Rice Broocks is the co-founder of the Every Nation family of churches, and is senior minister of Bethel World Outreach Church in Nashville. He did his masters work at RTS and has a doctorate in missiology from Fuller. In God’s Not Dead: Evidence For God in An Age of Uncertainty Broocks is writing to three types of people:
- The Seeker who is trying to believe but faces doubts
- The Believer who knows God subjectively, but has a hard time articulating this faith to unbelievers
- The Skeptic who may be reading from a critical point of view and perhaps already decided there is no God
His approach in apologetics is somewhat presuppositional and evidential (he may very well have studied with Bahnsen, depending on when he was at RTS Jackson and what classes he took). I think after reading it, he is really using evidences in a presuppositional manner, so his book represents a kind of popular level book in that vein.
Broocks begins with a short introduction telling his own conversion story before launching into the first chapter which introduces readers to the claims of many New Atheists. As he sees it though, in spite of the outspokenness of these New Atheists, belief in God is making a comeback, so much so that in 2009 the senior editor of The Economist co-wrote a book that retracted the obituary they published for God a decade earlier. This faith though is well grounded and isn’t just some blind irrational leap, and Broocks intends to show why that is the case.
Very helpfully, his first chapter is on reason itself. This is a good presuppositional move, and Broocks does an excellent job explaining how science and faith are not at odds because reason is grounded in the existence of God and science would collapse without it. Having established this, he turns the same kind of argumentation to good and evil, showing they are grounded in God as well.
The next few chapters zero in on scientific issues. First, Broocks shows how the case for the beginning of the universe actually works to the believer’s advantage. He wisely sidesteps issues related to interpreting Genesis to make the basic point that since science points to the universe having a beginning, it naturally raises the question of the existence of a Creator. He then talks a bit about the fine-tuning of the universe, adding to his case that much of what we are learning through the natural sciences actually supports the case for faith.
The following chapter deals with the emergence of life. He essentially offers an argument from design, but with a little more nuance than just a straight teleological argument. In numerous places he shows science’s basic inability to explain the origin of life in a satisfactory way. Evolution can explain developments, but it really can’t do much in terms of the origins of life from non-life.
Next, Broocks delves into the question of whether or not life has meaning and purpose. Since most people tend to treat it like it does, then a coherent worldview will need to account for how life can be meaningful and purposeful. Throughout the chapter, Broocks demonstrates that on evolutionary assumptions that the New Atheists all hold, life must be both meaningless and non-purposeful. He then highlights 10 specific differences that set man apart from the animals:
- Our ability to think about our thinking (meta-cognition)
- Aesthetic recognition
- Creativity and scientific exploration
- Higher intelligence
- Our transcending the mere physical
- Spiritual hunger
While up to this point Broocks is presenting evidence, I see him reasoning more like a presuppositionalist since he is showing that evidence cannot be made sense of, unless you presuppose God. After this chapter, he turns to more typical evidential concerns, starting first with the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection and then turning to the evidence for the reliability of Scripture. In the final two chapters, Broocks takes a slightly different evidential track, focusing on personal transformation. First, he explains “the grace effect” or the idea that grace, rather than bare religion, has a transforming effect on people and even whole societies that is an “evidence” hard to explain from an atheistic point of view. Second, he offers a chapter titled “Living Proof” which is essentially a collection of personal testimonies of lives changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the end, I found this both an enjoyable and beneficial read. I wasn’t presented with much evidence that I wasn’t already aware of, but I also do a lot more reading in this area than most people. I would imagine for the average person (and those three target audiences Broocks is writing for) this book will be a great introduction to several areas of apologetics. For the seeker it provides both evidence and presuppositional grounding of the Christian faith. For the believer with a hard time explaining, this book models a conversational and clear tone that can be followed in explaining the ideas to others. For the skeptic, it might not be ultimately convincing, but Broocks’ intention is to sow a seed of doubt (xix). I think this is an excellent way to approach things and actually conforms to how paradigm shifts occur. That makes this book a success by Broocks’ own intentions, and a book you should consider picking up if you’re interested in apologetics at the popular level.
- Author: Rice Broocks
- Title: God’s Not Dead: Evidence For God in An Age of Uncertainty
- Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 12, 2013)
- Hardcover: 304pgs
- Reading Level: General Reader
- Audience Appeal: Readers interested in sound apologetic answers to questions raised by the New Atheists and others
- Gratis Review Copy: Yes (courtesy of Thomas Nelson)
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