Man, Myth, Messiah: Answering History’s Greatest Question, by Rice Broocks
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
Picking up where his last book left off , Broocks decides to continue his career as our contemporary popular apologist de jour and, in the tradition of the great C.S. Lewis, try his hand at his own trilemma about the identity of Jesus Christ. Explicitly referencing Lewis’ own trilemma , Broocks’ own version of the trilemma is encapsulated in the title of the book, where the author makes the claim that Jesus Christ is either man, myth, or Messiah. He then proceeds to use savvy historical and philosophical reasoning to make it clear that Jesus Christ was not a myth, as He is too historically well-attested, and could not have done what He did as a mere man, leaving only the option that He was the savior, and then on top of that uses this discussion as a way to then motivate the reader to engage in more serious questions on how to live life: Who do you say that I am? And then, how now should I live my life?
In terms of its organization and structure, this book is organized with a very clear and unmistakable intent in mind. After a foreword by biblical historian Gary Habermas whose work on “minimal facts” that even skeptics believe about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ provides the material for the second chapter of the book, the author spends about 250 pages covering ten chapters and a short epilogue. The first few chapters deal with the historical case for the death by crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, pointing out reasons why the Bible is trustworthy, why the crucifixion of Christ was necessary, and the seminal importance of the resurrection in providing a hope for eternal life for mankind. The author tackles the widespread understanding of similarities between late pagan counterfeit gospels and Christianity, examines identity of Jesus Christ as the Son of Man and the Son of God, and then provides some evidence for miracles and the supernatural. It should be noted, in the interests of fairness, that the author advances evidence here for the value of near death experiences that he makes fun of and casts doubt on earlier in the book by implying that many such examples are fraudulent or unreliable. The last two chapters of the book focus on what practical benefit coming to faith is supposed to result in–discipleship, following God in fellowship with other brethren, and in engaging in the work of sharing the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
Overall, this is a work of very shrewd and practical importance that does not in any way neglect the honest truth about spiritual warfare as well as the barriers to belief in the eyes of many. There is a great irony that one notices as a reader of many works in apologetics : most books on apologetics, including this one, are aimed at dealing with intellectual barriers to faith, but the strongest arguments against the practical role of Jesus Christ as Lord over our lives tend to be emotional in their origin. This means that so much of apologetics consists of shadowboxing, demolishing endless intellectual arguments that come out of of nowhere while struggling to determine the true cause of the disaffection for a given person with God, often based in unreasonable expectations and emotional reasoning. The book particularly excels in its view of Judaism as being the essential ground from which Christianity spread, an obvious truth that is not as well-understood as it ought to be. This book makes for engaging and practical apologetics on a high level, and it deserves to be viewed fondly and hopefully remembered as well like Lewis’ similar efforts have been treasured for decades.
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