For those who didn’t read my previous post, a couple weeks ago, I discussed my frustration with a distinct lack of apologetics materials from CPH and the LCMS. Well, I think I have finally found the book I was looking for! I am sure it will come across in the following, but I am quite excited about this book. It was a quick read, but I learned so much! Written in a similar style to AIG’s Answers books, Life’s Big Questions, God’s Big Answers by Brad Alles goes right to the heart of apologetics and delivers both questions and their answers in a succinct but thorough manner. While teens are the primary target of this “answers” book, I think its audience is much broader. I was quite pleased with the style and presentation, and it is well worth the read.
From the start, Alles is clear about his message and goal: worldviews are important, and we can examine our worldview’s validity. His introduction begins with this question: “Young adults have questions – does the Church have answers?” Many, as seen by today’s youth and millennial generation (to say nothing of those preceding), would say the answer is no. Perhaps a better way to say this is that yes, the Church has answers, but churches and their leaders don’t provide those answers. Thus, Alles seeks out these big life questions and discusses their answers in his book. I think that is what I liked most about this book. Alles did not shy away from the tough questions. Then, without bogging you down with jargon and over-complicated prose, Alles gives you the answers you need in a clear, concise, and thoughtful manner.
The book’s setup is ideal. As I said, the introduction begins by asking the right question. The first chapter lays a foundation to build on by defining terms, quoting Scripture (yes, this is not a given), and explaining the necessity of understanding apologetics. In fact, a later chapter presents what I call one of the best descriptions of a worldview that I have ever read. Throughout the book, Alles pulls out key points in bold for easy reference at a later date. Finally, he lays out a framework for checking your worldview and seeing if it lines up with logic and reality that he refers back to throughout the book, providing consistency to your reading. It certainly helped put all the pieces together.
I would put this book into a similar category as the AIG Answers books, but this is more foundational. Instead of attempting to “answer all the questions,” Alles addresses the foundational questions we all want to be answered, both in these first chapters and throughout the book. This is a foundational apologetics and worldview book that, while geared towards youth, is both accessible and enjoyable to people of all ages junior high and up. Each chapter builds upon the last, answering questions that all teens have (and let’s be real, ALL of us have) and gets straight to the facts. While he doesn’t let the information suffer, he makes sure he gets his point across without getting into all the gritty details. He acknowledges that not literally every piece of information you could need is in his book, encouraging the reader to discover more sources, including at places like AIG. But the information he provides is accurate and useful for the specific chapter.
There are so many topics he discusses in this book. I see this as a book that would be great for book clubs and discussion groups. Honestly, each chapter could open a whole class worth of discussion. Throughout the book, you will dig into dinosaurs, the existence of God, creation, evolution, the meaning of life, the foundation of society, free will, the reliability of Scripture, flood geology, and honestly, so much more. I don’t want to spoil it all as it is truly a great and brief read. For such a short book, he packs in a lot of information.
Now the book wasn’t perfect. Some formatting quirks bugged me while I read, but they are not worth dwelling on. They also don’t take away from the content of the book. While the pages have rather large margins for a typical book, it makes it ideal for taking notes. Though I typically prefer having books with all the information on each addressed subject, that wasn’t the purpose of the book, and I found that I enjoyed the book more because of it. Alles’ book gives you the foundation, the springboard from which to understand your worldview and take it into your life. The writing is smooth and engaging, and the chapters flowed together and built upon each other to form a clear picture.
As he began with the pressing question, so too does Alles end with the right question: Why? Why does any of this matter? Not just why should you know what you believe, but why should you believe it and why what you believe matters. I genuinely believe Alles answers those questions. Life’s Big Questions, God’s Big Answers starts at the foundation, the foundation we all build ourselves on, and clears out the mire to present a framework we can work with. This book impacted me deeply. It was more than finding a long sought-out resource but learning more about my beliefs and other’s worldviews. I not only learned more about how to understand my worldview but also how to communicate with those of other worldviews. I found that this book does more than answer “big questions” but helps build a worldview with their answers. And hopefully, it will be just as engaging and insightful to you.
Blessings to you and yours,
~Madelyn Rose Craig