Apologetics is changing in the 21st Century, changing from arguments that rationally prove the truth of Christianity to a gospel that, as Mel Lawrenz calls it, summons humans because of the “divine allure.” In his book, I Want to Believe, what Mel — senior pastor at Elmbrook Church outside of Milwaukee — does is focus on one theme: the human yearning to believe that is prompted by the reality that God wants us.
Check out this website for a study guide. And bloggers can request a free copy here.
We’ve looked on this blog at a few books on world religions, but this one is the best one for lay folks. And the angle Mel cuts into this jungle of issues creates a path I’ve not seen — the angle of the human need to believe in God. Humans, this book observes, have never been able to talk themselves out of believing in God — though humans have tried.
Mel, pastor now for more than 25 years, can write readable prose and he can speak to the church. Because he has advanced degrees in theology and philosophy, he knows his stuff — but he puts on no airs. This book is a simple, clear, level-headed, but informed exposition of the human attraction to the “divine allure.” That God is attractive enough to allure each of us into the glories of relationship with God.
The book functions as both a brief sketch of world religions and at the same time a Christian response to the central themes of those religions — not by way of refutation but by way of what I would call “counter-story.” Instead of doing the thoroughly text-bookish thing of description and evaluation and refutation and defense of Christianity, this book is much more of a description and counter description.
Laced up with stories, both personal and drawn from history (and a good one about Brett Favre), Mel’s book offers to lay folks a book that could function as a Sunday School text, a small group text, and — and this is what I would say might be its best contribution — a book a college student or a Sunday school teacher or a thinking Christian should read one chapter at at time and then ponder over that chapter’s contents.