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True for you, but not for me: Deflating the Slogans that Leave Christians Speechless

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Fast, effective answers to today's tough questions and slogans that often leave Christians speechless.

192 pages, Paperback

First published May 1, 1998

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About the author

Paul Copan

62 books122 followers
Paul Copan is a Christian theologian, analytic philosopher, apologist, and author. He is currently a professor at the Palm Beach Atlantic University and holds the endowed Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics.

From 1980-1984, he attended Columbia International University and earned a B.A. degree in biblical studies. Copan attended Trinity International University, where he received his M.A. in philosophy of religion, as well as his M.Div. at Trinity International. Copan received the Prof. C.B. Bjuge Award for a thesis that “evidences creative scholarship in the field of Biblical and Systematic Theology.”

In May 2000, Copan received his Ph.D. in philosophy of religion from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His dissertation topic was "The Moral Dimensions of Michael Martin’s Atheology: A Critical Assessment."

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82 (21%)
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18 (4%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 30 reviews
Profile Image for Sarah.
29 reviews17 followers
August 31, 2009
This is an interesting book, Paul Copan has worked to compile the most common arguments against Christianity and writes a sort of rebuttal system to use against each.

However, i do think this book could possibly end up being very dangerous.

I could very easily see this becoming a "translation" book for well-meaning Christians to just start flipping through the pages - just like tourists in a foreign country.

I don't think this is the smartest nor most effective way to share Christ's love. I don't want to argue my "cause" - just live it. In many ways i find it more enjoyable and not to mention long-lasting for a person to immerse themselves in another country. You learn the little intricacies and traditions of a culture that had you taken a more brash approach, you would never had found. I think it would be a wise thing for Christian apologists to do as well.

If this book is the sort of thing you're looking for, a straight-forward, focused on "winning" the sinner rather then befriending, this is a good book. However, it is not what I'm looking for, i would rather have my discussions of faith be an organic offshoot of a deep friendship.
Profile Image for Lynne.
48 reviews2 followers
January 15, 2011
I've come to believe that the best use for books like this, that take objections to the Christian faith given by non-Christians and then give answers back to them, is for reflection by the Christian her/himself. Not to memorize answers or bone up for debates, but to seriously examine one's own faith and understanding of same as one considers the questions asked and answers given. Some objections given by non-Christians are silly, of course, but some are very sincere and staight forward -- and if we can't or don't have them answered within our own hearts and lives, then we've got "holes" of understanding ourselves. Once filled, those "holes" become stronger pockets of faith that (if we're living our Christian lives as the Bible directs us to) will show themselves not in the words we use to argue but in the love, charity, humility, and other fruits of the Spirit that can shine that much more clearly.
Profile Image for Michael Miller.
187 reviews16 followers
September 18, 2021
Sixteen-year-old me would have loved this book. I was young and a new Christian. I didn’t understand many things I heard and was intimidated to even try to speak about my faith to others because I had no idea how to even begin to respond. I craved some kind of handbook to give me bit of confidence and the words to say. Copan’s book would certainly provide that. It has a convenient layout, with mercifully short chapters. After providing a short analysis of the issues involved, each chapter provides some quick responses to familiar criticisms.

So, I would recommend the book to someone who is young or a new Christian who is unfamiliar with these ideas. It might work well for certain high school students, but I would not recommend it beyond that. Its arguments are too short and stated too dogmatically. It ignores some of the very real counterarguments that must be engaged. The book should be thought of as a ladder that can help them get to the next level of understanding but is best thrown away once they reach the next level, because they will need other resources to move further along in their understanding.

The subtitle, Deflating the Slogans that Leave Christians Speechless, reveals an issue I have with the book. It insinuates that those who make these arguments are just parroting slogans others have told them. They aren’t really thoughtful about what they are saying. We, the truly intelligent and thoughtful ones, must correct their poor reasoning. It perpetuates the myth of rational superiority. What’s worse, it provides lists of counter-slogans to use against them, which could lead readers to engage in sloganeering too. Ultimately, it can (and in my experience does) devolve into volleys of snarky one-liners: “You’re judging me.” “Oh, yeah. You’re judging me for judging you!”

