Os Guinness: The Art of Christian Persuasion—Part 2

“Jesus never spoke to two people in the same way. So let’s drop all the simplistic, cookie-cutter methods of evangelism.”

MORE ON FOOL’S TALK: What Is a Fool?

There are three types of fools in the Bible, writes Os Guinness in Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Lost Art of Persuasion.

The fool proper is the person who has no time for God.

The fool bearer, the person who is willing to look foolish for the sake of the truth. The fool bearer has among its highest examples King David, the apostle Paul, and supreme fool bearer of all, the Lord Jesus Christ himself. The fool bearer, by living in resilient discipleship, brings to light the folly of the world.

The third fool, the fool maker, speaks to worldly power as a needle to a balloon.

Guinness writes:

If Jesus was the supreme fool bearer, God is the supreme fool maker. He simultaneously shamed and subverted the vaunted wisdom, strength and superiority of the world through the cross—shaming and subverting the world’s wisdom through folly, the world’s strength through weakness and the world’s superiority through coming in disguise as a nonentity (Page 72).

In a rich passage that digs below superficial understanding of our postmodern world, Guinness describes the seemingly absurd mystery of Christ and how it points us, to use C.S. Lewis’ term, to the “deeper magic” that forms the framework of the Christian worldview.

Look more closely, ask who the baby is and why the tortured man is dying, and you see that everything that is happening is far more than it appears to be. And as you pause and ponder, the self-chosen powerlessness can suddenly be seen as a higher power, the evident absurdity morphs into an illuminating mystery, and the nose-stopping offensiveness of all the blood and brutality turns into a heart-melting embrace. So powerless that he could not save himself, Jesus was dying to save others and embrace the whole world (Page 72-73).

This paradox and the reality of humanity as both puny and grand, bears an undercurrent of humor that leads to faith, says Guinness.

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One day it will finally be seen, as Julian of Norwich famously asserted, that all is indeed well. But only when all life’s upside-downs have been righted, the back to front restored, the crooked straightened, and the abnormal-normal returned to its true normality. In short, all will be well when the world’s last folly has been given its comeuppance, and even the most “foolish” designs of the divine fool-maker have been vindicated for all to see as the wisdom they really are. Only then will humankind begin to understand and appreciate the surprises and delights that God has had in store all along. But in the meantime the way of the divine fool-maker gives us the motive, the basis and the dynamic for our persuasion (Page 78).

What does all this mean for the average Christian trying to share with a neighbor? Communicating the good news of God must be done not just with reason and argument but also creativity and laughter and joy, no matter how foolish that might appear.