Books by Mike D’Virgilio

Uninvented: Why the Bible Could Not be Made Up, and the Evidence that Proves It

The Persuasive Christian Parent: God’s Provision for Building an Enduring Faith in You and Your Children

Our Story: Mike & Sarah D’Virgilio’s Excellent Adventure

Uninvented: Why the Bible Could Not be Made Up, and the Evidence that Proves It

This book started with a decision I made somewhere in 2012. Having not read the Bible cover to cover in a very long time, I decided I was going to read it and pray every morning. I started in Genesis 1 with, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” and made my way through the majestic scope of redemptive history all the way to Revelation 22 and, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” Even though I had been a Christian by that point for over 30 years and been engaged in the Bible all along the way, this time through it was mind-blowing in a way I don’t remember before.

So many things amazed me I decided I was going to read through it again, but this time I was also going to write my way through. So, I got a free WordPress site and a minimalist theme, and decided to give it the creative name, “My Walk Through the Bible.” That was in April of 2014.

 

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At the moment I write these words I have made it to Revelation 17, and by the time you read these words it is likely I will be done. It has been one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life, and it has allowed me to share the tiny blown bits of my mind with the world. I realized I could write through it again, and again, and again, and still not scratch the surface of God’s revelation of himself in Scripture. It is as infinite, bottomless, and profound as he is. As I argue in the book, God has revealed himself to us in three ways, creation, Scripture, and Christ. The first drives us to the second, and the second into the arms of the third. A quote by C.S. Lewis could not put the culmination of revelation any better:

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

I had no idea my growing appreciation of the infinite depth of God’s revelation of himself in the Bible would lead to a book, but because I’d been immersing myself in apologetics for several year, eventually it did .

As I stated explaining how my first book came about, in 2009 I got back into apologetics for the first time in more than two decades. One motivation for doing that was a conversation I had with a co-worker that revealed just how terrible I was at defending the veracity of Christianity. It was embarrassing even if my interlocutor wouldn’t have concluded that. I sure did! This happened to be on a business trip, and when I got back home, I determined I was never going to let that happen again, and I looked for ways to start working on my apologetics education again, but also theology, history, philosophy, and as it turned out, everything else as well. Podcasts were a relatively new phenomenon back then, but the resources were even then endless. So, I dove in, and that was part of the transformation that God mercifully and graciously allowed in my life that led to The Persuasive Christian Parent.

As I dove even deeper into apologetics literature in research for the book, I kept coming across an argument in discussions about the Bible, that something could not have been invented, merely made up, human fiction. It struck me as a powerful and persuasive argument for the trustworthiness of the Biblical record. As I finished up the nightmare of getting my first book self-published, I decided my second book (third actually; see my thoughts on Our Story) would have something to do with the Bible not being able to be a human invention. Originally, I thought I would call it something like psychological apologetics because the human psychology of the characters and writers of the Bible is a powerful indication that they were not making up what they were writing about. I quickly realized that such a title would be confusing because nobody would know what the heck it means. That’s when I settled on a phrase we are familiar with in common parlance, “You just can’t make this stuff up!” My publisher convinced me that would probably not be the best title, and we settled on what it is now.

When I started doing my research and reading, I realized I had underestimated the power of the argument. With every book I read it became apparent that not only was it unlikely the stories, including the miraculous ones, would have been made up, but making them up would have been impossible. In fact, I had become so convinced, that as I wrote the book and as we were going through final editing, it was pointed out to me that I had repeated my conclusion an obnoxious number of times. When I did a word search of the manuscript of a couple of words/phrases, it was positively obnoxious! How could I not have seen that! Well, maybe because I’m an amateur at this writing books thing. I trust God is helping me get better, and I’m grateful he gave me time to edit out the obnoxious annoyingness (I can’t believe that’s a word!). I’ve realized my demonstrative personality comes out in my writing, and if I’m not careful it will be, well, obnoxious and annoying. I’m thrilled and grateful to be learning this because the last thing I want is me getting in the way of the message or the argument.

As for the book, I hope it communicates how and why the Bible is a powerfully plausible historical series of documents. As I state in the first sentence, “The Bible has endured an intellectual world war on its veracity for several hundred years.” Ever since, Christians have been on the defensive, and culturally critics and skeptics have had the upper hand. The burden of proof is always assumed to be on the Christians, as if critics and skeptics don’t have to defend their positions. Uninvented turns the tables and argues it takes more faith to believe the Bible is made up, mere human invention, than what it claims to be, historically reliable eyewitness accounts of God’s redemptive revelation to his creatures.