Some of his arguments appear aimed at the naïve relativist but would not work on a more sophisticated relativist. There are counterarguments. In chapter 3 he posits this response to a relativist: “To point out error in an absolutist’s views, you assume that objective truth exists.” This is not necessarily the case. I could simply take the absolutist’s position as given, then point out how his own views do not cohere. I would not be using some outside objective standard or truth to make a judgment about his view, only using his own standard to measure his stated belief. If his own system does not cohere, which is one of his values, then I can point out the error within his own belief system without positing an objective truth exists.

At times, his writing is confusing or unclear. For instance, he offers – on the same page! – the following definitions:

- Alethic skepticism: objective, universal truth does not exist.
- Epistemological skepticism: objective, universal truth cannot be known.
- Objective relativism: no truth is universally, objectively true or false.
- Epistemological relativism: (same as objective relativism) challenges the very existence of truth.

Are skepticism and relativism the same or different? He uses them without differentiating. They have very similar definitions, making it hard to distinguish between them, if a difference is intended. His definitions subsume epistemological relativism/skepticism within objective/alethic relativism and skepticism. By doing so, he takes epistemological skepticism/relativism off the table as a topic of discussion since it’s identical to objective relativism. But even by his definition, epistemological relativism is really a matter of whether the truth can be known, not whether it exists. These are very different things. One could believe that objective truth exists, but that we cannot know it with any certainty. He conflates these concepts and then, in the remainder of the book, ignores this important position that must be reckoned with.

Ultimately, we come back again to the question of the commensurability of worldviews/evaluative criteria. From within Copan’s worldview, he has certain tests for the truth of propositions. He doesn’t allow that others might have other criteria that could be valid. He just posits that his evaluative criteria are universally valid and should be universally acknowledged. Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge them is just deceiving themselves (e.g., denying the value of Western logic requires the use of Western logic and so is self-referentially invalid). I don’t consider this a winsome apologetic technique.
Profile Image for Bret James Stewart.
Author 7 books4 followers
April 16, 2015
This review critiques True For You But Not For Me: Overcoming Objections to Christian Faith by Paul Copan. As the title implies, Copan has compiled arguments that can be used against five common objections to or issues non-believers have with the Christian faith: relativism (dealing with the establishment of the existence of truth), moral relativism (claiming morality is not based upon cultural conditioning or personal preference), religious pluralism, unique status claims regarding Jesus, and questions/issues regarding the unevangelized.

To begin with, the book itself is attractive, clearly laid out, contains summaries and further reading, uses attractive font, end notes, and is easy to navigate. These are important points, especially for students/readers interested in trying to find information quickly on the front end. Surprisingly, there is no index, which is a negative for a non-fiction academic work. This is especially bad for scholars and students who need to cite material as they will have to guess where specific information is and then skim through the book to find it. This deficiency alone moves me to take away one star in the ranking.

A Brief Summary of the Book:

As mentioned above, the book deals with five broad categories of objections to Christianity. Copan does break these into nuanced sub-categories. An overview of the five areas:

Relativism is the idea that there is no absolute truth. This objection is usually a logic-based argument. Fortunately, Copan is easily able to counter it due to the fact that the very definition (or core belief) of relativism is a statement of truth. It is a truth claim that applies to all people, which is what makes it a statement of absolute, universal truth. Thus, this argument is self-defeating, and the person arguing against relativity merely needs to bring this point up to invalidate the objection.

Moral relativism is similar to relativism and might be considered a sub-category of the same. Moral relativists argue that there are no universal morals. Morality, they claim, is a result of an individual’s culture and/or preferences. On one level, this objection can be neutralized with the same argument as relativism in general: moral relativism is both illogical and internally inconsistent as illustrated by certain actions virtually all people consider wrong (e.g. theft). Further, it should be explained that a moral value and its expression are not the same; it is the underlying principle that provides the commonality, e.g. two cultures may have different customs regarding theft, but both recognize it as wrong on a fundamental level. This universal presence of moral values demonstrates that moral relativism is invalid.

