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Coffey Stones 364

 

Smooth Stones

Bringing Down the Giant Questions of Apologetics

“In this marvelous book, Joe simply and succinctly lays out the tenets of the Christian faith…an excellent resource.”
Chuck Colson, founder, Prison Fellowship and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview

“A concise introduction, perfect to whet one’s appetite.”
Terry Delaney, Christian Book Notes

“May be the best, answers objections in everyday language.”
Jared Totten, Critical Thinking blog

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Description & Excerpts

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DESCRIPTION


Street-level apologetics for everyday Christians.

Because faith in Jesus makes sense. And you don’t need an advanced degree to understand why.

This book was written for two reasons:

First, too many people think believing in Christianity means blind faith, against all evidence, the way a child believes in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Second, every few years a new book intended to undermine Christianity becomes a best seller and shakes the faith of many. Yet the arguments in these books are rarely compelling.

Jesus likened faith in God to a house built on a foundation. If built on sand, storms of doubt will tear the house apart. But if we build on a solid foundation, we will stand. In these pages, Joe Coffey inspects our foundation — so we can know why we believe, and so we can speak of our faith to others with greater confidence and clarity.

The conclusion? The Christian faith is built on a tremendous amount of credible evidence. You don’t need to be a scientist, an historian, an archeologist, or a philosopher to understand why belief in Jesus makes perfect sense.

Think of the last time an unbeliever asked you a seemingly unanswerable question as a way of supporting their unbelief. Did you feel thwarted in your attempt to “give an account for the hope that is in you”? Smooth Stones answers six of the toughest of these questions:

  1. How do you know God exists?
  2. How can you be sure the Bible is authentic and true?
  3. If God exists, why is there evil and suffering?
  4. Doesn’t science disprove the Bible?
  5. Aren’t all religions the same?
  6. How can you be sure the claims of Christ are true?

Joe Coffey writes in a style that is clear, winsome, and compelling. Smooth Stones will equip you with answers to some of the toughest apologetics questions a Christian can face.

There is plenty of evidence to support the claims of Christianity. Smooth Stones puts much of that evidence at your fingertips and offers practical guidelines for how to unpack it in ways that are “gentle and reverent.”


About the Author

Joe Coffey is senior pastor of the multi-campus Christ Community Chapel in Hudson, Ohio, and co-author (with Bob Bevington) of Red Like Blood: Confrontations with Grace. He holds a D.Min. from Columbia Evangelical Seminary, where his dissertation was in apologetic studies.


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EXCERPTS

Coffey Stones 364


Introduction, Table of Contents, and Chapter Three

Chapter 3 of Smooth Stones: Bringing Down the Giant Questions of Apologetics

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ENDORSEMENTS

“What a thrill for me to see Joe Coffey, a graduate of our first Centurions Program class, apply the biblical worldview principles we teach at BreakPoint and the Colson Center. In this marvelous little book, Smooth Stones, Joe simply and succinctly lays out the tenets of the Christian faith within the context of the four key life and worldview questions. This is an excellent resource for Christians and non-Christians alike who are seeking the Truth.”

Chuck Colson, founder, Prison Fellowship and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.

“Most books on apologetics are too long, too deep, and too complicated. This book has none of these defects. Like its title, it is like a smooth stone from David’s apologetic sling directed right to the mind.”

Norman L. Geisler,Distinguished Professor of Apologetics, Veritas Evangelical Seminary, Murrieta, CA

To a significant degree, street-level apologetics is doctrine-agnostic. That is, if you believe that the Bible is true, and that the death of Jesus Christ on the cross is the only means to salvation, then, if you are in a conversation about the reliability of the Bible, or whether science disproves the existence of God, or the question of evil and suffering, you can still have a very helpful and important conversation even if you don’t fully embrace, for example, the five points of Calvinism. (Surely we want Christians with whom we may not agree on every point of doctrine to be verbal witnesses to Christ, don’t we?)

This is why we are thrilled to have as endorsers of this book two Christian men with whom some in the Reformed community, perhaps many, would have no small doctrinal disagreements. But these guys know good solid, street-level apologetics when they see it, and they like what Joe has written in Smooth Stones. We think that’s high praise, and given the purpose and focus of this particular book, we are grateful for their approval.

Buy Smooth Stones


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REVIEWS


What amazed me most was how well Coffey dealt with each question in such short amounts of time.

Last weekend, I enjoyed a quick read of Smooth Stones: Bringing Down the Giant Questions of Apologetics, by Joe Coffey, Cruciform Press’s featured book for June.

Smooth Stones tackles six of the biggest questions usually held by skeptics of the faith, and that young believers often struggle with:

Is There a God?  
Does Science Disprove God’s Existence?
Is the Bible Authentic and True?
The Question of Evil and Suffering
Aren’t All Religions the Same?
Is Jesus for Real?

