Read Fool's Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion by Os Guinness Online


In our post-Christian context, public life has become markedly more secular while private life infinitely more diverse. Yet many Christians still rely on cookie-cutter approaches to evangelism and apologetics. Most of these methods assume that people are open, interested and needy for spiritual insight when increasingly most people are not. Our urgent need, then, is the caIn our post-Christian context, public life has become markedly more secular while private life infinitely more diverse. Yet many Christians still rely on cookie-cutter approaches to evangelism and apologetics. Most of these methods assume that people are open, interested and needy for spiritual insight when increasingly most people are not. Our urgent need, then, is the capacity to persuade to make a convincing case for the gospel to people who are not interested in it. In his magnum opus, Os Guinness offers a comprehensive presentation of the art and power of creative persuasion. Christians have often relied on proclaiming and preaching, protesting and picketing. But we are strikingly weak in persuasion--the ability to talk to people who are closed to what we are saying. Actual persuasion requires more than a one-size-fits-all approach. Guinness notes, "Jesus never spoke to two people the same way, and neither should we." Following the tradition of Erasmus, Pascal, G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis and Malcolm Muggeridge, Guinness demonstrates how apologetic persuasion requires both the rational and the imaginative. Persuasion is subversive, turning the tables on hearers' assumptions to surprise them with signals of transcendence and the plausibility of the gospel. This book is the fruit of forty years of thinking, honed in countless talks and discussions at many of the leading universities and intellectual centers of the world. Discover afresh the persuasive power of Christian witness, from one of the leading apologists and thinkers of our era."...

Title : Fool's Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion
Author :
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ISBN : 9780830836994
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 270 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Fool's Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion Reviews

  • Mathew
    2019-06-13 03:20

    Buy Fool’s Talk NowOs begins by setting out two propositions: first, we are in “the grand age of apologetics” (16) and second, “We have lost the art of Christian persuasion and we must recover it”(17 italics original). His game plan? Bringing together the art of apologetic and evangelism. Divorce the two and you get Christians only concerned with winning arguments and not people or just concerned with ABC repeat-after-me tactics. When the two are combined, you have arguments that take other’s belief seriously, are actually concerned for people, and are aimed at the heart.I’m a recovering ABC repeat-after-me evangelists and grew up in a tradition that could be manipulative when inviting people to Christ. So even though in my head I know persuasion isn’t bad sometimes I find myself suspicious when the word pops up in the context of evangelism. If you’re like me, you might have thought, Shouldn’t we just proclaim the gospel and allow the Spirit to work?What I loved most of all was how cruciform and Spirit-dependent Os was through out Fool’s Talk. He made clear our arguments rest on the cross of Christ which is folly to an unbelieving world and the power of the Spirit (28). Persuasion doesn’t mean deception or cheesy bait-and-switch tactics. It means approaching apologetics-evangelism with excellence like we would anything else. All the while admitting:Our work is important, but at best our part is to bring the presence of God into the debate through the power of the Holy Spirit, and to remember that we are no more than junior counsels for the defense. . . . Balaam’s ass is the patron saint of apologetics. (58, 60)Read the entire review here

  • Bob
    2019-06-10 03:16

    Summary: Guinness argues for the recovery of the lost art of persuasion that combines good apologetic work with evangelism and is aware of the many people Christians address who are not open to their message.This is a book that Os Guinness has been preparing for a lifetime to write. Throughout his life, Guinness has been presenting the Christian faith in the public square, not only with the interested but also those who are not, those who would oppose or are disinterested in the Christian message and worldview. The book reflects a summation of the lessons he has learned and his urgent sense that the pressing need for Christian witness today is a recovery of the lost art of Christian persuasion. We know how to proclaim and we know how to protest. But do we know how to persuade those with whom we differ, engaging both minds and hearts?He contends that often we settle for mere technique, whether that be "canned" evangelistic presentations, or "canned" arguments for the faith. This often is not enough because such approaches assume the interest of the person with whom we engage. Yet to persist in the work of persuading is urgent for those who love God because our enemy seeks to rob God of glory either by questioning his existence or by impugning God with the blame for humanity's problems.He argues that we take the approach used by Erasmus in The Praise of Folly, becoming the "holy fool" a kind of court jester representing the kingdom of heaven pointing out the follies of unbelief, and perhaps at times following the holiest fool of all, the Lord Jesus. [Having read and reviewed this biography of Erasmus recently, my interest is piqued to read In Praise of Folly!] He then plunges into considering the anatomy of unbelief, and how often it is ultimately not simply an intellectual incapacity to believe, but a heart-driven unwillingness to believe because of what this would mean for one's life. This calls for different forms of persuasion depending on the person. It may mean the turning of tables on them, pressing them to the ultimate conclusions of their beliefs (for example, "relativizing the relativizers"), if they are a person who prides themselves on consistency. For others, less consistent, it may be exploring the disturbing "signals of transcendence" that point to a reality other than can be explained by their worldview. The challenge is bringing a person to a place of facing the inadequacy of the belief they've embraced to be willing to consider something different.The latter chapters consist of several warnings for the advocate of Christian faith. One is the "know-it-all" attitude that is not characterized by a humility before truth. Another is hypocrisy in one's life where one's claims and one's character fail to match up. And finally, he warns of the ways we may betray the faith. The four step process of embracing an assumption of modern life as superior, abandoning all that does not square with this, adapting whatever faith is left around this, and finally assimilating into the culture. What Guinness points out is the danger in our efforts to engage with the culture, that if we are not clear on what must be central and unchanging, that we will make fatal compromises.Perhaps the most significant idea here, and one worth further development, is this idea of the "holy fool." As Guinness observes, there have been some, like Erasmus, G.K. Chesterton, Pascal, Muggeridge, and Lewis, who with wit, humor, and incisive argument point out the weaknesses and follies of others while commending by persuasion and a kind of winsome humility the transforming nature of Christian faith. Such an approach takes both truth and people seriously, engaging heart and mind, not with canned approaches or sterile arguments, but warm-hearted persuasion that gives people reasons for heart, soul, mind and strength to love God more than all else.One might ask, "where is God in all this?", and at points this seems like a book on the Christian rhetorician's art, and this alone is all that is needed. What Guinness reminds us of, is that while the Christian communicator always is dependent of the work of God in those with whom they communicate, the person may often only become aware of this as they come to the place of commitment. He writes, and with this I'll conclude:"Intriguingly, this fourth stage of the journey is often when God's presence becomes plain for the first time. The wholehearted step of faith of the new believer is far more than simply his or her own step. At one moment a seeker making her commitment knows as she has never known anything before that she is more responsible for the step of faith than for any other choice in life, and that she has never been more fully herself than in taking it. But the next moment she knows too that the One she thought was the goal was all along the guide as well. She knows that she has not so much found God as that God has found her. All the time the seeker thought she was seeking, but actually she was being sought, for God can only be known with the help of God. 'The hound of heaven,' as the poet Francis Thompson called God, has tracked the seeker down" (p. 248).

