In the late 1960s, Os Guinness worked alongside Francis Schaeffer at L’Abri, Schaeffer’s famed Christian retreat center in Switzerland. In the 1980s, he moved to the United States, where he served (among other places) at the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Brookings Institution. He has been heavily involved in discussions about the First Amendment and the need for a vigorous, civil public square. Yet he never lost Schaeffer’s vision for Christian apologetics and evangelism, a fact reflected in his latest book, Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion (InterVarsity Press). CT senior writer Tim Stafford spoke with Guinness about making the gospel appealing in a secularizing culture.
What made you decide to write about apologetics at this time?
Clearly we’re at a stage in Western history where we need the church to be persuasive. Public life has grown more secular. Private worlds have become more diverse, and we have a mounting hostility against us. If ever Christians at large and evangelicals in particular needed to be persuasive with people who are not open, it’s now. So I thought it was the time to write.
Fool’s Talk is the fruit of many decades of thinking. I owe a huge debt to C. S. Lewis, from whom I came to faith; to Francis Schaeffer, who introduced me to the discipline of apologetics; and to Peter Berger, the sociologist, who has probably shaped my mind more than any other living person. My approach is a mixture of the three of them.
At the beginning of your book you refer to this as “the grand age of apologetics.” That will surprise some people. What do you mean by it?
The phrase is not mine. I read it in a sociology article, and it surprised ...1