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Why God Makes Sense in a World That Doesn't

The Beauty of Christian Theism

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Outreach 2022 Resource of the Year (Apologetics)

2021 Book Award Winner, The Gospel Coalition (Evangelism & Apologetics)

Christianity Today 2022 Book Award Finalist (Apologetics & Evangelism)

Southwestern Journal of Theology 2021 Book Award (Honorable Mention, Christian Worldview/Apologetics)

It has never been more important to articulate the wonder and enchantment of the Christian message. Yet the traditional approaches of apologetics are often outmoded in an age of profound disenchantment and distraction, unable to meet this pressing need.

This winsome apologetics book for a new generation makes the case that Christianity offers a compelling explanatory framework for making sense of our world. Pastor and writer Gavin Ortlund believes it is essential to appeal not only to the mind but also to the heart and the imagination as we articulate the beauty of the gospel.

Why God Makes Sense in a World That Doesn't reimagines four classical theistic arguments--cosmological, teleological, moral, and Christological--making a cumulative case for God as the best framework for understanding the storied nature of reality. The book suggests that Christian theism can explain such things as the elegance of math, the beauty of music, and the value of love. It is suitable for use in classes yet accessibly written, making it a perfect resource for churches and small groups.


Introduction: Beauty, Story, and Probability in the Question of God
1. The Cause of the World: Why Something Is More Plausible (and Much More Interesting) Than Nothing
2. The Meaning of the World: Why Things like Music, Math, and Love Make More Sense If There Is a God
3. The Conflict of the World: Why Good and Evil Shape the Plot of Every Story You've Ever Heard
4. The Hope of the World: Why Easter Means Happiness beyond Your Wildest Dreams
Conclusion: Moving Forward with Probabilities


"In a few short years, Ortlund has become one of the world's leading Christian scholars. This book delivers on its pledge to be both scholarly and inspiring. Writing from the heart, he shows us the eminent plausibility of the existence of God--and of the resurrection of Jesus. Ultimately, what sets this book apart is that Ortlund never overpromises and always engages the best counterarguments with scrupulous fairness, demonstrating in the process an amazing mastery of the Christian tradition and philosophical and scientific literature. A book to savor, and to pass on to friends and family."

Matthew Levering, James N. Jr. and Mary D. Perry Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary

"In this engaging book, Ortlund stirs our deepest hopes and longings for infinite beauty and perfect goodness, longings we often ignore or repress. He goes on to argue that there are good reasons to sustain these hopes and that truth, goodness, and beauty are ultimately aligned. This is the ideal book to give thoughtful unbelievers, and one that believers will find most useful as a model for intelligent evangelism in the twenty-first century."

Jerry L. Walls, scholar in residence and professor of philosophy, Houston Baptist University

"Why God Makes Sense in a World That Doesn't offers an approach to apologetics that is much needed today. Gavin Ortlund makes an argument for God that is as rigorous as it is beautiful and is as convincing as it is compelling."

Karen Swallow Prior, research professor of English and Christianity & Culture, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; author of On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books

"In this remarkably lucid and engaging book, Gavin Ortlund asks us to reflect on the 'affective' dimensions of a belief in God as the supreme source of truth, beauty, and goodness. When listening to music, or reflecting on the laws of mathematics, or expressing profound moral convictions, we sometimes experience longings for a transcendent 'beyond' that cannot be contained within the realm of 'the natural.' The Christian story, Ortlund argues, offers us a profound story in which these deepest yearnings of the human spirit are satisfied. Ortlund's compelling case is made with philosophical clarity, candor, and an impressive use of a wide variety of illustrations from fiction, poetry, and film."

Richard J. Mouw, senior research fellow, Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics, Calvin University

"Gavin Ortlund has written a marvelous, engaging book that defends the coherence, beauty, and power of the Christian story--the one story to rule them all. He effectively shows how the naturalistic story in particular fails to furnish an explanatory account of the nature of the universe, of human experience, and of the deepest longings of the human heart. Rather, all of these things hold together in Jesus Christ, whose resurrection grounds the hope that everything sad will become untrue."

Paul Copan, Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University; author of Loving Wisdom: A Guide to Philosophy and Christian Faith

"Ortlund's considerable talents applied to the ultimate question have yielded an impressive and eminently readable treatise that is both academically rigorous and deeply personal. Impressively researched and beautifully crafted, this book makes contagious the author's obvious delight at exploring life's mysteries, and it casts an animating vision of gripping beauty and enchanting transcendence. Without triumphalism it features epistemically modest yet hearty reasoning that invites readers into a conversation and into close consideration of existentially central threads of evidence--from math to morals--that end up weaving a lovely tapestry and providing a needed corrective to the postmodern fragmentation of truth, goodness, and beauty."

David Baggett, professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Moral Apologetics, Houston Baptist University

"If you've long thought that Christianity is unsophisticated and by the looks of things a boring way to live, and yet every now and again you find yourself wondering, But just what if there is something to it? then Why God Makes Sense in a World That Doesn't is a book you should read. Gavin Ortlund avoids the overreach of attempting to 'prove' God. Instead, he argues that belief in God and the Christian story is more rational and desirable than believing in atheism and the story that naturalism tells about the world. Ortlund serves as a careful guide through the arguments, engages the other side fairly, and admits he knows what it feels like to doubt. At the core of Christianity are the claims that there is a God and that Jesus rose from the dead. If true, they change everything. If false, they are some of the biggest errors of all time. Either way, these claims are worth your attention. This book will help you consider how wagering on God and Jesus might surprisingly make sense to you after all."

Josh Chatraw, executive director, Center for Public Christianity

The Author

  1. Gavin Ortlund
    Alexander Schottky

    Gavin Ortlund

    Gavin Ortlund (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is a scholar, pastor, and writer with a growing profile among the next generation of Christian apologists and philosophers. He serves as senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Ojai in Ojai, California, and is...

    Continue reading about Gavin Ortlund


Outreach 2022 Resource of the Year (Apologetics)

The Gospel Coalition 2021 Book Award (Evangelism & Apologetics)

Christianity Today 2022 Book Award Finalist (Apologetics & Evangelism)

Southwestern Journal of Theology 2021 Book Award (Honorable Mention, Christian Worldview/Apologetics)

"In considering traditional apologetic questions relating to creation, meaning, morality and heaven, this Apologetics resource of the year's focus on the aesthetic dimension of Christian answers offers church leaders tools to address a culture in search of transcendent meaning."

Andrew MacDonald,