Religious pluralism argues that there are many ways to God; different religions are all the same in the sense that they provide the adherent with a way to access God. This objection can be partially neutralized with logic; the claim that religions are basically the same, for example, is rather easy to invalidate logically as religions are, in fact, vastly different. Thus, depicting some of these differences, such as contrasting the impersonal god-force of Buddhism with the personal God of Christianity and Islam, serves to neutralize this objection. The idea that all the religions are true can be neutralized by demonstrating that religions have conflicting messages (for example, the Hindu concept of Nirvana versus the Christian Heaven). The presence of directly conflicting messages invalidates the argument that all religions are equally true.

Status claims regarding Christ centre around the reliability of the Bible regarding Him, the claims to divinity Jesus made, and the veracity of the Resurrection. The reliability of the Bible can be demonstrated by the highly accurate text. The Bible is the most complete ancient document known as evidenced by the vast work performed on the source documents over many centuries. With the legitimacy of the Bible proven, Jesus’ claims to divinity can be considered accurate and, at this point, all that is needed is reference to pertinent Bible verses. The Resurrection is affirmed by the accurate biblical text; further, it is supported by both biblical and non-biblical evidence such as the consistency of the claim, the early witness of women (the idea here is that women were generally not considered reliable at the time, so someone fabricating a story would logically use male witnesses), and other physical evidential factors such as the size of the stone sealing the tomb, which would have been too large for an individual or small group to move. With the various data and support, it can be demonstrated that the divine claims of Jesus were/are valid.

Lastly, the issue of the unevangelized centres around the idea of God being cruel to damn those who have not heard the gospel, and, thereby, not having an opportunity to be saved. This can be dealt with in various ways. One, the general revelation provides people with evidence of the Creator. Second, God may reach out to people via other means that evangelism (dreams, for example). Third, several possibilities for considering the unsaved, including the concept that God knows who will accept salvation and, therefore, positions those who would accept in areas/circumstances wherein they will accept salvation. Thus, those dying without hearing the gospel would not have responded had they heard it.

My Take

I think this book is a good basic tool for dealing with objections to the faith. The two things (beyond the lack of an index) I do not like about the book are Copan’s inclusion of the Roman Catholic religion into Christianity and blaming the church for Catholic crimes such as the Inquisition as well as his stance on slavery. The Roman Catholic faith has never been Christian, in the full sense, despite its claims to the contrary. It has always been a pagan entity with Christian trappings. Copan is able to recognize the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons are not Christian despite their claims to the contrary, so I do not know why he does not recognize the same quality with the Roman Catholics. He also seems to think the Bible views slavery as wrong, and I believe this to be demonstrably false. Slavery is considered repugnant in our modern culture, and this may be why Copan uses it as an example. However, it is the Bible, not current culture, that serves as the standard for Christian practice. I do not know why the author makes these errors. He may be ignorant of them in the sense he has not considered them (although, in the introduction, he claims to have written about slavery previously) or he may have considered them and reached what I believe can be demonstrated biblically to be the wrong conclusion regarding these two areas. Either way, it creates sufficient doubt in my mind as to the credibility of the author.

I really do not recommend this book. As a survey, virtually all the information herein can be found in other books. There are evangelical authors who do not make the mistakes Copan makes (slavery; Roman Catholicism), and I would urge folks to use their texts, instead. Finally, the lack of an index is inexcusable for an academic work, especially as peripheral and/or non-obvious information appears in books that the reader would not know is present or, if he did, he would not know where to find it.
Profile Image for Matt.
2,409 reviews29 followers
August 3, 2016
I've known about this book for a while, and was interested in reading it sometime. A class assignment for graduate school finally got me to pick it up and check out what Copan had to say. Although I was only required to read certain parts of this book for graduate school, and thus did not read it in whole, I found what I did read to be thought-provoking. Here is a summary of the sections that I read in the book:

Absolutely Relative

Paul Copan starts his book, True For You But Not For Me, by stating that there is a real truth, and that having a different perspective on something does not eliminate the chance of discovering real truth. Furthermore, relativism (the belief that a universal objective truth does not exist) is merely an alternative perspective. The other side of the coin would be recognizing an absolute truth. To get there, Copan states that, “Knowledge involves (1) belief that is (2) true and (3) has warrant for being believed.” Relativism, would then be seen as a “knowledge-denying enterprise.”

