- Dr. Roger D. Duke
Faith is for Weak People by Ray Comfort: A Book Review
-- By Dr. Roger D. Duke --
Faith is for Weak People. By Ray Comfort. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2019, 215 pp., $14.99, softcover. ISBN 9780801093982.
“Ray Comfort is the founder and CEO of Living Waters and the bestselling author of more than ninety books, including God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life, How to Know God Exists, and The Evidence Bible. He cohosts the award-winning television program Way of the Master, airing in almost two hundred countries, and is the executive producer of 180, Evolution vs. God, Audacity, and other films. His ministry’s YouTube channel has more than seventy-seven million views. He is married to Sue and has three grown children” (author’s promo bio, p. 217).
Comfort begins the witnessing tool as you would expect any good Christian apologist to do. He seeks to remove all roadblocks hindering a person who would come to Christ. Early in the work asserts, “the matter of eternal salvation is so important that every stumbling block to the Savior and every misunderstanding should be removed” (16). This is the volume’s thesis.
He proceeds to deal with fear; for it is one of biggest obstacles for the witness of Christ. In his chapter entitled “Big Things First—Dealing with the Goliath of Fear,” he likens fear to the giant Goliath in the Old Testament. Two lessons are to be learned from the metaphor: First, “When fear [to witness] makes you tremble, have faith in God” (20). Secondly, because of the peril of people going to Hell—we should respond with all urgency—as when a small child falls into a swimming pool and is about to drown! (20-21).
In the next chapter, “More Important Than Apologetics,” Comfort details: “Our aim should be to present the gospel in an understandable way so that sinners will be saved from God’s wrath” (25). He then demonstrates his method of witness; “I simply do what Jesus did: use the Ten Commandments to stir the conscience and show sinners they need the Savior” (29).
Comfort’s technique is nuanced and employed in each of the following apologetic scenarios. His motive for his method, “I have learned the importance of having control of the direction I take” (29) in each witnessing encounter. To him, The Law has “the necessity of preceding the message of the gospel” (34). Said another way, people must understand they are sinners before they will consider their need of a Savior. One only cares about the cure, once one first understands one has a disease. How can they be found if they do not know they are lost? This is The Law’s work.
The rest of the volume he spends “Responding to the Top 20 Objections to the Gospel.” These are popular oppositions argued by unbelievers, skeptics, agnostics, and atheists. Consider the chapter titles:
1. If God is supposed to be in control of the world, why does it seem so out of control? (37).
2. What sort of God would threaten to torture people in hell forever just because they don’t believe in Him? (Part One) (43).
3. What sort of God would threaten to torture people in hell forever just because they don’t believe in him? (Part Two) (51).
4. Why should I care about what happens after I die if you can’t even prove there’s life after death? (67).
5. How can you believe that God is love when there is so much suffering in the world? (75).
6. Isn’t the God of the Old Testament different from the God of the New Testament? (85).
7. Would you sacrifice your child if God asked you to? (93).
8. Aren’t religions the cause of more wars and suffering than anything else in history? (99).
9. If Christians are so loving, why won’t Christians let gay people be themselves? (107).
10. Are you saying that you are going to Heaven, but millions of sincere Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists are going to Hell because they don’t believe as you do? (115).
11. Why are there so many hypocrites in the church? (123).
12. Why should we believe the biblical account of creation when evolution, which is proven science, says something different? (129).
13. The Bible was written by men. Don’t men make mistakes? (137).
14. You can’t prove God exists; even if you could, if everything needs a cause, what god made God? (147).
15. Unbelievers are as good as any Christian, if not better, so why aren’t we good enough to get into Heaven? (159).
16. What happens to those who have never heard the gospel? (173).
17. Why does God allow evil? (181).
18. What’s so bad about other religions? (187).
19. Seeing is believing. Why do I need faith? Faith is for weak people. (195).
20. I can murder a hundred people, then give my heart to Jesus and go to Heaven? (199).
Comfort then utilizes his years of experience as a gifted apologist and zeal of a Billy Graham to answer his posed questions. This he does “with gentleness and respect” (I Peter 3:15).
· Comfort’s use of The Law (Ten Commandments) is commendable and very effective. Because of Biblical illiteracy, most in the West have no concept of what The Law of God is, let alone that it is written on their conscience. It certainly goes without saying that they do not believe themselves to be a “sinner.” This helps to hold up the “law of liberty” as a mirror so they can begin to see themselves for whom and what they are.
· Comfort’s zeal is to be commended. He has a hot love for sinners, and his life’s work will testify to this. He has always disciplined himself to be ready to give an account for the hope that lies within him—the hope of Christ and His Gospel. Comfort’s view of the lost truly is like one who would see a small child fall in a swimming-pool and about to drown.
· Comfort does an excellent as well as professional job handling each of the 20 witnessing, apologetic scenarios. His use of The Law, his ready answers to seemingly answerless questions, his quick wit, his winsomeness; all factor into his ability to field the skeptic’s responses. All is based on his years of experience and love for the lost. His zealousness, experience, training, and self-discipline have indeed paid off.
· Comfort did employ the idea of “repentance.” But early on, it was not used so very much in conjunction with “believe” or “belief” as it could have been. In Acts 20:21 the two are inextricable tied together. It could have been given greater credence. Seemingly it came up only in a peripheral way until the last chapter.
· Comfort, even though he does mention repentance as “God-granted” (202), most of his earlier references seem to assert that it is only a human activity. His Bible quote, Acts 11:18 “God . . . granted repentance unto life,” makes it incumbent upon us to explain Repentance in our witnessing encounters. The Doctrine of Repentance ought to strongly undergird our theology of witness.
· Comfort’s use of The Law is commendable. And it informs people that Jesus takes away the penalty for our sin so we can go to Heaven. But according to the Reformation view, that is only half of the work we need to have done on our behalf. The other half is referred to as the “Passive Obedience of Christ.” He submitted to the wrath of God when the sins of humanity were placed upon him in his humiliation. But the Scripture also teaches that each of us must have a perfect righteousness, a perfect obedience to the Law of God if we are to dwell with God in Heaven. The command is “be ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” Comfort does not deal with this. God commands us to be perfect as he is perfect. We must attain a perfection in order to be in God’s presence. This can only be fulfilled by Christ’s perfect life.
This is a handy little primer. I would recommend that you buy it, keep it near, so you can refer to it when some friend or loved-one non-believer asks you some of these 20 hard questions. It is a very good enchiridion and ready source for all those who want to share their faith with those close to them who do not know Christ.
© by Roger D. Duke
Retired Professor, Baptist College of Health Sciences
Founder, The Duke Consulting Group
This book review is copyrighted © by Roger D Duke and The Duke Consulting Group. I hereby grant permission for the publication of this essay in Evangelical Review of Theology & Politics. But I reserve to myself the permanent right to publish this material in any context I may choose, without restriction.
June 6, 2019
Note: This reviewer taught Public Address at Baptist College of Health Sciences for 18 years. When judging/critiquing of all types of speeches I would often not use the term “negative” because of its hurtful effect on the student’s ego. I would use terminology such as “could be improved” or “needs improvement.” This is how the term “Negative” is employed in this context.
Comfort’s witness and apologetic sets forth Christ’s “Passive Obedience” to the Father’s Will in his death on the cross to take away our sins. But there must also be an “Active Obedience of Christ.” In this “Active Obedience,“ Jesus kept the Law perfectly which is also imputed to our account. He provides all we need in both senses; He takes away the penalty (“Passive Obedience”) for our sins in His death on the Cross, and he provides us with a perfect righteousness (“Active Obedience”) by living a perfect life and keeping The Law.