The book is very brief, just over a hundred pages, and what amazed me most was how well Coffey dealt with each question in such short amounts of time. By no means was each answer exhaustive (an apologetic to each question could fill volumes), but Coffey does an excellent job of cutting to the heart of the matter with some of the best answer frameworks to each question.

The main effect of the book, I expect, would be to instill hope in a young believer that answers exist, and possible help a skeptic understand that reasonable answers to these questions exist, and reasonable people hold these answers. My prayer is that the book will have the effect of catalyzing conversation around these topics.

By way of a brief critique to an overall excellent book, I wish he would have said more on the question of suffering. He does an excellent job of knocking down traditional and naturalistic explanations of suffering: divine punishment theory – that suffering happens as God’s punishment for our rebellion; free will theory – that suffering happens as a result of God not wishing to interfere with our free will; and natural law theory – that your suffering is a result of the natural consequences of your actions. Horrid theories all, though each have glimmers of truth they fall vastly short of a satisfactory explanation. He says a bit about God being bigger than, with us in, and a redeemer of our suffering, but I wish he would have said more about God’s sovereignty over our suffering. This is the only thing that brings me hope.

Finally, he ends with two brief epilogues: one for the unbeliever, and one for the believer. Wrapping up a quick, helpful read, that encourages you to go deeper.

It might also be worth your while to sign up for Cruciform Press’s book subscription. For $6.50/month you will receive one of these print books per month, or for $3.99 you will receive and ebook version (multiple formats available). I’m not getting paid to pitch this service (though they did provide me with this review copy), I just think it’s a good model for a company that puts out books of consistent quality.

Matt Heerema on his {blog](http://www.mattheerema.com/music-art-literature/2011/06/quick-book-review-smooth-stones-by-joe-coffey/)

 


A concise introduction to the field of apologetics…the perfect book to whet one’s appetite.

There is a major deficiency in the church today, with Christians not really being able to defend their faith when unbelievers begin attacking. Joe Coffey was one of the first to graduate Chuck Colson’s Centurions Program. He has a passion to share his faith with anyone who will listen and think critically about the claims of the Bible.

In less than 100 pages, and six chapters, Joe sets out to succinctly answer six questions. The questions move from God to His inspired Word, the Bible, and finally to the person of Christ. Each chapter is somewhere from 10-16 pages. The first chapter answers the question “is there a God?” It is in this chapter that the four questions of existence are spelled out for the reader: origin, destiny, purpose, and morality.

The answer to these four questions form the foundation of one’s worldview and Joe aptly shows how the Christian faith offers the best answer to all these questions. Throughout each chapter, Joe details the contradictions inherent in other worldviews and allows for the facts to speak for themselves.

He concludes his work with two chapters—a note to the unbeliever and a note to the believer. In the note to unbelievers, he offers an exhortation and a way to overcome the two main obstacles to faith in Christ: pain and power. In the note to believers, Coffey exhorts the believer to not rely on argument but to pray and allow for the Spirit of God to work in the life of the unbeliever.

As apologetic books are concerned, Smooth Stones is a concise introduction to the field of apologetics. It is the perfect book to whet one’s appetite and can also be used to begin his education in this massive field. The endnotes offer some decent suggestions on future resources though a recommended resources listing would have been ideal.

Still, for the young believer [or, we would add, anyone who hasn’t had opportunity to study apologetics in depth], Joe Coffey’s work will provide a sufficient and rudimentary understanding of how to answer some of the most common questions and charges against the Christian faith. His writing style is easily read and understood. Not using so much technical language helped greatly in this area.

Ultimately, the book is worth a read for anyone seeking a quick answer to some difficult questions. If one were to want to go much deeper than surface level and really wrestle with the philosophy underlying the various answers, they will need to look elsewhere; thus, the need for the recommended resources.

Regardless, I do recommend Smooth Stones for anyone wanting to begin learning about Christian apologetics.

Terry Delaney, Christian Book Notes

 


Deals with some of the biggest objections to our faith.

In six, short, easy to read yet well thought out and detailed chapters, Coffey deals with some of the biggest objections to our faith. The chapters manage to be short, but also give a useful introduction to these issues.

I appreciated Coffey’s Gospel focus throughout the book, particularly in the two epilogues, one for Christians and one for non-Christians. Also very helpful was the emphasis on the heart of the apologist. There are as many strong arguments in defence of the gospel as their are claims against it. But very few people will be simply argued into the Kingdom. Those who are saved are not more clever, and when we share the gospel we must not give the impression that we are. We must approach friends and co-workers as we really are. Sinners saved by grace, a broken people being slowly mended, the lost who have been found. Not as the spiritual elite.

If you’re looking for a short book that introduces some of the key areas for apologetics today, and you want to support a publishing house with a gospel vision, you could do an awful lot worse than this book!

Ed Goode’s Blog

 


This book may be the best resource I’ve seen to answer common objections in everyday language.

