DeWitt, Dan. Christ or Chaos. Wheaton: Crossway, 2016. 144 pp. $10.99.
At some point, every able-minded human being will make a decision about the existence of God and the origin of the universe. These decisions are essentially built upon a series of assumptions or presuppositions. They “are like the ground we stand on,” writes author Dan DeWitt. “They allow outcomes, frame vantage points, build worldviews” (p. 30). In Christ or Chaos, DeWitt invites his readers to peer into a universe that is the product of personal, powerful, intelligent design—it is a cosmos heading toward a definite goal, and is not mere chaos, “a product of chance…governed by nothing…heading nowhere” (p. 71).
To illustrate his case, DeWitt showcases a narrative about two fictional friends who have converged on a crossroads in their relationship. Thomas, a Christian, learns that his best friend Zach has abandoned the Christian faith and has become an atheist. The two engage in many late night conversations to work out their beliefs and doubts, asking many of the questions that both Christian and atheist alike often ponder about God and the universe. This book is an excellent primer for anyone who finds themselves in Thomas or Zach’s shoes.
Though admittedly biased, DeWitt is careful to outline some of the more prominent arguments brought to the table in the “God vs. naturalism debate.” Quoting from both secular and Christian sources, DeWitt convincingly shows that “atheist presuppositions begin with eternal, impersonal, and mindless matter;” but does an even better job of proving that “these presuppositions must be taken on faith and cannot be proven scientifically.” DeWitt also navigates through some of the more challenging arguments that atheism makes, including the “problem of evil” and the validity of the Bible as a historic document, responding with succinct, well-researched, easy-to-understand answers. This book is a quick yet delightful read.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
I have found that many Christians struggle to effectively and clearly defend their faith. To many, apologetics should be relegated to scholars and debaters—but not the average Christian. But the reality is, mere science cannot explain everything. In fact, writes, DeWitt, “Scripture…speaks when science is silent” (p. 64). Characteristics like beauty, love, power, and compassion can only really find their meaning in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and the Christian should be prepared to give an answer for the hope within, even if simplistically.
This book is a fantastic resource to help provide such answers. With constant faithful examination of both sides, DeWitt encourages both the timid Christian and the sincere skeptic to “consider for themselves [the ways in which] Christianity is far from irrational but is rather a reasonable response to facts that are strongly evidenced and widely accepted” (p. 109). All in all, DeWitt shows that atheistic claims are actually far more unrealistic that those of the Christian and require far greater faith.
Clear and concise, Christ or Chaos will be a helpful starting point for anyone who desires to engage in meaningful conversation with coworkers, friends, and family about God; and equally a thought-provoking read for those who are committed to an atheistic worldview. It will certainly cause such a person to “consider for themselves…what explanation really accounts for the minimal facts surrounding the Jewish carpenter from Nazareth who has turned the world upside down” (p. 109).
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By
Christ or Chaos is an engaging and helpful read for anyone who desires a more effective and informed dialogue about God with skeptics or unbelievers.