaching a class on Buddhism. But she knows a lot about educational debt. She has $185,000 in student loans to repay.

As it is, she sleeps on her office floor on the days she has to be in Iowa City, riding the Greyhound bus in from Des Moines. She helps support her mother with the approximately $16,000 she earns as a teaching assistant. But she is in danger of dropping out before getting her doctorate because she has hit her limit on loans, and most likely won’t be able to get a teaching assistant position next year because of cuts in undergraduate programs.

If that happens, she wrote me, she would be this far along, “facing the job market in my mid-30s with no marketable job skills of any kind.”

Johnston grew up on welfare and other forms of public assistance. Her divorced mother was unable to hold down a job for reasons that were never diagnosed. Johnston got through college with scholarships, grants, some help from her late grandmother, and only $18,000 in debt.

Student loans should not be connected to the government as they are now – they should be privatized. That way, taxpayers are not stuck with the bill if the person cannot make a career out of what they are studing. What is this person doing going abroad in India? What is she doing riding on Grayhounds? It makes no sense. If she had to go to a for-profit bank, then she would never get a student loan, because they know they would never get the money back. We have to have a system where people pay their own way, so that they can’t take risks with anyone else’s money but their own (or their loan guarantor’s). No taxpayer money should be available to them, and no taxpayer money should be given to subsidize universities, either – it just raises the cost of tuition. Once the number of students applying to the humanities is reduced because no loans are available, then tuition will come down for those who really intend to make a go of it.

I think a lot of the problem here comes from growing up without a father. Fathers teach their children to be practical because they worry more than mothers about the children not being able to be independent and fend for themselves.

UPDATE: The Captain comments on this story here.

UPDATE: This is from the woman’s Facebook page:

I have never asked anybody to pay my student loan debt for me, and I will pay it down someday, even if I have to eat ramen noodles for the rest of my life. I was willing to undertake my studies at any cost and at any degree of personal risk because I believe in God and I am convinced that I am doing what God is calling me to do. If you read the New Testament, you will find a great deal about how people are called to give up everything they own – houses and wealth and family and respectibility and everything else – to do whatever it is that God calls them to do. I am not brave and no longer optimistic, but I have tried to take God at his word.

I am not financing education entirely through student loan debt. I held work study jobs as an undergraduate, and have usually held some kind of on-campus employment. I have been a TA for the university for the last seven years. The fact is, government support of higher education is down and the cost of tuition has outpaced salaries to such a great degree in this country that virtually nobody is able to afford an education on their own wages without taking on a substantial burden of student loan debt. The vast majority of the anecdotes to the contrary concern degrees earned twenty or thirty years ago, before major structural changes in the financing of higher education – in the post-war years, government funding allowed the vast majority of expense for education to be met through Pell grants and scholarships, making it possible for many people to work themselves through school. That hasn’t been possible for most people in most degree programs for at least thirty years, and these nostalgic memories of an entirely different time and set of circumstances are not doing the debate on higher education financing in this country any good at all.

I am not a “professional student” nor am I taking an especially long time to pursue my degree – this is simply how long humanities education takes.

If you only see value in STEM disciplines, I probably will not convince you that humanities education is valuable. There used to be a sense in this country that certain things had value and meaning in their own right, not simply because they produced nice technological gadgets or made bundles of money for businesses. Even conservatives such as Allan Bloom used to realize that it impoverishes us spiritually when we turn away from the humanities, the cultural legacy of Western society. Would that their political descendants had as much grace or wisdom.

She’s not being forced into this course of action. She’s choosing it deliberately, and she wants other people to pay to make her impractical flight from reality financially sound.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pastor’s Matt’s book of the year – and the rest of his astonishing reading list

Previously, I have been pretty critical of pastors being unwilling to connect the Bible to evidence outside the Bible. I have always maintained that the secret to getting people to act like Christians and evangelize effectively was that we needed to train Christians to understand how to relate what the Bible says to the way the world really works outside church doors. Whether it be the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus, social issues, fiscal issues and foreign policy issues, my view has always been that pastors by and large were just not taking seriously their obligation to train their flocks to engage with non-Christians. I guess that I expected that most pastors would be more like Wayne Grudem, who is really good at connecting the Bible to knowledge outside the Bible. But in my experience, most pastors aren’t like that.

