Book Review: Christ among other gods

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“You’ve heard it said, “All religions are equal.” But is it true?”

This question intrigued me. It was one that seemed incredibly prevalent to our current time, and I was very excited to read it.

I received this book free from Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest review. 

Overview

Christ Among Other Gods by Erwin W. Lutzer promises to “Describe the uniqueness of Christ, Defend the claims of Christianity, [and] Debunk the myths that many tout.” Despite being written in 1994, a majority of the points are timeless, and many readers could benefit from them. While Lutzer certainly had a number of strong arguments that addressed the goals of the book, the book’s credibility is weakened by a few flaws, most notably, the doctrinal issues surrounding salvation.

Positives

This is an incredibly important topic, and Lutzer addressed it with some very good content that was well-written. Throughout the book, he uses powerful imagery and analogies. His description of his experiences at the Parliament of the World’s Religions was an interesting thread weaved throughout the book.  Though he was confident and convicted, he still explained what types of tolerance are necessary and what are to be avoided. He explains that we should desire legal tolerance and social tolerance for those of different faiths, but points out that tolerance for the other faiths without criticism should be avoided.  He supported his points well and explained why logically, Christianity stands on its own. Despite the flaws, which I will address next, this point carried through in a powerful way.

Negatives

Lutzer’s writing suffered from broad dismissals, minor theological errors, and outright heresy.

There were several points in his book where he outright dismissed groups or concepts in such a way that one questioned if he actually understood what he was talking about.  There were a few explanations in his book that, depending on how they were read, could lead one to believe theological errors. These things could be overlooked, but the heresy in this book is particularly concerning. The heresy primarily arises in his discussions of salvation where he shares ideas that are not biblical or actually contradict biblical instruction. As this is a book review and not an apologetics post, I won’t go into detail addressing these topics, but readers should be warned of this.

While I can’t speak to the accuracy of his descriptions of the Antichrist and Armageddon, I can say that these descriptions seemed out of place. This book went from a logical argument for the supremacy of Christianity to what seemed to be the ramblings of an unhinged conspiracy theorist. Once he leaves this topic, he redeems himself in his tone and content, but it still is a point that weakens his book.

Lastly, as a Catholic, there are several concerns I have about the content.

Catholic Perspective

Though the heretical statements are of greatest concern, there were several smaller issues I noticed as a Catholic reader. Some were just areas where the book would’ve benefited from additional details, some were points where a Catholic reader would question the validity, and some were misunderstandings of Catholic beliefs.

Lutzer would’ve benefitted from expanding on the topic of virgin birth. Though he does a decent job explaining it and doesn’t contradict any Catholic teaching, it could’ve been better. Lutzer also talked about how Jesus is present among us, but he fails to mention the Eucharist. While this is expected for any Protestant book, it is heartbreaking that he failed to acknowledge the intimate presence of Christ in the Eucharist that is so readily available to us.

I won’t get into the points where a Catholic would question the validity as these are part of a rather complicated discussion, but a  Catholic reader should be prepared that these questions may come up.

There were some vague statements that attempted to undermine Catholic teaching, but there were two direct mistaken commentaries about Catholicism. He showed a major misunderstanding on what Catholics taught regarding salvation for non-Catholics. He attempted to use it as a point that Catholics change their doctrine, but he took a single point out of context of entire Church history. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding his intent, but to me, it didn’t just seem like a misinterpretation; it seemed like a deliberate attempt to find something in Church history that he disagreed with without actually researching the topic well enough to truly understand it.

The other one was saying  “Satan will appear in whatever form he is expected to come.” For Catholics, he listed Mary and the Saints while he said Protestants would see Jesus. The implications of this atrocious and demonstrate that again, he didn’t take any time to understand what Catholics actually believe. I understand that Protestants don’t agree with Catholic teaching on the Saints, but if you are going to make such a firm claim about Satan, you better have researched it thoroughly.

Would I recommend Christ Among Other Gods by Erwin W. Lutzer?

I really struggled with whether or not I would recommend this book. On one hand, it addressed some really solid points. On the other hand, the heretical statements make me question whether or not I should recommend it at all. While I am obviously annoyed by his misconceptions surrounding the Catholic Church, I recognize they aren’t uncommon among Protestants. However, in the context of this book, it raises a bigger concern. Lutzer presented himself as a well-researched authority on this topic, but these serious errors show that he has not researched as thoroughly as he should. To me, this calls into question his overall credibility.

I still think there is some really good content in this book, but if you want to read it, I suggest skipping chapter 7 and chapter 10. I would also recommend reading chapter 11 very cautiously. Though these chapters had some good points, this is where some of the biggest issues came up in the book.

What would I recommend instead?

To better understand the uniqueness of Christianity, I would recommend God by Trent Horn (my review here) and The Real Jesus which is also by Trent Horn (my review here). More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell also provides a good perspective on Christ, and though it has some errors, it is a much better option in my opinion.

To learn more about the Bible (which can be used as a defense for Christianity), check out The Bible by Trent Horn.

To get better information about salvation, I recommend Salvation by Jimmy Akin (my review here).

I know Catholic Answers also has several books defending Catholicism against several other religions, but I haven’t read the books yet. However, I am confident they provide just as good information (if not better information).

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You can read more of my book reviews here.

 

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