Review: 10 Questions Every Teen Should Ask (and Answer) about Christianity

How will the church help Gen Z believe, understand, and defend the faith? How will they be able to make winsome apologetic arguments to an age group that has been shaped more by Instagram and TikTok than books or syllogisms, who find personal experience to be more persuasive than just about anything?

Rebecca McLaughlin has an idea. In her book 10 Questions Every Teen Should Ask (and Answer) about Christianity, McLaughlin presents both a compelling resource for teenagers today and a superb model for older generations to follow. Relying on personal testimonies, scientific studies, copious pop culture references (Harry Potter fans, rejoice!), and a casual, simple style in writing, McLaughlin takes aim at ten of the most common problems or obstacles that a teenager might have with Christianity. (Think of Keller’s Reason for God, but for 16 year olds).

The ten questions McLaughlin tackles in the book are:

  1. How can I live my best life now? (Mental and physical benefits of the Christian life)
  2. Isn’t Christianity against diversity? (Racism / Slavery / Christianity as the most diverse movement in history)
  3. Can Jesus be true for you but not for me? (Universal truth/ Relativism / Evangelism)
  4. Can’t we just be good without God? (God as the basis for morality / 9/11 / Hitler / Stalin / Human identity / Abortion)
  5. How can you believe the Bible is true? (Evidence for the gospels / Evidence for the resurrection / True versus literal)
  6. Hasn’t science disproved Christianity? (Origins of science / Science and faith controversies / Christian scientists today)
  7. Why can’t we just agree that love is love? (Marriage / Sex / Singleness / Friendship / Same-sex attraction / Pornography / Abuse)
  8. Who cares if you’re a boy or a girl? (Gender / Feminism / Transgender and non-binary identities)
  9. Does God care when we hurt? (God’s sovereignty in suffering / God’s care for us / Prayer / Purpose)
  10. How can you believe in Heaven and Hell? (Meaning of Heaven and Hell / Sin and judgement / Salvation / Invitation)

Strengths

You wouldn’t know it from her simple prose and laid-back storytelling posture, but McLaughlin holds a PhD from Cambridge University in Renaissance literature and a theology degree from Oak Hill College. The greatest strength of 10 Questions is McLaughlin’s ability to take her education and apologetic skill, and translate them into a form that someone still in high school or middle school can easily access. She draws from dozens and dozens of pop culture references that any teenager today would immediately recognize. But, again, none of this is at the expense of serious apologetic arguments. In this book you will see her go from marshaling arguments for the resurrection, to the reliability of the New Testament documents, to the fine tuning of the universe argument, to the moral argument, and on and on she goes, providing rigorous challenges to the challengers of the faith.

Along side McLaughlin’s intellect is her transparency. Repeatedly throughout the book she shares stories from her own life or the life of her friends. She is a wife and mother of three, but is still able to share stories that many young people would find easy to relate to. Further, her experience as someone who experiences same-sex attraction, yet chooses not to act on it, gives her a unique authority when defending the Bible’s view on sexuality–which, again to a generation that puts so much emphasis on personal experience, is a powerful argument.

But we shouldn’t mischaracterize Gen Z as if they are controlled by emotions and personal narratives alone. They want serious answers to serious questions. And McLaughlin’s willingness to tackle issues like transgenderism, LGBTQ+, abortion, Hell and judgment, the exclusivity of faith in Christ, how the Bible squares with modern science, and a whole gambit of other “hot button” issues is a great balm. Time and time again McLaughlin confronts thorny issues and simply and clearly cuts through them with a clear and plain exposition of what the Bible, or science, or history actually teaches. This is what young–and old–people need today as they are awash in a seemingly infinity outpouring of information via the internet. If Christians will not disciple young people on these issues, YouTube and Netflix certainly will.

Lastly, the greatest strength of this book is McLaughlin’s embodiment of Jude 22, “have mercy on those who doubt.” Her tone throughout the book exudes a understanding of what it is like to experience doubts and skepticisms. She doesn’t brow beat or make atheists look like cartoonish villains or rely on straw men arguments. Rather, several times she extends a hand out to the potential teenager who is genuinely wrestling with what they believe and offers strong arguments with a gentle and lowly spirit. This may be the best part of the book for older generations to glean from.

Criticism

I have little to criticize in this wonderful book. I did have to constantly remind myself that this book was written for teenagers, so there are times where I found myself feeling that disconnect–I am not a Gen Z’er. But that can hardly be considered a serious criticism. I did think, however, that the book could have been a little shorter given that fewer young people read non-fiction. Lastly, (McLaughlin even states this in the introduction!) she relies on references from Harry Potter so frequently that if you had not read the books (or at least watched the movies) you might be left feeling very confused for many of the chapters. I myself am a fan of JK Rowling and have read all the books (several times), so I caught all the references easily, but sometimes it felt like it was a tad overkill.

Conclusion

This book, hands down, will now be my go to resource to hand young people, especially before they leave for college. I think an appropriate age range for this book (depending on the maturity of the teen) would be from ages 12-17.

I worked as a youth pastor for a number of years and would try to take teenagers through Keller’s Reason for God before they left for college, hoping to prepare them for the challenges they would face. But often the teenagers struggled to make it through the book. I wished that there was a resource like Keller that was geared for young people. Well, here it is! Look no further!

This review was written in conjunction with Crossway’s Book Review Program. I received a free advance copy of this book.

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