Taking Back Mars Hill—with Grace

Alister McGrath's new apologetics appeals to the deep longings of today's seekers.
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The Unknown God: Searching for Spiritual Fulfillment,Alister McGrath, Eerdmans, 123 pp., $18.00

Evangelical apologetics is a genre littered with historical proofs of the Resurrection, philosophical arguments for the reasonableness of the Christian faith, and feisty critiques of secular culture and postmodernism—which is exactly why I don't give such books to my unbelieving friends. I've discovered they no longer care much for proofs or arguments, and they're rarely in the mood for harangues against the culture they've embraced or the latest spirituality book they've dipped into.

Fortunately, I now have another choice, because into this apologetic cacophony speaks Alister McGrath, offering one of the freshest approaches in decades.

It's not that McGrath can't argue with the best of them: he is, after all, a theologian at Oxford University and author of books both scholarly (e.g., Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification) and popular (e.g., J. I. Packer: A Biography). Over 40 McGrath titles are currently in print, and he has deservedly earned a reputation as one of evangelicalism's most thoughtful writers. Yet in this book he chooses not to argue; instead, he invites readers to consider their experiences—in particular, their spiritual longings—and the unique promise of the Christian faith to satisfy them.

McGrath has timed it right: we're a culture long on spiritual longings. Type spiritual into Amazon.com's search engine, and you'll find over 9,000 titles. With such offerings as 100 Ways to Keep Your Soul Alive and Amazing Laws of Cosmic Mind Power, it's all too easy to poke fun (as, unfortunately, some evangelical apologists do), but McGrath will have none of it. Instead, he finds ...

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