Three different types of relativism are discussed. Religious relativism is the idea that a religion could be true for one person, but untrue for another. Moral relativism proposes that there is no, “objective ethical right and wrong and that morality is an individual or cultural matter.” Aesthetic relativism is the idea that all standards for art are equally valid – beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Copan outlines some insightful implications to relativism including: “Persuasion is prohibited,” “To be exclusivistic is to be arrogant,” “Tolerance is the cardinal virtue,” and, “Absent the possibility of truth, power rules the day.”

A common accusation made against Christians is that they are judgmental. Copan deals with this head on by saying that there is a difference between judging and being judgmental. Often, when this accusation is thrown, the accuser is trying to express the idea that it is “judgmental” to say that someone else is wrong. Copan would argue that being judgmental actually entails an attitude of superiority or arrogance, which includes a refusal to acknowledge God’s grace in another’s life. Accusations of intolerance go hand-in-hand with accusations of being judgmental. Copan believes that you tolerate things that you do not approve of, and that tolerance does not necessarily include the acceptance of other perspectives as legitimate.

“No Other Name”: The Question of the Unevangelized

Later in his book, Copan asks the question, “If Jesus is the only way of salvation, are those who don’t hear of him – those who remain outside the church – inevitably without hope and separated from God?” He then lays out three perspectives that attempt to address this issue: “The agnostic view,” “The inclusivist (wider-hope) view,” and, “The accessibilist/middle-knowledge view.”

The agnostic view is the idea that there is no way to know what to believe about the salvation of certain cultures or people. For example, some wonder what happened to all the people that were born before Christ came to Earth. About this, Copan states that God’s loving and just character gives us the assurance that he would not condemn someone for being born during the wrong time period. Likewise, he would not condemn someone for being born in a place where Christianity and Jesus are unknown. Another important point in this argument is that God is able to reach people in ways that we do not understand or expect. Can we not trust God, “who loves all without exception and who desires their salvation, to do his utmost so that none is prevented from experiencing salvation who truly desires it?”

The inclusivist (wider-hope) view simply states that the unevangelized are not inevitably lost, and that the opportunity for salvation is available to all (even if they had not heard the gospel preached). The two essential truths of inclusivists are stated as follows: (1) “Salvation is inclusive in its intended scope,” and (2) “Salvation is exclusive in its source.” Some have argued that this view eliminates the need for worldwide missions work because God can make a way for their salvation through each culture’s own religion. In reply to that, inclusivists would remind critics that God has commanded us to proclaim the gospel to all the nations, therefore we must. Copan takes his criticism of the inclusivist view to the next level with his critique that, “Inclusivism can blur important distinctions, which can result in idolatrous affirmations.” Copan also believes that Romans 1 disagrees with the inclusivist position, and that some people respond to the preaching of the gospel, but do not respond to general revelation.

Finally, the accessibilist/middle-knowledge view, “holds that there are three aspects (or ‘logical moments’) of God’s knowledge: natural, middle, and free.” Natural knowledge includes the range of possible worlds, Middle knowledge includes the range of feasible worlds, and Free knowledge includes the actual world. One tenet of this view aligns with the Open Theist view in that an accessibilist believes that, “God knows all future possibilities and free choices of human beings, and whoever would want to be saved will find salvation.” Another tenet of this view states that, “Perhaps there’s no feasible world of persons who all freely choose Christ; thus God creates a world containing an optimal balance of fewer lost and greatest number saved.” Accessibilist also hold to the idea that some people possess “transworld depravity” in which there is no world in which they would choose Christ. In this view, missions work is viewed as the action in which God’s human messengers bring the gospel to those that God knew would accept what they heard in the gospel message.
Profile Image for Tony Fraley.
19 reviews1 follower
April 9, 2020
This is a great book for fans of apologetics. It’s not complicated to read through it. Copan does a great job breaking down arguments against Christianity and help us his audience better understand how to have tough conversations with those who have questions.
Profile Image for Afton.
174 reviews3 followers
September 14, 2012
I have not finished this book. In fact, I didn't get very far into it at all. I just want to make that clear so you know my review is minimal and probably unfair.

