David B. Garner’s book How Can I Know for Sure? is written in conversational tone reminiscent of Francis Schaeffer’s book Escape from Reason, managing to meaningfully address the reason why the Christian faith alone solves the problems raised by professional philosophers and laymen alike. The book is an apologetic for the Christian faith that is very accessible, showing that its author, without being ignorant of the history and development (?) of philosophy, is able to cause the non-academic person to become self-conscious of his or her own assumptions about what reality is, how it can be known, and how one should live in it.
Garner effectively utilizes Van Tillian presuppositionalism in a way that pulls no punches and yet is aware of the problems facing unbelievers trying to make sense of their worldview. I think, therefore, that the book is best for those who are aware of the Christian faith but want to know how it addresses the perennial problems of epistemology (“How can I know for sure?” for example), morality (“Is morality subjective only? Is it only objective? If it is objective, then where does one find its source/origin?”), and theology (“Who is God? Can He be known? How can I know that the Bible is God’s Word?”)
The book can also be used as a very rudimentary introduction to the problems of philosophy seen from a Christian perspective (i.e. properly). Not every Christian has had to wrestle with the primary texts of philosophy, not every Christian has wanted to do so either, so this book comes as a helpful tool for Christians who have been raised in a Christian household and shielded, to a large extent, from direct engagement with the problems of philosophy.
Garner preaches the Gospel, showing the Gospel to be central not only to the Christian faith but to understanding history and man’s place in history. Thus, in addition to being a great didactic tool, How Can I Know for Sure? is centrally evangelical, identifying the philosophical problems mentioned throughout its text as being problems resulting from the fall of man into sin. The intellect and will of man are addressed not as neutral players in a neutral world comprised of neutral facts, but as morally corrupt, perverting the revelation of God in creation because of that essential corruption, and in need of redemption by the God who reveals Himself in His creation – i.e the Trinity of the Scriptures.
If you are looking for a book that is philosophically well-informed and yet non-intimidating in its discussion and treatment of those philosophical issues, How Can I Know for Sure? is most likely the kind of book you’ll find most helpful :)
Soli Deo Gloria