I explore two ideas throughout the book, and I hope Christians stay aware of them as they are reading their own Bibles. One is a logical fallacy called begging the question, or assuming the premise is true without proving it, then concluding something based on the assumption as if it wasn’t the result of the assumption. Miracles are the most obvious example. Critics assume miracles can’t happen, so when they read miracles in the Bible, they assume they are made up because, well, miracles can’t happen. Critics have been running in that circle for a very long time. The other idea is verisimilitude, or the quality of appearing realistic or true. We find in the Bible a realness to life we don’t find in the myths and legends critics often compare it to. As I wrote my way through the Bible I had to go slowly, and the realness stood out to me in a way I had never encountered before. I knew I had to write about it, and Uninvented is the result. I hope you read it, and as you bring what you learn to your own study of the Bible that you too will find a realness there that jumps out of the text. I trust it will for you like it has for me, ignite a passion for our own exploration of God’s Word, which is God himself in Christ!

The Persuasive Christian Parent: God’s Provision for Building an Enduring Faith in You and Your Children

When God blessed us with children, I knew my number one responsibility was to raise them as Christians. I was never very good at it, though. Looking back, I think of many things I could have done differently (who doesn’t) and being a spiritual leader would be at the top of the list. That depends, however, on what one means by “spiritual leader.” The part I wasn’t particularly good at was the “spiritual” stuff, like praying and reading the Bible with them, leading family devotions, minor things like that. I didn’t even attempt singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, as Paul instructs us to do.

When they were older, and still in the house, I tried to make up for lost time, but it didn’t go well; it was like herding cats, only cats are more cooperative. Not too long ago I told my now-adult married daughter, who recently had her first child, how bummed out I am that I was a terrible “spiritual leader,” and she said, “Well, dad, at least you taught us Christianity is the Truth.” Well, there is that, and fortunately it’s something I seem to be pretty good at. So, I figured, why not write a book about what that looked like in practice.

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I would haven’t thought about writing a book, something I’d never done, except for a blog post I read back in May of 2015 about a young woman, Lindsay, who grew up in a Christian home, went off to college and promptly abandoned her faith. That made me angry, and my first thought was, “My kids would never do that!” The reason is not, as I’ve said, that I was a particularly good spiritual leader, but I was passionate about one thing when it came to my children and our Christian faith: teaching, persuading, convincing, lecturing, cajoling, and showing them in every way I could imagine that Christianity is the truth, and that is the only reason we embrace it. When I embraced Christianity when I was in college, I did so because I believed it was the truth, and for no other reason, thus it came naturally to teach that to my children. I’d come across Francis Schaeffer’s The God Who is There as a young Christian, and ever since then defending the veracity of Christianity was a passion for me, and doing that for my children came as natural to me as breathing.

While I studied apologetics, philosophy, history, and theology in my first decade as a Christian, and attended seminary, I got away from apologetics proper for some time. Then in 2009 I started to take a deep dive back into the world of apologetics and was pleasantly surprised at the explosion of apologetics resources since the 1980s. I took advantage of them all, so when I was inspired to write what become The Persuasive Christian Parent, I figured I could give it a go without completely embarrassing myself. I’m not sure if I accomplished that, but it was a painfully tremendous experience (painful because it was completely self-published), and I pray it has and will help a few Christians along the way, parents or not (it is not a parenting book, of which I am not a fan, but an apologetics book for parents).

My first thought when I started thinking about writing the book was that in Lindsay’s reverse testimony (they’re called “deconversion stories” now), the word truth was not only not mentioned, but it didn’t even seem to occur to her that truth might just be the point. Since she obviously no longer believed Christianity was true, then what was true? I’ve come to call that the consideration of the alternative, one of my favorite apologetics phrases. In her mind, as with most people who go through “deconversion,” she thought she was going from faith to not-faith. However, such as state of being doesn’t exist; there is no such thing as an unbeliever (the topic of another book some day, God willing). If someone doesn’t believe in A, then he or she must believe in non-A, whatever that might be. Either way, that person will always be a “believer.”

