June 24, 2015
The Subversive Power of Persuasion
By Alisse Wissman, IVP Publicity Manager
“The whole world has taken up apologetics without ever using or knowing the idea as Christians understand it. We are all apologists now, if only on behalf of ‘the Daily Me’ or ‘the Tweeted Update’ that we post for our virtual friends and our cyber community. The great goals of life, we are told, are to gain the widest possible public attention and to reach as many people in the world with our products—and always, our leading product is Us.”
“Are Christians ready for this new age?”
So writes Os Guinness in his magnum opus Fool’s Talk. This latest from the prolific author and editor of over thirty books is Guinness’s first time tackling the subject of apologetics and evangelism, digging into how and why traditional cookie-cutter approaches simply don’t work anymore. Presenting the art and power of creative persuasion—the ability to talk to people who are closed to what we are saying—he provides a fresh way of looking at Christian witness for today.
This urgent need for creative persuasion is a result of our post-Christian context, writes Guinness. Public life has become markedly more secular and private life infinitely more diverse; meanwhile, traditional approaches to apologetics assume that people are open, interested and needy for spiritual insight when increasingly most people are not. Yet many Christians still rely on cookie-cutter approaches to evangelism and apologetics.
“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,” said James W. Sire, author of The Universe Next Door. “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.”
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 credibility of the gospel.
Os Guinness (DPhil, Oxford) is the author or editor of more than thirty books, including 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.