Recovering the Lost Art, by Os Guinness
SEPTEMBER 5, 2015
Loss of persuasion? It might seem bizarre, almost unimaginable, that Christian communication has lost something so central to its mission. Yet in profound ways it has, and that is why our challenge is to think about apologetics in ways that are not only fresh but faithful and independent—faithful in the sense that they are shaped by the imperatives of Christian truths, and independent in the sense that they are not primarily beholden to ways of thinking that are alien to Christian ways of thinking. That is why this book is not only about the lost art of Christian persuasion. It is also about an “advocacy of the heart,” an existential approach to sharing our faith that I believe is deeper and more faithful as well as more effective than the common approaches used by many.
Christian advocacy has had many conversation partners down the centuries—particularly the great tradition of classical rhetoric established by the Greeks and the Romans. It has also had many opponents and sparring partners—most recently the bracing challenge of the new atheists. But for all the undoubted benefits of these challenges, one of the more unfortunate side effects is that much apologetics has lost touch with evangelism and come to be all about “arguments,” and in particular about winning arguments rather than winning hearts and minds and people. Our urgent need today is to reunite evangelism and apologetics, to make sure that our best arguments are directed toward winning people and not just winning arguments, and to seek to do all this in a manner that is true to the gospel itself….
My own journey to faith was more than intellectual, but it included a long, slow, critical debate in my mind during my school years. On one side, I listened to the arguments of such famous atheists as Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, and on the other side to such Christian thinkers as Blaise Pascal, Fyodor Dostoevsky, G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis. But if the approach advocated here is rare today, it is definitely not unique to me. I merely sit on the shoulders of certain giants of the faith who have gone before. My debts to these giants will become clear as we proceed, and I am equally clear about my own inadequacies in following their example. But together we must rise to the challenge of our time: 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? Nothing less than that is the goal of our exploration.
Taken from Fool’s Talk by Os Guinness. Copyright (c) 2015 by Os Guinness.
Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426. www.ivpress.com