This is a good book. It’s a book I wish I had owned when I was in college because it answers many of the questions that my friends and I discussed. It answers these questions with grace and authority.
Truth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confusing World is written for a popular audience in an engaging style. At times the prose is downright punchy. The authors are clearly and intentionally defending Scripture against the attacks of Bart Ehrman and those like him. Though the book is not an attack on Ehrman in particular, it is framed with him in the background of every chapter. This is because Ehrman is one of the most well-spoken and frequently read opponents of orthodox Christianity.
Andreas Kӧstenberger is a world-class scholar on the New Testament and Biblical Theology, with his most significant scholarly work on the Gospel of John. Kӧstenberger teaches at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Darrell Bock is New Testament scholar at Dallas Theological Seminary who is well known for his apologetic book, Breaking the Da Vinci Code. Josh Chatraw earned a PhD from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He currently serves as an adjunct at several schools and as pastor of preaching and students at First Baptist Church in Dublin, Georgia. These three top-notch scholars came together to write a very helpful book.
The book is divided into seven chapters, each taking up a major challenge posed to Scripture and presenting an argument against it. The book is scholarly in its quality, with some endnotes, but it is very accessible and even fun to read. It has 176 pages of text, but I read it in an evening because the pages are small. Among the topics covered are the accusations that the canon was formulated several centuries after the New Testament books were written. The authors provide evidence that suggests such accusations are unfounded. Another significant topic covered is the alleged errors in Scripture. Here the authors choose several of the commonly cited errors and demonstrate legitimate reasons why Christians should not be concerned. A third topic is the question of the authority of copies of Scripture. Here the authors use logic to refute the idea that the original texts of the biblical books must be possessed for the Bible to be trusted.
Since this book deals almost entirely with the sort of attacks Ehrman levies against Scripture, it does not deal in detail with some of the more common philosophical arguments against Christianity. If there is a weakness of this book, that is it. Truth Matters would be a good companion to Tim Keller’s book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. If the two books are read side by side, they make a powerful and contemporary apologetic for orthodox Christianity.
Though this book does not answer every possible objection to the authority of Scripture and the validity of the Christian faith, it does provide an important tool for equipping young students to maintain a robust faith in the face of skeptical friends and sometimes hostile professors at colleges. It does not provide the full answer to every objection or slam-dunk solutions to every conundrum that cynical opponents of Christianity often levy. However, Truth Matters provides good reason to doubt the doubts that are often accepted as an intellectual rite of passage among late adolescent students. This is an important book because it targets a need for churches and parents that are rightly concerned about their children losing, or at least temporarily denying, their faith once they are away from home.
There are several ways this book could be employed helpfully. First, it would be an excellent graduation present or going away present to the young college student or military recruit. The student might not read it right away, but tucked away in a box or a footlocker, this could be an important gift in a time of need. Second, this book is written in such a way that it could be used in a Senior High or College age Sunday School class. The chapters are short enough they can be read in a week and there are some discussion questions at the end of each chapter. B&H has also published study materials that could be used to accompany the book. Third, I can see possibilities for using this in my home to disciple my children. It has potential to be used as a homeschool text for High School. Fourth, though the book is targeted toward students, there are many people in churches that have doubts about some of the apologetic questions addressed. This book may be useful in some pastoral counselling or evangelizing. It also has potential for use in discipling new believers.
There is no panacea for a failure to disciple children and equip them for the world before they head out of the house, but this book is something parents should strongly consider sending with their kids when they leave home. Kӧstenberger, Bock, and Chatraw have done a service for the church by writing this book.