Always Be Ready is another entry in the crowded field of introductory apologetics works. What sets it apart? I’d answer the question two ways: first, it has a number of deeply personal stories about faith and defending the faith from a noted apologist, Hugh Ross; second, it gives more insight than most books do into how to set up your own apologetics group/meeting/blog/etc.
The Ross couple give a number of anecdotes about their experience sharing the faith. As with most of the books from Reasons to Believe, there are a number of scientific discoveries sprinkled throughout the work. But the focus of the book is really on the title and the verse(s) it is taken from, 1 Peter 3:15-16 (NIV) “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
Too often, apologists focus on the preparation and being ready, but not on the gentleness and respect aspects of it. The authors do a great job preparing readers for that side, while also opening readers to the resources to explore how to be ready for a defense when needed. The aspects of apologetic argument that are offered are in line with other Reasons to Believe publications, primarily focused upon an old earth creationist, concordist view of science, and seeing science as directly related to specific statements in the Bible. Whether one finds such a view of hermeneutics compelling or not will determine, largely, how useful such sections are.
But the book also has a surprising latter part, which deals in specifics of setting up small or large groups for apologetics discussions, along with a few tips that can apply to blogging, other online ministries, and more. I found these sections particularly useful, because they aren’t often things that apologetics works touch upon. It’s one thing to have an apologetics method and knowledge, but what if we don’t know how to sit down and compassionately, compellingly share that? The authors prepare readers for just that activity, making the last section of the book extremely valuable. Tips include thinking about your goal for the group. A large group is nice on the “numbers” front, but you won’t be able to make it as personalized as a smaller group. On the flip side, a larger group may allow some people who aren’t comfortable in small group settings to come and be somewhat anonymous. These kinds of tips that direct thinking for those who are eager to go and share their faith are essential reading.
Always Be Ready is a solid, introductory apologetics work with a focus on method and storytelling. Those are two aspects that aren’t discussed enough in much of the apologetics-related literature.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book for review by the publisher. I was not required to give any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.
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