  • Peter N.
    2019-06-12 09:00

    One of the best books on Christian persuasion I have read. Guinness is very smart, interacting with all sorts of books and men. But he is also clear and well organized. He is not trying to overwhelm you with his scholarship, which makes this book accessible to almost anyone. One point that stuck with me is that people don't want to hear us. I often enter a situation with a non-believer and even liberal Christians assuming that they care, that I already have their ear. But I don't. People need to be persuaded. Christian persuasion is the art of moving people through various means to where they they want to hear our message even if they end up rejecting it. His chapter titled "The Anatomy of Unbelief" was excellent. He looks at unbelief through numerous different lenses. By the time you reach the end of the chapter you feel like the doctor has given a thorough diagnosis of the diseases. Another great chapter was the one entitled "Kissing Judases." Guinness hammers the post-modern relativity within the church and notes that the hardest apologetic work needs to be done within her walls. He lays out the four steps of compromise: assumptions change (often unknowingly), abandonment of old values, adaption of doctrine and life, finally assimilation of the sinful culture but calling it "Christian." Again the chapter is well outlined and clear. I thought his point about apologetics within the church was good one. Many of the greatest enemies of the faith are those who call themselves Christians. Finally his chapter on the stages by which someone comes to the faith is very helpful. A person begins by questioning their current beliefs, moves to looking for a new answer, then zeros in on one particular answer to investigate, and finally commits to that answer. At each stage Guinness helps the reader understand what the "seeker" needs at that point. He also makes a nice distinction in this chapter between a "browser/channel surfer" and a "seeker." A seeker is someone whose previous beliefs have been shaken and is seriously looking for answers. A browser is someone who really doesn't care that much. Instead of surfing channels, they surf churches or faiths. Our approach to browsers must be different from seekers. A browser must be brought to a place where they care first. A seeker already cares. Guinness nicely balances man's unbelief with the power of the Holy Spirit, the need for rational explanations of the Christian faith, and the need for good answer to objections. All pastors, Christians professors, Sunday School teachers, and even those who don't teach could benefit greatly from reading this book.

  • Steven Wedgeworth
    2019-06-16 04:26

    This was a very helpful book, and I would even venture to say that the second half is "important." The only downside is that it's a bit "talky" at times, with Guinness wanting to fill out the chapters with narratives from historical thinkers, debates, and apologetics moments. This sounds good in theory, but I found myself skimming those sections, and I could generally predict when they would come (and go). The strongest sections, and the ones that are most necessary, are the chapters on "Turning the Tables" (the use of reductio ad absurdum) and "Triggering the Signals" (using positive urges to point to the transcendent), as well as the warnings against an overly brainy and argumentative use of apologetics. Guinness' deconstruction of postmodern methodology was also particularly helpful, and I think that chapter could easily be a stand-alone essay. I would recommend this book to most everyone, but I would give the warning that it might not play to as wide an audience as it ought to because of the overuse of narrative and historical name-dropping. Perhaps there's a lesson for us readers to take from that regarding persuasive success.

  • A
    2019-06-06 09:13

    After seeing Dr. Guinness be interviewed on this book, I put it on my reading list. I am so glad I did. This is the best book that I have read on how to 'do' apologetics. One of the things that I respect the most about Dr. Guinness is how he promised the Lord in his early twenties that he would not write a book on how to do apologetics until he had done apologetics for many years. True to his promise, I believe the Lord blessed him in his ministry because of that. His pattern of using this fivefold approach to apologetics at Creation, Fall, Incarnation, Cross, & the Holy Spirit is a great tool to remember. I really enjoyed his illustrations. Even though it is a book for Christians I would actually be comfortable handing this book to non-Christians because he can't help but show how rational and beautiful the faith is. He shows the emptiness of the secular life and how the Christian faith really is the hope of the world. Lastly, in our age of choosing between an evidentialist approach versus a presuppositionalist approach, I appreciated how he challenged Christians to have a both/and perspective in using both approaches when appropriate. If you read one book in your life on how to do apologetics in the 21st century then please read this one!

  • David Huff
    2019-05-31 07:15

    I have long enjoyed reading Os Guinness, and found "Fool's Talk" to be both a clever title and a very helpful apologetics resource. One caveat: as Guinness himself warns early on, don't expect this book to be a "how-to" primer for either apologetics or evangelism. "Fool's Talk" is, instead, a rich seminar on persuasion rather than just preaching, enriched from 50+ years of experience on the author's part, as well as numerous quotes and ideas from Christian thinkers and apologists across the centuries.Guinness points out that, in this present post-Christian age (so-called), "we are all apologists now" -- with many opportunities to speak with people who, frankly, often don't at all want to hear what we have to say. One of the biggest take-aways for me was how well he distinguishes between evangelism and apologetics, and discerning which is needed in any conversation with an unbeliever. Well worth reading, with much helpful material to think about as we interact with a skeptical world!

  • Adam Robinson
    2019-06-24 10:07

    This is my first Guinness book but it won't be my last. Guinness is making the argument that in order to communicate to a very changing culture our forms of apologetics must change. Not the content, mind you, and the author goes to great lengths to defend that. Instead he makes the seemingly obvious point that the postmodern culture we are living in doesn't respond well to straightforward argument (he details why) and then offers some insightful ideas on how to actually reach skeptics in our culture. I found this book challenging but ultimately encouraging. A must for anyone seeking to understand how to better reach our peers with the unchanging gospel of Christ.

  • Corey
    2019-06-18 10:21

    Picked this up for a men's study which I ended up attending sporadically. Nevertheless, the chapters I did read were articulate and convicting. (The one on "turning the tables" is particularly good.) I plan to revisit the book more thoroughly in future.

  • Bryan
    2019-06-14 09:00

    I think this was promoted as the "magnum opus" of Os Guinness, and I'd say that I can see why. I already want to read it again. A compelling read.

