Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion
by Os Guinness
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.
- 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
-- Publishers Weekly, May 11, 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
-- R. Albert Mohler Jr., Preaching, March/April 2016
"In what is a distinctive and vital contribution to a deeper understanding of apologetics and the art of persuasion, Guinness skillfully dissects the anatomy of unbelief and analyzes the framework of illusions and deceptions that shape the unbelieving mind. . . . As reads go Fool's Talk isn't light―but neither are the consequences of enfeebled apologetics."
-- Larry Johnston, Christian Research Journal, Vol. 39, No.1, 2015
"I appreciate Os Guinness' concern that he not become a professional apologist and along the way neglect the actual work of apologetics. But after many years of doing such work, he has written a good book, Fool's Talk, that introduces readers not to technique, but to the art of Christian persuasion―the kind of persuasion we see modeled in Jesus, in Paul, and in the Old Testament prophets before them. Eminently quotable and packed full of helpful insights, Fool's Talk is a well-written, well-structured, and well-argued book that I enthusiastically recommend."
-- Tim Challies, World Magazine, October 31, 2015
"More than a technical primer, Guinness’s volume is a masterful, albeit encyclopedic, explanation and presentation of the Christian faith against its detractors past and present. Very highly recommended."
-- James M. Garretson, The Banner of Truth, July 2017
"This is a timely book. It provides a much-needed and magisterial reaffirmation of that most biblical of New Testament models of evangelism―persuasive evangelism―bringing together evangelism and apologetics, heart and mind, objective and subjective, reason and faith. In short, it articulates and defends the most common form of evangelism in the New Testament. One of the most urgent needs of the global church is to recapture the biblical emphasis on persuasive evangelism. If the church (and most public evangelists) are able to heed Os Guinness's urgent call, it will lead to more faithful (and I suspect, more fruitful) evangelism, as well as the unexpected byproduct of greater confidence amongst believers in the truth claims of the gospel."
-- Lindsay Brown, international director, the Lausanne Movement, director, the Fellowship of Evangelists in the Universities of Europe
About the Author:
Os Guinness is an author and social critic. Great-great-great grandson of Arthur Guinness, the Dublin brewer, he was born in China in World War Two where his parents were medical missionaries. A witness to the climax of the Chinese revolution in 1949, he was expelled with many other foreigners in 1951 and returned to Europe where he was educated in England. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of London and his D.Phil in the social sciences from Oriel College, Oxford.
Os has written or edited more than thirty books, including The Call, Time for Truth, Unspeakable, A Free People’s Suicide, and The Global Public Square. His latest book, Last Call for Liberty: How America’s Genius for Freedom Has Become Its Greatest Threat, was published in 2018.
Since moving to the United States in 1984, Os has been a Guest Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies, a Guest Scholar and Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Senior Fellow at the Trinity Forum and the EastWest Institute in New York. He was the lead drafter of the Williamsburg Charter in 1988, a celebration of the bicentennial of the US Constitution, and later of “The Global Charter of Conscience,” which was published at the European Union Parliament in 2012. Os has spoken at many of the world’s major universities, and spoken widely to political and business conferences across the world. He lives with his wife Jenny in the Washington DC area.