I'm going to take a little break from Stephen King to read some books that my aunt got me a few Thanksgivings ago. They're by evangelical author David Marshall, and you can read more here about him and his Kuai Mai Institute for Christianity and World Cultures. The first one that I will read is The Truth Behind the New Atheism. His other two books that I have are Jesus and the Religions of Man and Why the Jesus Seminar Can't Find Jesus and Grandma Marshall Could. If I am not overly sick and tired after reading The Truth Behind the New Atheism, then I will go on to the other books. Or perhaps I'll get a hunger to read something else and I'll save them for later. We'll see.
At the outset, the titles are somewhat of a turn-off on account of their arrogant tone. The Truth Behind the New Atheism, as a title, reminds me of Armstrongites with their titles of "The Plain Truth about" such-and-such, as if the "truth" is actually plain for all to see. Jesus and the Religions of Man----well, I'm afraid at first sight that this will be a book that gives Christianity a free pass while nitpicking other religions. I mean, how exactly can we even determine what is a religion from God, and what is a religion of man? Why the Jesus Seminar Can't Find Jesus and Grandma Marshall Could----look, I'm sure Grandma Marshall was a good person, probably better than me, but that's not a reason to blow off the scholarship of the Jesus Seminar, especially when even liberal scholars have presented scholarly criticisms of it.
So why am I reading the books? For one, they're attractive to look at. Second, the author has thought a lot about Asian religions, and so I'm interested in seeing what he has to say about that. And, third, I read in an Amazon review that Marshall looks at the strengths and weaknesses of different points of view, including his own, and I tend to admire humility more than bombast. When an author is humble, I feel more as if I am on a journey with him or her, as is the case when I read (say) Philip Yancey.
I peeked inside the book on atheism. A lot of it got on my nerves. When I read a review of the book, its arguments looked like a lot of the same conservative Christian arguments I have heard or read elsewhere, which turn me off. And there's a good chance that, in reading these books and blogging about them, I will respond to Marshall's arguments with the same spiel that I have used in the past against conservative Christian apologetics. And yet, in peeking inside of the atheism book, I saw Marshall question the Discovery Institute, a power-house of the Intelligent Design movement. So perhaps I'll enjoy this book after all!
Overall, I think that I'll learn something from these books, whether or not I find them frustrating. Stay tuned for my blog-posts about them!