  • Stephanie
    2019-06-09 05:26

    The idea that Christians today have lost the art of Christian persuasion is not easy to read but it was very convicting and enlightening. Guinness addresses some of the issues I've wrestled with--answering hypocrisy, how do we even try to convince people who don't want to hear? (He never gives a short, straightforward answer). And doesn't rhetoric get in the way?--Paul said he didn't use flowery speech. Shouldn't we just trust the Holy Spirit and say whatever?The writing isn't quick and easy though the anecdotes/references and quotes are pleasant enough to illustrate. My favorite aspect is the use of scripture to consider God's rhetoric. "The Word became flesh and spoke in human form as one of us, though incognito and in a disguise that fooled us and made Fools of us. And all this was because he had to, as there was no other way to subvert the stubbornness of our sinful disobedience and teach our hearts." This book doesn't tell you outright HOW to persuade specifically in steps. He makes us aware of the importance of rhetoric as well as its limitations. He discusses how revisionism happens and has helped to erode perception of the Christian message, some techniques for helping turn nonbeliever thinking on its head with questions and other methods employed through prophets and Jesus and apostles. However, he doesn't give easy answers for how to winsomely persuade. It was definitely more theoretical, but that's NOT a bad thing!Ultimately, I'm confronted and convicted by reading it. I do a poor job helping people from the path of totally closed to the gospel to committed believer. But I do believe I'm better aware of things for having read it. I will need to reread sections to nail down the ideas a little more. And mainly just listen to people.

  • Michael W.
    2019-06-09 06:16

    Slick spin and polished patois throb and thud their way through every aspect of American society. Whether it’s left or right, liberal or conservative, revisionist or traditionalist, each group has its own particular guild-talk and encoded lingo that fulfills and fortifies their respective self-perceptions. On top of this, much of our communication has become self-serving and self-absorbed, as we post and present and publish our blogs, statuses, thoughts and tweets. As all of this self-important and self-fulfilling hype clouds our associations, “social” media and society what, then, happens to the Gospel? Increasingly it falls into the trap of just being another slice of profile-raising that craves all the “Likes” it can garner. In “Fool's Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion” Os Guinness, author, editor, and founder and past senior fellow of the Trinity Forum, has compiled a 270 page hardback to help Christians remedy the situation. It is a book about apologetics, but more than apologetics. It is about evangelism, but more than evangelism. It is concerned with Christian persuasion that is an advocacy of the heart, “an existential approach to sharing our faith” that is “deeper and more faithful as well as more effective than the common approaches used by many,” that is less concerned with winning the argument and more focused on “winning hearts and minds and people” (18).Throughout “Fool's Talk” it is clear that Guinness is not presenting a pre-packaged, cookie-cutter program. The author is making a case for keeping apologetics and evangelism, proclamation and persuasion together (27). But he is also cultivating the important mindset of humility. As he wisely states, if the Christian faith is true, “it is true even if no one believes it, and if it is not true, it is false even if everyone believes it. The truth of the faith does not stand and fall with our defense of it” (58). To have this as a settled condition of the heart relieves the Gospel presenter and defender from the need to close the sell or win the debate, and instead it frees them up to care about the person or persons they are conversing with.But it seems to me that Guinness is up to something bigger in “Fool’s Talk” than just stressing the value and importance of keeping apologetics and evangelism together. He appears to be doing three other, very important things in the book. First, the author challenges Western Christianity’s attraction toward modernism and postmodernism; the “breathless idolizing of such modern notions as change, relevance, innovation and being on the right side of history,” especially in the areas of time and technique (30). The new forms of “toxic syncretism” that spread “cowardice and compromise,” kowtowing to the pollster as king and data as all decisive, where “truth and falsehood, right and wrong, wise and foolish must give way to statistics, opinion surveys and pie charts,” that becomes “compatible with anything and everything, and so means nothing” (209-27). The importance of this challenge reminds us that if the truth of Christianity is true no matter what, then we don’t have to be captured by relevance as society defines relevance; and it reminds us that we will need to be just as focused on persuasion with those inside Christianity as we are toward those outside.Along with this, the author will not leave Christians in a self-congratulatory position. Guinness, rightly it seems to me, persuasively subverts our propensity to whitewash our own failings. He defies our need to always be right, to win at all costs, whether with “showy exhibitionist rhetoric or ruthless streamrollering” (170). But more importantly, he lays open our own fault in the crumbling influence of Christianity in the West by pointing out how our own hypocrisies have undermined the Gospel; “Atheists gain their main emotive force not by setting out the purported glories of their worldview, ( . . . ), but in attacking the evils and excesses of Christians and Christendom. Something has surely gone terribly wrong when Christians are the best atheist arguments against the Christian faith and Christendom their best arguments for atheism” (204). Therefore Guinness points to the rightness of confession and repentance; “Plainly, there is a time in our arguments to confess, and confession and changed lives have to be a key part of our arguments” (206).Finally, Guinness lays out the composition of unbelief; not for the purposes of excuse-making or ridiculing, but to show how the heart, mind and life are engaged in unbelief, and so “we must always need to be ready to go beyond purely rational arguments, for the human will is in play, so our arguments are never dealing with purely neutral or disinterested minds” (94). This means, for the author, that though Jesus is the only way to God, yet there are many ways people come to Jesus (232). He spends two significant chapters unpacking this, “Triggering the Signals” and “Charting the Journey”. In both of these chapters he shows the important place that signals of transcendence have in bringing others to start looking and searching beyond their presuppositions and assurances, and journey toward the moment when they will either take to their heels, or fall on their knees (250). The author is promoting a thoughtful charitableness that should pervade all Christian advocacies.“Fool’s Talk” is about reclaiming and recovering the lost art of Christian persuasion. Guinness works masterfully to inspire Christians toward that end, but not through craft or technique. Instead, it is an advocacy of the heart, the face-to-face loving others who are in the image of God, seeking to persuade them with true truth that is life changing, even life changing for the persuader! I recommend this book.My deep appreciation goes to IVP Books for the free copy of the book used for this review.

  • mpsiple
    2019-05-30 06:04

    Very helpful (in places). The core concepts here are very important for understanding how Christians can communicate with people who are either indifferent or hostile to Christianity. There are useful discussions on the effects of sin on our thinking, the image of God, the logical outworkings of unbelief, and universal appetite for the transcendent. (However, he is a bit wordy - not overly complicated, just long-winded and even redundant at points. Every chapter could have been 2/3 as long, and some could have been left out.)I'd recommend this for anyone interested in learning to communicate with non-Christians in a more constructive way.

