Overview on Methods of Persuasion: Being the Fool-Bearers of Christ

Dec 20, 2002 10:32 AM EST

Os Guinness, vice chairman and senior fellow of The Trinity Forum, addressed at the Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary about being the “fool-bearers and the fool-makers in our world.”

"To the people of his day, Jesus was the ultimate fool-bearer," who bore "the shame and the guilt and the ridicule of the cross. We must be willing to be fool-bearers like Christ," said Guinness.

In his message, Guinness mentioned of three types of fools.

“First, there is the fool proper -- the person who, despite all the relativity of folly and heroism in the world, is truly a fool because God says so,” Guinness said, “We should never be this type of fool.”

Second is the fool-bearer, Guinness said, “The prophets were often ridiculed as fools. Paul was a fool-bearer for the sake of the gospel. And Jesus was of course the ultimate example of one who became a 'fool,' at least in the eyes of the world.”

”The third kind of fool we find in Scripture is the one who is a fool-maker. When Nathan confronted David with his sins of adultery and murder, he showed David to have been a fool.”

Guinness noted that the Western churches today lack persuasive power. The churches are contextualizing, justifying, and converting people to the gospel, yet persuasion is deficient. Guinness said that the best persuasion is to take cues from Jesus.

"Jesus was of course the best communicator," he said. "He made his communication relative to his audience. Jesus never spoke the same way to two people. When his listener was open, Jesus was simple and straightforward, because he knew that they would receive such statements. When his audience was doubtful, Jesus asked questions. Questions have two advantages over statements: they are indirect, and they get the hearer involved.

"Jesus also used reversals, such as the Beatitudes. We need to do the same. People find out you are a Christian and they immediately put you in a box. Your subversive tactic is to blow out of that box. Americans have heard the clichés enough."

Two other methods Guinness mentioned were parables and dramatic ploy. He noted that such persuasive tactics is not manipulation, but to help people see the truth themselves.

Guinness is the author of "The American Hour," "The Call," "Time for Truth" and "Long Journey Home." His vocation with the Washington-area Trinity Forum is based on mediating between academic knowledge and popular knowledge including public policy.

At luncheon after the chapel service, Guinness also answered questions on topics like New Age religions, the house church movement in China, and the need for reaching cultural gatekeepers.

By Tony C.