Bret James Stewart's Reviews > True for You, But Not for Me: Overcoming Objections to Christian Faith

True for You, But Not for Me by Paul Copan
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it was ok

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.
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Finished Reading
April 1, 2014 – Shelved

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