Most people who leave Christianity don’t understand this, or have never given it a thought, so they think they can escape to something in between that doesn’t require belief, and they will call themselves agnostics. That will not, however, get them off the hook from having to be a “person of faith.” Nor will they be able to escape the inevitable issue that their faith must be defended, that they need to give logical, rational reasons for what they believe and why they believe it. One of the greatest books that shows just how difficult that is for non-Christians of faith is Tactics by Greg Koukl. Christianity, on the other hand, has a massive amount of evidence for its veracity. It is philosophically persuasive, logically and rationally compelling, and powerfully plausible. While I would argue absolutely certainty is unattainable, we can attain beyond-a-reasonable certainty that Christianity is true.

My original title for the book referred to building an enduring faith in “your children,” but I changed it to add, “you and your children” because if a parent’s faith isn’t itself of the enduring kind, then I’m not sure how it such faith can be built into the children. If we want our children’s commitment to Christ to be the most important thing in their lives, then it needs to be the most important thing in our lives. Children are keenly attuned to what’s going on in the deep recesses of their parents’ hearts. Of course, there are exceptions to all rules. I, for example, grew up in a nominally Catholic home and I turned into a full-on Jesus freak. When I came back from college my parents wondered how they had raised a monster! They were right to wonder because I was a passionate and ignorant believer in the Lord Jesus, but I’ve mellowed over the years as God has worked me over, and I’ve learned a few things.

So, how do we build an enduring faith in ourselves, and then in our children? Well, you’ll have to read the book, but I can give you an idea of what you’ll find in the book. As I mentioned above, truth was my first thought, so I started writing a chapter I was going to call, “It’s All About Truth,” but I knew that it started with parents. So, when I started my next chapter about parents I realized, “It’s All About Parents” as well. As I was writing about other topics in what became the subsequent chapters, I realized those topics were critically important too. When I was writing about epistemology and trust, plausibility, explanatory power, etc., I decided it was all about those as well. So, each chapter is all about what it’s all about. That ended up including with those four areas, culture, gratitude, theology, and apologetics, the all about being the subtitle of each chapter. Readers, parents or not, will learn why they can have every confidence in the veracity of their faith, and how to pass it on to their children if they have them. God has given us everything we need to build an enduring faith in us and our children that will stand the test of a lifetime.

Our Story: Mike & Sarah D’Virgilio’s Excellent Adventure

I’m not sure this little volume really counts as “a book,” but it is paper with print on it in between two covers, so I guess it will do. This was a love letter to my wife and kids I wrote in 2020 and gave them for Christmas that year. My wife cried. What can I say, I have that effect on people. Well, at least my wife, and this time, thankfully, it was tears of joy.

Our courtship was a most unexpected thing for both of us, given we never expected to go to seminary and find a spouse. First, Sarah was engaged to someone else (minor detail), and when I went across the country, the very last thing I expected to find at seminary was my future wife. It proved to be the most exhilarating four months of our young lives, and why it makes such a great story.

We told bits and pieces to friends and family over the years, and in April of that year talking about it around the dinner table, our daughter said something to the effect of, I forgot that part. That night I decided, why not write a book about it so they’ll have a record of all the little details. Writing it was a blast, and because I’d kept a diary at the time to record all the emotional ups and downs, I was able write about those details.

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It’s hard to imagine the Creator of the universe cares about us so intimately that our aspirations, including our love lives, matter to him. When I find that hard to believe, which is often, I remind myself that one, he created me, and two, he died for me; so how could he not care for me. For those of us who have been blessed with children, we’ll have an inkling of what that’s like, how deeply emotionally attached we are to our children. I imagine God our Father cares for us in a similar way, but far beyond what earthly parents can conceive given he is God. As Jesus says in Matthew 7:11, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Those words stand out, how . . . much . . . more. Our story is a testimony to how much more.

When I look back on it, God’s providence amazes me, how he is sovereignly in control of all things. It’s stunning to me, for example, how he used songs on the radio to effectively, amazingly, capture the emotions of so many of the moments. At times those emotions were elation, at others misery. Or how a split decision one Saturday afternoon in a church parking lot changed the entire direction of my, of our, lives, and that because of that decision our three children, and now one beautiful grandchild, exists. It is indeed, a most excellent adventure, and I’m glad it’s in writing on paper between two covers for posterity.

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Third Wayism is Dead

Third Wayism is Dead

We live in clarifying times where we are forced to choose sides. If we choose not to do decide, as Geddy Lee of Rush sings in the song Free Will, we still have made a...

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Mike is available for book reviews, speaking, and media requests, or to answer any question related to Christianity, parenting, apologetics, or anything else for that matter.

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