About the author: Randy Newman
Personal Blog: Connection Points
About the book: Questioning Evangelism
“Portraying Christian experience as as a progressive journey toward holiness rather than a present attaining of holiness can actually be liberating to questioners… We have been saved (past tense) from the penalty of sin. We are saved (present tense) from the power of sin. And someday we will be saved (future tense) from the presence of sin. (p. 199)
“I sometimes wonder if some of our evangelistic conversations sound like this (*italics mine)… One side posits a question, not really expecting an answer or listening for a response. The other side sits frustrated, not really getting to answer or expecting to be heard.” (p. 238)
In the preface Randy writes, “The goal of Questioning Evangelism is to help people know how to think about an issue more than what to think. this book will help followers of Jesus to develop their minds (“the minds of Christ”) more than methodologies, giving readers a sense of what to say.” I believe that this book will help to create an attitude of thoughtfulness regarding evangelism. I already think about evangelism and my approach, but I am glad to see another thoughtful resource. Randy’s book is an important and relevant book. The contents of the book include three parts: Why Ask Questions? What Questions Are People Asking? Why Aren’t Questions and Answers Enough?
When I received the book I expected it to be an exposition of Jesus’ dialogue, specifically questions. I expected Jesus to be the theme of the book. If you have ever read the gospels you noticed that Jesus responded to questions with a question. I didn’t have to read for long to recognize my wrong presumption. Rather, Jesus’ questioning has set the example portrayed in this book.
Throughout the book Randy shares some fictional dialogues (negative examples vs. positive examples). They are interesting, but I’m not certain that they are any more than fiction. He has years of experience conversing with a diversity of people and specifically in the context of evangelism. Perhaps the dialogues could become a reality, but I’m skeptical. However, I don’t believe that this minimizes the quality or value of the book. Maybe the dialogues he shared enhances the book and will create ideas in people’s minds. My biggest concern, people may try to use his examples verbatim. Randy also recognizes this possibility and warns readers to avoid using the exact same arguments. Evangelism requires creativity and listening.
Randy discussed some important topics, which include: intolerance, evil and suffering, the reliability of the Bible, angry evangelists or angry evangelism, homosexuality, homophobia, and listening. Questioning Evangelism is unlike any other book I have read on evangelism. Randy doesn’t tell readers how to evangelize, but how to think like an evangelist. When we evangelize and when we ask thoughtful and compassionate questions it gives people opportunity to tell us how they are feeling and what they think. To often we want to tell others what we believe and what we think. Wouldn’t it be refreshing for others to have the opportunity to speak? And we can reform our attitudes so that we listen to others with genuine compassion as they share their concerns, fears, and anxieties.
In exchange for an honest review, Kregel Blog Tours provided me a copy Questioning Evangelism. I have written an honest review.