My Rating: 3/10
This book started out great! In the first 50 pages I kept writing, “I do that too!” Until his last year in college, the author had his sights on practicing law. That was also true of me! One of MY majors in college was Political Science. Cool connection. Voddie Baucham Jr.’s faith became real in college when a Campus Crusade campus minister shared the Gospel with him. In many ways the same is true of me. Once again I wrote, “that happened to me!” Additionally, in his Introduction Voddie Baucham Jr. explains a tendency he has when preaching to:
“Argue with myself during sermons. I would make a point, then immediately say something like, “I know what you’re thinking…” I would then express common objections to the proposition I had just made, then proceed to answer those objections.”
This is a form of what the author calls “expository apologetic preaching.” In the sidebar I wrote, “I do that too when I preach!” Later Baucham describes it as,
“I often…take on a persona of someone who disagrees with what I’m saying and then I answer that objection.”
Yup, been there…I do that a lot!
In the first two chapters I was loving this guy because his personal story was similar to mine. But it got boring quickly (hmm, I wonder what that says about me?) and by the fifth chapter this book didn’t have much for even me – someone whose personal life and preaching style is somewhat similar in at least some ways to the author. As I read the book it began to feel like page after page of justification for why the author is the way he is(!) and less practical help for how pastors, disciples and evangelists can be more expositionally apologetic in their own way via their own unique giftings. Bummer.
In describing his goal – Baucham Jr. makes clear he wants his approach to be received as “accessible and effective” but he doesn’t accomplish that goal. While many people think of apologetics as that professional, highly philosophical, formal process of defense aimed at the academy, Baucham Jr. is aiming at a different context. He wants to remind Christians that they can be apologists too, even if they aren’t professional, philosophical, formal, or academic. This book is meant for “those” people. I picked this book up because I agree with that sentiment!
But he doesn’t end up showing us how. He DOES say that everyone can become expositional apologists if they can learn but 3 simple things: How to be Biblical, how to be memorable, and how to be conversational. These goals are all well and good, but Baucham never gets to showing what that looks like for anyone besides himself.
Thus, the practical application section of the book (Chapters 5-9) were for me, just, “eh.” Almost nothing stuck out as worthwhile. It wasn’t horrible either I guess, it was just, “eh.” I don’t really know what to highlight. In these chapters there were just one too many personal stories of how the author is rather than examples of what we can do. I may be wrong, but this reader gets a hunch that the author is pretty impressed with himself and mostly just wants to talk about how others should be like him. This book is more autobiographical than it should be.
However, there were two reminders that were helpful for me:
- While the author loves the way HE preaches (eh…), he also loves Scripture and urges the reader time and time again throughout this book that Scripture is sufficient (!). I appreciate that. This is what Baucham Jr. means by “expository” apologetics. Our apologetic method should be simply expositing (exposing) Scripture. I like his clarification on page 56 where he says,
I frequently receive letters and e-mails that begin with, “I have a friend/parent/child who is extremely intelligent…” What follows is usually an impassioned plea for some kind of special apologetic methodology for the awesomely intelligent. It is as though we believe people who have studied science, philosophy, or mathematics stand on some lonely pedestal where not even the Holy Spirit can reach them.
Suddenly, we believe Hebrews 4:12 reads, “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart…unless, of course, the person is really smart!
This author believes Scripture is THE apologetic method for every audience, including even “extremely intelligent” people. This is a good word. A good reminder. This author is also not simplistic in his rendering of the concept of exposition. Baucham Jr. knows the solution isn’t to just always be ready to quote a Bible book, chapter or verse to someone every time we give an answer. Instead, to be “expository” is to know Scripture and be confident to share the story of Scripture whenever appropriate. Like Paul, we should “start with legitimate questions, answer the questions, and use Scripture to shape and support our answer” (70). This is a good reminder – one that is often missing in apologetic textbooks or manuals.
2. In discussing Romans 1:18-3:20 Baucham Jr. notes Paul says the human problem is not informational, it is that we have a sin problem. This is important and it affects our strategy. If a non-believer’s primary problem is informational – then as Christians we will try to give them more (or better) information. But if our core problem is that we are sinful, then our strategy will be prayer because we will realize people need a miracle of God before God’s Word will even make sense to them.
Baucham Jr. reminds us that Scripture shows man’s greatest need is not information, it is illumination. This is another good reminder: Information for information sake isn’t actually all that helpful. People don’t need facts, they need a good, heavenly Father. People don’t need funny stories, they need a Savior. People don’t need moralism, they need a Messiah. Ultimately, our prayer should be that God illuminates those we talk to. Without the work of the Holy spirit, any mere information will just fall to the ground.
I thought those two tidbits were great. Besides those, this book was pretty much a wash. I wish this book was better. I feel like Voddie Baucham Jr. needs a do-over. The author should keep the first four chapters, and then rewrite the last five chapters so that anyone who is by chance different in personality or gifting than the author can find out what expository apologetics can look like for them, too!