Why Believe? A Reasoned Approach to Christianity. By Neil Shenvi. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2022. 272 pp. $19.99 (paper).
“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31‒32 (ESV)
We live in a world and an age where no one wants to be bothered by the Truth. We would rather live with truths, particularly our personal “truth.” Naturally, discussing any subject objectively has become only more difficult as Westerners deny such a thing as “truth” exists – at least when it comes to anything a person particularly disagrees with.
Enter Neil Shenvi. Shenvi is not a pastor, theologian, or youth minister. He is a former research scientist at Yale University and a research scientist at Duke University and holds a PhD in Theoretical Chemistry from the University of California-Berkeley. In other words, he is precisely the voice needed in an age of suspicion, doubt, and trust that only lies “in the science.” Shenvi brings credibility to those who question matters of faith precisely because he is steeped in scientific inquiry and research as his primary vocation.
Shenvi does an excellent job of writing and compiling apologetic resources from across the ages into a one-stop shop. Further, he organizes his book to address at the forefront the questions that predominate among average believers who doubt their faith or inquirers who find faith hard to believe. For example, early in his book, he tackles the historical reliability of the Gospels before diving further into whether Jesus is who He says he is. This is a wise move considering how prevalent the dubious claim that Jesus never existed remains part of popular culture.
The organization of his book is very well attuned to the typical skeptics’ arguments against faith and I consider it worth the price due to this alone. I foresee this book as being my go-to for youth group teenagers and nonbelieving friends who have valid questions that deserve answers. Shenvi is clearly standing on the shoulder of giants (which he acknowledges throughout his quotation of the great apologists), but he is gifted in communicating his material without boring or intimidating the reader. He even presents mid-way through the book an entire chapter addressing the “Arguments Against God,” to his credit. In his concluding chapter, he notes “What’s Missing from This Book” and then directs the reader to a few resources.
If there is one thing missing from this book, it would be a Bibliography organizing and listing the works cited by topic to help the inquiring unbeliever, doubting teenager, or suspicious skeptic on materials for further reading. Shenvi does an excellent job making recommendations via footnotes within the chapters, but I feel this simple resource at the end of his work would help the average reader to find resources to read later a few months or years after they’ve read his book but want to go further up and further in on a particular question. However, this is fairly easily remedied by simply picking up the relevant chapter and skimming the footnotes.
Overall, I recommend this book to anyone interested in addressing eternal questions but with 21st-century eyes. Pick up a copy and use it with your youth group or a friend who has questions about how Christianity could possibly be true.
Disclaimer: Crossway provided a complimentary copy for my review. This review was not in exchange for a favorable review.