  • James Pate
    2019-06-01 09:04

    How can Christians persuade people to accept their faith, when there are many today who are hostile or indifferent towards Christianity? Os Guinness addresses this question in Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion.The book is not really a how-to manual on witnessing. Guinness talks, for example, about the importance of asking questions, as Jesus (and even the serpent in the Garden of Eden) asked questions that influenced people’s thought processes. But I cannot recall any specific questions that Guinness recommended that Christians ask atheists or non-believers in interpersonal interactions or online forums. Guinness did talk about the importance of trying to show atheists what he believes are the logical conclusions of their belief system, which he deems to be quite negative. I cannot envision such an interaction going smoothly, however, especially since the atheists might not agree with Guinness’ premises.Maybe it is a good thing that the book is not a how-to manual, I thought. After all, people are individuals, not projects. Guinness said that Jesus did not talk to two people in the exact same way. Maybe. At the same time, it did seem to me that Guinness was making assumptions about atheists and unbelievers. He had a chapter about how certain prominent atheists admitted that they did not want God to be real because that could cramp their style and keep them from doing what they wanted. What is Guinness implying in saying this? That Christians should approach atheists with that conception of them in mind? How does that respect them as individuals? Guinness does acknowledge that things are not that simple, for there are atheists who may hold to morality or a belief in order; for Guinness, though, they are being inconsistent to their atheist convictions. Many atheists would probably disagree with him on that, though.The book also did not make a positive case for Christianity, at least not in the sense of offering iron-clad evidence for it. I do not know enough about Guinness to be aware of what kind of apologist he is, but he does say in the book that Christians should be open to classical apologetics, which is evidentialist, and presuppositional apologetics. At the same time, Guinness also cautions that God’s existence does not depend on apologists’ arguments, and he says that certain classical arguments for the existence of God historically tended to make apologetics a matter of philosophy, divorced from everyday people. These are thoughtful observations, and maybe I like the book better as it is than I would have had Guinness regurgitated the usual classical apologetics spiel. Still, should he not have provided some argument or piece of evidence for Christianity being true, since part of his project in the book is showing Christians how they can persuade non-believers of the truth of Christianity? Guinness does refer to times when even sophisticated non-believers had transcendental experiences—-things that make them aware that there is more to life—-and, while that was a good discussion, I do not think those transcendental experiences provide solid evidence for Christianity.There was one part of the book that I especially rolled my eyes at, even if Guinness, as he usually does, said something intriguing in that discussion. Guinness was saying that mainline Protestants try to keep up with the culture. My reaction, of course, was: “And right-wing evangelicals do not imitate the culture? They act as if God is a free-market-loving, militaristic right-wing conservative!” I cannot say that Guinness himself is this, for Guinness, to his credit, does take somewhat of a swipe at Adam Smith; moreover, Guinness is honest about the historical flaws of Christendom. Still, I am wary of conservative Christians criticizing mainline Protestants for reflecting their culture. I doubt that it is even possible for Christianity NOT to reflect its culture, on some level, and that includes conservative Christianity. Does Guinness think that conservative Christians today have the same worldview that the biblical authors had? I doubt that they did, for times change; science changes; cosmologies change. What did I find intriguing in this discussion, then? Well, Guinness did point to liberal Christians criticizing their liberal Christian predecessors for reflecting the culture of their day. That, in my opinion, was a pretty good move on Guinness’ part: don’t just trust Guinness’ critique of liberal Christianity, but see how liberal Christians have criticized their liberal Christian predecessors!My disagreement with Guinness notwithstanding, I still give the book four stars. I appreciated its intellectual and meandering tone, as well as its anecdotes and its quotations of renowned Christians and non-believers. The book had gems—-about humor being a way to cope with a life that one cannot control; how one can be dissuaded from a position by reading what its defenders have to say; how many people’s intellectual struggles have their origin in college (that is true of me!); and how one can arrive at the point where one concludes that God was always a part of one’s journey towards God.I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

  • Marcus
    2019-05-30 06:15

    What makes this book stand out among apologetic literature is first the author, Os Guinness, one of the shining lights of evangelical apologetics, whose characteristic warmth, humility, and incisiveness I have deeply admired (just listen to a Veritas Forum talk of his). The fact that Os waited 50 years to write this book so to ensure he would be writing from half a century of experience and not simply theory is another remarkable example of his humility, and not only that, his Christian maturity and wisdom. Aside from Os, this work is uniquely helpful in that it reimagines apologetics as an art (of persuasion). He prescribes no formulas for quick "success" but helps us appreciate and understand the people with whom we "work", their story and their unbelief, much like Eugene Peterson in his "The Pastor" saw pastoring like his father's butchering: you respect the meat, the bone, the grain, working with it and not imposing your arbitrary cuts upon it. Sometimes Crusades' 4 spiritual laws will make a mess of it. Os gives an insightful look into the makeup of human sin/unbelief and explains various ways we can engage people in their particular unbelief. Not all unbelief is the same. That's part of the art: recognizing and having the sensitivity to see the lay of the land of a person's heart and mind. This requires humility, a posture Os continually upholds explicitly and also implicitly in the tone of his writing. Some may find this book doesn't really give you a "how to" preparation, nor does it prescribe what to say, or how to unpack "the gospel". I found myself at times wanting this, wanting a more "practical" approach, and this accentuated by all his quotes from philosophers I didn't know existed nor would most people I might have the opportunity to engage in spiritual discussion. A few moments I wondered whether this book would be better in the hands of an intellectual Christian who mingles with other well-educated unbelieving intellectuals. But in the end this book offers much for both the average-minded person (like myself) and the intellectual. Reframing apologetics as an art is worth the read alone. Championing humility and at the same time challenging us to uphold God's truth and hope regardless of the cost is much needed today in Evangelicalism. This book is well worth the read. For those seeking. For those desiring to persuade people toward Jesus. For those unsure of what to make of this thing called "apologetics". I'm in no position to say this but I sense this book will become a classic in apologetics and a staple in many post-sec apologetics syllabi. Grateful Os wrote this and lived the faithful and focused life he did to make it possible. Not every day you read a book 50 years in the making.

  • Dave Rench
    2019-06-22 05:20

    This book was phenomenal. The title is taken from the scripture passage of "being a fool for Christ." To understand some of the purposes of apologetics and how it fits in the bigger picture of evangelism and bringing people to Christ, this book is extremely deep, but still readable. And fantastic in how it helps explain people's logic for staying away from Christianity and how we as believers counter that.I love his quote regarding how to bring people to Christ, where he says "For anyone seeking surefire, foolproof methods, the techniques of brainwashing used by communists and by cults would provide a better model than the way we are exploring here." Or here's another one: "The Christian faith is not true because someone argues for it brilliantly, nor is it false because someone defends it badly. Christian faith is true or false regardless of anyone’s defense of the faith. Faith’s certainty lies elsewhere than in the rapier sharp logic or the sledgehammer power of the apologist. At the end of the day, full certainty comes from the conviction of the Holy Spirit. That is often the problem with the public debate format so loved by Christians today."Couldn't say it better myself. This is definitely a reread.

