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Summary

In the 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 to, interested in, and needy for spiritual insight when increasingly most people are not. The 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 are strikingly weak in persuasion - the ability to talk to people who are closed to what is being said. 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 40 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 the era.

©2015 Os Guinness (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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Thanks. It made me think

Thanks this was a good book with lots to think about. Os Guinness is thoughtful and provoking lots of thought.

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  • Ken
  • 24-10-16

Different voices?

I was really looking forward to getting deep into this topic but right from the start this audio book seemed replete with distractions.

The reading of the text was clear and understandable however, when ever a quotation involved someone of a particular national heritage the narrator would switch between a multitude of dialects. On one hand, performance wise it's impressive, on the other hand it's quite distracting while in the midst of comprehending and synthesizing together abstract concepts.

The other distraction was that there were literally two narrators at different parts of the book. I couldn't quite understand why or if there was some logical reasoning for it. But the beginning introductions up through the first chapter was the most confusing in this respect . After which the reading remained with just one narrator.

Over all, I thought the writing seemed a bit strained with way too much repetition of key phrases. I always appreciated the problems that the author identifies with many approaches to apologetics and kept waiting for a practical solution. In the end, the journey may have had its effect, I think, but I was left feeling a bit unsatisfied. Not a true bait and switch but the conclusions didn't really justify the verbosity. Still I would recommend it because I think more Christians need to learn the lessons found in the book.

6 people found this helpful

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  • R. Harbaugh
  • 06-04-16

Powerful and timely

Insightful in so many ways. You won't be disappointed. I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to know why much of our evangelism and apologetics might be ineffective.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 26-06-20

Very irritating accent-impersonations

Os Guiness' text is one of the best apologetics works out there. This was spoilt by the narrator's unnecessary imitation of supposedly American, German, French, and British accents. Instead of helping us to hear the meaning of the quoted works, it drew attention to the narrator, as if the goal was to hear his range of impersonations. This was distracting, irritating, and in some cases, utterly foolish.

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  • Jon Cohen
  • 20-05-20

GREAT CONTENT...EXTREMELY ANNOYING READ

There are undoubtedly audio books where the use of different voices by one reader enhances the content. This is sadly not one of them. While the half-hearted attempts to “speak” in the national accents of the quoted authors is both distracting and irritating...this approach - for a Christian listener - is downright blasphemous when the reader assumes an accent for Almighty God. What on earth was Os thinking? Such an exceptional thinker...with truly refreshing insights on modern apologetics... undermines the entire thrust of his argument about the JUDICIOUS use of humour or drama by displaying remarkably poor judgment in this regard.

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  • Brad and Jodi Cooper
  • 27-11-18

EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD LISTEN TO THIS

Put this at the top of your list. Os Guinness presents a wealth of wisdom here from many years of deep thinking, broad reading, and fruitful ministry. Be prepared to be challenged and provoked to change and grow.

Note: As a bonus, his style is thoroughly enjoyable and the narrator/reader is excellent.

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  • Kimberly
  • 02-03-17

Thought provoking

Thought provoking nuggets in each and every chapter. A must listen for searchers and believers alike!

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  • Marcus
  • 09-06-16

Great and helpful!

I think this is a very timely book that is approached with humility and strength. I found it highly profitable for my ministry. I think any Christian out there need to listen to this book.

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  • Marco Troisi
  • 18-02-17

Some good points but too verbose

Despite numerous good points here and there, it often kept going on without getting to the point. I appreciate that the author is trying to reason with the listener/reader without always imposing his own point of view, but at times it would have been easier to get to the point, make it absolutely clear and then elaborate from there.

Definitely a good read overall, I recommend it.

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  • Trev and Steph
  • 02-06-16

Great book about Christian persuasion.

Great book book about Christian apologetics and persuasion. very biblical and engaging! it is worth the read.

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  • Erik David
  • 25-01-21

(Not my personal review but I thought it was an excellent review)

I love books by Os Guinness, but good authors don’t always write good books. Even for those who don’t know of Os Guinness, it’s obvious early on in the book that he is quite intellectual and has researched many books in various fields of philosophy, history, and religion. But the book rambled on so much in the beginning I didn’t want to continue. But first you have to understand that Os Guinness is a classic philosopher, not a classic apologist, so in Aristotelian style, he feels like he has to build up a case first.

The premise of the book is excellent. Too many Christian apologists and apologetics is about bashing people over the head with cool arguments and "defenses" with no thought of really winning over the person. It's all about teaching, and arguing, and debating, and correcting, and defending, and even attacking. But where is the "persuading?" He gives many Biblical examples, most notably Jesus, who did not just go around correcting and rebuking people, but he was gentle. He listened. He met people on their terms. He saw through the arguments and issues to the heart of the matter. He wanted to win the person, not the argument.

