Tuesday Books: ‘Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion’ (Os Guinness)

Part of the reason why sharing the gospel can be so difficult is that we have forgotten how to talk. At least, we have lost the art of conversation. We are still realizing all of the implications of social media, but perhaps one of them is our struggle to sit face to face with another person (I mean, who does that right) and have an honest conversation about things that matter. Our fear of the ‘incredibly awkward moment when you don’t know what else to say’ has crippled us and surely limited our evangelism.

For this reason (and other equally important ones), Os Guinness has written the book ‘Fool’s Talk.’ It is the latest book that I am reading with my pastor friends and I have really enjoyed it thus far. Here are some memorable excerpts from the first couple of chapters:

Guinness explains how Christian Persuasion is informed by the gospel:

“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.

True to the understanding of the fall, Christian persuasion must always take account of the anatomy of an unbelieving mind in its denial of God.

True to the incarnation, Christian persuasion always has to be primarily person-to-person and face-to-face, and not argument to argument, formula to formula, media to media or methodology to methodology.

True to the cross of Jesus, Christian persuasion has to be cross-shaped in its manner just as it is cross-centered in its message—which as we shall see, lies behind the choice of the title of this book: Fool’s Talk.

And true to the Holy Spirit, Christian persuasion must always know and show that the decisive power is not ours but God’s. For God is his own lead counsel, his own best apologist, and the one who challenges the world to “set out your case.” And as Jesus tells us, his Spirit, the Spirit of truth, is the one who does the essential work of convincing and convicting.”

On the truth that there is no ‘one size fits all’ method for sharing the gospel:

“As we need to remind ourselves again and again, and then again, Jesus never spoke to two people the same way, and neither should we. Every single person is unique and individual and deserves an approach that respects that uniqueness.”

On the necessity for every Christian to learn the art of Christian persuasion:

“God forbid that we ever see the day when we have a guild of apologist experts to provide all our public answers for us, and who will prescribe every argument we must use or not use—if only we knew how to do it as skillfully as they do. Christian persuasion is a task for all Christians, not just the expert few; and a task to be done, not merely talked about.”

And on the need for love:

“Yet the Christian persuasion we are exploring here is not for salesmen, propagandists, proselytizers, PR consultants, lobbyists, press officers, spin doctors, damage control experts and the like. It is not enough to share our faith out of guilt or social pressure or a desire to compete with rivals for cultural influence in today’s world. There are more than enough consultants to cater to those with such motives. This book 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.”

Good stuff!  I have only begun to read this book, but I am already looking forward to what it will say next!



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