You can read the review here.
I think it is safe to say that Nathaniel liked the book (see the second quote below). But he didn’t like everything. In particular he took issue with my acceptance of “evolutionism” and my critique of traditional readings of the biblical holy war texts. Here’s how he puts it:
On the other side, Randal does a really poor job when it comes to the Old Testament. Some of that is probably because of his general theological convictions, but he unequivocally states that he is an evolutionist at one point (130) and wants to allegorize the Joshua narratives (56-58). He basically concedes the case at some points when dealing with Old Testament issues and John rightly calls him on it.
Of course I recognize that my views will provide a jolt for some Christian conservatives, so I was impressed that Nathaniel didn’t allow this important disagreement to cloud his assessment of the book which seems to me to be admirably balanced. As he writes:
As far as the substance of the arguments, I think they both fall flat in various places (John of course more than Randal). But, when it comes to the format, I think this is a great book. Letting two well equipped debaters go at it in a confined space really works well in my opinion. If you’re looking for an in depth argumentation on any of the topics, you’ll be disappointed. For a popular level audience though, and particularly aspiring apologists, this book is a must have. Rather than simply reading the arguments on either side, this book allows you to read the sides arguing, and for the Christian, see how someone with a theological education who left the faith now argues against it. (emphasis added)
But let me return to Nathaniel’s criticism. Here I’ll note two things. First, where Neo-Darwinism is concerned, I am happy to say that more and more Christians are coming to terms with the overwhelming scientific support for this biological theory as well as the rich theological resources available in reflecting on evolution. Fifteen years ago I took a graduate course on science and theology with Mark Noll and David Livingstone. One of the books I read for the course was Livingstone’s Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders which introduced me to the many nineteenth century evangelical Christian scientists and theologians who embraced Darwin. Those looking for excellent resources on thinking through evolution with evangelical Christian conviction would be well advised to check out the Biologos website here: http://biologos.org/
Now to the second point on biblical warfare violence. Regular readers of this blog will know I’ve written more than my share on this topic including in-depth explanations of alternative ways to read scripture and why we need to consider those alternatives. Here I’ll note just one simple point. Most Christians would dismiss a priori any religion that would associate itself with divine commands to eradicate an entire population. Yet, this is precisely what is being described in passages like 1 Samuel 15. So it is not surprising that many non-Christians believe they have a defeater for the truth of Christianity in the belief that Christianity requires one to accept that God commanded the slaughter of infants and children.
But belief that God commanded the slaughter of infants and children isn’t anymore near the core, or even in the outer periphery, of what it means to be a Christian. Consequently, I believe that those who treat the defense of Old Testament accounts of genocidal holy war as part of the essential apologetic task do a grave disservice to the faith.
My approach is quite different: defend the core non-negotiables in the recognition that nobody should be kept from becoming a Christian because they find the idea slaughtering infants and children in God’s name morally abhorrent.