Faith & Self Defense

Building Confidence Through Evidence

Book Review: Know Why, What and Who You Believe

I usually review new or recent books in this ongoing series recommending writings for Christian apologists to read. However, it’s also good to remember some of the good apologetics books from the 19th and 20th centuries that are still in print and available for purchase. Some of the older books might use the term “evangelistic” to describe their purpose. That’s not surprising since apologetics is a tool of evangelism and making disciples.

InterVarsity Press (IVP) has done a good thing by keeping the writings of Paul Little available for people to purchase. Know Why You Believe and Know What You Believe were first published by Scripture Press Publications, Inc. (1967 & 1970) and were based on Little’s ministry to students on college campuses. I remember them from my early years as a Christian. Vision House published Know Who You Believe under the original title of Faith Is For People in 1976.  IVP published revised editions of the books – with the latest revisions dating from 2008. The first two books contain a section on Study Questions at the back that you may find helpful for getting the most out of every chapter.

Paul Little and his wife, Marie, worked for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship for 25 years. Little was also associate professor of evangelism at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School until his death in an auto accident in 1975.

Know Why You Believe

Paul Little addressed 12 common questions about the Christian worldview that he heard from students across the country. They are:

  1. Is Christianity Rational?
  2. Is There a God?
  3. Is Christ God?
  4. Did Christ Rise from the Dead?
  5. Is the Bible God’s Word?
  6. Are the Bible Documents Reliable?
  7. Does Archaeology Verify Scripture?
  8. Are Miracles Possible?
  9. Do Science & Scripture Agree?
  10. Why Does God Allow Suffering & Evil?
  11. Does Christianity Differ from Other World Religions?
  12. Is Christian Experience Valid?

Even though Little wrote this book decades ago, his answers to these questions are still timely and helpful. The editors added new information (as of 2008), including updated reference materials.

Publisher: About the Book 

“After 2,000 years, no question is going to bring Christianity crashing.’

Do science and Scripture conflict? Are miracles possible? Is Christian experience real? Why does God allow suffering and evil?

These are just a few of the twelve most common intellectual challenges to faith that Paul E. Little encountered during his twenty-five years of speaking and teaching in the university. These questions need solid answers, and that’s what a million people have already found in this clear and reasonable response to the toughest questions posed to Christian belief.

Sprinkling in a few “sure-fire jokes” and other humorous illustrations, Little uses these questions to jog readers’ thinking and help them examine their present worldviews, ranging from scientific determinism to rabid existentialism. By thinking through the most common challenges to Christian faith, believers will be prepared to answer others out of the wellspring of their own certainty.

This edition, revised and updated by Marie Little in consultation with experts in science and archaeology, provides twenty-first-century information and offers solid ground for those who are willing to search for truth. Including a study guide for individuals or groups, Know Why You Believe is the classic answerbook on Christian faith.”

Reviews & Endorsements

“As a student, I love Paul’s teaching. As an apologist, I am grateful for his impact. Know Why You Believe is a valuable piece of work.” Ravi Zacharias

“Paul Little gives brightly understandable answers to questions about biblical Christianity. He shows there is a reasonable base to believe that Jesus Christ offers to give us connection to the living God.” Josh McDowell

“I’ve worn out multiple copies of this book and lost count of how many I’ve given away to seekers and new believers. It’s a classic.” Bill Hybels

“Scholarly, articulate, simple.” Billy Graham

“When I lost my childhood faith, I needed a book like Paul Little’s Know Why You Believe.” Kenneth Kantzer

“Shortly after my conversion in 1968 I was given a copy of Know Why You Believe, and it was what sparked my own lifelong interest in Christian apologetics. Through the years its quality has been demonstrated by its longevity. Now in this updated and expanded version, Paul Little’s book can continue to provide hope and help to a new generation of truth-seekers.” J. P. Moreland, professor of philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, and author of Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity

