12 Quotations from Os Guinness’ Fool’s Talk


Os Guinness. Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion. IVP Books. Downers Grove, IL, 2015.

“It might seem bizarre, almost unimaginable, that Christian communication ha 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.” (p. 18)

“Our urgent need today is to reunite evangelism and apologetics, to make sure that our best arguments are direct 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.” (p. 18)

“Christian advocacy must move from our love of God and his truth and beauty, to our love for the people we talk to and work right up to their love for God and his truth and beauty in their turn.” (p. 45)

“The good news of Jesus is the best news ever, God’s foolishness that is God’s Grand Reversal, which subverts the wisdom of the world to show true wisdom and display real power.” (p. 46)

“If the effect of sin is to frame God, then God himself is the one who actively counters the outrage. Our work is important, but at best our part is to bring the presence of God into the debate through the power of the Holy Spirit, and to remember that we are no more than junior counsels for the defense.” (p. 58)

“Balaam’s ass is the patron saint of apologetics.” (p. 60)

“A key part of deception and self-deception is the fact that evil must imitate good, unbelief must copy truth, and vice must mimic virtue.” (p. 89)

“Unbelievers suppress the truth in unrighteousness, but it is still always the truth, so they can never completely get away with it. . . . Many implications for Christian thinking flow from this tension and conflict: it explains why our arguments can and must always appeal to reason, for the Lord of truth created his human creatures with the capacity to reason, and reason is the God’s instrument to be used in the service of truth. For humans made in the image of God, reasoning is as natural as breathing, walking or smiling. Yet we always need to be ready to go beyond purely rational arguments, for the human will is in play, so our arguments are never dealing with purely neutral or disinterested minds.

It explains why humans construct worldview and why there are so many—they are philosophical and social fictions, or worlds within the world that provide a world of meaning apart from God and against God. Since none are finally true, none are finally adequate, so the search for a more adequate explanation multiplies the inadequate options.

It explains why false religion is so false and bad religion is so bad—religion becomes the supreme fiction and alibi that sanctions all other evasions of God.” (p. 94)

“In talking to unbelievers, we know they are always trying to stretch the false elements in their disbelieving worldview (the ‘unrighteousness’), so our best apologetic approach is the negative strategy of ‘turning the tables’ or ‘relativizing the relativizes’ . . . . We can challenge unbelievers to be true to what they believe, knowing that in the end they cannot be, because what they claim is truth is not God’s full truth, so it will not stretch enough to cover reality. At some point they will then experience some form of the passions of fear and grief, triggered by their aversion to what they do not want to face—namely, that they have gone wrong and their views are ultimately false and not true.” (p. 138)

“If questioning gains its strength from being indirect and involving, stories have a further strength. They are indirect, involving and imaginative. Imagination is our most powerful human faculty. Wherever you are now, you can be thinking of your holiday on some romantic beach. You can think what it would be like to live in the times of Julius Caesar or Shakespeare or your favorite hero. You janimagine yourself as the fastest runner in the world or the first man on Mars. Imagination, in other words, is a quicker way to speed from now to then and from here to there than even the fastest modern communication.” (p. 164)

“The fact is that without God, we cannot know God. For a start, we are incapable of knowing God by ourselves, so he has to disclose himself—in revelation. But beyond that, God is a person and not an object, so if we are to know him, he must keep on showing himself to us—in relationship. Knowing God therefore begins and ends with God, and it is a a gift whose name is grace. But love like that calls for love in return, and the Christian faith that it forges is not the knowledge of a spectator, let alone the prying of a voyeur. It is the knowing of a lover.” (p. 248)

“If love is not the climax of the journey toward faith, Christian persuasion lacks its essential spirit and its true goal.” (p. 249)


Mathew B. Sims authored A Household Gospel: Fulfilling the Great Commission in Our HomesWe Believe: Creeds, Confessions, & Catechism for Worship (coming Oct 2015) and contributed in Make, Mature, Multiply (GCD Books). He completed over forty hours of seminary work at Geneva Reformed Seminary. He also works as the managing editor at Gospel-Centered Discipleship and the project manager for the Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Mathew offers freelance editing, book formatting, and cover design services. He is a member of Downtown Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Greenville, SC.