There’s an incredible book that came out at the end of last year by renowned apologists Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell: Evidence That Demands a Verdict. It’s the kind of book that I can honestly say belongs in every Christian parent’s home as the ultimate apologetics reference tool. At over 700 pages, it covers evidence for the Bible, evidence for Jesus, evidence for the Old Testament, and evidence for truth with detailed chapters that present the key information you need to know in convenient outline form.
Your child heard at school that Christianity is a copycat religion from early pagan myths? No problem, turn to chapter 11 and you’ll quickly see the response broken down into a discussion of the nature of mystery religions, how they contrast with Christianity, and five reasons we know those religions didn’t influence Christianity.
Your child thinks miracles just aren’t possible? Got it. Go to chapter 31, which will outline the nature and characteristics of miracles, the purpose of miracles, and responses to the five most common objections raised against them.
I could go on, but you get the point. This is like an encyclopedia of apologetics and you should have it on speed dial in your home if you don’t happen to be an expert apologist.
Sean graciously agreed to answer several questions about his book for an interview today. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have him tell you more about this resource! Be sure to visit and subscribe to his excellent blog as well for many posts and videos that will help equip you with an understanding of apologetics.
1. Evidence That Demands a Verdict is the “completely updated and expanded” version of the classic book by the same name. For those parents who might be unfamiliar with the original, can you explain what Evidence is?
Sure! Evidence was the first book my father [Josh McDowell] wrote in 1972 after he compiled the evidence for the Christian faith. He originally set out to disprove Christianity, but was surprised at the remarkable evidence for three things in particular: (1) the reliability of the Bible, (2) the resurrection of Jesus, and (3) the deity of Christ. After becoming a Christian, he began speaking on the evidence at churches and universities and people kept asking him for his notes. He put together a small packet, maybe 15 pages, and it sold like crazy! He then knew there would be an audience for the book Evidence. This updated version is about 70% new material. We kept the same format, and the same basic approach, but there’s just so much new evidence than merely two decades ago when he did the last update. In fact, my dad says there is a “tsunami” of new evidence since he first wrote the book.
2. Evidence is a huge book at over 700 pages! I see it as the ultimate reference tool for a parent’s home—an encyclopedia of topics on how we know Christianity is true. For example, I have been studying Exodus recently and felt like I should know more about the evidence for its historicity. I opened up Evidence and found an amazing chapter dedicated to that subject. But that’s just one way to use the book. Can you share how you think parents can best use this resource at home?
First, I would suggest parents simply read it to learn themselves. Yes, it does take some effort to learn (as anything does), but if we want our kids to value apologetics, shouldn’t it start with us? I’m convinced we can only pass on to our kids what we first have developed in our own lives. Second, share certain facts or stories that you learn from Evidence. I do this all the time with my kids. I share a story from the news, from a personal experience, from Scripture, and from apologetics books like Evidence. It could be as simple as sharing some facts or examples that were meaningful to you over dinner or in the car. Third, consider leading a study with your kids. We just developed a youth curriculum (bit.ly/2oqk9l5) to go alongside Evidence. It’s a 6-part series, with short video teaching, that would be easy for any parent of 12 and up to share with their kids or with their youth pastor. Fourth, consider talking with your kids about my father’s story and how it relates to Evidence. There are long versions and shorter versions on YouTube. Like the story of Lee Strobel, it is really important for kids to know that there are smart Christians who have found good reasons for their faith, and also to see how Jesus is still transforming lives today.
3. One thing that I think makes this book especially valuable is that it succinctly and consistently addresses the claims of non-Christian scholars in each chapter. Most parents don’t have the time (or desire!) to personally identify who the key scholars are in a given subject area, research their views, and learn how to respond. For parents with older kids who are encountering specific scholarly claims against Christianity, this is such a helpful feature of the book. How did you decide which non-Christian scholars and claims to engage with?
We had an entire research team of 3 dozen grad students and 12 leading scholars helping us out. For every chapter, we had researchers trying to track down every objection that had been raised against Evidence online, in books, or in professional journal articles. Then we carefully sifted through and tried to determine which ones have been most influential in the wider culture. Since the book is written for non-specialists, we focus more on popular objections than narrow, scholarly objections.
4. Evidence covers an enormous range of topics (32 meaty chapters). If you had the super power of being able to have every Christian parent in the world read any three chapters, which chapters would you pick and why? Tough Question! I would probably have to say chapter 3: “Is the New Testament Reliable?” chapter 8: “The Trilemma: Lord, Liar, Lunatic?” and chapter 10: “The Resurrection: Hoax or History?” These chapters lay the foundational truths that the New Testament books have been accurately transmitted, that Jesus is God, and that he rose from the dead. It really would be a “game-changer” if every Christian parent could understand, articulate, and defend these three truths.
5. Aside from Evidence, you have put out many excellent resources for both parents and youth. Can you pick three that you think parents most need to know about? Here are three every parent should consider utilizing. First, Summit Ministries. I am a speaker for Summit and believe it is the single most important experience for students 16-25 to have in terms of owning their faith. I wish every young person would experience Summit before college. Second, the Apologetics Study Bible for Students. I had the chance to be the general editor and it is a wonderful, practical resource that was just updated. Third, I partnered with AWANA for a year-long apologetics curriculum for high school students called Advocates. It is simply the most comprehensive and top quality study around. It is ideal for individual study, small group study, homeschool families, and churches.
Thanks so much to Sean for taking the time to do this interview!