A Review of Defending the Faith
Looking for a book on women’s ministry that stands out from the crowd? I found one. It’s a great new book I was given by Kregel on apologetics in women’s ministry: Defending the Faith by Mary Jo Sharp.
Full disclosure: MJ is a friend and fellow alumni of Biola University’s M.A. in Christian Apologetics. Today, she’s an Assistant Professor of Apologetics at Houston Baptist University. I’ve followed her apologetics career for a number of years, and I’m often inspired by the things God is doing through her ministry. She’s been a voice of encouragement in my life, often recommending my curriculum in her training sessions and even mentioning my work in this book (on pages 101 and 140).
Apologetics in Women’s Ministry
Opening up with her personal journey from agnosticism to faith in Christ, MJ shows how “a reasoned belief in the reality of God’s existence can transform women’s lives.” I love the example she gave of how studying apologetics created a character change that even her own family began to recognize.
Defending the Faith speaks primarily to Christian women, urging our sisters to incorporate apologetics into their ministries and their daily lives.
She gives a quick outline of the book on page 16:
- Reasons for knowing why you believe in God
- How your beliefs affect your life
- How your beliefs affect others
- What you can do right now (to begin discussing beliefs in everyday conversations)
- What you can do in women’s ministries
- The importance of a woman’s testimony
A New Approach
Throughout this conversational book, MJ offers excellent advice on the importance of relationships, unforced conversation, and recognizing both a person’s emotional and intellectual needs in women’s ministry. She says, “Not only do women need to be able to defend their faith with intellectual rigor and honesty” (11), but “there is a great need for women who can communicate complex, essential Christian doctrine in an accessible way” (15). This is true whether you’re talking to a skeptical friend, or answering spiritual questions from your own kids.
Her point is that women’s ministries should:
“address the basic need of women to know the truth and God and thus to trust Him: the study of apologetics specifically for women so that they can learn the truth about God, believe in Him, and live out their faith through their actions.”
I agree. Unfortunately, apologetics as a discipline tends to get a bad rap in church. That’s why I like how MJ gives you answers to “Christian objections” to apologetics. For example, she explained that this isn’t just about getting a bunch of “head knowledge” as opposed to “heart knowledge.” MJ writes, “A woman who loves God with all her mind is loving God with everything that goes along with the mind, including emotions.” Amen.
She also addressed the often misunderstood concept of “simple faith” or “childlike faith,” taken out-of-context from Mark 10:14-15. MJ writes:
“Jesus addresses the attitude here…a humble acknowledgement of one’s own need for a greater person’s help…children are naturally very receptive toward learning. A stubborn heart that is not willing to continue education or take correction is not a person with childlike faith but rather a fool (Prov. 1:7).”
Chapter five is the most practical in terms of really getting apologetis into your church and ministry. MJ shares four goals and points you to a number of helpful Web sites and truly accessible apologetics studies, including my own Accessible Apologetics Curriculum. Thanks, MJ!
This is a friendly, conversational, fast-paced book which I read while vacationing in California this summer. It’s accessible to anyone. I recommend this, not only for Christian women, but for seminary students, pastors, and the leadership team of every church.