The Puzzle of Christianity by Peter Vardy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Apart from the title — which more to do with the author’s brand than what’s actually inside the book — this is a clear, illuminating, irenic introduction to the Christian faith. It steers admirably away from a sectarian party line and respects critical scholarship while also realizing that critical scholarship can itself be criticized and is anyway often a long way from the lives and preoccupations of actual Christians.
Many opponents of Christianity prefer to criticize straw men (?persons) rather than the real thing, which is usually better thought out, more nuanced, more aware of its own failings and rather harder to dismiss with a single rhetorical swipe. Vardy’s picture includes the warts, but I think it’s a fair and deeply attractive portrait of the past and present of Christianity.
In our (Anglican) church we are seeing a number of Chinese academics adopt the Christian faith; this text will serve very well as a fine, just, heart-warming introduction to the wider context of what they are getting themselves into.