The thing is, it looked interesting to me because my religious beliefs have leaned more toward relativism lately. They have also begun to lean away from Christianity somewhat, which is one thing that made this book just not work for me right now. I admit I'm still recovering from a severe faith crisis and my beliefs are in constant flux.

What I didn't like about this book was that it starts out by attacking relativists and clearly gives the impression that relativists aren't even relativists because they want others to think the way they do. The author clearly does not think highly of people who believe in spiritual relativism and he has an obvious distaste for skeptics, which is a position that I actually have new respect for in my current faith crisis.

I thought this book was actually going to support spiritual relativism and give me some further insight on how to explore that idea, but instead it had the opposite agenda. This book is a defense of Christianity and right now I'm exploring options outside of Christianity, or simply approaching Christianity in a different way, so it just isn't doing it for me.

Maybe in the future I will migrate back toward mainstream Christianity and this book will be more interesting and helpful. :)

Profile Image for Juan Reyes.
10 reviews2 followers
February 28, 2014
The book starts tackling the topic of relativism. Copan argues against the various ways relativism expresses itself in the culture (e.g., moral relativism, pluralism). After showing the absurdity of relativism in general, Copan moves specifically to religious pluralism. After showing that each religion claims absolute truth, Copan defends the uniqueness of Christ and the reliability of Scripture. Finally, the question of the unevangelized is examined. Four postures are examined: restrictivism, agnosticism, inclusivism, and accessibilism (which relies on molinism).

+ The book is great as an introduction.
+ Short chapters make this an easy read.
+ Copan does not shy away from topics which can be deep indeed (e.g., John Hick’s Kantian view of pluralism, Molinism and its relevance to the topic of the unevangelized).
+ Good book to own.
+ Will work great as a reference.
+ A list of books for further research is provided at the end of each chapter.

The following are the parts of the book:
1. Absolutely Relative
2. The Absolutism of Moral Relativism
3. The Exclusivism of Religious Pluralism
4. The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ: Myth or Reality?
5. “No Other Name”: The Question of the Unevangelized
12 reviews4 followers
February 8, 2008
Just like the title says, it will help you answer those questions that leave Christians speechless. I always knew that Christianity didn't have to be left up to the heart or the emotions. I always knew there was a way to intellectually explain the existence of God and Jesus and Christianity. I knew Christians shouldn't give up and say, Well, you just can't explain Christianity to those that are atheists or from other religions. I had something inside me that said, Yes, you can. It just takes research and work. This book help you combat relativism and many other hard topics that Christians come across. It will open up the eyes and the mind of the Christian who grew up in a small town, in a bubble, believing everybody basically believes in the same thing.
116 reviews2 followers
July 20, 2016
Two stars for being well-written and engaging. Copan appears to be surprisingly knowledgeable about other religions. Gotta hand that to him.

There's nothing here that's very convincing, though I do agree that it's silly to say that another culture is moral despite doing immoral things simply because their culture is different. Causing harm is unethical no matter what continent you live on.

If you're only good because someone told you to be good, then I'm a little afraid to be in a room alone with you. Hopefully you have some empathy and compassion, and then you won't need to worry when someone asks the question, "Why should we be nice to each other if morals aren't objective?"

Anyway, I'll poke around and see what else this guy's got. I'd love to talk to him in person.
710 reviews
July 4, 2015
I read the 2nd edition of this book.
"Contrary to popular definitions, true tolerance means putting up with error--not accepting all views. By definition, we tolerate what we don't approve of or what we believe to be false." This is the opening to the chapter titled Christians are Intolerant of other Viewpoints. We, as Christians, can learn to respond the this statement and others and move into more meaningful conversations with those who object to our faith. Helpful in taking with those who question the validity of Jesus.
Profile Image for Chris Bloom.
41 reviews4 followers
May 5, 2010
I found this a very helpful and thoughtfully-written guide to refuting common misunderstandings of truth, especially as it pertains to evangelism. I had no trouble following the arguments, though that's likely because I just finished a philosophy class last month that dwelt heavily on this subject.

