Three Essentials For Apologetics

Fool's Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion I’ve not yet been disappointed by a book Os Guinness has written.  Fool’s Talk is no exception.  This is one of the best books on apologetics that I’ve read.  Fool’s Talk is the product of many years of study, reflection, dialogue, and prayer: Os Guinness waited a long time to write this work, and I’m glad he did!

In the second chapter Guinness talks about the technique(s) of apologetics (defending the faith).  It’s a brilliant chapter that really criticizes apologetic methods that are preoccupied with technique (he calls this “McApologetics”).  He also gives three great – and essential! – reminders about apologetics and persuading people of the Truth of Jesus.  I’ll summarize these three points below:

1) No One Way: As with almost everything worthwhile in life, there is rarely just one way to do it.  The same is true of persuasion.  There is no single right way that it should be done.  There is no one-size-fits-all approach that will work with everyone.  To be sure, there are some ways that are not Christian and some that are not effective, but there is no single way that alone is Christian.  …As we need to remind ourselves again and again, and then again, Jesus never spoke to two people in the same way, and neither should we.  Every single person is unique and individual and deserves an approach that respects that uniqueness.

2) An Art, Not A Science: Christian persuasion is an art, not a science.  It has more to do with theology than technology.  …Creative persuasion is a matter of being biblical, not of being either modern or postmodern.  The Bible is both rational and experiential, propositional as well as relational, so that genuinely biblical arguments work in any age and with any person.  Just as no two painters or sculptors are alike, so each person’s apologetics will be refracted through their own personalities and life experiences.  People who forget this tend to present apologetics as a chess game in which our task is to figure out all the moves, countermoves and counter-countermoves that would help us checkmate all objections and make us invincible Grand Masters in argument.  Christian persuasion addresses the human mind, heart, and emotions.

3) An Art For Lovers: The third reminder is that Christian persuasion is for those who love God, who wish to make the best possible case for the one they know and love, and who appreciate that love is an essential part of the knowledge that stems from true seeking and finding.  Persuasion is for followers of Jesus who love him because they know him, and therefore need no convincing of their unspeakable privilege of knowing him and making him known.  Love is the ‘alpha and the omega of apologetics’ in the sense that all we say must come from love, and it must lead to love and to the One of love.  In other words, Christian apologetics moves from our love for God and his truth to our love for others.

Os Guinness, Fool’s Talk (Downers Grove: IVP, 2015), chapter 2.

shane lems
covenant presbyterian church (OPC)
hammond, wi