More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell

I went to a private, Christian middle school that utilized a classical education model (rhetoric, Latin, logic, etc.). I checked this apologetics book out from the library in, oh….1998! When I switched schools in high school, I forgot to return it. Twenty-five years later, I finally read it!

Josh McDowell’s More Than a Carpenter is a kind of quick overview of standard apologetics arguments that Christians use to try and prove up that Jesus is/was Christ and God. McDowell also wrote Evidence That Demands a Verdict, which I remember being big in churches in the 1990s and 2000s, as well.

As you might have noticed in my review of sacred texts, I’m not really an apologetics person. I believe in God and Jesus, and I am in more of the contemplative/mystic vein than anything else. For those reasons I will skip all of the arguments for faith in Jesus in the book and focus instead on the first and last bits of the book.

In the beginning, McDowell makes an observation that people more open to saying that someone “believes in God” rather than someone saying they “believe in Jesus.” I think that’s an interesting point, and I do think people are more open to enchantment and faith in things than modern Western Christianity (the context in which he is writing). Anecdotally, I have found that has more to do with Christians than Christ, so I don’t know that apologetics would be the way to address that observation. However, everyone is different!

In the end, McDowell talks about how his faith led him to forgive and reconcile with his abusive father, and to let go of anger. I found that section more persuasive than any of the historical or logical arguments for faith. He clearly had some sort of experiential change at some point in his life and his earnestness about it comes through.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone, but if you are interested in learning more about the historical context of Jesus and his teachings, I do recommend John Drane’s Introducing the New Testament.