1. What is the book about?
‘Gunning for God’ by John Lennox focuses on defending Christianity from the ‘New Atheists’, a subgroup of atheists that see religion as poisonous and detrimental to society, and view science and evidence as front and centre of thought and belief . In the book, Lennox systematically decrypts and deconstructs the New Atheist ideology through his numerous carefully constructed arguments, which give believers profound confidence for believing in the Christian faith.
Gunning for God challenges all readers to come and consider the logical conclusion; that the God of the universe exists, and that we can know Him through His Son Jesus Christ, who has saved us from sin and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father.
2. What did I learn?
There were several things that I have personally learnt from reading and struggling through this book. Here were the three most striking ideas that resonated with me:
- What is faith? Lennox really hit home when he stated, “For mainstream Christianity, reason, argument and honest doubt have always played an integral role in belief”. Lennox differentiates between evidence-based faith and blind faith. Genuine, ‘seeing’ faith is not where faith makes up for a lack of evidence or an argument. Rather, faith should eventuate from an affirmation of evidence. The more evidence we have for the authenticity of a document or a person’s claims, the more faith we have in those sources. This gives us Christians confidence, that our faith is not a faith that is blind, but a faith that is strong due to both external and internal attestations.
- Without a God, there is no basis for morality. When atheists claim that ‘religion is poisonous for society’, they are pointing to absolute values that, to their reasoning, have no basis. Even though I knew this before I read the book, there was a striking point that Lennox makes about the fallacy of New Atheism, “Consequently, all of the New Atheists’ moral criticisms of God and religion are invalid not so much because they are wrong but because they are meaningless.” Without a basis of morality (that is, God), they are ineligible to stake any moral claim on anything.
- Intellectual discernment is not how we will truly know God. Science and observation can only lead us to understand God in a limited and finite way. Instead, we can only truly understand the nature of God through the Scriptures. A key example of this were the Reformers, who grabbed hold of the precious revelations of God found in Scripture and fought valiantly for Scripture to be made accessible to the masses, rather than entrusting a priest to teach their own interpretations of Scripture to them without having read the Bible themselves. This is one of the driving forces as to why the Reformers pushed for translating Scripture into other languages. We must never forget this.
3. What did I enjoy?
I really enjoyed how succinct and yet deep Lennox is in his arguments. His steadfastness in the God he serves is incredibly evident from the first page to the end. One thing that was interesting was that Lennox writes from the perspective that “God exists and Jesus is my Lord and Saviour, so now how do I prove that to my audience?” rather than the converse and taking it from the shoes of the New Atheists, “Does God exist? How am I to prove this?” This really demonstrates the transformative power of the Gospel and also the incredible power of Scripture. It reaffirmed how we only know who God is because He revealed himself to us. It is evident that Lennox writes knowing that God is real and Jesus is Lord and Saviour, and that he wants this to be shared with his audience. I can only imagine the great temptation to shutdown every argument from the New Atheists and proclaim intellectual victory over them. But instead, he sees the importance of the Gospel, echoing the words of Paul: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
4. Why should other people read it?
Although this book was a tough read, it is certainly worth the time and effort reading a section or page, re-reading it again, dropping the book and walking away to let your mind rest, picking up the book again, jotting down notes and reading it again until you finally understand it. For Christians, this book is a must-read. The way Lennox is able to give solidly grounded assurance for our faith through logical arguments highlights that we believe in a God of order and reason. For those interested in Christianity, I’d also strongly recommend you pick this book up. It will bring to light several misconceptions about Christianity and the people that call Jesus Christ their Saviour and God. For those still sceptical about the Christian faith, this is certainly a book that you should read, since it will help refine and question your beliefs.