This month, a new and revised edition of Charlie H. Campbell’s One Minute Answers to Skeptics: Concise Responses to the Top 40 Questions has been released. The book is designed to offer succinct but solid answers to common questions that Christians frequently encounter about their faith. Campbell is the director of the Always Be Ready apologetics ministry and a frequent speaker at churches and on campuses in the US.
With answers to questions ranging from God and suffering to the fate of those those who have never heard about Jesus, the book seeks to equip high school or university students or anyone else who wants to be prepared to respond to skeptics. Brian, at the Apologetics315 blog, offered these comments in his review of the book:
Campbell intentionally gears his answers to be useful for conversion. He provides scriptural references and citations as needed, but the overall answers he provides offer an encapsulated, concise response that will be an appropriate starting point for ongoing dialogue with the skeptic. With this goal in mind, the book achieves its purpose of being a starting point for the conversation; it is not intended to provide a complete, comprehensive answer. If the reader is looking for a substantial treatment of the questions that are posed, he will need to do further digging elsewhere.
This book is a fine beginner’s primer for the complete novice in apologetics or for young people who are asking questions. For those who want to be ready with sound conversational answers and who have a good understanding of the meat of the issues, this small book may also be a good tool to have alongside other apologetics texts.
Brian makes some good points, and with those things kept in mind, it is a book that could be very helpful. If you are thinking of picking it up, I would recommend it with a few further caveats:
- Don’t rely on superficial answers. Recognize the limitations of a memorized technique or a series of prepared steps. While these can be handy for those who are nervous about evangelism, they will have weaknesses and not work in all contexts. Often the questions we encounter are serious obstacles for some people and should not be dismissed lightly. One-liners may work in brief encounters but for other situations, we should prefer thoughtful answers. Our responses can be simple without being simplistic.
- Take the questions seriously. One of the dangers in apologetics is not listening. Don’t answer a question that hasn’t been asked. And be honest, if you don’t know an answer, don’t hide your ignorance. There are many things we do not know or understand. The Christian mind is a fallen, finite mind.
- Cultivate intellectual integrity. Dig deeper and develop your own intellectual resources. I find that that the best answers come from asking questions of yourself and in your past experience in dealing with doubts.
- Realise that apologetics is person-variable. This is key. The goal of apologetics is not merely to produce sound arguments but to persuade people, and it is important to remember that not every sound argument will be equally persuasive with everyone. Persuasion involves much more than the soundness and validity of the argument. One size does not fit all. It is vital to treat inquirers as indivduals and try and understand their particular needs and develop an apologetic that is geared toward those needs. As Douglas Groothius has said, “Don’t reduce people to cliches.”
The book is published by Harvest House Publishers and you can view a chapter from the book on their website. Here are some endorsements:
“This is a handy book with helpful answers for busy people.”
—Dr. Norman Geisler, author or coauthor of more than 70 books, including The Baker Encyclopedia of Apologetics
“A refreshing model of ‘conversational apologetics’! This book will equip you to be ‘always ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within you.’”
—Nancy Leigh DeMoss, author and Revive Our Hearts radio host
“I hope many seekers will give serious consideration to the thoughts so well expressed in this timely and pithy book. Well worth reading.”
—Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship and author of more than 20 books
“I have heard that one definition of genius is taking complex things and being able to simplify them. I was impressed that such difficult questions could be adequately answered in such a few lines. I think the majority of Christians who want and need answers to tough questions like these often want a simple, sufficient answer without having to read an entire book on the subject. In quick, simple answers, Charlie has done it. I know this was not easy, but on behalf of Christians everywhere in all sincerity, thanks.”
—Bryan Newberry, pastor, Calvary Chapel San Diego, California