Today's cosmopolitan, multicultural, and multifaith environments call for new approaches to apologetics. The world still needs the good news of Jesus Christ, but to relate the transcultural gospel to diverse and ever-changing contexts, we must free Christian apologetics from dominant Western habits of mind ill-suited to interreligious dialogue. We must listen and speak with both humility and confidence.
Benno van den Toren and Kang-San Tan provide a global, intercultural introduction to Christian apologetics. They present a model of apologetics as crosscultural dialogue and accountable witness, then explore how it plays out in relation to specific contexts and the major world religions—including primal religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, secularism, and late-modern spiritualities. Building on recent developments in apologetics and missiology, as well as their experience teaching internationally in Europe, Asia, and Africa, Van den Toren and Tan offer an approach that is conversational, patient, holistic, and embodied.
Filled with examples from Scripture and real-world experiences, Humble Confidence gives readers a travel guide to help find the most effective avenues for true dialogue in their own settings.
"Can we stand firm as trustworthy witnesses for the hope of the gospel while honoring the vast diversity of cultures and religions that shape people? Benno van den Toren and Kang-San Tan emphatically respond with a yes, if we first explore how culture has shaped our core theological beliefs and assumptions about what it means to engage in Christian apologetics. Drawing on their rich epistemological, intercultural, and interreligious knowledge and experience, Van den Toren and Tan guide us to greater awareness of God, self, and others that, true to the title, equips us with humble confidence to participate persuasively in an apologetic dialogue with people from any and every background."
"In this refreshingly original approach to an issue of burning relevance to our world today, the authors present a convincing alternative to existing models of engagement that takes seriously the religious experiences and traditions of people of other faiths even while holding firmly to the essential truth claims of the Christian faith. Ambitious and courageous in its breadth of treatment, Humble Confidence is a worthwhile read for any serious Christ-follower—not just the specialist!"
"This is a fine and sensitive study of the dynamics of engaging in faithful Christian witness to different religious traditions—and the complex tasks and demands in each new situation. It is written with deep learning and wide experience. It is an eloquent and much-needed apology for the importance of humble apologetics."
"Can apologetics play a positive role in Christian witness today in our cosmopolitan, multireligious, and multicultural societies? In this thoughtful and nuanced discussion, Benno van den Toren and Kang-San Tan persuasively argue that, properly understood, interfaith apologetics actually is indispensable in Christian witness in highly diverse contexts. They provide a relevant and wise guide for all concerned with effective ministry in our globalizing and fragmenting world."
"Remarkable, deep, stimulating, convincing, and compelling reading. This timely, transformative book helps the reader to discover the richness, the effectiveness, and the need for Christian apologetics as holistic, conversational, crosscultural, and contextual dialogue. It informs, educates, and guides humble witnesses of Jesus Christ to be confident as they effectively embrace and practice a Christian apologetics that is healthy and builds trust with people and communities living and rooted in diverse traditions, multireligious contexts, and a multicultural and secularized world."
"A book like this is long overdue. As a way of giving account of the hope within us, apologetics ought to be closely related to missiology, but it is rarely included. Here it is made relevant again. Both apologetics and mission are changed in the dialogue: apologetics becomes contextual and mission becomes apologetic. The arguments are lucid and substantial. The illuminating case studies show what apologetics contributes to Christian witness in various religious contexts."
"Humble Confidence occupies a perfect middle space, balancing patient listening with honest speaking, intellectual acumen with relational health, modern insights with postmodern themes, and as the title says, personal humility with reasoned confidence. A dialogical and embodied model for apologetics is all the more relevant today, since global Christianity encounters not only Western secularism but multiple non-Western religions and cultures as well. Tan and Van den Toren hit just the right notes for faithful apologetic dialogue in our time."
"A book like this is long overdue. As a way of giving account of the hope within us, apologetics ought to be closely related to missiology, but it is rarely included. Here it is made relevant again. Both apologetics and mission are changed in the dialogue: apologetics becomes contextual and mission becomes apologetic. The arguments are lucid and substantial, and the illuminating case studies show what apologetics contributes to Christian witness in various religious contexts."
"In such times as today, when vehement assertions tend to dominate cultural and political landscapes and are often undergirded by rigid interpretations of religions, Humble Confidence comes as a gentle voice of wisdom, inspiring empathy—a distinct mark of the good news in Christ. Drawing on scholarship while remaining accessible and engaging, the authors contribute to the academic debate of interreligious dialogue, taking seriously the profound influence of culture. As academics and practitioners, having lived and taught in multicultural contexts and working in multiple global languages, the authors bring theoretical depth balanced by their lived experience and witness of interreligious conversions. Humble Confidence is an inspiring book, filled with illuminating insights into cultural encounters, and it bridges the disparate spectrums of interreligious dialogue. Evangelicals committed to witnessing Christ and respecting the contextuality of cultures will find the book a treasure."
Introduction: Contextual Apologetics as Holistic Dialogue and Accountable Witness
Part 1: Reimagining Interfaith Apologetics
1. Apologetic Dialogue in a Multicultural World
2. Embodied Apologetics
3. The Cultural Embeddedness of Belief
4. God's Presence and Truth in the World of Religions
5. Apologetics as Accountable Witness to Christ
6. Possibilities for Critical Interreligious Dialogue
7. Reaching the Reasons of the Heart
Part 2: Contextual Apologetic Witness to Particular Audiences
8. Inculturation in Dialogue with Primal Religions
9. Subversive Fulfillment of the Hindu Quest
10. Buddhism Confronts Reality
11. Islam and the Integrity of the Christian Faith
12. Unmasking Secular Idols
13. Inner Tensions in Late-Modern Spiritualities
Conclusion: Looking Back and Forward
Study Questions and Further Reading