A book can only do so much in aiding matters of faith since faith involves the heart as well as the head. Nonetheless, insofar as it does involve the intellect, Handbook of Christian Apologetics is a solid single-volume reference on the broad subject of apologetics.
Unlike many of Kreeft’s books, this is not written in Socratic dialogue but much of it is written in Q&A format, somewhat similar to Summa Theologiae by St Thomas Aquinas. The text is easily accessible without omitting the technical aspects. It is organized into six (6) parts, spanning 16 chapters.
Part 1: Introduction
1. The Nature, Power & Limitations of Apologetics
2. Faith & Reason
Part 2: God
3. Twenty Arguments for the Existence of God
4. The Nature of God
Part 3: God & Nature
5. Four Problems of Cosmology
6. The Problem of Evil
Part 4: God & Grace
7. The Divinity of Christ
8. The Resurrection
9. The Bible: Myth or History?
Part 5: God & Glory
10. Life After Death
Part 6: Conclusions
14. Christianity & Other Religions
15. Objective Truth
16. The Bottom Line
Overall, the book has good coverage of the topics, treating general and specific arguments. As it is aimed for a general audience, there are a few questions which are not treated or are treated too briefly. My only criticisms are:
Whilst there is chapter dealing with the problem of evil (suffering), it could provide a more detailed look at the value of suffering in terms of the “economy of grace”.
Whilst there is a chapter on Salvation and it does briefly discuss “who” is saved, it could provide a more rigorous analysis addressing the “how”, including the typical question/argument of “Is every non-Christian automatically going straight to Hell?”
There is no explanation of the teachings on Purgatory.
Whilst there is a chapter about the Bible (Scripture), there could be more detail on the validity and authority of Scripture, its history and the amount of extant manuscripts.
There is no treatment of Mariology, which would be helpful.
The above notwithstanding, it is a good text. On balance, I personally cannot find anything like it at approximately 400 pages. The layout is nice and clear. Each chapter has an outline in bulleted-point format of its headings and subheadings, which is very helpful. There is a bibliography of recommended texts, an index for the subjects and Scriptural references.
For those who want a condensed version, there is a pocket-sized version titled Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics at approximately 150 pages that contains the same fundamental material.
Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list so you get each new Opinyun that comes out!