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  • Melba Padilla Maggay

A compelling apologia

A review of J. Andrew Kirk's 'To Tell the Truth' Basic Questions and Best Explanations.

This book is a cogent, bare hands approach to issues raised by western secular societies sceptical of the truth claims of the Christian faith. It is a compelling apologia for modern materialists who think that above us is only sky, and a virtual catechism for post-modern people baffled by the immensities of nature, the mystery of life and death, of who we are and what the world is about.


In these days of fake news and the notion that reality is what you make of it, the author reminds us of the hard surface of the world we live in, the creational laws that result in the inevitability of disorder and retribution once we say to ourselves, as Dostoyevsky’s Raskolnikov, that with the downfall of the altar of God, ‘everything is permitted.’ The author warns that “neither religious nor secular belief can be privatised.” Much earlier, Jesus tells us that “by their fruit you shall know them,” the truth or falsity of our mental models can be proven by their dire results and social consequences.


Where I sit, we may, like the Buddhist, postulate that good and evil are illusions, a mere sickness of the mind. But the iron rule of communist or populist dictatorships leave us in no doubt that there is a hardness to evil that neither class struggles nor democratic humanist ideals can resolve. This book makes a strong case for the bigger frame of meaning that the Christian faith provides. The fact is that despite disbelief, we all get disabled somewhat by the problem of evil. Existentialists in the West talk of an abstract dread, perplexed over what looks like intimations of realities beyond our grasp. The rest of us try to send our best thought waves or make the mind strong enough to ignore the harsh and brutal realities of the societies we live in. Yet for centuries rumours have been rife that there is a new world, and it is changing the face of this sad earth. This book tells us why.


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Dr. Melba Padilla Maggay is writer and a social anthropologist. A specialist in intercultural communication, she was research fellow on the subject at the University of Cambridge under the auspices of Tyndale House, applying it to the question of culture and theology. She has lectured on this and other cross-cultural issues worldwide, including a stint as Northrup Visiting Professor at Hope College, Michigan, and Visiting Lecturer at All Nations Christian College in England. She has lectured on this and other cross-cultural issues worldwide, including a stint as Northrup Visiting Professor at Hope College, Michigan, and Visiting Lecturer at All Nations Christian College in England. She is the current President and founder of the Institute for Studies in Asian Church and Culture (ISACC).

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