Smooth Stones is now the third book I’ve read from Cruciform Press (the first two being Cruciform and the pilot book Sexual Detox by Tim Challies) and it is in my humble opinion the best book yet from this young publishing company.

Joe takes on six of the biggest questions that challenge Christianity, namely:

Is There a God?
Does Science Disprove God's Existence?
Is the Bible Authentic and True?
The Question of Evil and Suffering
Aren't All Religions the Same?
Is Jesus for Real?

I know, I know, one of the chapter titles isn’t in the form of a question. That bugged me too. But after flying through this book in one day, I was ready to forgive. As a self-proclaimed apologist, I pride myself in at least being familiar with all the big questions and answers surrounding Christian apologetics. Yet Joe surprised me on more than one occasion with simple and fresh approaches to answering these popular challenges.

The simple beauty of this book is in its brevity. This book may be the best resource I’ve seen for a church to keep on hand to answer common objections in every day language. I know of a number of young men in my church family who would benefit from reading a book like this, but would instantly start having heart complications if I suggested them read anything larger. I, for one, will be commending this book to my pastor to keep on hand for those questioning Christianity.

Rating: 4 ½ out of 5 stars

Recommended for: Your church resource library, arm-chair apologists, doubters

Jared Totten, Critical Thinking Blog

 


Found myself engrossed and ended up reading the entire thing.

This past month, Cruciform released Joe Coffey’s Smooth Stones: Bringing Down the Giant Questions of Apologetics. A few days ago, I sat down with the intent to read a chapter or two, and found myself engrossed and ended up reading the entire thing.

In it, Coffey presents some wonderful arguments for the faith that I thoroughly enjoyed, but (unlike most authors of these sort of books) I felt that he approached them from a much more humble perspective.

All too often, whenever I pick up a book on apologetics, the end goal of every argument is simply to win the argument. Apologetics is not about winning arguments – it’s about removing barriers between people and Christ. When we reduce it to a “me vs. you debate,” we forget the entire reason the conversation is occurring in the first place -– they need Christ.

This book – however – is different. While providing great lines of discussion with those apart from Christ, the author also instructs believers regarding our posture as we engage those apart from Christ.

“I have learned the hard way – if I do not approach unbelievers in the attitude of an unworthy sinner saved by pure grace, I merely add fuel to their fears.”

“It is easy to get into discussions with friends and, in a quest to be right about some particular point, lose sight of the gospel. No one was ever won to Christ through that kind of argument.”

I truly enjoyed this book. Even with the knowledge that my faith in Christ is enabled, built, and empowered by Christ (and not on logic, reason, or intellectual insight -– though they lead to the same conclusion), I find myself encouraged and uplifted whenever I read information that clearly reinforces the same truth to my mind that I’ve already embraced in my heart and soul.

David Norman’s blog

 


I’m always on the lookout for something like this. Smooth Stones is a winner.

Here’s my review of a quick read that packs a punch. It’s called, Smooth Stones: Bringing Down the Giant Questions of Apologetics by Joe Coffey.

This book covers key ideas you’d expect to find in an intro to apologetics-–but without a lot of the jargon we’ve become so accustomed to. Especially if you’ve been around the discipline for a while, you might forget that terms like “worldview,” “a priori,” “theodicy,” and of course “apologetics” can be confusing. I hate to see that look that says, “I knew it. This whole apologetics thing is just way too deep. Maybe this isn’t for me.” That’s why I’m always on the lookout for something like this.

I like how Joe uses a cake to illustrate how God is the best explanation for the fine-tuning of the universe:

Cakes have bakers and bakers have recipies…Picture the universe as a cake and ask if there is evidence for a recipie. If there is, chances are, there would be a baker to go with it (26).

Clever. If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy the everyday ideas he uses to explain heady concepts for people who aren’t science-types. For example, he explains the Law of Entropy by saying, “I prefer to call it the Law of Your Kid’s Room.” Kids never say, “the wind was blowing really hard and the room cleaned itself!”

Smooth Stones has six easy chapters you can read in about 10 minutes a piece.

Is There a God?
Does Science Disprove God’s Existence?
Is the Bible Authentic and True?
The Question of Evil and Suffering
Aren’t All Religions the Same?
Is Jesus for Real?

Norman Geisler says, “Most books on apologetics are too long, too deep and too complicated. This book has none of those defects. Like its title, it is like a smooth stone from David’s apologetic sling directed right to the mind of an enquiring reader.” Interesting metaphor. If you’re totally new to these ideas, a few of them may stun you. Hopefully, they don’t knock you out entirely!

Joe’s got a couple of great epilogues to finish out the book—one for non-believers and another for Christians. I especially appreciate the advice he gives apologists: Never stray from the gospel. Pray. Glorify God.

I read this book by the community pool and still had time for a dip. This is a super-short, super-accessible book (112 pages) that delivers what it promises: “Street-level apologetics for everyday Christians.” Smooth Stones is a winner.

Mike Del Rosario, Apologetics Guy

 


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