You know the new atheists – Dawkins, Hitchins, Harris, Dennett, Stenger. All have published a number of books posing challenges to the Christian faith (and religion in general). I think they’re important and needed reading – too often my Christian tribe can spout off without having taken the time to listen well and sympathetically to those who oppose the way of Jesus. Listening to these doubts and challenges is an act of love.
John Stackhouse, professor at Regent College, recently wrote a piece in the magazine Faith Today (which you can read here), noting that the questions, doubts and challenges posed by the new atheists are really not so new; they’ve been studied and responded to by Christians for quite some time.
The real challenge for contemporary Christianity is this: do you and I know how to respond, intelligently and generously, to these old questions? We won’t be debating Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins but we regularly bump into people who have been shaped by these thinkers. We had better be prepared to respond lovingly, patiently and intelligently because most people won’t even consider Christianity plausible until these basic questions are addressed.
In his article (also posted on his blog which is worth reading – he’s a smart, savvy and generous apologist), Prof. Stackhouse notes the six basic questions/challenges any Christian should be ready to tango on. Check it out and see how you would handle these if they ever came up in a conversation (and they will).
And if you find yourself stumped on how to respond, it’s time to do some work – and I can’t recommend highly enough Tim Keller’s The Reason for God.