One of the great things about working for the Colson Center is that each summer we work with outstanding college interns.
And our interns aren’t here doing filing and fetching coffee. When they show up, we put their developing skills to productive work: writing for our blog at BreakPoint.org, helping us with social media, and other ways that further our mission.
And one of our interns, Leah Hickman, who attends Hillsdale College, beat me to the punch on something I’ve been wanting to do on BreakPoint, and that’s review Os Guinness’s new book: “Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion.”
In her review at BreakPoint.org, Leah hits on something I think that all of us feel or think with a growing frequency these days. And that’s frustration: Frustration about our inability to communicate the truth and the beauty of the Gospel in this increasingly anti-Christian culture.
“I hardly know how to approach apologetics and evangelism anymore,” Leah writes. “No one seems to really care about truth . . . and how can you explain the truth of God’s Word with people who think that everything” is a matter of opinion?
Leah identifies a fear that many of us have: “[H]ow do you tell someone that their beliefs are wrong and that they need Jesus without offending them or scaring them off? And what if I’m an ineffective debater and can’t win the arguments? They’ll never come to Christ that way. It will only drive them away.”
Well, happily for Leah, and for us, Os Guinness has written “Fool’s Talk” specifically to address these issues and to help us recapture what he calls the art of Christian persuasion.
Guinness makes it clear from the start his book is not about technique; it’s not a step-by-step guide on “apologetics for dummies.” As he asserts, there is no “surefire, foolproof approach to sharing the faith.”
Instead, Guinness offers us an approach that’s based on and flows from a thoroughly Christian worldview. He writes, “True to the biblical understanding of creation, Christian persuasion must always take account of the human capacity for reason and the primacy of the human heart.”
Because of the fall, “Christian persuasion must always take account of the anatomy of an unbelieving mind in its denial of God.”
And because of the incarnation, “Christian persuasion always has to be primarily person-to-person and face-to-face, and not argument to argument . . . media to media or methodology to methodology.
“And true to the Holy Spirit, Christian persuasion must always know and show that the decisive power is not ours but God’s.”
Guinness also wants us to understand that the Scriptures themselves use a variety of means to communicate truth—and so should we. “The Bible has a high place,” he writes, “for rational arguments as well as for stories, drama, parables, and poetry. The Bible contains the book of Romans as well as the psalms of David and the parables of Jesus.”
Throughout the book, Guinness illustrates how the great persuaders reached their audience: From Jesus, to Socrates, to Augustine, and of course Lewis and Chesterton. But he is also unafraid to use great atheist persuaders as examples, like Nietzsche and even Norman Mailer.
Now, this is not a book you’ll be able to absorb in one sitting. It’s a book that demands prayerful attention. But it’s also a book that can ease frustrations about communicating the Gospel. That’s because, as Guinness reminds us, in the end, Christian persuasion is “not for salesmen, propagandists . . . spin doctors . . . and the like.” The art of Christian persuasion “is for those who desire to share the way of Jesus because of their love for Jesus, and who know that love is also a key part of any human being’s search for knowledge and truth.”
Please come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary. We’ll tell you how you can get a copy of Os Guinness’s “Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion.”
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.
Publication date: July 20, 2015