Book Review: “The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics,” General Editors Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner (2008)

“Surveying the Evidence for the Truth of Christianity”

Encyclopedias have been hard sells lately with short-form information on all topics scattered across the web. While Wikipedia cannot be fully trusted, many free sites can, making encyclopedias and other article-based dictionaries nearly obsolete. Nevertheless, nerds like me still prefer flipping pages over typing our ways through search boxes, so a book like The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics fits well into our libraries.

This book contains 176 articles covering various religions and religious figures, philosophies and movements, all from an evangelical perspective. The articles on world religions are especially informative, and I learned a great deal about those that had always eluded me: the various degree of Judaism, Baha’i, Sikhism, etc. In fact, I even learned a few new things about Taoism, a religion I thought I had a pretty good handle on. This being an encyclopedia on apologetics, some articles include methods for how a Christian believer can share his faith and the Truth of Christ with followers of other religions, and one can find 15 articles describing the various forms of apologetics available to the student seeking to pursue this line of ministry.

Most of the articles are well-written and detailed, though honestly, one contributor often annoyed me, Thomas A. Provenzola, who wrote as if every article were a doctoral thesis, verbose and with words I was too lazy to look up. In a book like this, ease in reading is the expected norm. His articles are all pass-able, so when you hit a Provenzola, just remember that Wikipedia (or whatever) is just a few thumb-taps away. One special fact about this particular book pleased me, though this comes out of sheer preference and not anything objective. I found that the shortened articles in this volume forced Ergun Caner, whenever he wrote, to not talk about himself so much, allowing the reader to glean Caner’s obvious wisdom without having to work his way through the chaff of arrogance. Again, just a preference. I am sure he is a nice guy and all that.

This book is chuck-full of useful articles and should be a ready reference in any pastor’s library or, at the very least, every church library. None of us are all-wise. When we meet a person or a philosophy that we simply do not understand, it is essential to at least learn the basics in a short amount of time. This book allows for that, so I highly recommend it.

©2012 E.T.

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