Introduction- About the Books
The Coffeehouse Chronicles by Josh McDowell and Dave Sterrett with Moody Publishers, a series of three apologetics novellas, each tackling a different issue that most Christian students will struggle with during their college years. They are set in the modern day and portray real, believable students as they engage in genuine dialogue concerning three questions:
- Is the Bible True...Really?
- Who is Jesus...Really?
- Did the Resurrection Happen...Really? 
Who Is Jesus...Really? by Josh McDowell and Dave Sterrett is the second book of these easily devoured novellas aimed at addressing common spiritual questions. This reader felt that McDowell and Sterrett once again succeeded in combining a great story with a persuasive array of arguments in this fictional dialogue that mostly zeroed in on the question, "Who is Jesus Christ?"
Obviously, this book would be a great resource to get into the hands of someone who has sincere questions about the identity of Jesus; however, I must confess that what I have enjoyed most about all three of these books [A Review for Did the Resurrection Happen...Really? will be up in one week from today] is the manner in which the authors write their Christian characters.
Jamal Washington, Nick and Mina realize the importance of understanding what they believe and relish in sharing it with others. These characters are not only excited to tell others about Jesus because of what He has done for them personally, but through intellectual inquiry they have tested the claims of Christ and found them to be true! The result? They are anxious to share this truth with whomever will listen and aren't afraid to be asked tough questions about their convictions. Throughout the book, I found myself thinking, "What if there were more Christians like this? What impact would this have on our culture? Our churches?"
So, while this book effectively provides answers for the sincere skeptic, it also presents very intellectually sharp role models to challenge the follower of Christ.
Nick's faith has survived the many tests from the first book and he is now actively involved in a campus ministry that encourages other believers to sincerely follow Christ in their daily lives. Jamal Washington, Dr. Peterson's assistant and former college football star, has made quite a name for himself on campus after teaching a few classes on the reliability of the New Testament in Dr. Peterson's absence. And one of Nick's close friends, Andrea, has become a confessing atheist.
After a particularly rowdy I Am Second bible study that Nick is leading, he befriends a fellow student and atheist, Brett. Brett is skeptical of Christianity and isn't even sure that a historical person by the name of Jesus Christ ever existed, but is curious. As a result, Nick invites Brett, Andrea, and a few others to meet with Jamal and Mina, a law student, to discuss some of Brett's questions about Jesus. Brett agrees and so the dialogue begins.
Meanwhile, some changes have been going on in the life of Dr. Peterson and his wife, Susan. Since the death of his sister, he has started to reconsider heaven and life after death and this leads him to investigate the question of Jesus' deity once more.
Then, Dr. Peterson announces that he is going to give a lecture entitled Did Jesus Claim to be God? What will his conclusion be?
The Core Arguments
This book was clearly written with the media titled "New Atheists" in mind. Numerous arguments that have been brought forth recently in titles such as The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and Why God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens are addressed and dealt with in it's pages.
While the first book mainly focuses on the reliability of the Bible throughout, Who Is Jesus...Really? tackles a nice collection of common objections before really diving into the question of Jesus' identity. McDowell and Sterrett do a great job in the book of "clearing away the clutter" so that they question of Jesus' identity can be clearly looked at. Some of the popular objections dealt with are:
- "Jesus Never Existed!"
- "Religion is Evil!"
- "We Should Embrace Science, Not God!"
- "Christianity doesn't value human life- it disgraces women and always has."
- "What about Christians and slavery?"
Having already provided a persuasive case for the reliability of the New Testament in the first book, and then removing some possible roadblocks in the first half of the second, the authors then begin uncovering the historical Jesus.
Through a fictional debate featuring Jamal Washington and a lecture given by Dr. Peterson, McDowell and Sterrett address the following issues pertaining to the historic Christ:
- The earliest sources we have for Jesus' life
- How early does the testimony of the resurrection appear?
- David Hume and the Impossibility of Miracles
- How early did the belief Jesus was God appear?
- Who Did Jesus Believe Himself to Be?
Not only are academic arguments attended to in Who Is Jesus...Really?, but throughout the authors seem to call upon their own observations to make numerous valid points. An example of this is when Nick's friend Jessica, a fellow believer, shares the following observation:
"You know, the very name of Jesus seems to bother people. It makes them uncomfortable, or angry, or both. So many of the girls try to change the subject when He comes up. It seems like you can talk about Buddha, Muhammad, or Confucius all day and people don't get upset, but mention Jesus and it's all over. Why don't the others offend people the way Jesus does?" [p. 71]
While I admit that this is far from qualifying as a formal argument, it certainly seems to have a ring of truth to it.
Who is Jesus...Really? is like it's predecessor in the fact that it is packed full of easy to understand, well researched answers to many popular objections heard on college campuses and internet chat rooms. Whether dealing with the New Atheists or the fallacious claims of Dan Brown, this little book packs a powerful punch!
Moreover, this book differs from it's predecessor in that it deals with a wider array of objections that attend to various topics. A consequence of this is perhaps the book may seem to jump around in the beginning, as one of the characters even admits, but regardless this reader is confident in saying that the book more than adequately answers the question Who is Jesus...Really?
If you or someone your know is interested in exploring the historical record as it pertains to Jesus Christ, this little book is a informative, entertaining place to start!
Courage and Godspeed,