It's a great idea for a book, and yes, Christians need to do more persuading and have more clever conversation with people who are closed, instead of just presenting the gospel to those who are open. However, this book doesn't do this topic justice. It presents a strong case for relational and conversational apologetics/evangelism, but there are no concrete advice on how to carry it out. Yes, he's against cold techniques, and that's not what this book is about. However, one who picks up a book of this topic is looking for something useful, for that very purpose, not just a book that defends why it must exist. This book could've been titled, "Christian Persuasion is Good," but there is no "recovering" or teaching of how that is done specifically.

The book didn’t get useful until page 75, so you can skip to that page after you’ve read this review. You’re welcome. Well, the meat doesn’t start until page 109. Everything else is appetizer.

Yes, I am guilty like the people he talks about in chapter 1, of one looking for techniques, or something, yeah, that’s why I’m reading this book. I’m not doing it for enjoyment or knowledge; I want to get something useful out of it so I can persuasively engage non-Christians who are seemingly closed to the gospel. And yes, that is the very way this book draws you in from its introduction and back cover. It clearly reveals that apologetics has shifted in the 21st century of high speed internet and McDonaldism, and we need to approach face-to-face evangelism more practically. Yes, we all get that – that’s why we’re reading this book, but page after page, it tries to convince you even more.

The whole first chapter is about how we shouldn’t be looking for cookie-cutter techniques, and the second chapter covers the changing nature of apologetics. boring. let’s get on with it already! The third chapter is where he starts getting to the useful stuff, but his fireside chats are so long, it may be easy to miss the point. He won’t flat out say it so I’ll say it for him: it’s the Fool-Making Technique. Since the gospel itself is paradox, it can approach the atheist worldview with humor, aware that life itself is filled with many logically opposing complexities that cannot be explained by the one-dimensional approach of the atheist. Faith allows us to see through the “incongruities of life,” and thus, we approach apologetics with humor. Don’t get so offended or flustered. See the comedy in their arguments or worldview and offer a revelation.

The next chapter is just bad. In summary: atheists are self-deceived, twist the truth, and worship themselves. I don’t disagree, but to spend a whole chapter to prove that? Yes, I admit this is a gross simplification of the chapter, but also proves the point that all of us stretch the truth or filter the facts. What then of objectivism? These modern-day “scientists” or “seekers of truth” are not really objective or neutral, nor are their research or “findings.”

His explanation of the teeter-totter between the “dilemma pole” and the “diversion pole” is interesting, but hardly usable. Well, most people we talk to are at the diversion pole, so clear out the diversion.

Chapter 6 is where you should actually start reading the book, having skimmed the first 5 chapters. He explains the “turning the tables” technique. Follow their unbelief systems to their logical conclusions of a life without God. Tempt them to explain meaning and purpose in that life beyond self-satisfaction. Are there absolute moralities? or Islamic terrorists? In a worldview without God, they will be forced into a dilemma they are uncomfortable with. That’s when you turn the tables. “We should never stop halfway with skepticism, but insist on pressing ideas uncompromisingly to their conclusion. When hearts and minds collide with the wall, they will have reach the limits of their position and may then be open to rethinking.” You have to let them see the bad news before they will be open to the good news.

In order to turn the tables, you have to ask questions that raise questions. Stop giving them answers to questions they’re not asking. Questions are light but also subversive. Don’t quote Jesus or the Bible; use their prophets, not ours. Appeal to what they already subscribe to. Questions are so effective because they are indirect yet involving. Although he provides evidence of this method, Guinness doesn’t give any pointers on how to ask them.

Chapter 7 explains the technique of “signal triggering.” You make people aware of their God-given human longings and desires. Life itself reveals the “treasures of the heart.” These are signals in their own daily experience that spur people to find answers that need to be true in order for these desires to be satisfied. They let people realize there must be “something more” to this life than what they see right now.

Chapter 9 can be summarized in 2 words: Be humble. Now you can move on to the next chapter. (yes, the second half of the chapter is used to defend creative persuasion, but I deemed it unnecessary.)

In chapter 10, he addresses the issue of how Christian hypocrisy makes it difficult to share the gospel due to its bad witness. His solution is outlined in 6 steps: 1) Admit we’re all guilty 2) declare hypocrisy to be a violation of honesty and truth, 3) admit the benefits of hypocrisy and why people do it, 4) God hates hypocrisy much more than today’s modern world does, 5) don’t fight back but dare to confess, and 6) submit to Jesus. (yes, I took the liberty in changing his titles)

There is nothing useful in chapter 11. It’s only a defense of apologetics.

Chapter 12, the last chapter, is actually the best chapter in this book. He probably should’ve started the book with this. He explains how people go through stages before coming to faith. First stage – make the person question his life. Second stage – the mind checks out new answers to replace old belief models. Third stage – verification of new belief system. Fourth stage – commitment.

I’ve read hundreds of books in which the best stuff is in the first half, and the second half is just filler material. In this book, the first half is whatevers and the second half is actually good. But I wish he could write another book just focusing on the second half and going deeper and practical, because overall this book is not that good.

Thanks for reading my honest review.