John Loftus recently challenged Christians to read 12 books in 2011 (three of them his own) as a test of their faith – so he says. I have my own challenge for atheists, though it is not of the same sort. I’m not asking you to test your “faith” in atheism because I think it is foolish to suppose that a mere 12 books, mostly of a generalizing nature, are sufficient grounds to make any sort of decision on with relation to a complex topic.
No, here’s my challenge. As I said on the Forge today, I’ve written (or edited) full responses to 8 of the 12 books Loftus recommends. I’m challenging atheists to do the same thing with the books I’m about to list here.
Skeptics, I have noted, don’t seem to be much for full refutations of books. I can’t even think of one since The Jury Is In, and that was a soft target. Maybe there are some out there – but they’ve managed to escape my notice and that of my readers who ask me to take things on. (I'm also not counting so-called "refutations" that are merely soundbite collections.)
I know not all Skeptics have the same interests, so this is not a challenge to read and refute all on the list. Instead, just pick one that interests you. Be thorough – the model will be my reply to Price’s The Case Against the Case for Christ, which you can find at the link below.
What’s my point, though, if not to convert anyone? My point is to show that challenges like Loftus’ are empty and little more than posturing (and for Loftus, a way to sell books). The matters in question aren’t dealt with by reading a mere handful of books. Only the simple-minded think otherwise.
Of course, in a sense I’m “posturing” as well because I don’t expect any Skeptic to actually take up this challenge seriously. Which will still make my point.
Now here’s my list, with added notes explaining things as needed.
Shattering the Christ Myth – this one’s for any Skeptic who thinks Jesus didn’t exist. Yes, it’s my own book, and the only one I’ll put on this list. Unlike Loftus, this is not a ”buy my book” façade. But STCM remains the only thorough refutation of the “Christ myth” to date, so there’s no other option.
I’m aware some may not buy into the Acharya S version, and so on – you can skip those parts, or any others you happen to agree with in any of these books. Just indicate your agreement in your response.
Mike Licona’s The Resurrection of Jesus – don’t need to explain much here. Any Skeptic will disagree with the core premise of the book, that Jesus rose from the dead. Right?
Larry Hurtado’s Lord Jesus Christ – if you happen to be in that narrow group that thinks the early Christians didn’t really think Jesus was divine.
N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God – think the Jesus Seminar is simply fabulous? This one’s for you.
Kenneth Gentry, Before Jerusalem Fell – if you want to dispute my preterist eschatology.
Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses
Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels
Richard Longenecker, Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period -- think Thomas Paine is hot stuff on toast? This one’s for you.
Here’s my response to Price to use as a model. Drop me a line if you plan to take up the challenge -- and I'll post it. Then respond to it.