Alex McFarland has tackled the tough job of picking the toughest of the tough questions about Christianity and trying to answer them, not for theologians, but for young people. (The 21 Toughest Questions your Kids Will Ask about Christianity: and how to Answer Them Confidently, Tyndale House, 2013)
First of all let me get the ‘negatives’ out of the way. I was distracted by the layout of this book, too many sidebars, key concepts and quotes scattered throughout each chapter made it hard for me to follow the author’s train of thought. I think he also got carried away with some of his answers. I kept thinking about the person who when asked what time it is, answers with the instructions on how to build a watch. When I think kids I usually think under the age of 12, but this book definitely seems to be speaking to an older group, and the biographical data says that McFarland has spoken in “hundreds of churches and university campuses worldwide”.
On the positive side, McFarland has done an excellent job of picking some of the questions that most Christian parents are going to have to try to answer for their children. Everyone seems to want to know why we’re so ‘exclusive’, if the miracles really happened, why God allows such horrible things to happen, and how can anyone think that God really loved the world when the Old Testament is full of accounts that should be rated “R” for violence. Children want to understand the Trinity, and unlike adults, they’re apt to ask someone to explain it to them. They want to know how Christians can be so mean to other people (and each other) and there are a lot of other questions too. Questions that leave most people trembling as they try to answer without sounding to off base.
This is a much needed book. I wouldn’t go so far as to say, like is implies on the back jacket, that we’re all theologians, but McFarland’s point is really that with a little bit of background information, parents don’t need to be afraid to talk to their children about the mysteries of the faith. And he does provide some of that information along with some interesting ways of getting the point across.
Along with some answers, he provides some interesting additional information, geared towards sparking interest in further study on their own. It’s not written for little children in the style of a “Beginner’s Bible” but he manages not to go so far in the other direction that you need a Seminary education to be able to pronounce some of the words, much less begin to understand them.
I rate this book 4/5.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. (And I’ve already passed it on to a friend who is helping someone try to make sense of this journey called the Christian Faith.