By: Mark Mittelberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.
In Confident Faith: Building a Firm Foundation For Your Beliefs, Mark Mittelberg begins with the premise that everyone believes something. Even if you think that you believe in “nothing”, then you have developed a belief system about the world as you perceive it. We often inherit a belief system from our parents; as we age we decide to either accept these beliefs or adopt others. Regardless of what each of us believes, some people have more reasons for why they believe what they believe.
Lee Strobel, friend Mark Mittelberg and author of The Case for Christ, writes in the foreword “Wherever you are in your spiritual adventure, you’re going to find yourself encouraged and challenged. But most of all, you’re going to walk away with everything you need to find a truly confident faith in Jesus Christ.”
This is where Mittelberg wants to help his readers. He describes six approaches, or “faith paths” that most people have used to arrive at their current belief system; for instance, some people have accepted their beliefs based on the authority of influential people (the authoritarian faith path), others based on mystical experiences (the mystical faith path). Regardless of the approach we have used to support our beliefs, Mittelberg challenges his readers to ask the following question, “We all believe things we hope are true. But how can we be sure? How can we be confident we’ve made the right faith commitments and that our beliefs are built on a solid foundation of facts?”
This book is not an exhaustive or encyclopedic inquiry into every apologetic question. Skeptical readers will certainly point out some areas he missed or will question why he did not spend more time on a particular concern. I believe Mittelberg is providing his readers with a process to develop their belief system and he wants to do so in an accessible way—his book can be used as the starting point for deeper inquiries.
Mittelberg’s process is outlined in a simple way: identify how you have arrived at the place where you are today; consider twenty arguments, or “arrows of truth”, which point to the truth claims of Christianity; and finally, evaluate which of the “ten barriers to belief” are keeping you from deepening your beliefs. Mittelberg encourages his readers to adopt an “evidential faith path”, which relies on examining the evidence for Christianity and drawing a reasonable conclusion from the weight of that same evidence.
This is an excellent book for anyone who wants to look deeper into the claims of Christianity. The book is explicitly written to encourage people to consider the veracity of the historical evidence used to support the Bible.
Mittelberg’s admonishment at the beginning of the books aptly describes how he wants his readers to engage these ideas:
Let me encourage you to engage fully in this journey. Yes, it will stretch you to think about things you’ve probably taken for granted, and it might lead you to rethink some beliefs you’ve long held to. But it also promises to help you build a strong foundation for your beliefs and, in the end, to enjoy the assurance and benefits that come with having a confident faith.
For many, the process outlined by Mittelberg will be the most helpful aspect of the book. Each of us wants to be confident in what we believe; knowing how to start that process can be a daunting task. Anyone who takes the time to carefully implement the process and consider the claims of Christianity will be challenged.
Thank you to the people at Tyndale House Publishers for a copy of this book for review