A debut book offers a defense of Christian belief in the midst of an increasingly secular age.
Howerton begins this volume with an unsettling diagnosis of our contemporary predicament: once-dominant Christian belief is on the wane, while an irresolute moral relativism is in the ascendant. The author catalogs a list of familiar signs that the world is spiraling into moral decline: the greater acceptance of homosexuals, abortion, and the rise of militant Islamic fundamentalism. In response to these scourges, he attempts to both clarify and defend the core of Christian doctrine, focusing on the covenants, in both the New Testament and the Hebrew Scriptures, that articulate the nature of our relation to God and the obligations that bind us. Howerton’s study is brief, but also wide-ranging; he carefully considers key biblical texts in order to render them rationally and historically defensible. Some of his conclusions are unorthodox; for example, Howerton contends that Jesus actually died on a Thursday and was resurrected on a Sunday. But the principal draw of the analysis is not its originality, but its rigor. The author has a professional background as a lawyer and a judge, and he scrupulously marshals evidence to substantiate his views in that spirit. At its very best, the book evokes the natural law tradition within Christian thought, which seeks to support the dictates of revelation with the findings of reason. “The Christian beliefs have eternal value and can stand up against anything in open and honest debate and dialogue,” the author writes. Howerton is admirably learned for an autodidact, especially when he argues for the historical veracity of the exodus of the Jewish people. Also, this is one of the clearest accounts available regarding what it means to have a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, something preachers often sermonize about without adequately explaining. Howerton contends this is a book for people of all faiths, but it is unlikely to attract readers who are not Christians. Also, some will find the gloomy prophecies discomfiting. For example, he suggests that the recent terrorist attack in Paris may be a message from God regarding the sovereignty of Israel. Statements like this belie the philosophical moderation the book otherwise evinces.
A solid, brief introduction to Christian doctrine that should appeal to the like-minded.