Sean McDowell

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Book Review: “So the Next Generation Will Know” by Sean McDowell and J. Warner Wallace

So the Next Generation Will Know is a book that I admit I approached with some trepidation. It is all too common to see books about youth and faith devolve into a “kids these days” type of discussion in which people bemoan the wayward youth, especially in some circles. J. Warner Wallace and Sean McDowell have, however, presented a serious call to winsome engagement with youth and preparing them for a life of faith.

The book’s chapters follow the theme of developing a response that truly engages and listens to youth. The first chapter, looks at the challenge of worldviews in a pluralist society, but again it doesn’t devolve into a kind of hopeless look at the youth. Instead, Wallace and McDowell acknowledge the challenges, look at the data, and ask “what now?” with a look forward. The second chapter looks at more data, including how Generation Z in particular has unique challenges with the constant changes brought by technology. Once again, though, the authors don’t bemoan self-obsessed youths or a generation of selifes; instead, they ask what it is like to engage with youth who have totally different access to information, image, and on-demand services than ever before. There’s not a judgment here but rather a call to rethink engagement along lines that make sense. If 89% of Gen Z owned a smartphone by the time they’re 13, smartphones are a good way to engage. If Snapchat and YouTube have made soundbites a relevant way to communicate, better change your way to engage. None of this, at any point, means the authors say we cannot continue to write serious scholarship or the like; but the way its presented should adapt for the audience.

Some aspects of our technology have changed us in remarkable ways, and data continues to suggest that the youth of Generation Z feel lonely and self-report as lonely (61). Engagement with people who are lonely includes genuine relationships and caring, while also acknowledging the challenges presented by the various calls for immediacy and attention. The need for trust is true in every generation, and the on-demand access to information and the need for fact-checking is something that means we need to build trust rather than view a relationship as a “tool for instruction” (67-68). One of the more interesting points in the book is genuine, real listening in which people do not rush to instruction or correction when disagreement happens, but rather acknowledgement of hurt or concern and continuing to build trust.

Making things practical is a good practice for every generation, and Wallace and McDowell emphasize this in engagement with youth. Building a worldview includes application rather than memorization. It’s great if youth can recite a biblical teaching about poverty, but why not couple that with a hands-on activity for helping alleviate some of the stress that causes. Resisting the urge for easy answers is another winsome approach. The model of “two why’s for every what” (99ff) is important because it means application of the ideas we are teaching youth in youth groups and at church. Instead of just telling what all the time, explain why it is important.

Warner and Wallace move into training youth to communicate their own worldview, and valuable ideas are again found throughout the section. For example, talking about debriefing after speaking in disagreement is huge–how do those become learning opportunities or build relationships with others? Setting boundaries is hugely important, as well (162). Some ways to engage with watching movies, reading works by skeptics, and the like all seem like important insight.

What readers may think at this point is that the book is broadly applicable, and I would agree. Saying we need genuine relationships certainly is not limited to Generation Z. What makes the book more specific is the data is focused around that generation and so it helps to reflect on ministry to them. But the suggestions would, I think, work well for any generation. Winsome, practical apologetics is what So the Next Generation Will Know provides, and those looking for an introductory level book on such topics should check it out.

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.

Links

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Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Book Review: “A New Kind of Apologist” edited by Sean McDowell

nka-mcdowell

A New Kind of Apologist edited by Sean McDowell is a collection of essays addressing many of the challenges facing apologetics and apologists now. The chapters offer insights in such diverse topics as apologetics and economics, Islam, and sexuality. The chapters range from 2-14 pages and so are necessarily brief.

Several of the chapters are particularly insightful. For example, “Why We Should Love Questions More Than Answers” by Matthew Anderson notes that we need to be careful listeners when we take questions. It does no good to be able to answer questions if we are answering the wrong ones. The chapter “Telling the Truth about Sex in a Broken Culture” by John Stonestreet speaks to how the changing cultural climate regarding exposure to, consumption of, and even understanding of sexuality has changed such that we need to have a holistic biblical vision of human sexuality is another example of the broad perspectives this book offers on apologetics.

The topics in the book aren’t limited to some kind of ivory tower arguments (though I believe such arguments and books are very valuable); here, topics have direct application to life while maintaining an apologetic perspective. It’s a practical book, though it is necessarily brief on each topic that is covered. It provides more of a grab bag of ideas than well-developed approaches to the topics. Readers will be exposed to many different ideas, each with some insight on where to pursue further reading on the topic. The sheer breadth of issues touched upon make the book guaranteed to have something of interest for anyone even remotely concerned with apologetics. Method, Christian living, other religions, and a host of topics in between are covered. It’s an exciting book, as each chapter presents a new avenue for readers to explore.

An admirable aspect of the book is that it features several women’s voices. Too often, collections of apologetic essays do not have even one woman in the work. Here, there are several, including an excellent chapter by Holly Ordway on the use of imagination in apologetics and another chapter by Mary Jo Sharp that calls on women to be involved in aoplogetics.

Section breaks often feature interviews with prominent apologists, but the most intriguing of them are the interviews with atheists–including some who were once apologists. This provides a look at areas that some readers may never engage with–genuine interaction with atheists and an attempt to understand why the “other” believes as they do.

One area of critique is that some chapters persist in using “man” and “men” as descriptors for “human” and “humanity.” Although it is commonly argued that people just know that the latter is what is meant, precision of language as well as the real possibility of confusion suggests use of gender-neutral language ought to be preferred.

A New Kind of Apologist is an important, helpful book. It is just the kind of work that someone interested in apologetics should pick up as quickly as possible. It opens the reader up to several new topics, as well as new authors and ideas. It comes recommended.

The Good

+Engages a ton of topics
+Insightful interviews
+Features women’s voices

The Bad

-Very brief on the topics it touches
-Lack of gender-neutral language in some chapters

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book for review from the publisher. I was not required to provide any kind of feedback whatsoever.

Source

A New Kind of Apologist edited by Sean McDowell (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2016).

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

Eclectic Theist– Check out my other blog for my writings on science fiction, history, fantasy movies, and more!

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

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