Sunday, March 15, 2015

Book Review: “World Religions in a Nutshell” by Ray Comfort

Ray Comfort is a passionate, Christ-exalting evangelist. He does just about everything he does to maximize his time for the purpose of sharing the love of Jesus with unbelievers. So, we are not surprise to read these words at the close of the brief Introduction to his book, World Religions in a Nutshell: A Compact Guide to Reaching Those of Other Faiths (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2008):

“I don’t mind admitting that books on world religions, with a spine the size of my fist, intimidate me. While they might look impressive on my shelf, I literally have little time for them. I want a book that will say, ‘Here’s what you need; now go to battle’—a book that will give me what I need in a nutshell.”

Accordingly, Comfort moves on to offer brief synopses of Judaism, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Atheism, and Modern Christianity. Each chapter gives an overview of a religion’s origins, basic beliefs, and customs, as well as tips on how to share Jesus with adherents. 

While the information in these chapters is fairly accurate and helpful, the paucity of research that went into the book sometimes causes Comfort to misstate or mischaracterize aspects of each religion. For example, of the Jewish view of Scripture Comfort writes, “Orthodox Jews believe that the Torah was written by God through the hand of Moses…They also believe the rest of the Old Testament, which is called the Tanak, but don’t give it as much authority as the Torah.” 

In truth, the name “Tanak” derives from the acronym “TNK” where “T” stands for “Torah” (the Law of Moses), “N” stands for “Nevi’im” (the prophets), and “K” stands for “Kethuvim” (the writings or poetic literature). So for the Jew, the entirety of what we call the Old Testament is instead called the Tanak.

Details matter, and I wish that Comfort and his team would have taken more time to ensure that the details were right. However, I still think the book a valuable resource and recommend it to anyone who needs a quick overview of one or more religions, or who perhaps isn’t “the reading type” and thus won't take the time to read a more detailed book.

One more minor criticism. When it comes to entering into a discussion with a person of any faith, Comfort is a one-trick pony. This is no surprise to those who know Comfort's ministry, for he believes in using the Law of Moses, and the Ten Commandments in particular, to prick a person’s conscience and lead them to faith in Christ. Far be it from me to criticize a man who is so fruitful in evangelism, but I must say that there is more than one way to share the glory of the gospel with unbelievers. So let us learn what we can from Comfort, and also acknowledge that there are other biblical approaches to sharing the gospel. 

Overall, I recommend the book, mainly because I’m grateful to the Lord and Comfort for how I have grown from it. May the Lord use this brief work to empower and impassion his people to share the hope of Jesus with a lost and dying world!

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