From Apologist to Atheist: A Critical Review -- By: Norman L. Geisler
CAJ 6:1 (Spring 2007) p. 93
From Apologist to Atheist: A Critical Review
Norman L. Geisler is Professor of Theology and Apologetics at Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC.
This is a review of Why I Rejected Christianity: A Former Apologist Explains by John W. Loftus (Victoria, British Columbia: Trafford Publishing, 2007), a 278 page paperback. The book has four parts: Part 1: My Changing Years; Part 2: The Cumulative Case; Part 3: What I Believe Today; Part 4: Appendices of published writings and a photo of Loftus and two former professors, Dr. William Lane Craig and Dr. James Strauss.
So that my evaluation of the book does not obscure my appreciation of it, let me briefly point out some of the values of this book. First, it is an honest and open account of how a Christian became an atheist. Seldom are unbelievers so candid and open. Second, every Christian–let alone Christian apologists – can learn some valuable lessons from
CAJ 6:1 (Spring 2007) p. 94
it on how to treat wayward believers. Third, it is a thoughtful and intellectually challenging work, presenting arguments that every honest theist and Christian should face. Indeed, some of his criticisms are valid. In particular I would single out his critique of the subjective argument from the alleged self–authenticating “witness of the Holy Spirit” by Loftus’ former teacher William Lane Craig (in chap. 15).
An Exposition and Evaluation of the Book
The book is too long to cover every argument contained in it. Since the vast majority, if not all of them, have been treated elsewhere in our writings (see Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics1 ), we will be content to highlight some important points Loftus made. The first part is best summarized by selecting the author’s own words.
Part 1: “My Changing Years”
This is an open and illuminating account of how he became an atheist. This is best reported in his own words. “I was born in 1954 and grew up in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, in a Catholic home.. .. I never experienced true faith growing up, but I did learn that whenever I was in need I should call out to God. And that’s exactly what I did at 18 years old when I felt I had nowhere to turn for help. I was not always a good boy, being a middle child in a home with three boys.. .. I seemed to be in almost every fight in the household.. .. They [his parents] thought it would be good for everyone if I considered attending Howe Military School. . .” (9). “I was a problem teenager.. .. I spent many weeks in the Wood Youth Center, in Ft. Wayne. I dropped out ...
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