  • Andrew Wolgemuth
    2019-06-15 07:09

    "We are all apologists now," Guinness writes to open this important book. An accurate statement, I think, but one that likely doesn't feel like good news to many Christians due to the formality and intimidation that often appears to accompany the idea of defending one's faith. Yet Guinness follows opening statement with a remarkable work (this book is right alongside Crouch's Strong and Weak as a favorite Christian Book read thus far in 2016). He shows that the call of the apologist is different than what we typically think - a call to artful, winsome, and personalized persuasion (not a formulaic method to be repeated regardless of the situation and one's conversational partner) that's helpful and energizing. Additionally, he continually reminds his reader that God is the both the best and the ultimate apologist; the truth of the Good News doesn't lean on our effort and persuasive effectiveness.Fool's Talk is timeless (as Guinness grounds his thinking in countless historical and biblical apologists) and timely (as he directly addresses the "new atheists" as well as culture's "weapons of mass distraction"), and I found it enjoyable and valuable.(full disclosure: the agency I work for represents author and book)

  • Brandon H.
    2019-06-15 09:59

    This book is brilliant!"Fool's Talk" was full of so many profound insights about persuasion, the human heart, this postmodern era, God, apologetics, etc. I don't know where to start. I'll settle with one thought the author made that struck a resounding cord with me - apologetics is an act of love; an act of defending God's name. We defend God's name because we love Him. Yes, we want to win arguments that unravel the lies that keep people from knowing truth. We want to see others come to Him and know Him, especially "thinking people." But apologetics goes deeper than that. It is an expression of worship. If I love God I will seek to defend His name. And there's plenty of opportunity for that these days!Yet the main focus of this book is about recovering the art of Christian persuasion so that we may be more effective in our co-laboring with God in winning the lost, especially those who would appear least likely to surrender to Him. Guinness repeatedly notes that there isn't a proven formula we can use and,"Bam!" People will automatically see the light and convert. But he does share oodles of insight that will help sharpen believers in their witness and evangelistic endeavors.I hope this book wins many awards.

  • Frank Peters
    2019-06-05 09:17

    This is a brilliant book, that I would strongly recommend to anyone who is a follower of Jesus and who believes (as I do), that being so makes good sense intellectually as well as experientially. Guinness is gentle but firm as he discusses many of the wrong ways to represent God. For example, he criticises the idea that there might be one cookie-cutter way to do so. I also greatly appreciated his discussion on the importance of responding with gentleness and respect. Too often, people (in the name of Jesus) blurt out things they believe are right with absolutely no sensitivity. Sure Jesus sometimes did the same to some, but for others he was exceedingly gentle. My biggest complaint for the book was its poor editing.

  • D. Ryan
    2019-05-29 09:01

    This is a wonderful book and I give it my strongest recommendation. With clarity and conviction and an absolute commitment to Scripture, Os Guinness tackles the big questions in the realms of Christian Apologetics and Persuasion:Logic vs. story-telling, proclaiming vs. persuading, reason vs. emotion,modern vs. post-modern approaches,presuppositionalism vs. evidentialismHe also gives a clear analysis of some denominations' compromises with Relevance and the Cool. And much, much more.This book made me want to present the gospel with greater boldness and persuasion. I recommend the Audible version. It is inexpensive and the well-done.

  • Mike Jorgensen
    2019-05-26 07:12

    This is a must "re-read." I've never considered myself an Os Guinness fan, but this won me over. He is winsome, thoughtful, well-researched, well-illustrated, readable, and good amount of interaction with more academic sources. People who have read a lot of apologetics will probably appreciate this more than people who are just getting started, but everyone will learn from this book and his posture towards apologetics is worthy of imitation for all Christians.

  • Fred
    2019-06-19 04:00

    I hope that the words, "Instant classic" aren't hyperbolic, but this book is an instant classic. In my opinion, every Christian in outreach, in general, and apologetics, in particular, needs to read this book. And then read it again, again, and again until it falls apart. An instant classic.

  • Leonardo Santiago
    2019-06-04 07:14

    Muito bom! Apologética que une razão e imaginação, lógica e criatividade. Os Guinness une o melhor de C.S. Lewis, Schaeffer, Chersterton, Pascal e a sociologia de Peter Berger para construir sua própria visão apologética. A arte da persuasão cristã precisa ser recuperada!

  • Kenny Robertson
    2019-06-17 10:07

    Outstanding! Best book I've read on Christian apologetics and mission for ages. Guinness absolutely nails the issues facing the Church in the west's post-Christian context. Particularly helpful on reaching the disinterested.

  • Jonathan Roberts
    2019-06-01 03:11

    Spectacular book. A little slow start....but about half way through it became what it was a great book. Highly recommended