In all, I recommend this book heartily.
Profile Image for Ashish Jaituni.
155 reviews2 followers
March 13, 2012
A superb book! A book that gives answers! I don't like books that tend to avoid giving answers especially when it comes to Philosophy and more so when it comes to a topic like Truth. The book deals with Relativism, Truth, Morality and the last part with Christianity. It is worth reading. Among the best books I have ever read!
Profile Image for Joel.
33 reviews6 followers
July 29, 2008
This book offers great insight into the logical flaws of postmodern society. While I would encourage it to anyone interested in Christian apologetics, I would caution the reader that this is a dense, slow reading book.
5 reviews
May 26, 2012
This brings up many current viewpoints in American culture. That is the strong point of this book in my opinion. It also has some good ways to use logic to counter the heresies of pluralism, relativism, etc. The Scriptures are lacking though, and cannot recommend this one highly based on that.
Profile Image for Brian.
Author 3 books27 followers
October 25, 2012
Written by a Christian professor about common objections to professions of faith and religion in general. This is more of a theological philosophy book than anything else. It was good, but kind of slog to get all the way through.
30 reviews3 followers
March 11, 2014
This is so far the best argument against religious pluralism (and a its tie to moral relativism). This is a must read for anyone having to show the logical inconsistency of the view and how the Christian view makes sense of everything.
Profile Image for Brenan Duffy.
3 reviews
July 23, 2014
I really enjoyed this read. His argument against mainstream post-modernism (atheism, pluralism, relativism, etc.) are filled will absolutes that can't be ignored. He points out every contradiction, flaw, and error within these worldviews.

Profile Image for Shaun Lee.
191 reviews3 followers
March 20, 2015
The start of the book was superb, such that I could not put it down. However towards the end, the material was not as exciting/engaging. Perhaps it could be just aspects of apologetics that do not interest as much as the discussions/defence against relativism.
Profile Image for Jeff.
82 reviews4 followers
November 27, 2016
Good guide to several common apologetics questions, but especially those involving relativism. The chapters are only 4-6 pages each, and pertain to one question each, which makes this book a handy guide when you get those tough questions.
Profile Image for Emeigh.
29 reviews9 followers
June 17, 2014
Copan offers decent answers on how to attack relativism and defend absolutism.
Profile Image for Marcy Kennedy.
Author 17 books109 followers
July 3, 2021
This book is closer to a 4.5 because a few of the responses the author gives aren't as clear as they could be. That said, this book should be required reading for any Christian who interacts with non-Christians or who wants to be able to help other Christians who have questions.

The book covers topics such as religious pluralism, the uniqueness and historical truth of Christ and the gospel narratives, the fate of the unevangelized, and moral relativism.

I'll be working my way through the author's other books as soon as I can.
Profile Image for Nelson Banuchi.
157 reviews
November 12, 2021
If you're debating issues about the Christian faith with atheists or those of other religions, this is a great resource. He discusses issues such as moral absolutes and relativism, exclusivism and pluralism, the uniqueness of Jesus and those who never heard the Gospel, and he even discusses 9 pages, one chapter, to the subject of middle knowledge.

Upon reading it you'll realize that, while there is the need to gain more knowledge of the philosophical and apologetic issues, how much of it requires just plain common sense one needs to adequately confront objections to the Christian faith.
Profile Image for Alexandru Dascălu.
13 reviews2 followers
February 15, 2023
It's a pretty good starting book on the whole topic of relativism and pluralism. Initially the book seems to suggest that it will dive into specific questions in more detail, but it turns out that the arguments are pretty short and even superficial up to a point. On the other hand, there are a lot of "Further reading" sections which can introduce the reader to other books or authors that took the time to discuss thoughts in more detail about some of these questions. So that makes it a good starting point for someone who interacts for the first time with such questions.
Profile Image for Anh Gordon.
166 reviews1 follower
October 17, 2021
Really interesting book with good info and methods of responding to various objections and questions about Christianity.

Some of this was over my head, but I thought a lot of it was useful.

Obviously this is a book for Christians who are in an environment with a lot of non-Christians, or just for Christians in general, who would like to have some background info with which to respond to common objections to Christianity.

Good read. 4/5
Profile Image for Craig Cottongim.
46 reviews4 followers
December 24, 2013
I can't recommend this book enough! I revisit the book over & over again. I have an MA in apologetics, and this is one the best resources I've ever read!
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