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)

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Review: Os Guinness’ Fool’s Talk (IVP Books)

Os begins by setting out two propositions: first, we are in “the grand age of apologetics” (16) and second, “We have lost the art of Christian persuasion and we must recover it”(17 italics original). His game plan? Bringing together the art of apologetic and evangelism. Divorce the two and you get Christians only concerned with winning arguments and not people or just concerned with ABC repeat-after-me tactics. When the two are combined, you have arguments that take other’s belief seriously, are actually concerned for people, and are aimed at the heart.

I’m a recovering ABC repeat-after-me evangelists and grew up in a tradition that could be manipulative when inviting people to Christ. So even though in my head I know persuasion isn’t bad sometimes I find myself suspicious when the word pops up in the context of evangelism. If you’re like me, you might have thought, Shouldn’t we just proclaim the gospel and allow the Spirit to work?

What I loved most of all was how cruciform and Spirit-dependent Os was through out Fool’s Talk. He made clear our arguments rest on the cross of Christ which is folly to an unbelieving world and the power of the Spirit (28). Persuasion doesn’t mean deception or cheesy bait-and-switch tactics. It means approaching apologetics-evangelism with excellence like we would anything else.

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Review: G. K. Beale and Mitchell Kim’s God Dwells Among Us (IVP)

God Dwells Among Us exemplified biblical study in service of every day mission. Beale and Kim state upfront, “The goal of this book is to strengthen biblical conviction for sacrificial mission” 14. In this regard, this book succeeds on all fronts. They argue further,

“Mission does not begin with the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20, but mission is God’s heartbeat from Genesis 1 until the new heaven and earth become the dwelling place of the Lord God Almighty in Revelation 21-22” 16.

They accomplish this by first laying the foundation for this claim.

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Top Ten Quotations from N. T. Wright’s The Challenge of Jesus

Top ten quotations will be a new feature at the blog. I’ve taken the example of Dr. Michael Bird. I’m organizing worthwhile books in Evernote. Since I’m spending one to two hours pulling quotations I might as well leverage that for your benefit. I just finished reading N. T. Wright’s The Challenge of Jesus. Here are my top ten quotations:

1. “When Jesus announced the kingdom, the stories he told functioned like dramatic plays in search of actors. His hearers were invited to audition for parts in the kingdom. They had been eager for God’s drama to be staged and were waiting to find out what they would have to do when he did so. Now they were to discover. They were to become kingdom-people themselves. Jesus, following John the Baptist, was calling into being what he believed would be true, renewed people of God” (43).

2. “Along with this radical invitation went a radical welcome. Wherever Jesus went, there seemed to be a celebration; the tradition of festive meals at which Jesus welcomed all and sundry is one of the most securely established features of almost all recent scholarly portraits. And the reason why some of Jesus’ contemporaries found this so offensive is not far to seek (although not always understood). It was not just that he as an individual was associating with disreputable people; that would not have been a great offense.

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Review: N. T. Wright’s The Challenge of Jesus (IVP Academic)

The Challenge of Jesus challenged my understanding of who Jesus was and is. In a way that Wright often does, he chops the feet off both conservative evangelicals and liberals. This can be both a strength and weakness. I found my understanding of the significance of the Temple for Christ’s vocation and for the gospel story expanded (more on that later). My only gripe if I must have one was that in several places bold statements are made without citation (see 45, 106, 131, 147). In many cases, these were statements I quite agreed with and wanted to further dig into the topic, but there was nothing to follow up on.

The Challenge of Jesus shows off Wright at his best. He interacts with the historical Jesus crowd and he does so on their terms as a historian and, in my opinion, conclusive shows that Jesus was a real person who actually died and actually was raised from the dead. He also very deftly situates his task within the its proper context. He shows why we needed the Enlightenment (19-20), where modernism failed, and where postmodernism took over and where it too failed, and he does all this with an eye towards who Jesus is.


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Review: Michael Reeves’ Rejoicing in Christ (IVP Academic)

About half way through in the margins of my copy of Rejoicing in Christ, I write “punchy, down to earth, and full of merriment.” That’s my review. Reeves surprises (meant in the most positive fashion) with equal parts verve and gladness. He’s not afraid to turn a phrase or punch you in the nose with an arresting metaphor. I found myself lost many times in worship as I read. That is rare and to be praised. Reeves has done it again.

What’s odd about Rejoicing in Christ is that Reeves admits it’s run-of-the-mill:

Once upon a time a book like this would have utterly run-of-the-mill. Among the old Puritans, for example, you can scarcely find a writer who did not write—or a preacher who did not preach—something called The Searchable Riches of Christ, Christ Set Forth, The Glory of Christ or the like. Yet today, what sells? What puts the smile on the booksellers face? The book that is about the reader. (9)

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Review: Thomas C. Oden’s A Change of Heart (IVP)

The title A Change of Heart gets at two main threads through out this book. First, Oden changes heart on issues of politics and theology—moving from a liberal socialists to a classical Christian rooted in the truths of the early Church Fathers. He contrasts these times of his life well when he says in the first part of life he was mainly concerned with novelty in his theology but after his change of heart he committed to writing nothing new (144). “To be orthodox is to be grounded in the earliest consensual classic Christian teaching” (161). Second, God actually changes Oden’s heart from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. This change comes through many ordinary means and through friendships with those who he loved but disagreed with.

Prior to reading this memoir, I knew very little of Oden. I knew he had moved from liberal to more conservative on the authority of Scripture and I knew he was Arminian. After reading this memoir, I’ve realized I must read more of Oden. As I mentioned, he relentlessly pursues mere Christianity in the theology of the Church Fathers. I’ve read many memoirs by mostly young millennial and have come to pretty much loath this genre. Partly because most of these memoirs drip with faux humility and usually show how their mind changed by taking some road trip or going to college or some other “major climax” to their story (“In college days I was wary of the temptation to focus any serious religious arguments tied to my own personal experience” 177). I’m always left wondering, “Will this matter in 40 years.” Oden gets why I think I feel this way

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Review: John H. Walton’s The Lost World of Adam and Eve

In May, I read John H. Walton’s The Lost World of Genesis One and was challenged by Walton’s Scriptural handiwork and exegetical focus. “As interpreters of Scripture and as theologians, we are accountable to the biblical text ” (12).

It was a set up. I didn’t know at the time, but The Lost World of Adam and Eve was a companion volume expanding the thesis of Genesis One. In a nutshell, Walton argues the creation account is primarily about function, not material origin. Once you’ve agreed with him on that point, it’s hard not to agree with him in Adam and Eve.

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Review: Trevor Burke’s Adopted into God's Family

The Old and New Testaments speak about the relationship between God and His people in a many ways. The Apostle Paul in particular employed a rich vocabulary from which theologians have systematized the doctrine of salvation—election , justification, redemption, reconciliation to start. Yet theologians have neglected one significant Pauline metaphor in comparison—adoption (Gk. υἱοθεσία, transl. huiothesia). Trevor Burke's thesis in this volume from IVP Academic's New Studies in Biblical Theology series is “if adoption is important and distinct enough from other soteriological terms in the thinking and theology of Paul, then it is worthy of greater consideration. Rather than ad