  • Don Bryant
    2019-06-15 03:09

    Fool's Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion by Os GuinnessDonald R. BryantFor those nurtured on the vision of Francis Schaeffer, Os Guinness is the incarnation of the spirit of L’abri. His forte is superb cultural analysis, immersion in the contemporary literature and artd, rooting the authentic Christian imagination in orthodoxy.His latest work, Fool’s Talk, is a summary statement of his apologetic and evangelistic concerns. The church finds herself less and less effective in the encounter with “people who are not open, not interested or not needy—in other words, people who are closed, indifferent, hostile, skeptical or apathetic, and therefore require persuasion.” The witnessing Christian community assumes people are open to what we have to say, maybe even interested. Not!! In much of the advanced modern world fewer people are open today than ever. “Indeed, many are more hostile, and their hostility is greater than the Western church has faced for centuries,” he writes.Yet, he contends, we are in “the grand age of apologetics.” With the advanced pluralism of our time and the loss of a metanarrative, there is a sociologically demonstrated “proneness to conversion” in the Western world. People are converting to other worldviews all the time. Just not so much to Christianity. The question is why not?Perhaps McDonaldization and McDisneyization in the church, patterned after our host culture, have something to do with it, seeking to override the will of the consumer rather than convince the mind. McApologetics will not do - fast, wordy, formulaic, and mathematical, complete with church growth charts. We must return to the communication paradigm that flows out of our central beliefs and from the models found in the prophets of the Old Testament and especially of Jesus himself.Our central beliefs are the “five central truths of the faith—creation, the fall, the incarnation, the cross, and the Spirit of God. 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…And true to the Holy Spirit, Christian persuasion must always know and show that the decisive power is not ours but God’s.”The title makes the point - Christian persuasion is “fool’s talk,” a crucified style in which our weakness is rooted in God’s power, a power that will have its day as it seeps through the cracks in human defense mechanisms, past what CS Lewis called, “the lions at the gate.” (Lewis uses this metaphor as reason itself, but I think it can apply even more broadly to attitudes that are at work off the radar screen). Guinness’ models for persuasion are new and old. In our time they are CS Lewis, Francis Schaefer, and Peter Berger of the last century and Erasmus of Rotterdam in Martin Luther’s time, particularly this book In Praise of Folly. Erasmus was a Roman Catholic churchman who wrote this parody of the church of his day using the backdrop of a jester, one who through humor, inversion, and tongue-in-cheek satire criticized the moribund and sleepy church that had lost the edges of the Gospel and the capacity to persuade and reach the hearts of the people. The message had become so familiar and its edges so dull that it could not cut to interior worlds. Perhaps humor would have to do. Make them laugh before they kill you.Christian persuasion aimed at the bored and the hostile has to recover the art of fool’s talk, not of clever talk. This ministry paradigm drills deep into the rich fields of 1 Corinthians where the Apostle Paul frames his ministry. Seen as a fool on a stage, the audience watches him and is drawn into the story that they would otherwise reject. Their jeering of the jester morphs into realization and wonder. Truly, as Guinness remarks, Balaam’s ass is the patron of apologists.Guinness identifies three types of fools in the Bible. There is first the fool proper, that broad category of people who have no time for God. The second is quite different, the fool bearer, the person who is not actually a fool at all but who is prepared to be seen and treated as a fool—the “fool for Christ’s sake.” Here Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot gives insight. This leads us to the third type—the fool maker. Realizing that the application of power in order to persuade usually overcomes by destroying what defies it, as Reinhold Niebuhr asserts, it takes the full folly and weakness of the cross to find out us sinners and win us back in a way that will not destroy us.We are “hardened, blind, deaf, deceived and foolish madmen who left to ourselves suppress the truth.” How can we ever be stopped in our rush to another distraction? Enter the fool, who will also distract us, but it is a diversion that leads us back to the path that takes us to ultimates. How? By leading us to ask questions and uncovering the inconsistencies and pressures or our own worldviews, a favorite theme of Francis Schaeffer’s, as Guinness points out.He posits that the church does this by being on their ground, using their prophets, helping them to relativize what they considered absolute. As Berger models it, we relativize the relativizers. After all, while all their thoughts can be thought, not all their thoughts can be lived out. The very attempt to do so creates tension. By a working familiarity with the culture’s own prophetic voices and its own tensions, their comfortable unbelief can be subverted by using questions to raise questions about how far down the road their own prophets can take them.The most memorable metaphor Guinness uses is that of Arthur Koestler’s. “The young Arthur was given a puzzle, a paper with a tangle of very thin red and blue lines that at first sight looked more of a mess than a picture. But if you covered it with a piece of transparent red tissue paper, the red lines disappeared and the blue lines formed a picture of a clown with a dog. And if you covered it with a blue tissue paper, the blue lines disappeared and a roaring lion emerged, chasing the clown across the ring. There are crucial differences in perspective between the worldviews, and the differences make a difference. Each claims to be comprehensive on its own terms, each has its own way of explaining and explaining away the others, and the question is how do we decide between them?”Once people begin to question the adequacy of their adopted explanations for reality, they can then become a seeker, looking for something more complete. “When life becomes a question, the search is on for an answer.” Among the possible answers, there must inevitably be the question of which possibility is true. It is here that the usual method of apologetics begins to play its real role. Until then, it sits on the sidelines. Coming into the game too early is, as they say in football, too many players on the field. Until this happens, evangelism is merely passing in the dark. Of course, it is the Holy Spirit who shepherds this process. He does not show up only in regeneration but waters and tends the heart as it awakens from its “dogmatic slumber,” using Immanuel Kant’s phrasing.Guinness demonstrates sensitivity to three objections. The first is that of Reformed apologists who would contend that he is placing too high a faith in the capacities of fallen people. Second, isn’t Guinness just being clever, the very thing he eschews? Isn’t he just McDonald’s in another guise, treating the other as an object to be tricked into conversion by adroit questions? Guinness is most sensitive to this objection. The third, objection is that his apologetics demands a high level of education and not available to pew guy, who, after all, in the New Testament is the primary means of Kingdom expansion through Gospel witness. He rejects this implication, but, alas, the everyday laymen will find the book too slow for his tastes as Guinness does what he does best, cultural analysis - book, authors, films, the arts, etc. I, for one, do not believe that his method is obscure, but it cannot be described as readily accessible to “everyman.” That’s okay. He influences our method by a more “trickle down” effect than a direct lunge at the church with a precise score. Thought shapers within the church read Guinness. They will take it the next step.

  • Andrew
    2019-06-01 05:59

    In an era of “relentless self-promotion,” Christian persuasion has, ironically, gone out of fashion. Discouraged by “the unpopularity and implausibility of much Christian witness, [many] have simply fallen silent and given up evangelism altogether.” To counter this, Os Guinness has written an impassioned plea for the church to once again embrace its calling. This is decidedly not a technique book. In fact, Guinness is anti-technique for practical reasons (no one size fits all) and theological reasons (not treating people as objects). Guinness nonetheless unpacks a number of broad persuasive strategies. In table turning we argue against an idea based on its own beliefs. (“Everything is relative” is an absolute statement, thus contradicting the idea that everything must be relative.) In signal triggering, art, beauty, truth, and joy, as well as longing can point people beyond the merely material to the transcendent. Subversive methods, like raising questions, are indirect and draw people in to considering things they might otherwise avoid. This is especially important because “most people [in the West] are untroubled rather than unreached.” Stories and parables can also be subversive by tapping into our imaginations and other parts of our being. Reason alone is insufficient for the job. It is limited. But reason is never to be abandoned. Sometimes we must also turn the tables on ourselves. “If unbelievers are pressed to be consistent to their beliefs and worldviews, and shown up when they cannot be (because their faiths are not finally true), Christians should welcome being pressed in the same way.” So if we say we stand for love, grace, and mercy, we had better not be best known as angry advocates who hurl verbal bombshells at every opponent. And those who aren’t Christians have the right to call us on such hypocrisy.Thus who we are is as important as what we say. “Humility and vulnerability should always be among the clear marks of the Christian advocate.” After all, “It is difficult to be around people who always have to be right. They are frankly a pain in the neck.”In chapter 11 I think Guinness poses some false dichotomies, however, pitting proclamation and dialogue against persuasion. I’m not sure why he seems to insist on either/or when we can and should have both/and. And while the book gives a nod toward reaching the whole person through story, the real emphasis and strength of the book is on reason. I would have liked to have seen more on persuasion that goes beyond logic and ideas.Guinness is nonetheless on to something very important. If relativism and pluralism mean that it is not ethical for us to try to persuade each other, what other means do we have at our disposal for settling disputes other than violence?What then does the title mean? Guinness identifies three kinds of fools. The first is someone who does things anyone would regard as foolish—squandering money, taking wild risks, unnecessarily aggravating people. The second is, as the Bible says, someone who has no fear of the Lord, who has misplaced priorities in life. Third, is the holy fool, the Fool for Christ—someone who acts contrary to worldly wisdom. Those are the fools Guinness encourages us to be.

