Monday, July 3, 2017

God Among Sages: A Recommendation

Kenneth Richard Samples, God Among Sages: Why Jesus is Not Just Another Religious Leader. Baker Books, 2017. 262 Pages.

"Who is Jesus Christ?" That is the most important question that anyone can ask. How we answer that question will literally determine our destiny. Kenneth Samples has written God Among Sages to be "a primer for Christians who want to deepen their understanding of Christ's identity, especially in light of the competing spiritual sages" (xviii).

God Among Sages consists of ten chapters and a conclusion. It is divided into three main sections.

Part 1: The Historic Christian Portrait of Jesus Christ
  1. Jesus's Stunning Self-Understanding
  2. The Matchless Life of Jesus
  3. A Historic Christology
  4. Answering Challenges to Jesus's Historic Identity
Part 2: Four Major Leaders of World Religions and Jesus
  5. The Prince (Krishna) and the Lord
  6. The Buddha (Gautama) and the Christ
  7. The Teacher (Confucius) and the Savior
  8. The Prophet (Muhammed) and the Son of God
Part 3: Christianity and the World's Religions
  9. Truth, Tolerance, and the Plurality of Religious Claims
  10. Biblical Perspective on the World's Religions 
Conclusion 

God Among Sages begins with a basic Christology.  Samples opens the Bible and demonstrates that Jesus considered himself God. Further his moral uprightness, authoritative teaching, and miraculous abilities vindicated Jesus self understanding. Samples does an excellent job surveying the church's historic understanding of Jesus and provides answers for skeptics. This first part of the book is comprised of systematic theology,  historical theology, and  apologetics.

Part 2 is the comparison and contrast of Jesus and Christianity with four religious leaders and religions. Four religions are examined in this second section: Bhaki Hinduism, Buddihism, Confucianism and Islam. The same format is used in each chapter. First, Samples compares the religious founder with Christ on eight points: history, nature, character, mission, role, state, life, future. Next, Samples compares the religion with Christianity on six worldview points: cosmos, ultimate reality, history, human beings, human predicament, solution. The last category of comparison is the religion and Christianity on five points: problem, need, solution, goal, assurance. Samples closes each chapter with suggestions for evangelistic encounters with the discussed religion.

Part 3 is comprised of two chapters and a conclusion. These chapters deal with Christianity's relationship with competing religions. The discussion of pluralism, inclusivism and Christian exclusivism serves as a natural close to this helpful volume.

Ken Samples has authored an excellent, one volume resource contrasting Jesus Christ with competing religious founders and ideologies. I would recommend this book to any Christian needing to bolster his understanding of Christ. Additionally, this resource makes for a great volume to pass along to skeptics of Christ and Christian exclusivism. With a comparison/contrast model, readers get to see the similarities and real differences between major religions and Christianity. What becomes very clear in this study is that Jesus is vastly superior to human sages. Unlike these mere human founders, Jesus was morally perfect and his life is grounded in the reality of history.  Additionally, with this comparison Christianity shines as light in darkness, truth in a world of error. With a Christianity that is growing increasingly ignorant of the exclusivity of Christ's teachings, Kenneth Samples' God Among Sages is a most welcome book and worthy of recommendation. 

I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.