Fool's Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion

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9780830836994: Fool's Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion
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2016 Christianity Today Book of the Year in Apologetics/Evangelism
One of Desiring God's Top 15 Books of 2015
Hearts & Minds Bookstore's Best Books of 2015, Social Criticism and Cultural Engagement In our post-Christian context, public life has become markedly more secular and 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, Malcolm Muggeridge and Peter Berger, Guinness demonstrates how apologetic persuasion requires both the rational and the imaginative. Persuasion is subversive, turning the tables on listeners' assumptions to surprise them with signals of transcendence and the credibility 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.

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About the Author:

Os Guinness (DPhil, Oxford) is the author or editor of more than thirty books, including Fool's Talk, Renaissance, The Global Public Square, A Free People's Suicide, Unspeakable, The Call, Time for Truth and The Case for Civility. A frequent speaker and prominent social critic, he has addressed audiences worldwide from the British House of Commons to the U.S. Congress to the St. Petersburg Parliament. He founded the Trinity Forum and served as senior fellow there for fifteen years. Born in China to missionary parents, he is the great-great-great-grandson of Arthur Guinness, the Dublin brewer. After witnessing the climax of the Chinese revolution in 1949, he was expelled with many other foreigners in 1951 and returned to England where he was educated and served as a freelance reporter with the BBC. Since coming to the U.S. in 1984, he has been a guest scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. He was the lead drafter of the Williamsburg Charter, celebrating the First Amendment, and has also been senior fellow at the EastWest Institute in New York, where he drafted the Charter for Religious Freedom. He also co-authored the public school curriculum Living With Our Deepest Differences. Guinness has had a lifelong passion to make sense of our extraordinary modern world and to stand between the worlds of scholarship and ordinary life, helping each to understand the other - particularly when advanced modern life touches on the profound issues of faith. He lives with his wife, Jenny, in McLean, Virginia, near Washington, D.C.

Review:

"If Twain and Chesterton were writers who marshaled wit and paradox in commending wisdom, Guinness richly mines many a classic vein of wisdom, and wit, to help Christians in our time discern what it means to be winsome, and compelling, in commending faith. . . . How can we speak for our Lord in a manner that does justice to the wonder of who God is, to the profundity of the good news He has entrusted to us, to the wily stubbornness of the human heart and mind, as well as to the wide-ranging challenges of today's world and the mind-boggling prospects of tomorrow's? In short, how can we as followers of Jesus be as truly persuasive as we desire to be? These are questions worth asking―and seeking answers, readers can do no better than turn the pages of this book. For over forty years, Dr. Guinness has crafted learned, witty, and compelling books. This book may be his finest―one rich in simile, parable, and insight." (Kevin Belmonte, Huffington Post, June 24, 2015)

"Guinness offers helpful discourse on the anatomy of disbelief, how to respond to it, and how to avoid compromise while charting a journey toward faith." (Publishers Weekly, May 11, 2015)

"Os Guinness's books have been invaluable for the Christian church for decades. A great deal of what I know about communicating the faith in modern times I learned from him. This book does not disappoint. Unlike most books on apologetics, it addresses the actual dynamics of conversation and persuasion―as well as providing an unusually comprehensive range of accessible and useful arguments and appeals for the truth of Christianity. I highly recommend it." (Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City)

"In a battle of ideas, unlike a battle between nations, the goal is not to vanquish the opponents but to win them. Making that challenge even more difficult is that oftentimes, what we win them with is what we win them to. The art and science of dialoguing and debate must bring together the message and the method in concert. No one does this better than my colleague Os Guinness. For years I have benefited from his incisive thinking and carefully studied presentations. Here, he wisely observes that 'Our urgent need today is to reunite evangelism and apologetics, and make sure that our best arguments are directed toward winning people and not just winning arguments.' I am thrilled to see his unique thinking on these crucial subjects, co-extensive with a lifetime of doing apologetics. It is a must-read for anyone interested in engaging the skeptic or seeker. Few thinkers today rise to the level that Os does, even as he plumbs the depth of vital issues in defense of the historic Christian faith." (Ravi Zacharias, author and speaker)

"With a finger on the heartbeat of our culture, Guinness shows the need for Christians to be persuasive when sharing the Gospel with the world. Our culture is not one ignorant of the content of Christianity; rather, it is one indifferent to it. In such an environment, Christian persuasion is essential to the fulfillment of our call to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). Fool's Talk is a timely volume that is a great asset for those interested in improving their ability to communicate the Gospel." (Kristen Davis, Advance, Fall 2015)

"Unlike many apologetics books, Fool's Talk is not a series of quick-fix answers to questions most folks are no longer asking or one-size-fits-all 'McTheories' (Guinness's term) for any situation. Rather, Guinness draws upon a lifetime of diverse experience to explore and invite us in the art of 'creative persuasion.'" (Joshua Ryan Butler, Christianity Today, January/February 2016)

"This is the best apologia for apologetics, and the best example of how to do it, that I have ever read. When I grow up I want to be like Os! The Bible, in an unerring prophecy of the forthcoming desktop publishing, tells us that 'of making many books there is no end and much study wearies the body' (Ecclesiastes 12:12). With thousands of Christian books published every year we need to be discerning. Fool's Talk is a diamond in the rough―and well worth 'wearying the body' in order to study!" (David Robertson, Christianity Today, January 8, 2016)

"There is no doubt about it, Christian apologetics is having a renaissance. Oddly though, precious little of it addresses the art of persuasion. Who better to redress this lacuna than the preeminent apologist of our times, Os Guinness. Among the many virtues of Fool's Talk is the presentation of a robust Christian faith that is not predictable. Many people are so sure they know what Christians are going to say that they don't actually listen. Guinness keeps them off-balance, much in the way Jesus' parables caught his audiences off-guard. Faced with a plethora of modern challenges, from technology to globalization to political sales talk to moral relativism, we are tempted to develop a single, safe, reactionary method―ten steps to the punch line. Guinness does the opposite. Like G. K. Chesterton in an earlier age, Guinness reminds us that truth is quite unlikely, that is, dubious to unaided reason. He advocates a broad range of arguments, all of them imaginative, but all of them pointing to the surprising truth, the unpredictable love of God." (William Edgar, professor of apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary)

"Fool's Talk is a direct exposition of the inner logic and rhetoric of persuasion, showing how hearers are moved from unbelief and doubt to conviction of the truth of the Christian faith. Guinness's focus is not only on the nature of effective argument but the character, ethics and faith of the apologist. Intellectually profound and immensely practical. I loved the book. So will you." (James W. Sire, author, The Universe Next Door, Echoes of a Voice and Apologetics Beyond Reason)

"A remarkable book. Written with the benefit of decades of experience and reflection―this is one book on apologetics you will not want to miss. I wholeheartedly recommend it." (Michael Ramsden, joint director, Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, international director, RZIM for Europe, the Middle East and Africa)

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