One of the “Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals” Christianity Today, October 2006

“This book canters brightly through the border-country between conviction and questioning.” The Methodist Recorder

Know What You Believe

Reading Little’s Know What You Believe took me back to my early years as a Christian when I devoured everything I could find about God. Some of my favorite books were about systematic Bible study and Know What You Believe takes us into that wonderful arena:

  1. The Bible
  2. God
  3. Jesus Christ
  4. Jesus Christ’s Death
  5. People and Sin
  6. The Holy Spirit
  7. Salvation
  8. Angels, Satan and Demons
  9. The Church
  10. Things to Come

Publisher: About the Book 

“What does Christianity have to do with anything? What does the Christian faith teach about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit? What do I need to know about angels, Satan and demons? What place should the Bible or a church have in my life?

By exploring these and other core questions, bestselling author Paul E. Little leads you into a greater appreciation of a God who has done great things to bring you into a relationship with him through Jesus Christ. He presents ten bottom-line, non-negotiable truths of Christianity using humorous, anecdotal illustrations gathered from years of experience helping believers share their faith with not-yet Christians. Expanded and updated throughout by Paul’s wife Marie, this contemporary edition is packed with illuminating answers to questions and misconceptions about the Christian faith, with study questions for each chapter.”

Reviews & Endorsements

“This updated classic stands ready to serve a whole new generation. Read it and let Paul help you understand the timeless biblical truths that will prevent you from being ‘blown here and there by every wind of teaching.’ ” Mark Mittelberg, executive vice president, Willow Creek Association

“There are just a few timeless treasures in Christian literature. Know What You Believe is one of them. I am confident that the expanded and updated version of this book will be as important to this generation as it was in the days when I was a student.” Joseph Stowell, former president, Moody Bible Institute

“I have deeply admired [Paul Little] as a man of God with extraordinary insights into the work of God and boundless enthusiasm for communicating the Word of God.” Billy Graham

Know Who You Believe

Christianity is different than every other religious belief. It is about a personal “relationship” with God. How can we be personal with God? Through His Son, Jesus Christ, who “became flesh and dwelt among us.”

  1. Inner Direction Needed
  2. Jesus Christ, the Centerpiece
  3. Alone on the Stage of History
  4. Love and Justice Meet
  5. He’s Alive
  6. Jesus Christ, a Valid Object
  7. Making the Magnificent Connection
  8. God Uses Words
  9. Biblically Correct Angels
  10. “That’s Your Truth, Not Mine”
  11. It’s Hard to Be an Atheist
  12. Staying Power for the Journey

Publisher: About the Book 

“In writings lovingly collected and edited by his wife Marie after his death, Paul E. Little explores the central question of Christianity: can we know God? By looking at the identity of Jesus Christ, his claims regarding his identity and his promises to his followers and inquirers, we arrive at the wonderful conclusion of the Christian faith: through Jesus Christ we may know God personally.”

Reviews & Endorsements

“In his unique way Paul describes ‘the electricity of Christ’s claim.’ . . . You will find here an authenticity that comes from a man who was unconditionally devoted to Jesus Christ.” Billy Graham, from the foreword

Here’s a short video about Paul Little you may find interesting.

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: Know Why, What and Who You Believe

  1. Carson on said:

    Are my comments making it through? If not, please let me know why.
    I’m trying to understand why you consider understanding a person’s faith mutually exclusive with talking them out of it if their faith was misplaced.

    • When you as a street epistemologist talk someone “out of their faith,” what are you talking them into? Am I correct that you begin the conversation to talk someone out of their faith by having a belief system that is superior to the person you are talking to for the purpose of talking them out of what they believe if they don’t believe what you believe?

      If that’s correct, what do you believe? What is this better belief system street epistemologists espouse? What beliefs would be the right beliefs in your estimation?

      If that’s not correct, then why do you try to talk someone out of what they believe if you have nothing better to talk them into believing?

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