Concerned about Controversy? Consult Counterpoints
When I was a student at a secular university, I was very interested in apologetics. In my discussions with professors and students who did not share my beliefs, I wanted to know how to offer a rational defense of those beliefs. When I got to seminary, I was very excited to take a course in apologetics because I thought I would learn new arguments I could actually use. I was surprised to find that the course was focused on discussing various views on how apologetics should be done. I learned about Classical Apologetics, Presuppositional Apologetics, and Reformed Epistemology, noting that the proponents of these views didn't always get along with each other. I remember thinking, "Okay, so these people are actually arguing with each other about the best way to argue someone into the kingdom?"
At the same time, I heard some of my fellow students arguing about something called "theonomy." There were also heated discussions about paedobaptism versus credobaptism. I remember thinking some of my fellow students couldn't be happy unless they were arguing about something.
But that was seminary, right? Surely life as an average church member would prove less contentious. Still, somehow I found myself brushing up against controversies about worship music, how the church should be governed, and the place of women in ministry. When I had children, those seemingly academic debates about baptism and the Lord's supper took on more practical significance.
The frustrating thing about these various discussions was that I always had the sneaking suspicion that I would have to read ten different books on each subject before I would be able to draw an informed conclusion. That was something I'm afraid I never had the time or energy to do.
Thankfully, my desire for a concise way to understand these various controversies is an itch Zondervan has tried to scratch with its Counterpoint series of books. With titles like Five Views on Apologetics and Understanding Four Views on Baptism, these books present the differing viewpoints of people on the front lines of these various controversies. For example, the book on baptism presents a Baptist view, a Reformed view, a Lutheran view, and a Christian Churches/Churches of Christ view. The explanation of each view is then followed by a response from the proponents of the other three views. The reader can draw his or her own conclusions about which position is the strongest or most convincing. Even more importantly, the reader can see how people can discuss these issues in a way which is respectful and uncontentious.
Most of these books conclude with a summary chapter in which the editor tries to bring out the relative strengths and positive contributions of each view. Even if you come away from reading these books even more firmly convinced of your position, you should end up with a deeper appreciation for the adherents of the other views—and that's always a good thing.
While these books offer concise presentations of each view, most of those include extensive footnotes which reference the relevant literature on the subject. Hypertext links to resources available in Accordance make it easy for you to consult those resources directly.
As someone who has never been able to keep up with all the latest controversies, I'm excited to have the Counterpoints books available in Accordance to help me sort out the alternatives. There are 16 titles available. You can purchase individual titles, or save by purchasing all sixteen at one time. Click here to purchase the entire series, or see this article for a description and links to each title.