  • Derrick Jeter
    2019-06-11 09:03

    Christians rightly celebrate the likes of C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton. Their wit and wisdom, and penetrating intellect, has been a boon for the Christian faith for generations—and I hope for generations to come, even in our post-Christian society. Os Guinness, though not a writer of fiction, ought also to be counted as a member of their rank.Writing of the men and women who spent their lives in the intellectual pursuit of ideas, as opposed to those who made their way in the world through business or labor, Lewis wrote in "The Weight of Glory":“If all the world were Christian it might not matter if all the world were uneducated. But as it is, a cultural life will exist outside the Church whether it exists inside or not. To be ignorant and simple now—not to be able to meet enemies on their own ground—would be to throw down our weapons and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.”Perhaps more than any other public Christian thinker since Frances Shafer, Guinness has taken up the weapons of reason in defends of the faith. He has not betrayed his more uneducated brethren (myself included). But has meet the enemies of the faith and answered their bad philosophy with good philosophy. And his "Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion" is another slash of the sword.During an age of relativity and dialogue-don’t-defend sentimentality—both of which has crept into the church—Guinness champions the cause of apologetics. But his is not an apologetics of merely winning debates; he wants to win hearts and minds to Christ. While Guinness doesn’t abandon what he terms the “closed fist” approach to apologetics—reason, logic, evidence, and argument in defense of the truth—he advocates an open hand approach, one which expresses the love and compassion of Jesus. This approach uses “eloquence, creativity, imagination, humor and irony . . . to pry open hearts and minds that, for a thousand reasons, had long grown resistant to God’s great grace, so that it could shine in like the sun.”Though "Fool’s Talk" is filled with a wide range of arguments and appeals for the Christian faith, at its heart the book is about the marriage of apologetics and evangelism. It gains us nothing—and Christ nothing—if we win the argument but lose the soul. Helping people find their way to Christ by helping them find answers to life should be the goal of all good apologetics. Guinness’ book is a fine blueprint for how the faithful believer can do just that.

  • Sarah
    2019-05-27 03:13

    Fool's Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion by Os Guinness is quite a convicting book, a book that really makes you think about how serious we really are about evangelism/apologetics. It provokes the question: how much thought do we really put in our conversations (or even our small-talk) with unbelievers? Do we hold back on saying anything related to the Gospel because we are ashamed of being considered foolish because of our belief in God's Word? Or if we do evangelize, are we just sticking with simple pre-contrived evangelization questions like, "If you were to die today and stood before God and He asked you why He should let you into Heaven, what would you say?" Are we willing to truly put thought into persuading someone of the truth of Christianity, giving answers to their questions, and asking thought-provoking questions ourselves, rather than merely turning to someone else's pre-designed method of evangelism. Do we not seriously think of persuasion outside of some other persons pre-written evangelization answers/questions (though not outside the word of God)? And are we loving when we talk to others, truly more concerned about winning the person rather than just winning an argument? This book's author does an excellent job at making one think about the answers to questions like the above. For instance, as evinced above, he critiques modern-day evangelism, and makes the case that the 'method' used to evangelize actually does matter, "Recent forms of evangelism are modeled on handbooks for effective sales technique…After all, if all truth is God's truth, it is surely legitimate to use the best tricks of the trade, but this time use them in the service of the truth." "Not so…" Guinness answers. "…The Lord's work must always be done in the Lord's way. The method must serve the message. Technique is never neutral. It can be positive and useful, and it can also be harmful. Sometimes it an even be so brilliantly effective that its danger lies in its weaning us away from needing God at all. True apologetics is the art of truth, and its art must be shaped by the distinctiveness of the truth it proclaims."He also does an excellent job at keeping one's perspective straight, because, though we do want to persuade others as best we can, and as Scripturally as we can, we are not to have the posture of winning discussions with non-believers at all-costs, the truth is true even if we do not defend it well, or even if we don't have answer to a certain question. Not matter how good are argument is, God is ultimately the only One who can change a person's heart and give them faith, though we do hope to have the opportunity to be used of God in helping others see the truth of the Gospel, "Faith's certainty lies elsewhere than in the rapier sharp logic or the sledgehammer power of the apologist. At the end of the day, full certainty comes from the conviction of the Holy Spirit." There were some things in the book that had I had trouble with though. At one point the author says, "The next time you see Auguste Rodin's Thinker look at it closely" Ummm…. Sorry but if that work of 'art' is what I think it is (an unclothed statue of a man…who is in the process of thinking…probably trying to figure out what he forgot to do that day, he forgot to put on clothes!) I think that then next time I see it I'll look away quickly! I don't care if it doesn't show anything really inappropriate, it's the implication of nakedness that bothers me. Naked statues don't fit the list of attributes the Apostle Paul gives as to what we should think on/meditate on in Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure…(ASV)"etc.Also, I really have trouble with some of Guinness's statements…I was really shocked by some in particular, "Just so did God shame the world's folly, subvert the world's pride and put death to death through the death of his Son. And the sober truth is surely that this was the way, the only way that it had to be done. There was no other way. God is always able to respond to sin and defiance with power….Power, however, usually overcomes by destroying what defies it. Thus, as Reinhold Niebuhr insisted, there is a limit to what even the power of God can do as power alone, for 'such power does not reach the heart of the rebel.' Power can fence us in, but only sacrificial love can find us out. Power can win when we are ranged against it, but it cannot win us." That REALLY takes away the miracle of Christians being made by God into New Creations, their hearts of stone that couldn't love God being made, by God, into hearts of flesh that love Him and His ways. That's power, being used because of God's love yes, but it's His transforming power just the same! If God didn't use power to change our hearts to love Him, and give us faith, we would not believe in Him, nor would we wish to follow His ways! See Colossians 2:8-16, that's not just love, that's God's power! He acts with His power because of His love for us! Just as God will do with the nation of Israel in the future (see Ezek. 36)Some parts of the book get a bit tedious as you get more into it, but overall, I liked the book, and think that it is a good resource for helping us give thought about the answer we should always be ready to give when asked about the hope that we have (1 Pet. 3:15). I'll end with one of my favorite quotes from the book:"To follow Jesus is to pay the cost of discipleship, and then to die to ourselves, to our own interests, our own agendas and reputations. It is to pick up our crosses and count the cost of losing all that contradicts his will and way - including our reputations before the world and our standing with the people and communities we once held dear. It is to live before one audience, the audience of One, and therefore to die to all other conflicting opinions and assessments. There is no room here for such contemporary ideas as the looking-glass self; and no consideration here for trivial contemporary obsessions such as one's legacy…"Many thanks to the folks at InterVarsity Press for sending me a free review copy of this book! (My review did not have to be favorable)

