Guinness draws from some of the great minds of Christiandom ...and illustrates the potential pitfalls of 'cookie-cutter' evangelism that avoids not only real human interaction but the work of the Holy Spirit
Fool's Talk - Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion
by Os Guinness
InterVarsity Press Books
272 pages - hard cover
In Fool's Talk - Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion, author Os Guinness examines the current state of Christian apologetics and comes up with some disturbing observations. "Much apologetics has lost touch with evangelism," he writes, "and come to be all about "arguments," and in particular about winning arguments rather than winning hearts and minds and people."
Having determined that persuasion has become a lost art in terms of presenting the gospel, Guinness draws from some of the great minds of Christiandom, from Augustine to C.S. Lewis, and illustrates not just the potential pitfalls of evangelism but creative ways to avoid them. Particularly wary of 'cookie-cutter' formulas that avoid not only real human interaction but the work of the Holy Spirit, the author makes a strong case for understanding the mind-sets of the people we interface with and how that needs to come into play as we present the gospel. Modern trends of thought, psychology, and pop culture are all examined as elements that need to be interfaced with for effective communication of ideas.
Not afraid of pointing a finger back at The Church, chapters like "The Art of Being Right" and "Technique - The Devil's Bait," skewer well-intended but ultimately flawed attempts that elevate argument above evangelism and display an 'ends justifying the means' mentality. The author doesn't completely reject the idea of technique, but emphasizes that there must often be strategy involved in effective sharing, and that said technique must never rival the fundamental intent of effectively sharing our faith.
Guinness obviously is a brilliant and scholarly writer (who recognizes that there can be pitfalls even in being over-analytical) and makes numerous references to great thinkers (believers and non-believers) to illustrate his points. While his ideas are not complex, his approach sometimes is a bit lofty. Fool's Talk - Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion is a scholarly work and not 'light' reading. References to Lewis, Schaefer, Chesterton, Jung, Augustine, Sartre, Camus, Pascal, Kierkegaard, Bacon and the like abound - and when your read 'Bacon,' if the first thing you thought about was breakfast, you might find it a little laborious getting through the latter part of the book.