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Book Review: The Story of Reality by Greg Koukl

By Timothy Fox

I’ve waited for this book for a long time. I’ve been listening to Greg Koukl – one of my personal apologetics heroes – on the Stand to Reason podcast for years and he would occasionally mention this book he was working on, The Story of Reality (originally entitled Credo). I had been (not so) patiently waiting for it ever since.

In a sense, I felt like I’ve read the book before since it contains ideas Greg weaves throughout all of his podcasts and talks. But now we have a full survey of the Christian worldview in one location. And it’s fantastic.

Story of Reality Koukl

Content

The Story of Reality is obviously about a story. But not just any story, the Story, with a capital S. Greg argues that Christianity is not just a mere religion; it is a complete understanding of all reality. And as any story is comprised of four major components – introduction, crisis, resolution, and ending – so does the Story: creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. If any of those pieces are missing from your understanding of the Story, you have an incomplete view of Christianity.

So what is the Christian Story? Greg explains it through the five parts of his book: God, Man, Jesus, Cross, and Resurrection. The Story begins with God because He is the main character, the creator of all things. This part explores competing explanations of what reality is composed of, Matter-ism (materialism) and Mind-ism (pantheism).

Part 2 tells how God crafts man in His own image, which makes humans beautiful and valuable. But man disobeys God, triggering the crisis of the Story and bringing pain and suffering into the world. So now mankind is both beautiful and broken. This explains what every human knows about reality: there is something deeply wrong.

Part 3 introduces us to the Hero, Jesus Christ, the God-man, who came to fix what mankind broke. It answers two important questions: Who is Jesus? and What did Jesus come to do? Greg also briefly discusses a common modern objection that Jesus never existed as an actual person of history.

Cross teaches how the Hero saves us, by sacrificing Himself through a brutal crucifixion. Jesus bears the punishment we deserve by making a divine trade with the Father. All we do is place our trust in Him and accept God’s saving grace.

In Part 5, Greg uses what is known as the minimal facts approach to show that Jesus’ resurrection is a true historical event. The resolution of the Story shows mankind’s two alternatives: perfect mercy or perfect justice. We can either accept God’s offer of salvation or face his wrath as a just God.

Assessment

In my opinion, The Story of Reality offers the best way of explaining Christianity: as a complete Story or worldview. You cannot take the parts you like and leave the ones you don’t. Similarly, there may be aspects of reality that are difficult to understand but best fit within the Christian Story and not into others, like the pieces of a puzzle.

Greg tells the Christian Story simply and thoroughly, packing a ton of truth in under 200 pages. Every part is divided into multiple chapters which span only a few pages each. If you have ever listened to Stand to Reason, you know how skilled Greg is at explaining complex topics, which also applies to this book, making it very readable. This book is appropriate for Christian and seeker alike, so buy a copy for yourself and your unbelieving friend.

Conclusion

Greg has created a hard decision for me. Whenever anyone asked for a recommendation for an apologetics book, my number one choice without hesitation was always his previous book, Tactics. That is the book to learn how to navigate any conversation with ease and grace. But now I’m torn because The Story of Reality is so foundational. It surveys the entire Christian worldview simply and thoroughly while handling common objections.

Maybe next time some asks for my number one apologetics resource, I’ll just flip a coin. But either way, the top honor belongs to Greg Koukl.

―Tim Fox (FreeThinkingMinistires.com)


To purchase “The Story of Reality” visit STR.org

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My Favorite Bible Verse

By Tim Stratton

Many times I am asked the question: “Tim, what is your favorite Bible verse?” This is a hard question for me to answer because there are many verses contending for this top spot. Off the top of my head, some of my favorites include (in no particular order): Romans 12:2; Matthew 22:37-39; Romans 1:20; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Colossians 1:16; Deuteronomy 30:11-19; Psalms 1:19; Psalms 97:1-6; Judges 6:12; 1 Timothy 2:4; 1 Peter 3:15; 2 Peter 3:9; James 4:7; Genesis 1:1; John 1:1, Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 4:5-6; Philippians 4:5; John 18:37; John 14:6, and of course, John 3:16.

My Favorite Bible Verse

Although I love dwelling upon each of these passages of Scripture, if push comes to shove and I must choose a “life verse,” I would choose 2 Corinthians 10:5. In this passage, the Apostle Paul writes:

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

I love this Bible verse for two reasons: First, Paul provides the example to Christian apologists to destroy every argument and incorrect opinion about God! To be clear, Paul does not say that we destroy every “arguer” (we are supposed to love them); rather, we are to destroy bad arguments! Based on the logical law of identity, an arguer and an argument are two different things. It stands to reason that Christians can destroy arguments while loving arguers! This is often hard to accomplish, but it is quite possible. When this is done correctly, I have seen miracles occur and lives transformed for eternity!

The second reason I love this verse is because Paul states that “we” — and implies that we ought to — take our thoughts captive to obey Christ. According to Paul’s other writings, Jesus Christ is ultimate reality (Col 1:16). Thus, when we take our thoughts captive to obey Christ, we are thinking true thoughts. This is because truth corresponds to reality.

What I love most about this verse is the fact that Paul implies that we are responsible free thinkers of the libertarian variety. According to the fifth verse of the tenth chapter of his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul makes it clear that all of our thoughts are not causally determined and forced upon us from external sources. That is to say, YOU are responsible for your own thoughts (at least some of them).

Paul is clear that we ought to take our thoughts captive to obey Christ — to obey reality! He also implies that we can be taken captive by incorrect thinking in Colossians 2:8. It follows that humanity is engaged in a battle. This battle is “not against flesh and blood” (Eph 6:12); no, whether we realize it or not, each and every one of us is in a battle for the mind!

We must take our thoughts captive before they take us captive. We are responsible for our thoughts and thus, we ought to be free thinkers!

Which is not even possible on naturalism or any other deterministic view!

So, take your thoughts captive and in Paul’s other words…

Stay reasonable (Philippians 4:5),

Tim Stratton