David Hogsette’s E-mails to a Young Seeker is one of the most… fascinating books I’ve ever read. I first discovered this quirky apologetics book when I had to edit it as an assignment in a class at Grove City College—and not even a religion class, but an English class. Being the passive aggressive individual that I am, I decided that I had too many edits to be contained in one assignment, and I wanted my critique of the garbage presented to me at that school to be public.
Thus, I published the following responses as I painstakingly read through the entire book:
In each review, I would respond to each of the author’s email “exchanges”, which was really a conversation between Prof Dave (the author) and himself, posing as a college student who asks a lot of asinine questions about Christianity.
The seeker’s last four questions are as follows:
Exchange 18: What’s the deal with the Trinity? It seems like a total contradiction to me.
Exchange 19: Why did Christ have to die?
Exchange 20: Can’t I just understand God in my own way?
Exchange 21: I have so much to think about—what do I do now?
Exchange 18 consists entirely of Prof Dave trying to explain the Trinity in a way that makes sense, saying things like “It is a mystery but not a contradiction. It may go against the reason’s ability to comprehend completely, but it does not violate reason’s ability to apprehend consistently.” Although it seems completely illogical and contradictory to me, I don’t have much concern about the Trinity or the topic of the next chapter, the death of Christ.
The metaphor I use to explain why is this: imagine that Christianity is an egg. Christian doctrine and theology, and the core of the religion, are the yolk and the inside of the egg. There’s also the shell, which is what lies between this inner identity of Christianity and things that aren’t. It would be any instance when Christianity comes into contact with something else, like a debate between a Christian and an atheist or a creationist and an evolutionist. If you’ve read Mere Christianity, I’d say the first few chapters arguing for God’s existence using objective morality are more like the shell, but the end of the book about belief in Jesus and salvation and heaven are more like the yolk. I’ve read the first half twice and the second half not at all. Internal issues on the details of Christian theology don’t really interest me
I myself am generally only interested in this shell where Christianity meets atheism, like the portions of E-mails to a Young Seeker that tried so hard to refute evolution and atheism itself. Once the author goes into detail about the intricacies of the Trinity, I’ve lost interest because I hadn’t been convinced that God himself even exists in the first place, so why Jesus is said to have died or how he’s really three people aren’t great concerns of mine.
A point that Prof Dave made that did pique my interest was that humanity is innately bad. I’ve talked about this before, but Prof Dave tried very hard to make a point that without God, humanity is “by nature impure, evil, unholy, unrighteous, unfair, and unloving”. He continually implies that humanity is ultimately bad. It’s a pretty complex topic whether humans are innately good or bad, and I haven’t made my mind up as to what I believe, although I would say it is somewhere in the middle, but we are certainly not completely evil creatures.
Just before beginning this post, I finished E-mails to a Young Seeker, and I am so excited to never read it again! If you are seriously looking for an apologetics book to read and study, just… read Mere Christianity instead. Don’t even bother with David Hogsette’s nonsense—I did so you don’t have to.