Look, I don’t even think it’s possible – in a secularized, postmodern, relativistic, naturalistic society like ours – to impact the world for Christ unless our faith is connected to knowledge from the real world. Christians today say that they believe the Bible, but can they really live it out if it’s just private preferences, and not objective knowledge? Many beliefs that conflict with Christianity are accepted by most people today as being beyond dispute. In order to evangelize today, I think that we have to support our beliefs with knowledge. And that means building a worldview from the ground up, with each block the result of a careful study of some area of knowledge. We have to put as much effort into our faith as we do into our education, our careers, our investments, our fitness and nutrition, etc. That’s the only way to be an authentic Christian in such a hostile environment.

OK, so with that said, let’s take a look at Pastor Matt’s exciting post.

He writes:

Hi, my name is Matt and I’m a book addict.  It is a sickness that leads people to such reckless behavior as reading on a couch for hours during sunny days, spending free time wondering the racks at Barnes & Noble and boring the heck out of people at parties when soft-hearted fools make the mistake of inviting a well-known “bibliophile.”  BUT my sickness may be your blessing because raging geeks like me can help you spend your money and time a little bit more wisely.

My favorite book of the year so far is Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels by Detective J. Warner Wallace (David C. Cook 2013).  Detective Wallace presents apologetics, the necessary but often dry discipline of defending the Christian faith, in a fresh and compelling manner.  He approaches the Gospels as a cold-case detective and illustrates his points with fascinating stories from his years working as an investigator.  It is a fun, well-written and helpful work that will embolden Christians to share their faith with others for decades to come.  You MUST pick-up a copy of this book.

So far so good. But this is where things get really weird. You see, Pastor Matt is really addicted to reading. He has read SIXTY-SEVEN books so far this year, and he has a bunch more in progress.

Now just check out a few of these books and ask yourself – what would the world be like if every pastor was like Pastor Matt?

Behold, the awesomeness of his book list:

1. Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions by Greg Koukl (Zondervan 2009).  A lot of budding apologists fill their head with knowledge but lack tact in conversing with non-believers–Koukl’s book can help. A must read.

2. Icons of Evolution by Jonathan Wells (Regnery 2002).  What unsupported claims do Darwinists hold to? Wells, a trained evolutionary biologists, points them out in this wonderful book.

4. On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision by William Lane Craig (David C. Cook 2010).  A good apologetics resource although I think Craig struggles to explain in lay terms his response to scientific objections to the faith.

6. True for You, but Not For Me: Answering Objections to the Christian Faith by Paul Copan (Bethany 2009).  A good but short guide to various objections. Recommended.

7. How Do You Know You’re Not Wrong? Responding to Objections that Leave Christians Speechless by Paul Copan (Baker 2005).  A good guide with more meat to it than True For You, But Not For Me. Recommended.

9-11. The Case for Christ (Zondervan 1998), The Case for Faith (Zondervan 2006) and The Case for a Creator (Zondervan 2004).  The Strobel’s trilogy serves as a wonderful introduction to apologetics.  Strobel is a former journalist who interviews experts on matters of faith and reports them with crisp prose.  Highly recommended.

12. The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards (Regnery 2004). A wonderful book on the fine-tuning of the universe.  Highly recommended.

13. Seven Days that Divide the World by John Lennox (Zondervan 2011).  A great little book, which serves as a fine introduction to old earth creationism. Recommended.

15. The Reason for God by Tim Keller (Dutton 2009).  This is the 3rd time I have read through this work and it stands up as THE post-modern apologetic.  A must read.

16. Darwin on Trial: Deluxe Edition by Phillip Johnson (IVP 2010).  The best analysis and refutation of Darwinisn. A must read.

18. Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality by David Baggett and Jerry Walls (Oxford 2011).  A well argued but dense work for the moral argument for the existence of God. Highly recommended for those with a background in philosophy.

19. How We Got the Bible by Neil Lightfoot (Baker 2003). A readable history of how Bibles went from scrolls written by hand in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek to the plethora of translations we have today. Recommended.

