A Review of Montgomery’s “History, Law, and Christianity”

How do we know the Bible is true? How do we know that a man named Jesus even lived in and around Galilee some 2,000 years ago?  Even if he did, how do we know he was the Son of God as he claimed to be?  These are common questions that the Christian can expect to hear from a myriad of sources…from our kids, from our neighbors, from our co-workers, from our teachers, and from the skeptics.  But all too often the answer I hear given in response by Christians is, “we believe these things by faith.”  Ugh. Even I find that answer unsatisfying, I can only imagine how unsatisfying it must be for the questioner.

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Christian Apologist and uber-scholar John Warwick Montgomery has updated a previously released book under the name “History, Law, and Christianity” that attempts to provide reasoned, historical responses to the above questions and more.  Dr. Montgomery is a polymath of sorts, holding multiple advanced degrees in a variety of subjects. He is a prolific author and lecturer, one who has boldly taken his faith into the public square for many decades.

Dr. Montgomery is a licensed attorney and his training in that field really comes through in this book.  Systematically he addresses challenges to the Christian worldview by providing ample historical evidence to assure the believer that we can know these claims are true, not just blindly trust that Christ’s claims correspond with reality.  As a matter of fact, Dr. Montgomery, in the chapter “Christianity Juridically Defended”, addresses this exact topic.  Rather than relying on the experience or “blind faith”, “Christianity…declares that the truth of its absolute claims rests squarely on certain historical facts open to ordinary investigation.  These facts relate essentially to the man Jesus, his presentation of himself as God in human flesh, and his resurrection from the dead as proof of His deity.”  Christianity is not making claims and only offering proof for those in the inner-circle. Rather, Christ is making claims that any student is welcome to examine, so long as they are ready to deal with the conclusions.

This book is an easy recommendation for me, but with a twist.  I believe wholeheartedly that salvation will come only from the Gospel, and not from the mental assent to historical facts. Which is to say, I have concerns that books which present historical facts alone will run afoul in separating fact from significance. I’m not saying that Dr. Montgomery’s work does that, but I do believe this book will serve to strengthen the already believing Christian more than it will persuade the non-Christian to come to faith.  The wavering Christian, challenged with questions that he or she is unable to answer, should get this book. Study the arguments. Appreciate the significance. Become rooted in a reasoned faith.  And in doing so you will see that your own witness grows in effectiveness.

 

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9 thoughts on “A Review of Montgomery’s “History, Law, and Christianity”

  1. I like this point, “I believe wholeheartedly that salvation will come only from the Gospel, and not from the mental assent to historical facts. Which is to say, I have concerns that books which present historical facts alone will run afoul in separating fact from significance.”

    1. Thank you kindly. That larger point is developed by Van Til in his defense of Christianity. Bahnsen was critical of Montgomery on the grounds I mentioned, but I won’t discount Montgomery’s value towards one that already believes. Thanks for stopping by.

      1. Your welcome! Yes, I highlighted your only point of disagreement with the author, haha! Hopefully it doesn’t obscure the fact that you seemed to agree with most all of the other things he said. I am glad that you also brought a critical eye though as well. God bless!

      2. I agree with all that he said. The question then becomes, “which audience will benefit the most”? I believe that believers will benefit more than non-believers, which should not be discounted. My concern is that too many Christians assume that apologetics is relegated for the non-Christian, when it can also be a tool to strengthen the believer.

      3. Great point. This has been on my mind as well this morning… were you thinking this because of the Dallas Willard reviews that have been going around like I was? I am starting to wonder if God is trying to emphasize this point to me.

      4. That’s crazy. I feel like God has been speaking to me about apologetics being really helpful for Christians themselves. I believe some of Willard’s lectures are going to be published in a book. I’ll link the blog I read about it with the most relevant quote I could find with a quick search below but I think I might have seen a more relevant one earlier.

        “We need to emphasize that point strongly, because the great problem facing the gospel of Jesus Christ is not the doubt that is outside the church; it is the doubt that is inside the church. We need to be able to deal with doubt lovingly, helpfully, and especially without ever scolding or shaming anyone for doubting. We must allow people to be who they are and then be able to meet them where they are (25).

        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/05/29/willard-and-a-gentle-apologetics/

      5. That’s a great quote. It is really is amazing how many of God’s lessons come to us in stereo. He does not need to “speak” anymore for us to hear* Him.

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