Saturday, September 28, 2013

Review: Saving Casper

To answer the question the title of this book seems to be going off of: No, Casper is not saved. That he holds to atheist beliefs is evident throughout the book he co-authored with Jim Henderson. The two wrote another book together in which they conversed about the churches they visited and what was best and worst about them. "Saving Casper" talks more in general about evangelical efforts to convert and save nonbelievers.

While I was very interested in what Casper had to say, I also constantly found myself wanting to yell at the book about what wasn't being pointed out in return to Capser's comments. Of course, since the point of the book is not to debate about what to believe and what not to believe, I suppose it's possible Jim has addressed my concerns in private. Still, Jim's insistence on developing relationships through connections and conversation bugged me a bit. The point is right - to love rather than hate - to act rather than speak - but the seeming statement that all debate is bad because it is full of hate (I may be exaggerating a bit here, but you get the point) hits me the wrong way.

I've always believed that God calls different people to different things, gifting them with different talents. To me, that includes debate, and while I'm no debater, I've found that watching skilled debaters consider major issues has helped me develop my own faith and find reason to defend my faith. I also think that there's a place and time for relationship-centered loving action evangelism, but that does not rule out the importance of speaking truth.

All that said, I would still recommend this book. I plan to reread it some day, as it has plenty to think about.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review of it.

5 comments:

Matt Casper said...

Thanks for reviewing our book :)

We do shy away from debate about beliefs, but we encourage discussion.

Reason being (and I wish I had been more specific about this in the book) is that debate requires certainty, and faith, by its very nature, means being uncertain (IMO, faith = being positive, hopeful, and concurrently uncertain).

If faith = certainty, then it needs to be called something else.

Thanks again for reading and writing... and keeping the discussion going.

Matt Casper

Matt Casper said...

Thanks for reviewing our book :)

We do shy away from debate about beliefs, but we encourage discussion.

Reason being (and I wish I had been more specific about this in the book) is that debate requires certainty, and faith, by its very nature, means being uncertain (IMO, faith = being positive, hopeful, and concurrently uncertain).

If faith = certainty, then it needs to be called something else.

Thanks again for reading and writing... and keeping the discussion going.

Matt Casper

JHP said...

Thank you- succint and honest review. Im curious to know how many people you have led to or won to Christ personally, using the debate approach?

JHP said...

thanks for the honest and succint review. Im curious to know how many people you have personally led to Christ using the debate approach?

Harmony Wheeler said...

Regarding how many people I have brought to Christ through debate - that would be zero to my knowledge - but let me expand.

I'm only 25 years old and I don't feel called to be an evangelist at this point in my life. Besides that, how can any of us know the full extent of our impact on the lives of others? You, yourself, write in your book that there is often a process that leads up to that "salvation moment."

Also, I'm still learning myself, and that learning has included the observance of public debates which, in addition to other materials, have served to aid my faith and give me a better reason behind my faith.

(Side note: Faith and reason can exist concurrently. All science ultimately depends on faith. The best anyone can do is look at the evidence and make conclusions based on it. But if there is also a spiritual side to things, that also contributes to my beliefs. I already possess faith as you define it, but then look to reason for backup.)

Perhaps we ought to define what each of us has in mind by "debate." As I attempted to explain in my review, I think there is a place for discussion and a place for debate. In my mind, this does not include groups like Westboro baptist, nor does it justify hateful attitudes within debate, often coming from radical "Christians" and "anti-theists" as you call them.

But I think civil public debate is important, as it keeps the issues in the public light and encourages people to explore evidence and such for themselves. It also provides people like me something to take notes on, to bolster faith, or give reason to explore more evidence, and to give us content to talk about.

The content present in debates must be somewhat present in discussion between friends. I think the difference there between debate and discussion is not a matter of content, but of attitude and purpose. And, of course, within relationships there will be right times and wrong times for discussion because we have to be sensitive.