21. The New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties by Gleason Archer, Jr. (Zondervan, 1982).  A helpful book dealing alleged discrepancies but a bit dated.

22. The Big Book of Difficulties by Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe (Baker, 1992).  Not as handy as Archer’s book but still well worth consulting.

23. The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Newness, 1905).  My son and I finished the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes last year and had a blast working through the sequel.

28. Is God A Moral Monster? by Paul Copan (Baker 2011).  A wonderful survey of the Old Testament with clear, concise answers. Highly recommended.

30. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona (Kregel 2004).  A very good overview of the arguments for the historicity of the resurrection. Recommended.

34. Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig (Crossway 2008).  I have read through this book at least three times and am blessed every time. Highly recommended.

35. The Myth of Junk DNA by Jonathan Wells (Discovery Institute 2011).  Dr. Wells debunks a common objection to intelligent design.  Short but effective.

36. Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe (Free Press, 2006 ed.).  A classic that is often ridiculed by materialists but yet to be refuted!

37. Signature in the Cell by Stephen C. Meyer (HarperOne 2010 edition).  Another classic but a long and difficult read.

42. Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith by Douglas Groothuis (IVP 2011).  THE text-book for apologetics.  Don’t let the size of the book intimidate, it is readable yet truly comprehensive.  Amazing.

43. Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics by Doug Powell (Holman 2006). The entries are short but still handy.  Recommended.

44. A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt (Vintage 1990 Edition).  A classic ode to following your conscience. Highly recommended.

45. The Resurrection of Jesus: A Dialogue between N.T. Wright and John Dominic Crossan by Robert Stewart, ed. (Fortress Press 2005).  An interesting but frustrating dialogue between two great New Testament scholars.

46. Holman Quick Source Guide to Understanding Creation by Mark Whorton and Hill Roberts (Holman 2008). The Holman Guides are always good to keep close even if they aren’t as extensive as say the Baker Encyclopedia of Apologetics.

48.  Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? A Debate Between William Lane Craig and John Dominic Crossan Edited by Paul Copan (Baker Academic 1999).  A fine read but how one can peruse this and not be dazed and confused by Crossan’s positions is beyond me.

50. The Marketing of Evil by David Kupelian (WND 2005).  How did liberals win the PR war in re: to so-called “same-sex marriage” and the butchering of unborn children? Kupelian does a good job of outlining it.

51. Letters to a Young Progressive by Mike S. Adams (Regnery 2013).  Professor Adams has long been one of my favorite columnists and this book is a must read.  I highly recommend it.

52. A Conservative History of the American Left by Daniel J. Flynn (Crown 2008).  One of the few books in the last few years that I have read multiple times.  A must read.

54. The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson (Penguin 2009).  A wonderful and readable economic history that is a must for any and all wanna be policy wonks and political junkies.

55. God & Man at Yale by William F. Buckley (Regnery 1986 ed.) A stunning indictment of Buckley’s alma mater, which envisioned the takeover of academia by the secular left.  A must.

56. Reagan’s War: The Epic Story of His Forty-Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism by Peter Schweizer (Anchor 2004).   A compelling overview of one man’s determination to destroy the evil of Soviet communism.

I am currently re-reading The Apologetics Study Bible (B&H 2007), A Patriot’s History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen (Sentinel 2007), Intellectuals and Society (revised and expanded) by Thomas Sowell (Basic 2012), The Last Command by Timothy Zahn (Spectra 1994) Darwin’s Doubt by Stephen C. Meyer (HarperOne 2013) and Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America by Mark Levin (Threshold 2012).  So far, I recommend them all.

This man is the James Bond of church! Where the heck did he come from? Where do they even make pastors like this? I’ve been in the church and in campus groups for the last 20 years, and I haven’t met a single church leader who read books like this.

I really don’t know what to say about this list. I am just so blown away. Can anyone tell me why it is that there is only one Pastor Matt? What’s wrong with all the other pastors, or is it just that I haven’t heard about any of the good ones in my travels? Is your pastor like this? Does he mention ideas from these books in his preaching?

By the way, you can friend Matt on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. Recommended!

UPDATE: He’s written a new post explaining how he is able to read so many books.

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