  • Michele Morin
    2019-06-12 06:19

    Persuasion: Raising Questions and Opening DoorsDrawing upon the diverse perspectives of C.S. Lewis, Frances Schaeffer, and Peter Berger, then adding the distilled wisdom of his own years of experience, Os Guinness has produced a history, an anatomy, a road map, and a compass for those who would explore the field of apologetics as Christian persuasion or “the art of speaking to people who, for whatever reason, are indifferent or resistant to what we have to say.” With in-depth exploration of the way apologetics paves the way for the good news, Fool’s Talk argues that apologetics lives on a continuum with the fields of evangelism and discipleship.Using the words of the Old Testament prophets and the example of Christ, Guinness sets Biblical parameters around Christian persuasion in its faithfulness to the truth regarding creation, the fall, the incarnation, the cross, and the Holy Spirit. Believers are cautioned against formulaic approaches to the skeptic with warnings against the “McDonaldization” of all things and a reminder that runs throughout the book to avoid being that man with a hammer to whom everything is a nail.Defining TermsGiven that Fool’s Talk comes after a lifetime of “doing” apologetics, it is no surprise that even in the process of defining the term, Guinness oozes practicality and theological depth. Essentially, he sees apologetics as a tool for clearing God’s name, for God has been framed as either non-existent or as the origin of evil. Therefore, Christian persuasion is “a lover’s defense, a matter of speaking out or standing up when God is . . . attacked wrongly.” Ultimately, of course, God is His own best defender, with the result that even the most skilled apologist is serving as “no more than junior counsel” in His defense.If sin is defined as the dual deficiency of clinging to my own way of seeing things alongside my refusal to see the world from God’s perspective, then unbelief can rightly be understood as abuse of the truth that God has revealed. In the tradition of Romans 1:18, the doubter “looks at the undeniable truth of God’s universe and at the unbeliever’s own nature . . . but then denies their true force, suppresses their real meaning and turns their proper destination into a different one.”The Apologist — ThinkingIt is from Erasmus’s teaching in an era not unlike our own (and from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth) that Fool’s Talk takes its title. Of the three types of fools in the Bible — the fool proper who has no time for God; the fool bearer who is no fool at all but is prepared to be seen as one for Christ’s sake; and the fool maker who also is no fool, but uses folly to subvert the purposes of the high and mighty — it is the third “fool” whose wisdom reveals God’s perspective on humankind which serves as the motivation for Christian persuasion.Because it addresses the human heart and mind, apologetics is concerned with understanding the unbeliever’s perspective which Guinness cleverly portrays as falling somewhere between two poles, because “the less consistent people are to their own view of reality, the closer they are to God’s reality.” Those far from God’s reality will feel their dilemma, but those who are trying to “live as if God were there” will employ distractions to lessen their discomfort.Although apologetics does not hang on the use of “methods,” Fool’s Talk provides broad responses to unbelief such as “table turning” and “signal triggering” with in-depth counsel on the goal of “relativizing the relativizers.” Certainly, the Message absorbs and utterly overwhelms any method; however, chapters 6 and 7 would bear a double reading in order to absorb their logic and to appreciate the demonstration of the sad reality that all thoughts may be thinkable and arguable, but not all thoughts can be lived out.The Apologist — CommunicatingThe goal of the apologist is to create seekers who will examine the inconsistencies of their beliefs and evaluate the treasures of their heart, thus raising questions about the value of that treasure and about the trustworthiness of the words they hold as true. However, Guinness makes it clear that the veracity of the Christian faith does not turn on the skill of its defenders, and that after all is said and done in the course of evangelism and apologetics, the unbeliever “always has the final choice to fall on their knees or to turn on their heels.”The words of I Peter 3:15 frame the heart of the Christian persuader. Thus, in meekness and fear, sans manipulation, one is able to respond to the accusations of hypocrisy or to refute the various objections that come from the right and from the left, with the goal of launching a seeker onto the four-stage journey of questioning the meaning of life; discovering answers; verifying truth claims while comparing options; and whole heartedly trusting in God. Of course, in hindsight, all will have been proved to have been (in the words of C.S. Lewis) “the mouse’s search for the cat,” and yet it is this goal orientation toward repentance, relief, and joy that elevates the role of the apologist from dry academician to servant of Christ’s Kingdom. The challenge of Fool’s Talk is summarized in Os Guinness’s forty-year-old promise to God:“When I was leaving university, I promised that I would always do apologetics rather than simply write about it, that I would do it before writing about it, and that I would do it more than writing about it.”Having read the book, will we take the challenge to re-frame this promise to reflect a reader’s perspective? Will we embrace the truth that “with Christian persuasion, doing it must always outweigh talking about it.”This book was provided by IVP Books, an imprint of Intervarsity Press, in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  • Joe
    2019-06-13 02:12

    This book lends much to consider and the author has been known to write some very valuable stuff.He shares an interest with a lot of us in the Christian community for those who are lost or outside the Christian community.Near the end of the book I have to take some issues with some things. I do agree that we should be humble and honest with terrible things done by "Christians". I put this in quotes as I do not really count folks who were in supposed Christian nations as true Christians. True Christians have done terrible things no doubt. This does not erase much of the harm done in the name of Christ and we must own that. Now what do I take issue with then? Guinness says that Christians have done more damage int the name of Christ then all others combined. This is just ridiculous. We would have to define damage but if you count dead people by people like Stalin, Moa and Pole Pot killed hundreds of millions. And these folks were very much anti-Christian.There is no comparison to the damage anti-Christian philosophies have done. Seems to me, like he has started to drink the Atheist cool aide here. I think I could be over reacting here as I have met and heard much from the Author and he is fantastic. This same discussion could be had on his section on hypocrisy which he basically says Christians are the worst. Again I have no denial that we are hypocrites but no more than non believers for sure. This is a human problem not just Christians. I know he is not saying we are the only ones to be hypocrites but he does seem to say we are the worst.So do I recommend this book? I do as I feel the benefit from this conversation on apologetics and persuasion.