Sunday, December 19, 2010

Book Review: Questioning Evangelism

As promised, I'll be reviewing each of the books I get through as part of my read-lots-more endeavor. Are you on the edge of your seat? I know you are! Last week I finished up "Questioning Evangelism" by Randy Newman. No, not the Randy Newman that writes feel-good Disney songs. This is Christian author and long-time Campus Crusader, Randy Newman.

The hub and I were actually given this book months ago at church and I finally picked it up to read recently. The title can be a little confusing. Well, at least it was for me - you're probably smarter than I am. At first glance I thought it referred to questioning the act of evangelism. But within the first page I realized this book was about using questions when practicing evangelism. Randy's introduction begins, "You may think this book is just plain weird." Good point, I think. If you're a brand new Christian or tend to have a more "politically correct" view of religion, this book may freak you out a bit. Shoot, just the word "evangelism" scares the hell out of some people. But the book addresses a lot of the common secular world attacks on the Christian faith and how to answer them - or better yet, how to come back with a more engaging question rather than a straight, conversation-ending answer.

For example, so many people - even Christians - get hung up on the claim that we can only get to God through Jesus. Randy responds, "Try asking nonbelievers, 'If Jesus is not the only way to salvation, why, then, did he have to die?' You'll likely draw blank stares or create tied tongues. But until one understands the answer to that question, one will not see the reasonableness of Jesus' 'I am the way' claim."

Perhaps Randy's greatest point throughout the book is that many of our quick answers to accusations about Christianity and the Bible "fail to compel belief because they fail to address the real issue." We have to dig a little, with questions, to get at the root of what people are after. Not everyone's after a history lesson. Some people are hurting and they're looking for justification for their anger. Some people are searching for a reason to hope. And many people, even though they're asking questions, aren't ready for answers. They're more interested in getting their objections out than understanding; they're not willing to listen. Randy says, "Until someone is more interested in truth than in airing his or her own opinions, it's best to talk about the weather."

More than anything, this book is about successfully relating to people when it comes to sharing God's word. With chapter titles like "If Jesus Is So Great, Why Are Some of His Followers Such Jerks?" Randy addresses a lot of the big obstacles that stand between believers and nonbelievers. And he obviously does so with a fair dose of humor. From his table of contents, you'll see that he tackles a lot of the big items addressed by books like The Case for Faith, so the book definitely touches on the importance of apologetics but kind of already assumes the reader knows his stuff. But no matter the questions we receive, whether genuine or masking anger, this book proposes that we be "more engaging and less confrontational in our sharing of the Good News."

I think Christians should definitely put this book on their short list - lots of great ideas and advice here. It's especially great for people who aren't really sure how to go about sharing their faith or how to answer questions that may come their way. I know I'm totally one of those... as confident as I am in my own faith, I'm not always so sure how to communicate it or defend it, so it definitely was a great read for me personally. If that's you, I'd definitely grab this book. It's an easy read with lots of good meat. If any of you have also read this book, I'd love to know your thoughts!

Next Up: "48 Days to the Work You Love" by Dan Miller

1 comment:

Charbelle said...

Like you I'm confident in my own faith but I'm not great at communicating it or defending it. I'm definitely going to check this book out!! I participated in the Truth Project spring/summer 09 and it helped me obtain a better grasp on why I believe what I believe!!