Socrates famously stated that the unexamined life is not worth living. Christians should take this maxim to heart, or at least draw comfort from it. The idea that Christians should be unthinking about their faith life is both inaccurate and misleading. While not everyone is called to grapple with Deep Questions About Life, most every Christian experiences at least passing moments when they wonder at more length about certain aspects of their faith and the world around them.
Hard Questions, Real Answers by William Lane Craig is intended as a book for these folks. While it may seem to be an apologetics text, it really is intended to assist Christians who are struggling to make sense of hard questions about the faith. While it’s true that some of what is included here would be helpful in discussions with those outside the faith (the chapters on the problem of evil, particularly), some of the other chapters will only be helpful to those who already profess faith in Jesus Christ.
Craig is an accomplished author and thinker, and attempts to make thinking about hard questions and coming up with faithful answers something that any Christian can (and should!) engage in. The topics he’s chosen are reflective of current events in American culture and faith life (homosexuality, abortion, dealing with failure) as well as enduring issues that have and will affect Christians of any age and culture (how to deal with doubt, how to deal with unanswered prayer, the problem of evil/suffering, Christ as the only way to the Father).
If you’ve done much reading in apologetics already, or have reflected on some of these topics in your devotional life and Bible study, the answers Craig provides may not be new to you. You may not always agree with everything he says, either. I wasn’t completely comfortable with how he attempted to address the issue of unanswered prayer in light of Scriptural passages that seem to indicate that all our prayers will be answered the way we want them to be. It’s a difficult thing to try and sort through, and Craig offers some perspectives that may be helpful as well as some that might not resonate as convincingly.
Craig only occasionally becomes difficult to track, and this is most notable when he addresses the problem of evil and suffering. He does so through two chapters, and deals with the issue in philosophical terms and utilizing formal logic. While this is fine, it may be confusing to those who are not versed in logic terminology.
This book could be an excellent tool for discussion in a senior high or adult (young or otherwise) study. University classrooms are places where many of these issues are discussed in ways that portray Christianity and the Bible as being without answer. This is not true. The answers may be difficult, but many times there are answers to be given. While Craig is willing to state when we can’t know for certain an answer to a particular question (such as unanswered prayer), he makes an excellent effort to provide at least one, and in some cases multiple, ways of thinking about the issue with a faith-filled worldview.
This makes a handy reference to keep on the bookshelf for review from time to time as well, and is a nice (and inexpensive!) addition to an apologetics library.