I’d like to thank Christian Focus Publications for providing me with a copy of Backchat by Chris Sinkinson in return for my honest review, and also for providing a copy for the giveaway
Every school morning–right after Bible Road Trip–the boys and I read a “devotional”. We don’t really use books designated as devotionals. Rather, this is the time we choose a book written from a Christian worldview on any subject. There are a lot of things we want to read about that we don’t have a specific class for. A couple of weeks ago, I asked the boys what they’d like to read next.
One of them yelled, “Apologetics!”….
“I have just the thing.” I said. And I did. Backchat by Chris Sinkinson (Christian Focus Publications, 2014) is the perfect book for a middle school introduction to apologetics.
Chris Sinkinson lectures on the Old Testament and apologetics and and pastors at Alderholt Chapel in the United Kingdom. He writes a column entitled “Unapologetic Apologtics” for the national newspaper in the UK and the book consists of a number of his columns organized into five sections. There are 126 pages with 27 chapters, which made the book perfect for reading the short chapters to the kids and then discussing the point Mr. Sinkinson made.
Apologetics is the discipline of defending a position with reasoned, logical arguments. The defense of our faith was advocated by Paul and Peter in their epistles, and was practiced by the early church. Today, we tend to back away from impassioned arguments against Christianity or, alternatively, to attack the person arguing. If we truly love the person across the table from us (or on the other side of the internet), we should desire to respectfully present a reason for our beliefs. Our young people should learn to reason and to discuss an issue respectfully. These are both things that Chris Sinkinson does well.
Part 1: Talk About the News discusses several modern-day issues that have made news. A few of these were issues that required additional research for us, like the “God Particle”. We had a lot of fun researching the Higgs Boson particle. It was pretty exciting for the boys to learn about the science, talk about how it’s being addressed in the media, and then read an argument for how we should address the issue as Bible-believing Christians.
Part 2: Talk About History covers a number of debates centering on the Bible and history, such as Solomon’s temple, Sodom, and Christian urban legends. I was surprised by Mr. Sinkinson’s argument regarding what he calls “urban legends”, and I’m still mulling it over. The boys and I were able to talk about how his opinion differs from mine, how he presented new and applicable information, and how it will probably influence how we approach the issue going forward.
Part 3: Talk About the Big Questions covered the stuff of internet arguments: syncretism, violence in the Bible, the invasion of Canaan, and more. It was good stuff. I don’t want my boys to be surprised by the opinions of others when they get to college.
Part 4: Talk About the Church addresses the decline in church attendance, preaching, worship songs, and why there aren’t many men in our churches. My boys were pretty wide-eyed at the part about the missing men. I may have opined a little about their roles as men of God.
Part 5: Talk About Culture discusses a number of issues including literature, Hollywood, making Christianity “palatable”, and Bart Ehrman’s work to (unfairly) undermine the veracity of Scripture. Again, I may have shared my strong conviction that we need strong, God-fearing men teaching the Scriptures as God’s inspired Word in our seminaries. Being the creative young men they are, my boys loved this section.
Backchat by Chris Sinkinson is a great introduction to apologetics for young men and women. We’ll probably read this again together and see if it generates new discussions.
There’s an Author Talks with Shaun Tabatt over at Bible Geek Gone Wild in which Chris Sinkinson discusses Backchat with Shaun. He also discusses his book Time Travel to the Old Testament: An Essential Companion for the Christian Explorer which I hear is also wonderful for teens.
Other Thinking Kids book reviews for older students:
- Water the Earth: A Student’s Guide to Missions
- God’s Story: A Student’s Guide to Church History
- Rebels Rescued: A Student’s Guide to Reformed Theology
- Bitesize Theology
- Zachary Macaulay (Bitesize Biographies)
- Questions God Asks
- Grace Works! And Ways It Doesn’t
Or just check out the Thinking Kids book review indexes for:
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The Backchat giveaway is over. Be sure to subscribe to Thinking Kids so you never miss another book giveaway!
~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is the author of When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther (Fortress Press, 2015), Wonderfully Made (CF4K, 2016), and Bible Road Trip. Her work has been featured in internationally-recognized children's magazines over 150 times.