Exploring Life’s Biggest Questions

G. K. Chesterton once wrote, “We all feel the riddle of the earth without anyone to point it out. The mystery of life is the plainest part of it.” He was right; there is nothing more basic to humanity than the desire to unriddle the mystery of life. Life’s Biggest Questions is a new book intended to help readers do exactly that.

Written by Erik Thoennes, a pastor and professor of theology at Biola University, the book raises sixteen fundamental questions (e.g. Does God exist? What is God like? Who is Jesus? What is a human being?) and offers snappy but Biblically solid answers in response. Less than 200 pages in length, the book’s strength is its readability and clarity – distilling complicated doctrines of the Christian faith into easily accessible chapters. The book also contains several charts and illustrative material to make the information easy to digest and with questions for application and discussion at the conclusion of each chapter, Life’s Biggest Questions is an ideal resource for small groups.

Because the book is primarily an introduction to theological questions rather than apologetic questions (e.g. Is faith opposed to evidence? Are miracles possible? Why can’t Christianity be true for you, and Buddhism true for me?) the book wouldn’t be my first choice to put into the hands of a skeptic or someone who is grappling with objections to Christianity. However, for new Christians or those who have had some exposure to Christianity and want to know more, or even mature Christians who are looking for concise ways to talk about what they believe, this book is a valuable resource.

You can find out more about the book here (including a sample of the first three chapters). To hear Erik Thoennes talk about the book, you can listen to his interview with Greg Koukl on the Stand To Reason radio program here (skip to 01:54:01 for the interview).

Here are some endorsements of the book:

“It is refreshing to see a book that addresses our deepest concerns from a distinctively theological perspective. Professor Thoennes is a master communicator, and Life’s Biggest Questions is marked by an accessible, interesting style. The book is filled with content and distinctively characterized by repeated examples of practical application. It is a fun read and would make an excellent text for a course in theology or Christian worldview.”
-J. P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

“Helpful, concise, accessible: this book will provide clarity and conviction for those looking for answers to the big questions.”
-Josh Moody, Senior Pastor, College Church, Wheaton, Illinois; author, The God-Centered Life: Insights from Jonathan Edwards

“Socrates’ well-known statement, ‘The unexamined life is not worth living,’ is an entirely appropriate start to Life’s Biggest Questions. Stepping outside of one’s day-to-day existence to reflect on the big-picture questions is understandable and commendable. This book clearly, concisely, and thoughtfully presents answers from an evangelical Christian perspective. Thoennes is not only able to articulate Christian theology and history, but also help readers think through the implications for their own lives.”
-Heather Campbell, vice president, Atheist Coalition of San Diego

“Dr. Thoennes is a masterful teacher. With biblical precision and profound understanding, he comes to grips with the most often asked questions about the gospel. The beauty of following Christ comes through with such clarity that the reader will want to fall in love with Jesus all over again.”
-Robert E. Coleman, Distinguished Professor of Evangelism and Discipleship, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Free Resource – Study Guide to Biblical Doctrine

If you’re looking for a rigorous introduction to the doctrines of the Christian faith, there are few contemporary works as solid as Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. Published in 1995, the text continues to stand out as a resource for its clarity and refreshing doxological emphasis. However, for many, the 1,300-page book can be intimidating. To help lay people and new Christians, Wayne’s son Elliot has produced a guide to the essential Christian doctrines, based on Systematic Theology. Elliot’s book, Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know, canvasses subjects from the character of God to the nature of the church in a readable and non-technical way.

Scott Thomas, of the Acts 29 Network, has just made available a study workbook that he has written to help people navigate Christian Beliefs. The workbook presents questions for review, essential Biblical texts, recommended reading, and references to Grudem’s original Systematic Theology. For small group facilitators and bible study leaders this is an incredibly valuable resource. There’s nothing more important than knowing God and thinking true thoughts about Him. Without a proper knowledge of who He is, our faith can quickly become emotionalism or worse. John Stott was right – as Christians we should neither seek to be loveless in our truth nor truthless in our love (Christ the Controversialist, page 19). This resource will be an enormous help to those who want to pursue a deeper knowledge of God and ground their affections for Him in the reality of who He is and what He has disclosed.

Thomas has released several versions of the workbook, in both black and white and in colour:

Theological Clarity and Application: Equipping Leaders in Biblical Doctrine

Building Theological Castles

Last time I gave three key terms (doctrine, theology, and world view) with an analogy (a brick, a wall, and a castle) to help you think about them. Today, I want to show you three different methods to building castles.

The first method is called Historical Theology. This looks at Christian doctrines down through the ages, how they have been formulated and developed over the past two millennia. It will include studying the thought of famous theologians like Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Barth, etc. One disadvantage of this approach is it presupposes you already have some background knowledge of scripture. Without this background knowledge this method can be like building a castle without blueprints – you are likely to miss large sections of load-bearing walls, and have to demolish and rebuild continually as you discover more. Read more