One of the tasks that comes with managing our miniature church bookstall is to recommend books to our church members every now and then. These two are the latest titles. The full titles are Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion and 10 Questions Every Teen Should Ask (and Answer) about Christianity. Both are written by Rebecca McLaughlin and published by Crossway. Confronting Christianity was published in 2019 and 10 Questions was published in 2021 as a teen version of the same book.
Here are the 12 questions Confronting Christianity sets out to answer:
- Aren’t we better off without religion?
- Doesn’t Christianity crush diversity?
- How can you say there’s only one true faith?
- Doesn’t religion hinder morality?
- Doesn’t religion cause violence?
- How can you take the Bible literally?
- Hasn’t science disproved Christianity?
- Doesn’t Christianity denigrate women?
- Isn’t Christianity homophobic?
- Doesn’t the Bible condone slavery?
- How could a loving God allow so much suffering?
- How could a loving God send people to hell?
The two questions that don’t get their own chapter in 10 Questions are the ones on violence and on slavery. Although the issue of slavery is mentioned in the chapter on diversity in 10 Questions.
The chapter that interests me most is the one on homosexuality. One reason is that I’m less familiar with the subject of gender and sex. The other reason is that the author is very upfront about the fact that she experiences same-sex attraction herself and I’d like to hear her perspective.
The two books have very similar goals: to respond to people’s objections, to inform Christians with hard facts and stats, and to equip them to engage in discussions and conversations. 10 Questions is specifically for young people. The author writes, “I want to equip them to have real conversations with real people who really think differently from them. I want them to learn how to listen well and how to question what they hear.” (p16)
If you’re in the ‘young people’ category and not sure which one is for you. Here’s a bit more clue.
According to the author, if you’re ready to drive, you’re ready for Confronting Christianity. If you appreciate Harry Potter series, you’re ready to read 10 Questions (beware spoilers!).
The arguments in Confronting Christianity are mostly based on academic research and reports, stats and facts. For example, in the diversity chapter, it goes around the world in many countries and up and down the history to prove that Christianity does not crush diversity. The mirroring chapter in 10 Questions focuses a lot on the reason for diversity: we’re all created in God’s image, Jesus models and commands love across differences.
I’ll compare the chapter on women in Confronting Christianity and 10 Questions as another example. This time, Confronting Christianity goes through Bible’s view on woman, on women’s value and gender roles from Genesis and Old Testament prophets, to Jesus’ attitude and interaction towards women in the gospels, then to St Paul’s teaching on marriage and the misinterpretation by society. It also includes women’s rights movements and abortion. 10 Questions covers most of these in fewer pages and then adds a substantial section on transgender issues.
The author is highly educated with a PhD and theology degree. She has high expectation for her readers too in terms of Bible knowledge, awareness of social issue, critical thinking and English vocabulary. This is specially clear in Confronting Christianity; you get the full force of her brilliant brain. She leaves out some minor evidences and the arguments are more accessible in 10 Questions, but she doesn’t compromise any truth and I really feel her respect for young people’s ability to think for themselves.
Overall I learnt a lot from both and highly recommend them!