Andrew Wilson. If God, Then What?: Wondering Aloud About Truth, Origins, and Redemption. Nottingham, UK: Inter-Varsity, 2012. 160 pps. $11.99.
Review by Gavin Ortlund
Andrew Wilson’s If God, Then What?: Wondering Aloud About Truth, Origins, and Redemption is an accessible, winsome, honest, and often profound articulation of the Christian faith for a post-Christian audience. Wilson describes it as the content of Tim Keller’s The Reason for God in the style of Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz, and this combination of depth and likability makes the book succeed. It will strengthen and equip believers, help inquirers, and challenge skeptics.
Donald Miller Style
The words “wondering aloud” in the subtitle capture something of the book’s disarming, conversational style. Unlike the style of other apologists, the U.K. pastor doesn’t pound his readers into submission with layers of argumentation designed to blow all doubts to smithereens. Rather, he invites readers to question their assumptions and consider the explanatory beauty of the Christian worldview. (In terms of the spectrum of views on apologetics, the book sides decidedly with the “presuppositional” camp, though Wilson doesn’t use that terminology; cf. 39-42.) Along the way, Wilson narrates, jokes, questions, confesses, muses, and marvels. There is casual authenticity to his presentation: he is just as likely to reference a movie he watched the previous evening as he is to reference a classic piece of literature; he might quote G. K. Chesterton to make a point, but he also might quote a somewhat random line from The Oxford Companion to Philosophy that helped him in his personal intellectual development.
Wilson’s courteous tone is well suited for readers who have their guard up against religious truth claims. The book’s first two chapters especially seem geared to clear away baggage hindering postmodern readers; chapter one argues we should subject our beliefs to evidence, contra fundamentalism, while chapter two argues that reasonable certainty in our beliefs is possible, contra skepticism. To some, these might seem like relatively modest conclusions, but Wilson is simply starting with the questions many people are asking, especially in his setting in the U.K. and increasingly throughout the West. Furthermore, beyond their content, these two chapters set the tone for the rest of the book. They establish trust and invite the reader to travel with Wilson on a journey through the ultimate questions of life.