James Rochford is a teaching pastor at Xenos Christian Fellowship in Columbus, Ohio. I happen to live in the same city and been exposed to Xenos on several levels. They are committed to teaching and discipling as well as helping their people understand the role of apologetics. I mention this because it should be no surprise that one of their own teaching pastors has written an introductory apologetics book. Therefore, Rochford’s practical ministry has enabled him to write a book that can be shaped from first hand experience in both teaching and discipling. As someone who has been doing apologetics on a large college campus (The Ohio State University) for a number of years, I am always looking for new apologetic material that can be used to hand to college students. This is why I am so enthusiastic about this material.
Pastor Rochford tackles a number of apologetic topics in his book such as natural theology arguments (i.e, cosmological, fine tuning) and the moral argument. In the rest of the book, the author covers historical apologetics (i.e. fulfilled prophecy, the evidence for the reliability of the New Testament, which includes transmission, contradictions, the testimony of the witnesses, etc). Even though the author doesn’t use the Bible as his starting point, we can see the use of natural theology and historical arguments line up with both general and special/historical revelation. But what I find most refreshing about this book is that the author takes an existential approach throughout the book. Anyone that is familiar with Francis Schaeffer’s work will hear an echo of some of his work in various parts of each chapter. Given the current state of our culture, I think this is a wise move on Rochford’s part. I say this because I have lost track of the number of people who are asking “What difference does Christianity really make in the reality of life?” In other words, Rochford does a superb job of asking whether atheism passes the test of livability and existential viability. After all, all worldviews must pass these tests to be a contender in the marketplace of ideas.
For someone like myself, I have and continue to read a number of apologetic works. While I find them to be not short on content, they can tend to be overly technical and quite dense for the lay person. I can’t say the same for this book. I do think it has some very good content in that it is clear the author has read the other side. He continually quotes atheists and cites their resources. Even his chapter on fulfilled prophecy lists several objections that are often heard by popular skeptics. So while the book is strong on content, as I just stated above, because of the existential questions it asks, it doesn’t succumb to a being a dense read.
In my opinion, this is the perfect book for the skeptic as well as the person who is just starting to learn about the role of Christian apologetics. I have already handed out some copies to people in our campus ministry and I continue to give some to seekers as well. I don’t want for one second to say this book is strictly for the young seeker. It can be used as a resource for any age group. My advice is to pick up a copy and give it to a friend. Time’s a wastin!