Book Review: The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Christianity

The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Christianity & How To Answer Them Confidently, by Alex McFarland

[Note: This book was provided free of charge by the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for an honest review.]

Although I am not yet a parent, this is the sort of book that I read from time to time [1] both with the goal of being better equipped at answering the questions of younger people in my own conversations with them as well as preparing myself for that serious responsibility if and when the time and opportunity for marriage and family should arise in my life. Given the seriousness of the responsibility of parenthood, a responsibility this book takes seriously, it ought to be of no surprise that modeling and explaining our faith should be a matter of the highest importance to those of us who are Christians. Despite our imperfections, we should all be visible Christians with the Spirit of God working in our lives and creating new lives within us.

Many of the questions in this book (there are 23 questions in total: 21 being spoken of as from children and teenagers, one chapter dealing with a variety of questions that parents ask (questions about what to say about money or sexual immorality or what subjects are dealt with in the Bible of relevance for today), and one very serious question (what will your family legacy be?) that the author asks the parents (and others) who are reading this book, are questions that I have asked of myself, of God, or of other people (like my own parents). Before giving the questions, the author seeks to give the reader a crash course on theology (some of the theological language of this book may be a challenge), as well as developing the confidence and competence to answer biblical questions wisely in an age appropriate way. The questions asked are solid ones and often very difficult ones to answer (why does God allow evil, why does God allow suffering, why is God so unfair, how do we know God loves us, why doesn’t God make our lives easy, is Jesus really God, did Jesus ever sin, why did Jesus have to die on the cross, why is Jesus the only way to heaven, when is Jesus coming back, how can God be the only God if there is also Jesus, when I pray, who is listening–God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, will the Holy Spirit leave me if I keep sinning, is the Bible really the word of God, are the miracles in the Bible true, how can I understand the Bible, this guy at school says the Bible contradicts itself–is that true, why are Christians such hypocrites, why do Christians judge everyone, if church is boring, why do I have to go, why don’t most churches care about pollution and global warming), and the author gives the answers his best college effort from a Protestant and mostly dispensational perspective.

Nevertheless, those whose biblical knowledge is more profound and more consistent than the author will find both a great deal to appreciate (the answer to the question on stewardship on the Bible, including the environmental benefits of the Sabbath, is a great one–too bad the author doesn’t believe the biblical Sabbath should be kept), as well as a great deal to frustrate. For every time that the author deals graciously with a difficult matter (seeking to avoid political disagreement between people who hold various eschatalogical views on end-time prophecy, seeking to deal with the sometimes controversial issue of whether it is okay for Christians to drink), there are at least a couple of times where the author makes ad hominem attacks on those who point out the inconsistencies and controversies of the Trinity (which the author here assumes as valid and glosses over rather superficially), or makes false dilemmas about interpretational worldviews (pitting evolution against youth earth creationism without showing any alternatives to either view), or uses an eisegetical method to deal with clean and unclean meats, or just flat out makes invalid claims (like the claim that the apostles changed their worship from the Sabbath to Sunday) without any biblical warrant. These errors are serious ones, and they put any godly parent who wishes to use this book in the position of having to sift the wheat from the chaff, the valid and useful insights about how our troubles are often due to the fallen and rebellious state of man and the sin nature (or human nature as some of us call it) that we all share as a result of mankind’s rebellion from the clear biases and errors of interpretation that the author has.

As a result, while this book does contain many quotations from scripture and at times biblical answers, much of this book shows the author to be a thorough Hellenistic Christian [2] in the mold of Augustine and others like him, rather than a genuine biblical Christian. At times the author seems to equivocate within the text, talking about God’s judgment and the biblical doctrine of resurrections while also espousing an unbiblical belief in the immortal soul. Perhaps the author is unaware of the tensions or contradictions within his own worldview. Nevertheless, despite the book’s many and serious flaws of interpretation that spring from his own religious worldview and his incomplete and inconsistent biblical understanding, this book is a serious attempt to deal with genuine and serious biblical questions from young people, and contains much of worth, if much that is sadly unbiblical, despite the author’s best attempts at presenting biblical Christianity as best as he can.

[1] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/book-review-love-no-matter-what/

[2] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/book-review-spirit-of-antichrist/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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6 Responses to Book Review: The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Christianity

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