I try not to dwell on disappointments. But there is one disappointment I think about a lot. In fact, it drives my motivation for ministry.
My great regret: I didn’t discover apologetics until I was in my early twenties.
I can’t change my past, but I can do my best to make sure this doesn’t happen to others. My mission in ministry is to expose students to the rich intellectual resources Christianity has to offer. Incidentally, there are a lot of really good apologetics works. My bookshelves are lined with them. Unfortunately, most of these works are not written for a younger audience.
I often get asked about which apologetics books I recommend for students. Here is the list I normally offer. Rather than overwhelm you with options, I’ve selected one book for each of the seven essential topics below.
- Truth Book
One of the biggest challenges—in scope, not substance—facing young people is the challenge of relativism and religious pluralism. Students need to be able to identify and refute these flawed philosophies. That’s why I always recommend Paul Copan’s book True for You But Not for Me. Copan uses short, easy-to-follow chapters to answer over 30 objections to the Christian faith.
- God Book
Many Christian students believe God exists but are unable to give good reasons why. This is where William Lane Craig’s On Guard comes to the rescue. Craig lays out three philosophical arguments for the existence of God in a manner accessible to students. He also addresses objections against each argument and tackles the problem of evil. An added benefit of this recommendation is that it exposes students to one of the greatest living Christian philosophers.
- Bible Book
The church does a good job teaching stories from the Bible. But we haven’t done a good job showing why we should trust the Bible in the first place. If you want your students to understand why we should trust the Bible, I recommend J. Warner Wallace’s Cold-Case Christianity. Wallace applies his sharp detective mind to the Gospels to show they can be trusted.
- Resurrection Book
The bodily resurrection of Jesus is central to Christianity. If Jesus has not been raised, our faith is futile. But most students think this is something we have to take on blind faith. In reality, we have good reasons to believe Jesus rose from the dead. A great book for students on the resurrection is Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ.
- Science Book
It never fails. In every Q&A session with students, someone asks a science-related question. Many young people are under the impression that science and faith are incompatible. That’s why we need to introduce students to Can Science Explain Everything? by John Lennox. In this short book, the Oxford mathematician dispels common misconceptions about science and Christianity and reveals how they work together.
- Worldview Book
Everyone has a worldview—a set of ideas about the world. And these ideas have consequences for how we live and interact in the culture. Many students struggle to navigate contemporary challenges to their Christian faith and values. In A Student’s Guide to Culture, John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle give students the tools to live differently and be a light in a culture that sometimes feels overwhelming.
- Conversation Book
The most important book—besides the Bible—on my shelf is Tactics by Greg Koukl. This book helps students take the content they have learned and move into the conversation with safety and confidence. Over and over, students tell me how the tactical game plan helped them share their convictions with friends and family.
So, there you have it. These are the seven books I believe will expose students to good apologetics from great apologists. Happy reading!